Puerto Rico Information Needed Please

Mar 25th, 2015, 01:57 PM
  #1  
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Puerto Rico Information Needed Please

Hello, I am looking for any help on planning a vacation to Puerto Rico in July. We try to travel to at least one different place we have never visited each year. It looks like we are choosing Puerto Rico this year. We have traveled to Hawaii, all over the United States, Mexico, Europe, Dominican Republic, Turks and Caicos, etc. So we are pretty open to anything. It will be 4 adults, which includes my wife and I, my parents, and my two children ages 4 and 8. From a budget standpoint, we aren't completely frugal, but we don't need to stay at the Ritz by any means. We are looking for a recommendation on what area to look for a hotel or resort. In terms of priorities, we would like to have a nice pool area with a bar to relax, access to the beach for a couple of trips for some of the beach-goers in the group, and proximity to elements of a city with shops, restaurants, etc. We all have different preferences on what we enjoy most, so we try to do a nice mix of relaxation by the pool, a little time at the beach, and a little investigation of the local history and culture. Any recommendations first on places to stay would be greatly appreciated. We've done all inclusive and just regular hotels before. So that doesn't matter. It would just be nice to be close enough to find places to see as a diversion for some days and maybe an evening stroll or some kind of ghost tour, etc. Thanks in advance.
TurkMan3 is offline  
Mar 25th, 2015, 01:58 PM
  #2  
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In addition, we are willing to do a decent-sized suite for the group or two separate rooms near to each other. The suite would have to have a separate bedroom area for the kids to go to bed possibly a little earlier each night. Thanks again for any help.
TurkMan3 is offline  
Mar 26th, 2015, 05:13 AM
  #3  
 
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Based on your description, I'd advise you to look at hotels in Condado and Isla Verde. In Condado, I'd suggest looking at La Concha, Marriott Stellaris and Condado Plaza (Hilton property). In Isla Verde, there is the Ritz Carlton (which, sometimes in the summer has doable rates), El San Juan Hotel (another Hilton property) and the Intercontinental. There is also an Embassy Suites in Isla Verde, which might satisfy your desire for a suite. It's a couple of blocks from the ocean, though. I've never stayed there so can't comment on the rooms. One other possibility in Isla Verde is the ESJ Towers. They have studios and one, two and three bedroom apartments. It's right on the ocean and next to El San Juan Hotel, which has a very nice evening scene. It's also down the street from the Ritz Carlton.


Regarding Condado vs. Isla Verde - Condado is closer to Old San Juan and is a nicer area for strolling. Isla Verde has the better beach.
tom42 is offline  
Mar 26th, 2015, 07:14 AM
  #4  
KVR
 
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We are going to PR in May. Our passports have expired and we didn't want to renew just yet as we are moving to Florida (finally) at the end of the year and won't be traveling internationally for awhile. We chose the Marriott Stellaris in the Condado area. The hotel is closer to San Juan and has several restaurants/bars within walking distance. We prefer pools over ocean and like the look of their pool and swim up bar over the La Concha. We booked a pool room with a balcony. Most of their rooms accommodate up to 4 people, but I didn't see any 2 bedroom suites. There might be some adjoining rooms.

We love AI resorts and have to many throughout the Caribbean/Mexico. PR does not offer that option, so we definitely wanted to stay in an area close to dining/bar options. From reviews, I noticed that the hotel's internal bars/restaurants are quite pricey compared to some outside dining options. There is also a CVS/Walgreens down the way from the Marriott.

We enjoy guided tours. A good way to meet other people with similar interests and guides that have good knowledge of the area. We have a booked a food tour and a cocktail tour in San Juan. A snorkel trip to Culebra, a tour of the Fort/Rum Factory and a trip to the El Yunque rain forest.

I always post a full trip report and photo link when we return. If interested in any of this let me know and I'll send you the links. Most hotels have a concierge/tour desk. You can book activities there also.
KVR is offline  
Mar 26th, 2015, 02:48 PM
  #5  
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Thank you for your input and your time. We are definitely either looking at Condado or Isla Verde after reading your replies. We are trying to decide between those two areas to determine whether it would be easier to stay close to the beach at a place with a nice pool then walk possibly a little further to the places worth visiting/ restaurants, etc or if we should stay more centralized and make the trek to the beach a few times while we were there.
I definitely like the idea of checking out the rain forest in addition to seeing the rum factory. We are looking at anything else to do or see in that area as well. I keep reading about Old San Juan and have noticed some hotels there. Are they convenient to the beach as well?
Thanks for any other activities or information you can provide. I really appreciate it.
TurkMan3 is offline  
Mar 26th, 2015, 05:36 PM
  #6  
KVR
 
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Check out this site for research on things to see and do:

http://www.seepuertorico.com/en/what-to-do/tours/

I basically just did a google search for tours in Puerto Rico plus reviewed Trip Advisor to get some ideas.

There are boutique hotels in Old San Juan with smaller pools. Some offer free shuttles to a beach area, but I never could find what beach area they actually went to. I really don't think getting to the beach from Old San Juan would be considered convenient.

It really depends on what is more of a priority to you: beach = Isla Verde or easy walking/access to dining/bars = Condado.
The Marriott Stellaris and La Concho do have a beach area, but from reviews they are not swimmable all of the time due to undertow. However, just sitting/relaxing on the beach is still possible.
KVR is offline  
Mar 27th, 2015, 04:09 AM
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I would not stay in Old San Juan. It is quite congested and not convenient to a nice beach. It is great to visit and walk through and explore Old San Juan however.
We prefer the Isla Verde area for the beaches.
schmerl is offline  
Mar 27th, 2015, 04:11 AM
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Also, we have rented a condo in the Loquillo Beach area but you would definitely need to rent a car if you stay there.
Loquillo Beach is beautiful and worth a visit.
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Mar 27th, 2015, 04:53 AM
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We got a nice 2br condo in Isla Verde, which doesn't sound exactly like what you want. But before that we liked the looks of the Intercontinental. Nice reviews and great beach/pool area. Check it out on trip advisor.
Jimmie is offline  
Mar 27th, 2015, 05:04 AM
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<>

No they are not. You would have to drive to a beach from Old San Juan. Last summer, I stayed in Old San Juan for two nights, then I moved to a beach hotel for the remainder of my stay. However, I'm not sure I would do that with a 4 and 8 year old. You really can't walk around all day just because it gets so hot, especially in July. And the hotels there are not on the beach and some may not even have a pool (those that do will have small rooftop type pools).

I think you are better off staying in Condado or Isla Verde and taking a taxi to Old San Juan when you want to visit. I'd go in the morning - walk around and see the sites, then stop for lunch. Visit El Morro while you are there. There are also some little museums, a cathedral and lots of shops and restaurants. It's definitely worth a visit but you could pretty much see all you would want to see in a day.
tom42 is offline  
Mar 27th, 2015, 05:06 AM
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<>

I didn't mention condos because I've never stayed in one there but that is also an option, particularly in Isla Verde, whose beach is lined with condos.
tom42 is offline  
Mar 27th, 2015, 10:40 AM
  #12  
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Thanks again. I think at this point we are looking at the Marriott Stellaris as one of our main options. I believe that is located in Condado. We also looked at the San Juan Water and Beach Club which I believe would be considered Isla Verde portion.
Everyone seems to be mentioning the Marriott Stellaris as a great option. If we stay there, the pool looks beautiful and the beach looks decent. We will spend only two or three portions of a day on the beach anyway. If we stay there, are there things to do within walking distance like shops, restaurants, etc to give us something to do each evening? Or would we need to find our way into Old San Juan in the evenings? Is there more to do in Old San Juan than any of the other areas? Finally, how easy is the transportation to get to Old San Juan if we would stay at the Marriott Stellaris?
I think Condado is the best middle ground for everyone in our group. Those who want to relax on the beach could do so. The pools are beautiful with the swim up bar. And as long as there are some things to do in that area for the others who may be less interested in the sun, that sounds great. I would venture to guess we would make some trips into Old San Juan to find things to do either in the mornings or evenings.
TurkMan3 is offline  
Mar 28th, 2015, 12:33 PM
  #13  
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Looks like we are narrowed down to two hotels: either the Marriott Stellaris or the Condado Plaza Hilton.
TurkMan3 is offline  
Mar 30th, 2015, 05:34 AM
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Both are good hotels. One word about the Condado Plaza Hilton - it is on the ocean but there isn't much beachfront. Most of it abuts a rockwall. There is a very small beach to the left side of the pool area but the beach at the Marriott is significantly better.
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Mar 31st, 2015, 08:04 PM
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We just stayed at the Marriott over New Years and I recommend it over the Condado Plaza. The Marriott is a nice resort and you can walk to several restaurants and of course the cvs and walgreens on the corner. The Marriott has a concierge desk that arranges many trips and activities. We did use their services and had a great time on our arranged trips. The easy part is they come and pick you up and bring you back.
We walked to so many restaurants from the Marriott. I think you will be very happy there. Nice pool area and a beach with chairs. My family swam in the ocean. My kids are older though. You will need to watch the children in the ocean, but that is all along the condado no matter which hotel you stay in.
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Apr 6th, 2015, 03:45 AM
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Below is the contact info for the taxi driver (he had a new van) that we hired to take four of us on a daytrip fromSan Juan. Mario speaks perfect English is perfect and he was a delight to spend time with. Knowledgable about current events and island history. I am sure that he would take you to El Yunque.

The details of our own excursion are here:

I'll take this opportunity to mention the wonderful taxi driver who squired us around San Juan and up to the Ruta de Lechon, or "Pork highway," near the town of Guavate, about a 40 minute drive from the capital.

I would highly recommend this trip for anyone in San Juan on a weekend who is interested in fabulous food (whole roast pig is the specialty but they also have chicken, turkey, and a vast array of local side dishes from pasteles to platano en escabeche to arroz con gandules) and a chance to be surrounded by locals feasting, dancing, listening to live music. A real fiesta in every sense of the word! Of the long string of eateries, we chose Los Pinos, where lunch for 5 of us cost less than $45. I was later told that this restaurant was featured on Tony Bourdain's "No Reservations" program on tv.

Here is the name and contact info for the driver, Mario Gomez Robles; he speaks impeccable English and is knowledgeable about many aspects of life on the island.

787=425-9437

[email protected]


I'd be more than happy to discuss the Ruta de Lechon, Guavate, or eating in San Juan with anyone bound for the island.
ekscrunchy is offline  
Apr 9th, 2015, 06:17 AM
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I did a trip report on our stay from last spring break if that helps

www. chiliandtart.tumblr.com
chiliandtart is offline  
May 7th, 2015, 07:36 AM
  #18  
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Our family doctor recommended that we have the children inoculated for Typhoid Fever/ Typhus before going to Puerto Rico. Does anyone have any input on this?
TurkMan3 is offline  
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