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Club Cala de Palmas

Humacao, PR 00791-6219 PHONE: 787-285-5555 Map it / View Street Address
3.0 out of 5
Average Review
100% of past guest
Would Stay Again
1 Past Guests
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Featured Review: Club Cala de Palmas

by Linda and Wayne Sanders II Akron, Ohio 
First printed in Sep/Oct 2012

About twelve years ago my wife and I took a Caribbean cruise that departed from San Juan, Puerto Rico. In the very few hours before we boarded the ship, we enjoyed exploring the Old City of San Juan and the El Morro Fort. Recently, we decided it was time to see what else the island of Puerto Rico had to offer. Using a company periodically reviewed in TimeSharing Today Magazine, Hawaii Time Share Exchange, we requested any Puerto Rican resort in June or July. In only a few months we were confirmed into the Club Cala de Palmas Resort for a week in July. Even though only two of us were traveling, we were offered a two bedroom unit and we gladly accepted the exchange.

Club Cala de Palmas is one of 46 communities in Palmas del Mar, the largest resort complex in Puerto Rico. It is located on the southeast coast of the island. One gate gets you into the complex, but each community has its own gate to control access to its facilities.

Within Palmas del Mar there is also a hotel, two golf courses, a tennis club and fitness center, a marina, jogging trails, three miles of beach, and an equestrian center. There are also upwards of twenty restaurants and many shops. Doctors offices are within the resort, and the resort even has its own fire station. Just across the street from Club Cala is Palmanova Plaza, where many of the shops, restaurants and markets are located. It's a short uphill walk, but very convenient to guests of Club Cala.

Club Cala is composed of 104 units in three two-story buildings on a hillside overlooking the Caribbean. You cannot see the Caribbean from the resort, but you can see the marina that connects to the sea. Be warned: there are quite a few steps that must be negotiated in order to move around the resort. Many (most?) people in the Palmas del Mar area use golf carts to get around. Carts can be rented at Club Cala for $55 per day.

Our check-in, since it was around 10:00 at night, was quick and easy. The reception staff the entire week was very helpful and accommodating. Daily they printed out directions to get to any attraction we chose to visit. They did innumerable favors for us during the week, including granting us a late check-out on our last day. Check-in is the usual 4:00p.m. and check-out is at 10:00a.m.

Our ground floor two-bedroom unit was in Building C. You enter the unit on the sidewalk level. That level contains the laundry room with full size washer and drier (including soap) on the left, and one bedroom with double beds and full bath on the right. Going down eight steps you reach the main floor. A full, but small, kitchen is on the left with service for six. Beyond the kitchen is the living room which includes a dining table for six, a large chair and a sofa-bed. Off the living room are sliding doors opening onto a lanai facing the marina. At the bottom of the entry steps to the right is the master bedroom with the master bathroom. The bed was king size. The master bedroom also has a wall safe and a lanai with table and chairs where we ate most of our athome meals. Both the living room and master bedroom have flat screen TVs with cable and many stations in both Spanish and English.

Even though the resort's website talked of recent remodeling and professes to be a luxury facility, I felt our unit had a tired look. Maintenance was lacking (much of our bathtub was missing its glazing and the living room ceiling had been poorly patched). The interior doors were an unattractive black steel and the bathroom counter tops were plastic. In the lobby near reception, there were two computers available free for guest use, but only one computer was working the entire week we were there.

In the unit is a comprehensive notebook of useful resort information such as important phone numbers, local restaurants, taxis, airports, etc. We were disappointed to discover that no recycling is done at the resort.

Club Cala has two pools and a very small beach a few minutes walk away. I saw few people swimming at the beach, but the pools were always busy. There are no scheduled activities at the resort that I am aware of, although reception was helpful in making tour suggestions, and a gentleman named Hector acted as a sort of concierge to arrange tours or transportation. The resort has free shuttle vans for guest use. You call reception to arrange for the shuttle to take you somewhere at a certain time. You need only tip the driver. Near one of the pools is a small mini-mart. On the subject of transportation, we rented a car at the airport, but I was not prepared for how "challenging" the driving in Puerto Rico would be. I soon discovered that road signs are not in English as I was told they would be. Most of our driving was on expressways, but they are in poor shape compared to the U.S. Road signs are also not lighted and are often obscured by vegetation. We missed many turns because of this. Many drivers drive at 35 or 40 mph in the passing lane when the speed limit is 60, while other drivers race by, often passing you on the berm on your right. Drivers change lanes often with only inches to spare between them and you, and they don't use their turn signals. In the eastern part of the island, there are many places where three lanes will merge down into one lane with absolutely no warning. That became very interesting very quickly. There are also many toll roads in San Juan and the eastern island. So, expect the unexpected when driving in Puerto Rico.

I also discovered in our travels that fewer people speak English than I expected. Perhaps it's my ignorance of the island, but I expected someone like a policeman in San Juan to speak English, but several I tried to speak to did not. I learned too that major credit cards are not as widely accepted as I expected. Many markets, restaurants and one theater we attended only took cash (U.S. currency, of course). Luckily we had enough cash. Prices, too, are higher than in the U.S. As I said above, our purpose in visiting Puerto Rico was to see more of the island than on our previous trip. Our mistake was thinking we could do this using a condo as our base. Perhaps if our timeshare had been more centrally located on the island, we might have been more successful, but with Club Cala being on the southeast coast, we were much too far away from anything in the central or western parts of the island to drive to visit them and get back to our condo in one day. Given that, we found plenty to do just in the east. Most attractions were about an hour away, so we could spend the day and still return to Club Cala to sleep. Our number one goal for this visit was to hike in El Yunque, the only tropical rainforest in the U.S. National Forest system. After a late start, we drove about an hour to the park and went first to the El Portal Rainforest Center at the northern entrance to the park. Four dollars per person got us into the center to see interactive displays on rainforests in general and El Yunque in particular. We talked to rangers, got maps, and hiked a 20-minute interpretative trail next to the center. The center closes at 5:00 but the park doesn't close until 6:00, so we headed up the winding park road to see what we could see for an hour. In that short time we visited La Coca Falls, 85 feet tall and right next to the road, and Yokahu Tower, 66 feet tall and built by the CCC back in the 1930s to give great views in all directions from its top.

The next day we went back to the park (entrance to the park is free). We hiked the Big Tree Trail (half a mile, but takes 90 minutes) which ends in La Mina Falls crowded with swimmers. Then we drove to the end of the road, and hiked to Mt. Britton Lookout Tower (again, more great views of the forest) and on to the tops of El Yunque and Los Picachos peaks (every step is higher than the previous one; take water!). We finished the hike just in time to leave the park at its closing time. The day after our hikes, we went back to San Juan to explore the Old City. We got totally lost, of course, getting there, but by a happy accident we ended up stumbling into a parking lot within walking distance of the forts.

The next day we did some fast research and discovered Reserva Natural las Cabezas de San Juan in Fajardo. It's a 316 acre nature reserve that can only be visited by a two-hour naturalist-led tour on both a trolly and some walking. You get to see a dry forest and lagoons and mangrove forests and seashores for $10 per person. It was well worth the cost. Most tours are in Spanish, so make sure to ask for an English tour if that's what you require.

Our last day of touring was great. We did a combo package of sailing/snorkeling/ picnicking on the catamaran "Traveler" during the morning and afternoon; then in the evening we did the Bio Bay Kayak Adventure with Eco Adventures. (The combo saves you $15 per person.) The kayaking involved paddling open kayaks across a small bay, then continuing about a quarter mile up a mangrove-lined channel into a bioluminescent lagoon. There we waited until it got dark. Once it was dark enough, just by swishing your hand or paddle in the water, microscopic organisms in the water emitted a glow (sparkle might be a better word) that was truly amazing to see. There are only a few places in the world where you can experience this, and it is well-worth the money ($45, but less with the combo).

Our week in Puerto Rico was enjoyable. We hated the driving, but it is no worse than many places we've been. It was unrealistic of us to think we could see the entire island in one week. but Club Cala de Palmas is a great place from which to tour the eastern end of the island. Someday we hope to go back to see more.

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We did not like the idea of wearing the bracelet to use the pools & the other things in the resort. [more]

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Club Cala de Palmas is also known as:

  • Club Cala de Palmas (Palmas del Mar)
  • Club Cala De Palmas Hotel Humacao
  • Club Cala de Palmas Humacao
  • Club Cala De Palmas Hotel Humacao
  • Club Cala de Palmas Humacao Hotel
  • Royal Holiday- Park Royal Club Cala
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