Over New Years, my family of four, mom, dad, and two college aged daughters spent a week in Puerto Rico! We stayed using points at the Marriott Stellaris Hotel located on the Condado in San Juan.
The hotel is a very nice resort hotel. We stayed on the 15th floor in a two queen bedded room. Although were located right by the elevators, I never heard any dings or people in the hall. Our room had a side ocean view, sitting on the balcony gave us the best view. The rooms are comfortable and clean. The baths are relatively new. One thing, there is so much humidity in the air, that the clothes never seemed to dry and even the dry clothes felt damp at times. I think it is just the island's high humidity. The room temps never got really cold, which I like a cooler room so I was always fiddling with the a/c.
The hotel has security that walks the floors and checks on things. I think, just like any island in the caribbean, there is crime, drug crime, but the Marriott does a good job of having security check around to make sure everyone is safe. New Years Eve, there was a ton of security and you couldn't get near the elevators without a wrist band saying you were a guest.
The hotel has a very nice pool area with live music in the afternoons. You can get a drink poolside and beach side. We dined often in the open air oceanfront lunch/dinner place at the Marriott. Food was very good and offered everything from hamburgers to salads to fish sandwiches.
We also attended the hotel's new years eve party. It was expensive, but what isn't on new years. The hotel threw a great party with fantastic salsa music! My husband met one of the band members on the elevator and said we were going to the party and the band leader gave him his band's cd. We listen to it and love it! They offered a few bands that night. I was so impressed with the elderly Spanish couples. They danced all night and were so good! The party had quite the variety of ages and my college kids had fun learning new dances with local girls their age.
The hotel also has a casino. It was fun for a night.
The hotel concierge offers day trips to different activities.
We did :
The bioluminescent kayak tour. They pick you up and take you to the eastern shore of PR, Fajaro area and have the tour all set up. This made it all very easy for us. It was very windy, but we were able to kayak across open water, (I credit my very athletic daughter on my kayak to smoothly getting us across the bay in record time!) to the mangrove trees and out into the quiet bay to experience the illumination. It was very fun and I liked kayaking through the mangroves most of all. It is like going through a long tunnel of trees, ( the kind you would see in a Disney movie). Use bug spray.
We also did the catamaran tour out in the Fajaro area. The Marriott took us by van to the area where we hopped on a very fun catamaran. The weather was windy and the water was choppy, but no one got sick and we actually were taken to a quiet cove area to snorkel. The food was very good that they provided for lunch and the crew was fun!
We also did the horseback riding tour and the Marriott again took us by van. We rode on a ranch near the rainforest. The guides were knowledgeable and the horses very tame. They provided helmets with a hair net (to prevent lice I guess). We enjoyed our trip to the horse farm in the country.
We did a walk around Old San Juan on our own and it is a lovely port city with many shops and also the fort to see.
Restaurants: Since we were at the Marriott, we enjoyed walking to several restaurants. Bar Gitano, which had small plates and I really enjoyed my meal with steak, my husband and one daughter shared a seafood platter. The pizzas looked good as well. They also have entertainment on different nights. The Crepe restaurant next door was great! and reasonably priced. We had dinner there once and dessert twice. The crepes were delicious and it was not pricey at all and very walkable from the Marriott.
Another restaurant we really liked was Oceano. Oceano, we sat outside and had delicious fish dinners. The waitstaff was excellent and I recommend getting a reservation ahead of time!
We ate at Casa Lola which was not that good and it was expensive. I don't mind paying a premium for a good meal, but not happy when the food was just lousy.
Puerto Rico was a fun in the sun destination. The beaches on the Condado were rough, but great boogie boarding waters. Just be careful of the undertow. The food is good and the people were very friendly. I like the area of the Condado because you can really walk around and just walk into restaurants and even to the CVS for some wine and snacks for the room.
Everyone speaks English, but there is that wonderful Latin music and island pulse that makes you feel as if you are in a foreign land! We enjoyed our trip immensely and would return again!
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