I suppose it made sense that it poured with rain throughout my visit to The Water Club – San Juan's first "designer" hotel. It just wasn't what I was expecting of Puerto Rico. I thought I'd be sipping rum punches under the stars, perspiring quietly in a little floaty number. Instead, the rooftop bar Wet was looking a little bit too wet for my liking – the designer waiters were swabbing down the floor and putting waterproof blinds up along the walls. It did somewhat spoil the ambience, but for a thirsty traveller who'd come straight from the airport, a little light drizzle wasn't going to stop me.
In fact the staff took little persuading to raise the blind along the front, so that I could sip my piña colada (I know that's a cliché, but if I'm ever going to drink it, here's the place) with a view of the ocean. They indulgently shored up the rapidly forming puddles with designer tea towels (macchiato moppers?). The funky tempo soundtrack and collection of swanky white loungers were all conducive to getting my bodyclock into a Caribbean state of mind.
But the Wet bar had one distinct disadvantage for the crumbled, pale European; it was completely peopled with funky San Juansters, dressed up to the the nines and on full party alert. They were necking Cosmopolitans like they're going out of fashion (which they probably are in the US and Europe, but in Puerto Rico they're still very much the in-thing).
At midnight, when I'd tired of the thunderstorm and the high-voltage drinks, I thought I'd look in on Liquid, the lobby bar. You're getting the water theme, aren't you? I certainly was when I stepped into the lift which had a sheet of water running down one wall. OK, it was behind glass, but still that combination of electrics and water was making me nervous. That and the lift's other occupants, a man with a dog the size of a small horse. He told me that he started staying at The Water Club, which only opened in December, because the staff are very kind to his dog, and he can walk out of the hotel door and be on the beach in 10 seconds.
I never made it into Liquid. It was throbbing with bodies, and my Rohan shorts and Birkenstocks would have jarred unpleasantly with the beautiful women bare up-to-there and their cigar-chomping companions. It was like Sex in the City with extra Latino spirit. Liquid was hot, hot, hot, despite the air-conditioning being set on freeze. I slunk back to my room.
When I went to breakfast, the same women who'd been sashaying around Wet and Liquid the night before were still up and partying, despite the fact that it was still raining. In these hotel bars, there may be water everywhere, but no one drank a drop.
The Water Club, Isla Verde, San Juan, Puerto Rico. For more details, contact Design Hotels on 0800 1698817 or visit www.designhotels.comReuse content