What We Love
- The views of the Caribbean Sea and Vieques’s mountainous interior
- The wood-grilled fish and steaks at chef Jose Enrique’s open-kitchen restaurant
- Relaxing by the rooftop plunge pool with chef Jose Enrique’s signature cocktail (Puerto Rican rum, fresh-squeezed star fruit juice and ginger)
What To Know
- The 21 guestrooms are stylish but no-fuss; there are no TVs
- The vibe is casual, and going barefoot is encouraged
- Easy access to bike rentals, riding and hiking trails
- Children 17 and under are not permitted
- The bar opens at 5 p.m.
- Adults Only
- Free WiFi
- Handicap Accessible
- Parking On Site
The curved concrete four-story El Blok is the debut project of music executive Simon Baeyertz. Baeyertz’s intent was to create a simple, beachy retreat that’s big on relaxation and laid-back socializing. The guestrooms have floors clad with hidrolico tiles in a geometric pattern, and the hand-plastered walls are purposely left unfinished. All rooms have terraces with dramatic views and Magniflex organic hybrid foam mattress with colorful striped throws. The second floor of the hotel is a breezy open-air space that includes a bar and restaurant. Chef Jose Enrique’s eatery features versions of his lauded Puerto Rican dishes such as bacon and egg empanadas and seafood soup with coconut; his signature cocktail is made with Puerto Rican rum, fresh-squeezed star fruit juice and ginger — it’s best enjoyed by the rooftop plunge pool.
In the Area
The sole reason travelers flock to Vieques is the pristine white sand beaches — and if you’re not on the beach or appreciating the view, you’re napping or enjoying a cocktail or a casual meal. The small island boasts 40 beaches, and the concierge will give you insider tips on the best ones to visit if you’re not content with the one in front of the hotel. (However, chances are you’ll be happy to laze away your stay on-site.) If you are in the mood to dine out, the hotel isn’t far from El Quenepo, which serves a cosmopolitan take on traditional Puerto Rican fare. If you choose to tear yourself away from the beach, the 19th-century Count Mirasol Fort has art exhibits and an intriguing collection of Vieques artifacts, along with an amazing view of the island.
How to Get There
dissatisfied. We were 3 couples, we had three different rooms and 2/3 did not have hot water, however when we went to to ask for assistance after 9pm no one was at the front desk to help us? No solution was given!
The room was updated and modern.
This is a very nice place to stay in Vieques. Design is great, rooms are comfortable (no TV), very well located in El Malecon and walking distance from restaurants. Breakfast is included but it’s not satisfying even for a continental breakfast, they could do better for the price. And unfortunately in the dates we stayed the pool was not available since it was being repaired. So basically we paid for the nice design.
The thing about brutalism--the 20th century architectural style that features geometric shapes and imposing bulk formed from poured concrete--is that it looks terrific when it's new, but it doesn't always age well. Though El Blok is only about five years old, it's already looking a little long in the tooth. Our room (#303) had a great view of the sea, but one of the balcony chairs was badly rusted, the pivoting balcony shutter was tied into place with a rope, and the sliding balcony door was very difficult to close from the outside. The room was permeated with a musty/mildewy odor, perhaps related to the inherent difficulty in fully drying out concrete in a hot humid environment. The hot water supply was erratic and the bathroom was cramped. The single elevator looked like it had seen better days. The concrete walls and floors, which must have looked clean and crisp when they were new, are now stained with age.
To be sure, the fact that El Blok is up and running at all is something of a small miracle, given how Hurricane Maria damaged so much of Vieques in 2017. And there are signs that renovation is proceeding. The rooftop bar's soaking pool is offline and undergoing renovations. We were told that the bar area is new, and it looks it with striking hardwood verticals that give the concrete and sheetrock interior a warmer feel. Still, the overall bare-walls aesthetic gives the place the feel of a lovely place to stay on the Klingon homeworld.
It would be hard to beat El Blok's location, anchoring one end of Calle Esperanza and directly across from a beach with a pedestrian esplanade. A security guard stands on duty in the area all night to keep an eye on your rental car. There's a strip of bars and cafes starting at El Blok and extending about half a mile. The hotel's staff is nothing short of stellar, with welcoming friendly front desk clerks (and a sweet dog named Mia), and knowledgeably chill bartenders. Breakfast (included with the room) is spare but the coffee is delicious.
I'd book a stay there again in hopes that renovations continue. Brutalist buildings are notoriously difficult to maintain, since replacing a wall, ceiling, or floor involves jackhammering out old concrete and pouring new. I applaud what the hotel owners are trying to do there and hope they will overcome the obstacles they face in keeping up a building of this type.