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Last minute & 1st ever trip to P.R- I need your expertise!

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Falls Church...
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Last minute & 1st ever trip to P.R- I need your expertise!

I'm the kind of gal who spend months upon months researching for a vacation. It becomes an obsessive hobby in which hours are spent pouring over reviews, pictures, and travel websites.

However this time around me and my love are being spontaneous and decided to book a quick getaway to Puerto Rico for NEXT week!

It started by looking at mid Atlantic beaches just a few hours away from the DC area. Then we pushed it to Miami, and ended up even further south in our vacation search to Puerto Rico! The prices are good, which explains how this trip keeps getting more and more tropical. Work stresses are high so a getaway is much needed to recharge.

Not only will this be a quick trip (3 nights) but I have a limited time to plan it. There are direct flights from DC to PR, which is a major selling point.

I would love to venture out somewhere further into P.R to see some lovely beaches, but for the sake of soaking up every minute of vacation I have been researching hotels with a distance of 30 minutes or less from San Juan's airport.

So far I've narrowed it down to the San Juan Water & Beach Club and the Ritz-Carlton. Both are in the same areas and within the same price range.

Since I'm short on time and have never been to PR I'm reaching out to TA for advice. Has anyone been to these resorts? Which would you recommend? Other hotel recs are also welcomed.

We prefer 4 stars and up and want to be near the sea. Since the trip is so short we plan to nap, swim in the beach, visit old San Juan and eat some good food and have lots of good drinks.

I like the San Juan Water & Beach Club Hotel because of the style and stunning views. The Ritz looks like a gorgeous property. They are so different from each other, not sure which to choose and I'm hesitant since I normally spend so much time researching.

I would appreciate any advice or recommendations! My head is starting to spin by trying to plan this so quickly and choose a good hotel.

Thanks thanks and thanks some more =)

King of Prussia...
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for San Juan, Ponce
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1. Re: Last minute & 1st ever trip to P.R- I need your expertise!

If this is your first time, I wouldn't recommend staying anywhere outside San Juan. San Juan is more convenient location-wise, specially for such a short trip.

You provide details about how you chose PR, but not many details about yourself. What kind of activites do you enjoy? What's your budget? What days will you be in PR (we/I can look up hotel deals for your travel dates). Tell us about yourself and we will make suggestions.

With that said, choosing a hotel in PR depends on your own personal interests. For example: if you want peace and quiet, Ritz Carlton is the best option. It's located in an isolated area, away from the main street. There's no nightlife there, and you will need a taxi to go everywhere. This resort is purely for relaxation purposes.

B&W Club is right on the main street. It's hip, has cool nightlife and it's located within walking distance to restaurants, shops, and the other hotels.

Both resorts, as well as El San Juan, and Intercontinental, all share the same beach. El San Juan, and Intercontinental are also very good choices in the 4-star rating system.

I hope this helps!

Edited: 29 June 2012, 13:35
Falls Church...
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2. Re: Last minute & 1st ever trip to P.R- I need your expertise!

Hi Paris, thanks for the quick response!

I am in my late 20s and my boyfriend in his early 30s. We are pretty active but when it comes to vacation time love to slow down and take a slower pace (that's why we love the Caribbean, hah!) My boyfriend has been overworking and that is why we need this little getaway.

A perfect trip would look like this: Day 1 arrive on the island. Check in, settle in, maybe check out the beach and walk around. Go out for dinner and drinks in the evening.

Day 2: sleep in, eat a big breakfast, go down to the beach for a few hours. Take a nap after that and head into town for dinner, find a nice spot for drinks and maybe dancing after.

Day 3: Go on an excursion- see some of PR- Use a tour guide or group tour (we don't want to rent a car since we could rather sit back and sight see. After that head out for dinner and drinks somewhere in town.

Day 4: Wake up early and catch the plan home.

So ideally we would like one lazy day on the beach, some time to explore Old San Juan, an excursion to see part of PR. We would like to do some sort of sightseeing that involves cultural, history, or nature. I hear there is a pretty rain forest nearby. I also really want to spend time exploring Old San Juan- it looks gorgeous.

Budget

We are looking to spend between $600-$900 total for our 2 plane tickets and 3 nights hotel. So far the places I like have been about $800 for everything. We aren't factoring in money spent while in P.R, that will have to be a different budget figured out after the flights/hotel is sorted.

After posting this last night I checked out El Convento hotel in Old San Juan.

It is gorgeous! I love how it looks. My only hesitation is that we want to be on the water.

Your hotel descriptions are very helpful. I'm leaning towards B&W over the Ritz because of your description- it is something different. In April we went to the D.R at an all inclusive- which was more of a Ritz experience, so I'm thinking the B&W would offer a change.

I will also have to check out El San Juan and Intercontinental, I don't remember looking too much into those two.

Thank you so much, you're really helpful!

San Juan, Puerto...
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3. Re: Last minute & 1st ever trip to P.R- I need your expertise!

If you are into dining and nightlife and enjoy walking around, you should also check out the hotels in Condado. For my money, it's the most fun area with the most variety of things to do. For hotels, check out La Concha for a more South Beach vibe or the Marriott a few blocks down is more family oriented.

Edited: 29 June 2012, 15:34
Falls Church...
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4. Re: Last minute & 1st ever trip to P.R- I need your expertise!

OOPS- I made a mistake when writing about the budget- the budget is $600-$900 PER PERSON, not total!

Total would be $1,200-$1,800 for our 2 plane tickets and hotel for 3 nights.

I guess I need my morning coffee.

Boston, MA
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5. Re: Last minute & 1st ever trip to P.R- I need your expertise!

Hi cocobean, You have picked the perfect spot for a short getaway from the East Coast, You won't waste so much of your vacay time traveling. When you get off the plane in San Juan, you can be in your room within the hour. You can stay at either the Ritz or the Water Club and have a great time, but you'll probably wish you had selected another option. Sbenus is right that La Concha and the Condado area are a better choice for a first visit, except in the case ( likes yours ) of a very short trip. I'd opt for the El San Juan. It is close by the airport has a great pool and beach, very nice on site restaurants and active nightlife. Its lobby bar appears at the end of the movie Fast Five, posing as a Monaco casino. One day in Old San Juan is probably all you can manage in 3 days if your goal is R&R. Close by the El San Juan ( or the Ritz for that matter) is La Playita Cafe, a great place to hang out on the water's edge, eat drink and listen to great ( and often live)music. Enjoy your trip, chances are, like many of us on tripadvisor, you'll be planning more than one return to " La Isla encanta".

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6. Re: Last minute & 1st ever trip to P.R- I need your expertise!

All are great choices. I go a lot to PR for work and pleasure Condado is nice but the beaches are horrible by far Isla Verde beach is breathtaking!

My wife and I have opted to stay in smaller hotel because service and privacy are better. Bigger hotels in the summer get tones of local families with kids running around the pools and beach. We stayed at the water club and it is our favorite. The hotel is on the beach great restaurant Zest and is not a hotel that has hundreds of guest in the way. Have fun but what ever you do stay in Isla Verde the beach is great.

Atlanta, Georgia
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7. Re: Last minute & 1st ever trip to P.R- I need your expertise!

I also like better Isla Verde, Try to go over Icacos on day 3. That way you will experience the urban beach, and Caribbean feel in Icacos. I think the booze boat is cool, so just don't do San Juan, get out and explore.

puertoricodaytrips.com/erin-go-bragh-day-sai…

Falls Church...
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8. Re: Last minute & 1st ever trip to P.R- I need your expertise!

After some back and forth debating we booked La Concha! We were able to get a spa suite with a king sized bed, mini kitchen, and a balcony with an ocean view and spa. We had thought about El Convento, it looks beautiful, but I think La Concha will certainly make for a relaxing 3 days. Thanks for all of your advice!

boricua-one, I will have to google Icacos, and the booze cruise. I was actually just thinking of looking into boat tours.

Is it better to book tours ahead of time on your own, or with the hotel front desk?

Less than 2 weeks, can't wait!

San Juan
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9. Re: Last minute & 1st ever trip to P.R- I need your expertise!

If you finally decide on a booze cruise, either half or full day, you'd better book ahead. During the summer there is a lot of demand for them.

Atlanta, Georgia
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10. Re: Last minute & 1st ever trip to P.R- I need your expertise!

I agree, book when you can, call them directly. I had to make many calls due to filled bookings on this trips.

This is a good link:

http://www.puertoricodaytrips.com/icacos/