As I recently prepared to visit San Juan for several days to attend the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association’s annual convention, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Puerto Rico had just been hit by Hurricane Fiona and even though Hurricane Maria occurred five years prior to this trip, it still feels like it was only yesterday to so many people. As such, there was a lot of speculation as to what was happening in the island’s bigger cities leading up to this event, and so I was extremely eager to see it all for myself.
What I discovered shortly after landing, and in the 15 minutes it took my taxi to bring me to the lobby at Caribe Hilton, was that Puerto Rico was simply as beautiful as I remembered it from my last visit more than a decade ago. And it was no shock that the people were warm and welcoming, as I think I left with a longer list of restaurants to visit than I had when I arrived. If anything was a disappointment, it was that my work schedule was so packed.
With beaches and some recreational areas of El Yunque reopened and airfare especially affordable right now, the only thing left to discuss is where to stay. Fortunately, these hotels and resorts have made that part a breeze.
Tour Like a Local
The Place: Caribe Hilton
The Deal: This hotel is already a must-stay for anyone looking to mix Puerto Rico’s rich culture with modern style—oh, and don’t forget that it’s the place where the first piña colada was poured in 1954. But you can’t visit this island without experiencing the local elements, which is why Caribe Hilton offers guests the best of the best with the “Tour Like a Local” concept.
Choose from one of three tours—Old San Juan, the nearby beach, or El Yunque Rainforest—and while there’s not a wrong decision, we should point out that foodies will never want to leave Old San Juan. Book by November 30, 2022, for visits through March 31, 2023, and tours must be reserved seven days in advance.
The Place: Condado Vanderbilt
The Deal: One aspect that makes Condado Vanderbilt such a great choice for travelers is the range of suite options. Couples looking for a quick, passport-free weekend escape can book a Commodore Oceanfront one-bedroom terrace suite, while a small family or group can rest comfortably in a two-bedroom suite in between piña colada walking tours and sunset catamaran cruises. There’s even a three-bedroom Presidential Suite for anyone who wants to vacation like royalty.
No matter which accommodations guests choose, they’ll also be happy to take advantage of the “Suite Autumn” deal, which includes two full breakfasts and a $75 resort credit. Not that people need their arms twisted too much, since this property is already alluring enough with its special events like cigar and whiskey pairings and specialty cocktails and meals at STK Restaurant.
Bed and Breakfast in Paradise
The Place: Hyatt Regency Grand Reserve Puerto Rico
The Deal: When it comes to the complete resort experience, visitors will be hard-pressed to find a resort that does a little bit of everything as well as Hyatt Regency Grand Reserve Puerto Rico. A trip to this island should always focus on exploring and enjoying the best of the natural beauty, but guests might find that difficult given the bevy of outstanding amenities featured here, including an 18-hole Tom Kite-designed golf course, spa, five dining options, and three pools, one of which is the largest lagoon-style concept in Puerto Rico.
Of course, everyone will want to explore, especially since El Yunque isn’t far from the property, so every guest’s day must begin on the right foot. That’s why the centerpiece of the “Bed and Breakfast in Paradise” experience is daily breakfast for two at Water’s Edge. An ideal choice for anyone, whether heading deep into the rainforest or simply soaking up the sun on the spectacular beach.
The Place: Fairmont El San Juan
The Deal: Ask anyone familiar with the Island of Enchantment for a beach recommendation and we’re certain Isla Verde will top most lists. If golden sand and gorgeous blue water is at the heart of a Puerto Rican quest, then all signs point to Fairmont El San Juan Hotel, which is already a great choice for authenticity and style—not to mention the four pools and Well and Being Spa. The beach is just the cherry on top.
With the Fairmont Suite Experience, guests will enjoy a discount of 15 percent off best available rates and breakfast for two each day. That means extra cash in the budget for when it’s time to plan thrilling off-property adventures like ziplining at Toro Verde Adventure Park.
The Place: La Concha Resort
The Deal: There’s very little that travelers love more than covering the basics, because it makes it easier to focus on the finer details of a vacation experience. La Concha Resort checks all the boxes when it comes to an idyllic Puerto Rican escape, as it sits on a beautiful stretch of sand, boasts one of the coolest pools on the island, and even has a casino for guests who like to test their luck before dancing the night away at Fifty Eight.
This property makes it even easier to enjoy it all by offering the Fall Escape package, which includes daily continental breakfast for two at Aroma Café, a $25 daily hotel credit, and double casino match play vouchers. And guests looking to get away for the spookiest time of year are in for an extra special treat with the Upside Down Halloween Weekend. The holiday might fall on Monday this year, but weekend visitors can enjoy access to a special event with a pair of specialty cocktails included.