A relaxing island vacation meets urban fun for families in San Juan Puerto Rico.
When I look for a place to vacation with my family, I look for a place that will not only allow our family to unwind and relax but will also allow us to experience the new city or country with authentic excursions and points of interest to explore. Our stay at the Condado Plaza in San Juan was the perfect place for us to stay.
Located only minutes from the Luis Munoz Marin International Airport in the upscale, trendy and fashionable Condado neighborhood of San Juan, we checked into this beautiful, modern and sophisticated hotel and were immediately captivated by the stunning lobby decor and of course, the ocean views. At first glance, I wasn't sure how kid friendly this hotel would be as the lobby looked like a more upscale night club lounge, however this hotel had everything families would want (and more) in a hotel when traveling with kids.
We checked into our room and headed up to get settled. Our room had two queen beds and most gorgeous panoramic ocean views of the Atlantic Ocean. There are actually two buildings (across the street from each other) that both belong to the Hilton Condado Plaza. One overlooks the Atlantic Ocean and the other, the Condado Lagoon. All the views were amazing. And you have access to all amenities no matter where you stay. There was not a tub in our room, which may or may not be something you inquire about when booking a room. The beds were super comfortable, the bathroom was very large and the view was just stunning. If you are traveling with kids, they do offer a family junior suite which comes with 2 single beds, 1 king bed (in separate rooms) plus a microwave and refridgerater. This suite would be an ideal suite for anyone traveling with two kids! Perfect place to come back to and relax after a day of playing in San Juan.
A few amenities that I thought were amazing were the laundry facility on site as well as the vast amount of restaurants and activities for the entire family. As I typically travel with for kids in tow, I know how difficult it is to please everyone. But this hotel had honestly thought of everything for everyone!
This hotel definitely has the "something for everyone" down as well. There are 8 different places to choose from when hunger strikes. I felt like I was in Las Vegas with the vast options that were available to dine onsite. They had even had a Denny's, which was the nicest Denny's I have ever been to! We had a few meals at the Cafe Caribe which was a beautiful place to enjoy the panoramic ocean views and authentic cafe con leche in the morning. Very reasonably priced for kids to order a la carte too! Of course you can have your Starbucks too! Eight Noodle Bar is an amazing Asian restaurant open day and late night. If you are looking for an authentic culinary experience, you MUST head to Pikayo, which is the flagship and acclaimed restaurant of Chef Wilo Benet. You might opt to use the hotel babysitting service while you escape for a night to experience the world class food which is a blend of new and classic Puerto Rican dishes. And of course, the Casino is right next door for adults only. (Yes, one of Puerto Rico's largest casino, 12,500 square-feet, is located on the 2nd floor and open 24-hours a day. My daughter kept asking why we couldn't play in the game room! Ha!)
There are many reason's that this hotel was super family friendly. The 4 outdoor swimming pools offered a variety of places we could explore each time we wanted to go swimming. The Aqua Bar and Grill was located next to our favorite pool, the one with a slide and overlooking the Lagoon Beach (a public beach but the hotel pool is private to guests only). Snorkeling in the Condado Lagoon was a favorite excursion of ours onsite at the Condado Plaza. Either bring your own snorkel equiptment or you can rent from the onsite activities team. But definitely go snorkeling in the Lagoon! So much to see!!!
Over at the Lagoon Pool area, you can rent kayaks, paddle boards or aqua cycles so you can partake in many different water sports right on site. The Lagoon was one of the most tranquil places to just soak in the beauty of the city. You could see the convention center and more downtown buildings that reminded me of a very urban city. Yet the peacefulness of the Lagoon was so relaxing.
Another amenity that I loved was the ScoutAbout adventure that was hidden all over the hotel for kids to explore. Part of a national program, the ScoutAbout adventures allow kids to go on a hunt all over the hotel, find the iconic or historic places to see on property and then collect bracelets for each. Once all places are visited (usually between 8-10), and a bracelet is retrieved from each place, the child gets a completion bracelet to keep! My daughter LOVED going around to find the new places and learn something new too!
The hotel is also only minutes from the historic and charming Old San Juan district. Drive over (you will not get lost) or take a take taxi to go walk through the old cobblestone streets and marvel at the history and the buildings of this quaint and charming city. There are so many historic sites to see that you will get lost in exploring the city as there will be so many places you will want to visit. Have your camera ready and if you can hire a tour guide to walk you through the city, even better. Of course you will definitly get hungry while on your day/ night excursion, so plan ahead and make reservations or ask the consigners to help you find a place to eat that will give you an authentic Puerto Rican meal, and you will definitely not be disappointed.
This hotel is also located just up the street (walking distance) from a beautiful waterfront park, Ventana Del Mar (window to the sea) and many American restaurants (Chili's, Subway and Dunkin' Donuts) as well as many Latin fusion eateries too are on the way there.
Loved the location of this hotel! So close to everything and yet still so relaxing at the same time. If you are looking to explore Old San Juan for a few days, this is definitely the hotel you will want to stay at! Kids will love it and so will adults (kids or sans kids!)
Disclosure: My family visited Puerto Rico as part of a media tour. Our tour and a portion of the airfare was provided, but all opinions will be provided by yours truly.