Published on July 21st, 2011 | by Mark Chesnut
Top 5 Reasons to Visit San Juan, Puerto Rico
|Craving Condado: San Juan’s Condado district is one of the best places to indulge in Puerto Rico.|
BY MARK CHESNUT
While writing recent articles about travel to San Juan, Puerto Rico for the travel site Orbitz Worldwide and Société Perrier, the site dedicated to international culture, style and travel, I got to thinking about exactly what makes me feel so good when I’m strolling the streets of Puerto Rico’s capital.
Since I take Puerto Rico vacations frequently (thanks in no small part to the fact that my partner’s family lives there, and also that we own an oceanfront condo apartment there), it didn’t take me long to come up with five great reasons to visit.
1. The Diversity. San Juan is a metropolis that knows how to mix things up. You’ll find long stretches of sandy beaches just steps away from designer shopping, bustling casinos, fancy restaurants and glistening hotels. But you’ll also find history. The historic center — Old San Juan or Viejo San Juan — is a true gem, with colorful Colonial architecture that has been beautifully restored. Don’t miss El Morro, the giant oceanfront fortress, or the many small shops and galleries that make for perfect strolling.
2. The Food. San Juan is home to an increasingly diverse array of stylish restaurants, from the gourmet Puerto Rican cuisine of Casa Lola, which opened this year, to the Latin-Asian fusion delicacies of Budatai and Dragonfly, to the Peruvian-influenced delights at Lima, Perurrican and the quirky-and-fun P’al Cielo. And then there are the hole-in-the-wall places like the store across the street from La Concha hotel, where the decor won’t win any awards but the sandwiches are mouthwatering. And don’t forget to wash down your meal with fresh fruit juice or an authentic local cocktail.
3. The Music. Whether you prefer classic salsa, energetic bomba y plena or contemporary, reggae-and-rap infused reggaetón, you’ll find lots of home-grown music to fill the air and get you to the dance floor. Check out one of the city’s live music and dance shows (watch a video here) for an lively introduction to Puerto Rico’s rich music and dance traditions.
4. The Hotels. San Juan has accommodations to fit a variety of tastes and budgets. For full-service luxury, check into the Caribe Hilton, the El San Juan Resort & Casino and the Ritz-Carlton, San Juan. For more contemporary style, consider La Concha, a Renaissance Resort, the Conrad Condado Plaza or the funky-cool Hotel Casablanca. Or indulge in the classic elegance of El Convento, set in a historic former convent in Old San Juan.
5. The Access. San Juan is easy to visit — it’s connected by nonstop flights to every major airline hub in the eastern United States, as well as Caracas, London, Madrid, Panama City and a variety of Caribbean destinations. Often, air fares and hotel packages from the States are comparable to the price of a Florida trip (see the latest sale prices at the end of this article).
But that’s not the only kind of access I’m talking about. You’ll also be an easy drive away from countless natural and historic treasures around the island of Puerto Rico — including El Yunque rainforest, the Camuy Caves and countless small towns just waiting to be discovered. San Juan is an ideal hub for exploring the rest of the isla del encanto — although you just might have trouble pulling yourself away from this alluring city.
CURRENT VACATION DEALS IN PUERTO RICO:
• Book Early & Save: Puerto Rico air + 4 nights from $363 – Ongoing
• Discover Puerto Rico and get your 4th night FREE! – Expires 7/31/2011
• The San Juan Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino celebrates its 16th birthday this year, and to commemorate the event, the hotel is offering a Sweet 16 package with savings of 25 percent on accommodations and activities. The package includes deluxe accommodations for two adults and two children, daily breakfast for four at the newly renovated La Vista Latin Grill, executive lounge access, one dinner for four at Ristorante Tuscany, a $16 per day resort credit, and tours for four of Old San Juan, the Bio Bay and El Yunque Rainforest. The package starts at $454 per night, with a four-night minimum, and is valid until Dec. 31. Request promo code YX1.
• The Doubletree by Hilton San Juan, along with its sister properties, is currently offering a special “My Puerto Rico Experience” package on www.MyPuertoRicoExperience.com, the newly-launched interactive website. Prices start at $179 per night with a three-night minimum, and include a $50 debit card per stay, buy-one-get-one-free breakfast every day and 20 percent discounts with Enterprise car rental and Dragonfly Adventure tour company.
• San Juan: The Caribbean’s Stylish Gay Hub (from Société Perrier)
• San Juan’s Hotels Mix Business with Pleasure (from Orbitz)