Published on February 11th, 2010 | by Mark Chesnut
VIDEO TOUR: San Juan Condado, Part 2 – Nightlife & Shopping
If you need inspiration for nightlife and shopping in San Juan, check out this video!
It’s Friday night along Ashford Avenue, and at the trendy open-air bars and restaurants that sit along the park called Ventana al Mar, members of San Juan’s young, beautiful elite are gathered, enjoying exotic drinks. Just across the street, patrons savor equally exotic libations and Asian-Latin fusion cuisine on the rooftop deck at the posh restaurant called Budatai. Just a couple blocks away, patrons sip mojitos, piña coladas and martinis, their faces bathed by the warm ocean breeze at Barlovento, a cool open-air bar that sits on a tiny park graced with contemporary sculpture.
A weekend night like this is a good example of what could easily be called the “Condado comeback,” a return of upscale options and amenities for visitors to one of San Juan’s original chic neighborhoods. Nowadays, it’s more walkable than ever, with all of these places scattered among a few ocean-front blocks (Barlovento, which sits right next to my condo, is a particular favorite for a traditional welcome cocktail whenever I visit).
You can even enjoy hip, stylish and elegant vibes right at some of the neighborhoods largest bars, thanks to hotels that have been refurbished in recent years. Along the glowing lobby bar at La Concha, a Renaissance Resort, night owls sink into stylish winged chairs and white couches, their faces morphing as the ceiling lights change color. Outside the giant glass doors, patrons socialize along the multi-level swimming pool, which at night is dramatically lit to become a sculptural fountain. Down the street at Eternal — the dark, moody and cool lobby lounge at the Conrad Condado Plaza — a live DJ spins chilled vibes for a well-dressed crowd of visitors and locals. And at the lobby lounge at the long-running San Juan Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino, live music and dancing is frequently on the menu. (Oh, and don’t forget the casinos at all three hotels.)
If you’re looking for something fresh to wear on your night out, not to fear. Condado is one of San Juan’s fashion hubs. A quick stroll along Ashford Avenue reveals shops bearing names like Cartier, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Dior and Salvatore Ferragamo, as well as local designer Lisa Cappalli, who operates a couture shop in Condado. Or check out Euforia, a new boutique that combines interesting products that stimulate the senses: gourmet Puerto Rican coffee, and high-quality skin-care products — some imported and some made with wholesome and fragrant ingredients right on the island. With a little help from Euforia, you’ll be able to have glistening skin for your night on the town, and then wake up with plenty of caffeine the following day.
(If you missed Part 1 of the Condado video, during which I highlight the best in hotels and dining, click here.)
Drink up! The piña colada was invented in San Juan.