Discover El Conquistador Resort and Las Casitas Village:
These two Waldorf=Astoria hotels on Puerto Rico’s northeastern coast deliver two different vacation experiences. El Conquistador is perched atop a 300-foot bluff, which looms ahead as the arriving visitor winds through lush greenery and a golf course. A huge hotel for the Caribbean
, it contains 984 guest rooms, suites and villas. Rooms that face the water offer a panoramic view of the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. The architecture, modeled after Old San Juan, is a blend of Moorish and Spanish colonial, with white stucco, terracotta buildings, and open-air plazas.
Las Casitas Village, a separate cluster of brightly colored villas with kitchens, offers a more intimate stay. A personal butler is assigned to each villa and guests can check in directly at the Casitas while having access to the full facilities of the larger hotel.
Where to Stay at El Conquistador Resort:
Rooms are spacious, sleek and neat — carpeted or with throw rugs and decorated in beige and white with accents of bright color. There is high-speed Internet access and computer and fax connections, plus an mp3 docking station and plasma flatscreen TVs. When deciding on a room, check the hotel's website, which provides descriptions of rooms completely facing the water, partially facing the water, and with a view of the marina or with a garden view.
Dining at El Conquistador Resort:
There are 23 places to dine at the main hotel, from open-air cafes and coffee shops to the more formal Strip, a steakhouse offering grilled dishes and some typical Puerto Rican favorites such as mofongo and tostones, two delicious specialties made from plantains. The buffet breakfast at the casual Las Brisas restaurant is expansive, with omelets, yogurt, baked goods, hot cereal, and tropical fruits.
Destination Weddings at El Conquistador Resort:
Weddings represent a substantial percent of the business at El Conquistador and there are many venues to choose. There is more than 100,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor reception facilities. An intimate ceremony in a garden or beside a banyan tree, an exclusive reception in their water park, a huge gathering in one of their ballrooms or a private party on their 110-acre Palomino Island are all possible. Ballroom weddings have their own entrances so wedding guests and vacationers won’t bump into each other. El Conquistador’s “bride whisperer” is what they call their consultants who keep plans (and the bride) on an even keel, helping to organize the wedding they imagine.
Romantic Getaways at El Conquistador:
The romance package includes early check-in and pre-registration upon request, in-room sparkling wine or cider upon arrival, and full American breakfast for two in the room or at Las Brisas.
Nearby El Conquistador Resort:
For guests who want to see Old San Juan and shop, a shuttle leaves the resort every morning.
El Yunque National Rainforest is a cool, mountainous, sub-tropical rainforest. The actual rainforest is atop a mountain, so some visitors drive to the top of the road and hike beyond to the cloud or dwarf forest. A guided hike on the lower level is another way to experience the environment and can include a dip in a pool by one of the waterfalls. Our guide pulled some stones from the water, rubbed them to produced colors, and painted on our arms the story of how the tiny coqui frog (the symbol of Puerto Rico) chased away the Spanish conquerors.
A unique adventure is an evening kayak excursion to a bioluminescent bay, a natural body of water that contains millions of micro-organism, called “dinoflagellates” that glow in the dark for a second when agitated. Visits are best on a dark night.
El Conquistador Resort Activities:
There’s plenty to keep guests busy here. The main pool area is comprised of an upper pool with a Jacuzzi and swim-up bar, a lap pool, and an activity pool with a water volleyball court. There are smaller pools reserved for guests at Las Casitas Villages. There’s also a water park (entrance fee) near the marina.
On Palomino Island, the resort's private island, there is horseback riding, water sports, scuba diving, snorkeling, and a café and rum bar. A private water taxi ferries guests back and forth to the hotel on the mainland.
There are tennis courts and their top-level golf course has elevation changes of more than 200 vertical feet, which is rare among Caribbean islands. A wide variety of water excursions can be chartered—captained sailboating, snorkeling, deep sea fishing and scuba diving.
Since gambling is legal in Puerto Rico, just off the main lobby is a casino offering roulette, blackjack, and stud poker and slot machines. Spend your winnings at various shops adjacent to it that feature gifts created by local artists, jewelry, golf and tennis items and a shoe store.
What to Keep in Mind:
There is no beach directly on the property. Guests seeking sand need to take the launch to Palomino Island. At times, El Conquistador did not live up to the expectation of a Waldorf=Astoria property. There is no room service in the afternoons. When elevators broke down, no sign was posted to inform guests. The ironing board that I set up in my room on the first night was never put away and an empty bottle of soda was never removed from my coffee table; these are minor things but they add up. At the spa (after an excellent massage), there was tea and little jars of jam but nothing to spread it on.
Most importantly for romantic couples to know: There are no “adults only” areas at El Conquistador or Las Casitas. As this is a huge property those seeking more intimacy may find Las Casitas Village a better choice, but there too a family-friendly vibe reigns.
El Conquistador Resort and Las Casitas Village Info/Reservations:
100 El Conquistador Avenue
Las Croabas, Puerto Rico 00738
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As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with complimentary accommodation and meals for the purpose of reviewing those services. While it has not influenced this review, About.com believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest. For more information, see our Ethics Policy .