Reviews & Photos
September 18 2014
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Condado Plaza Hilton
999 Ashford Avenue,
San Juan, Puerto Rico
"A relaxing island vacation meets urban fun for families in San Juan, Puerto Rico."
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.
September 18 2014
Ki' Children's Spa at the El Conquistador Resort
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1000 El Conquistador Avenue,
Puerto Rico 00738
"A Wonderful Bonding Experience: Mom & Me Spa Day - Waldorf Astoria-style"
The Waldorf Astoria has out done themselves with their new Ki' Children's Spa that is now a part of the Caribbean's largest Waldorf Astoria Spa at the El Conquistador Resort. Panoramic views from every view open up the 26,000 sq. ft. spa that includes 25 treatment rooms, a state-of-the-art fitness center, a movement studio with classes as well as a juice bar.
My daughter and I arrived and were welcomed with cucumber water and fruit. We were able to tour the facility and were shown the kids treatment room where my daughter and I would receive the treatments we book together. I loved that I could see her at all times and vice versa.
We were able to sample some of their new kids products that they would be using. They smelt and felt divine! With ingredients that were indigenous to the region, they smelt so "yummy" and had the best names like "Triple Chocolate Layer Soap" and my daughters favorite, Banana Massage Lotion.
We were both given robes and then waited in the rooms for our treatments to start. Their Tropical Spa Ritual begins with a Coconut Sugar Scrub to polish the skin's surface followed by a 25-minute signature massage using a special blend of massage oils.
The kids treatment room was not in with the other 25 service rooms. Just off to the side was a room that was fairly bright and decorated like a teenagers room might be. With fun colors and a bright atmosphere, my daughter couldn't wait to get started with her "day at the spa!"
We felt so relaxed after our treatments. We enjoyed a juice at the juice bar and lounged around just enjoying each other's company. For my daughter's first time at a spa, it couldn't have imagined it more perfect and memorable. My time spent with her will always be a favorite memory of mine. We would definitely return and I do hope that more Waldorf Astoria properties follow their lead to add these services (as well as the experience) on to their menu.
September 18 2014
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El Conquistador Resort: A Waldorf Astoria Resort
1000 El Conquistador Avenue,
Fajardo, Puerto Rico
"An Enchanded Escape to Puerto Rico"
Without sounding like a commercial, I am just going to be as honest as I can: This hotel. This island. I have fallen in love with Puerto Rico and I hope that my review of this property will have you booking a flight for a weekend, or longer is recommended, with your family for your next island vacation. I have completely fallen in love with this country and here is one of the many reasons why.
The El Conquistador Resort, is a Waldorf Astoria property and is located about a 45 minute drive from San Juan in the city of Fajardo. We had a car arranged (which I highly recommend to do prior to your arrival) as we were literally off the plane and into the car and on our way in a matter of minutes from finding our luggage. With no customs to go through upon arrival, travel to Puerto Rico is very quick and easy!
Fajardo, a small city on the Caribbean and the Atlantic ocean was beautiful and definitely had us enchanted from the moment we arrived at the El Conquistador resort. Upon arrival, we were driven up a mountain side to the resort and were able to see the El Yunque National Forest in the distance. The front of the hotel is not something I even remember, because as soon as you enter, you are drawn to the panoramic views of the ocean that are immediately in front of you. This 500-acre resort has no reason for you to leave (unless you choose to partake in a few off property excursions, which are VERY well worth it) but you will enjoy every minute of your time on property if you choose to stay.
The Waldorf Astoria properties are known for their extraordinary destinations around the globe along with "True Waldorf Service" that goes above and beyond customer service n every way. They create unforgettable experiences for guests. The El Conquistador Resort was nothing shy of spectacular. Stunning in every way, this resort offers amenities and excursions that unforgettable to say the least. In all honesty, I have not stopped talking about my trip to Puerto Rico and my stay at the El Conquistador Resort since I left. And I am dreaming about going back again.
Families can make a lifetime of memories in one trip when they stay at the El Conquistador Resort. Situated atop a 300-foot bluff on the northeast tip of Puerto Rico, you can actually see where the Caribbean Sea meets the Atlantic Ocean. From our room the panoramic views were just breathtaking. I couldn't take enough pictures and in every picture, I felt that it wasn't doing justice to what I was seeing in person. There were 50 shades of blue that I saw each day-from the sky to the sea. And they were enchanting!
The El Conquistador Resort has a sister property, Las Casitas Village, which are elite accommodations that offer one to three-bedroom villas complete with butler service and private pools. All resort amenities are available for guests of both.
The rooms at the El Conquistador Resort have ocean views or garden views, with the El Yunque National Forest in the distance. Our room was very spacious and came with a cooler too. The resort is very spread out so bring walking shoes as there is so much to see and do!
Let's start talking about amenities. With everything from their 100-acre private island getaway, Palomino Island, the massive family-friendly Coqui Water Park, The Waldorf Astoria Spa, Arthur Hills Golf Course and of course the main pool complex which features three pools for swimming laps, floating, or playing water games. All pools have a uniqueness about them (swim up bars, infinity edges) so you will definitely want to pool hop! Of course there are the fun kid-centric amenities such as pool side tattoos, arcade games in the Ultra Lounge along with air hockey or remote control car racing, s'mores by moonlight, cool piraguas (snowcones) by the beach, and the amazing views from the cool funicular (a cable railway) which will take you up to the main resort or down to the marina and Coqui Water Park. Like kids in a candy store, there is so much to do, you might not know where to start, so just start somewhere!
As seen as a small island from the panoramic view of our hotel room, this island became my favorite part of the resort. As a guest, you will have access to high-seed luxury catamarans that run all throughout the day, that will wisk you away to paradise. Literally, roll out of bed, hop on the boat and off to paradise you go. Arrive on Palomino Island, a 100-acre private island where you will need nothing but your room key (linked to a charge card) your swim suit and a smile. Hike up the mountain for a 360 view of nothing but blue skies and blue water that surround you. Go horseback riding on the beach. Enjoy water sports like paddle boarding, kayaking or snorkeling right off the shore. You are literally in paradise. White sand and clear water will have you relaxed in no time. And when you are ready to return to "real life" hop on the boat and away you go. Last boat off the island leaves at 6pm.You need to spend at least one full day here.
Coqui Water Park
Block out an entire day to roam the Coqui Water Park! You must purchase special passes, however, depending on your hotel package purchase, passes might be included. This 2.4-acre water park is a state-of-the-art water playground is for everyone! There are 2.4 acres to explore with three high-speed slides (one with a 40-ft drop- El Gigante Dormino), plus, an 8,000 sq. ft. lazy river and the the coolest infinity-edge pool I have ever seen. You will definitely not get bored.
Waldorf Astoria Spa and Ki' Spa
A new program added to the Caribbean's largest spa, is focusing on the youngest spa-goers, the Ki' Spa. This program invited children ages 14 and under to endulge with Mom or Dad in a spa treatment side-by-side with Mom or Dad, that incorporated products indigenous to the surrounding rain forest. The "Tripple Chocolate Layer Soap" and the "Banana Massage Lotion" were our favorites! My daughter and I had side-by-side treatments and she was never out of my site. The room was fun a relaxing. For her first spa experience, I know that the this was one she will definitely remember.
With 23 different restaurant, bars and lounges, you and your kids will never go hungry. From fancy options for special occasions, to budget friendly choices. Depending on what you are in the mood for, options are available 24 hours a day. And even a Starbucks will have you feeling "regular" each morning, however, I would much rather sit on the terrace of the Las Brisas Restaurant with the ocean view I will always remember. A few favorites for dining with kids were Chops Steakhouse or Stingray Cafe for dinner. Both offered many kid-friendly options while also offering unique Latin fusion menu items that blended traditional dishes with local Puerto Rican flavors. Their restaurants will not disappoint and offer a wide variety of world flavors for what you might be in the mood for that evening.
Sports and Activities
If you are feeling like getting active, there is the Arthur Hills designed 18-hole golf course, tennis courts, plenty of water sports, Family Aqua Parkour Classes, FootGolf lessons, or exploring the resort in search of the ScoutAbout points of discovery. There is also Camp Coqui for kids that happens each day! For kids ages 4-12, you can choose a half or full day of adventure for your kids with friendly and fun staff members that have a planned schedule of activities for that day! (Additional fees apply dependent upon half or full day/ lunch or no lunch.)
Off Site Excursions
If you are interested in seeing the El Yunque National Forest or canoeing in the Bioluminescent Bay, there is a concierge desk with tours that can assist you in your adventure. There are many that will begin right at the hotel, but there are a few excursions that are definitely worth doing while you are in Puerto Rico.
We had an unforgettable experience on the enchanted island and most in part to our stay at the El Conquistador Resort. The "True Waldorf Service" is everything they say it is. Puerto Rico will forever be a place I long to return to visit. Bring the kids. Bring the whole family. You will have an unforgettable island vacation along with memories to last a lifetime.
I was hosted by the El Conquistador Resort. All opinions are my own.
September 16 2014
EAU Palm Beach Resort and Spa
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100 S. Ocean Blvd,
Palm Beach, Florida
Drive south on I-95 and you will run into the most beautiful strip on the Atlantic Ocean that is miles away from mainstream. On Ocean Drive, tucked away in the small quiet town of Manalapan, in the heart of Palm Beach County, sits one of the most beautiful beach resorts on the East Coast of Florida. Welcomed with champagne (and the kids with lemonade) and the gorgeous ocean views from the moment we arrived, I just knew our stay here would be “eau so sweet.” And with 4 kids in tow, I couldn’t wait to truly relax!
Situated in between private beaches, blue sky and blue waters surround the EAU Resort and Spa. This is a place where you go to escape it all, forget your worries and relax for a few days or maybe a week. Peaceful and tranquil can only begin to describe our stay. We relaxed by the pool and enjoyed the ocean on their private beach. As luxurious as the French music that softly plays by the pool, your stay here will only rejuvenate you as well as your family. Every family needs to escape. This is the perfect place to do just that.
The Eau Resort and Spa welcomes families with open arms. They had the perfect balance of amenities that allows families to focus on family time together. The beautiful family pool sits right on the ocean and it is VERY easy to hop from pool to ocean without a big fuss. There is also one infinity pool just for adults that is really cool. We did try it out at night without anyone else around because my kids were obsessed with “swimming in the stars” as these little lights at the bottom of the pool looked like stars! The AquaNuts Kids Club is available for kids ages 5-12 and there is also a COAST Club for kids 13-17 to hang out as well! Plenty of places to run and play and with private beach very accessible right from the pool, kids will have no problem being entertained. I love hotels that sit right on the water because we are able to enjoy the comforts of the hotel pool as we play on the beach. Poolside dining at Breeze was perfect so we didn’t have to miss a minute of playtime. Order a MoTito and you’ll be excited you did! With four on premise restaurants serving you day and night, you not wanting to leave the resort.
The sunrise was stunning from everywhere. And Temple Orange for breakfast was perfect. During the summer, kids eat free with the purchase of an adult entrée. Their a la carte breakfast buffet was the perfect way to satisfy 4 hungry (and picky) eaters.
Rooms are extremely spacious and have beautiful views of either the pools or the ocean. Insider Tip: There are rooms on the first floor (Lanai Suites) that have open patios that open either to a courtyard or to one of the two pools. For convenience, I would recommend requesting one of these rooms as traveling up and down elevators with strollers and pool toys is somewhat cumbersome. It also would have made forgetting you goggles in the room a much quicker trip!
Rooms have a large bathroom (could be used to set up a pack n' play if traveling with multiple children- which we did) and come with a tub and a separate stand up shower. DVD player, Kruig coffee maker and fridge come with every room. (THANK YOU!!) Adjoining rooms can be requested, which makes traveling with larger families much easier. If you have a need for a crib, ask and you shall receive. Complete with a musical mobile plus baby toiletries, and a baby proofing kit if needed. We had two rooms and PLENTY of space! The luxury of a private balcony to sit and listen to the ocean waves roll in at night was pure heaven!
Amenities for guests include a full business center, resort wide Wi-Fi and complimentary coffee in the lobby each morning is available. If you are so lucky to visit the EAU Spa, you will not be disappointed with this magical wonderland of luxurious relaxation that I did not know existed. Trust me, you will not be disappointed! A live DJ and music on Saturday nights had our kids dancing until bedtime (just in time for the older crowd to start venturing in) and their ocean side fire pits were a perfect way to end the night.
We had a most relaxing vacation with four kids. Because the resort is located in a quiet area of town, we felt no pressure to have to leave the resort and “go see things.” This resort allows you to slow down and enjoy what you have in front of you- paradise. Our entire stay from beginning to end was “eau so sweet” and we will definitely be back!
Insider Tip: If you are looking for additional delicious restaurants for breakfast, lunch or dinner, visit the shipping plaza across the street. (Literally, across the street.) There are also stores for shopping and a popular local ice cream shop too.
July 03 2014
North Straub Park
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400 Bayshore Dr. NE. St. Petersburg, Florida 33701,
"Jewel in downtown St.Petersburg"
North Straub Park is located in downtown St.Petersburg and is where many downtown happenings take place from Santafest to runs and more. This park borders along the water and has a bike path too. A beautiful park to explore while exploring the city! Located right next to the Museum of FIne Art and the Pier, you'll find shops, restaurants and more here.