The following post is written by guest reviewer Sue Rodman of Field Trips with Sue.
In many ways, a Puerto Rico vacation is the ideal family friendly destination. While it’s undoubtedly in paradise, it’s not hard to get to Puerto Rico from the east coast of the US. In short, Puerto Rico is a family-friendly exotic destination made easy.
The sun drenched white sand beaches of the Caribbean have always been a huge draw for families wishing to get away to an exotic location. At the El Conquistador Resort & Las Casitas Village in Fajardo, Puerto Rico, you get the alluring vibe of the Caribbean, without having to secure a passport, exchange money or purchase an international phone plan. Since Puerto Rico is a part of the United States, it’s easy to travel between the territory and mainland, and many airports have direct flights to San Juan, the capital of Puerto Rico.
The El Conquistador Resort & Las Casitas Village offers a shuttle service from Luis Munoz Marin International airport in San Juan. It’s about a 30 – 45 minute ride to the family friendly resort, which is located at the eastern tip of the island on a 300-foot bluff.
El Conquistador Resort vs. Las Casitas Village
The El Conquistador & Las Casitas Village is a 500-acre, Waldorf Astoria AAA Four Diamond resort. The El Conquistador has individual guest rooms and suites, while Las Casitas Village offers 1-, 2- and 3-bedroom villas. The villas are individually owned, but can be rented through the Hilton website. Guests at Las Casitas Village enjoy all the amenities of the neighboring hotel. On our trip we stayed in the guest rooms overlooking the marina, where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Caribbean Sea. On a clear day, I could see all the way to St. Thomas!
Free Things to Do at El Conquistador Resort
When I think of a Waldorf Astoria hotel, I think luxury, and expensive. The El Conquistador is definitely luxury, and you can certainly spend a good bit of money if you want, but there are also lots of activities included in your stay that could amuse your family for a day or more. My favorite free activities are ScoutAbout and Palomino Island. ScoutAbout is a scavenger hunt around the property. Find the items and collect colored bands. It’s a wonderful way the see all of the resort, and although the program is made for the kids, there are lots of adults that do it too.
Palomino Island is reason alone to stay at the El Conquistador. The free ferry from the resort to the island is a soothing ten-minute boat trip that offers stellar views of the resort. The first thing I noticed when we got off the boat at the island was the butterflies. At first I thought they were birds there were so many.
Once on the island, splash in the water, hike to the top of the mountain for a bird’s eye view, or commune with the iguanas and butterflies. You’ll even find a few ScoutAbout bands here, as well as a host of fee-based water sports like jet skis, horseback riding and even mini golf, because what beach doesn’t have mini-golf. They do have snorkeling at Palomino Island, but I’d recommend taking a boat from the marina. I went snorkeling from the island and saw some fish, but mostly grass. I met a woman at dinner that went off the boat in deeper water and saw ‘all the fish in Finding Nemo.’
Where to Eat at the El Conquistador Resort
The El Conquistador has 23 restaurants, bars and lounges on site. There is everything from Chops steakhouse to Starbucks Coffee, as well as local restaurants like Las Brisas and the Stingray Café. When I saw Chops and Starbucks I was a little disappointed that we wouldn’t get to sample regional food, which is so much a part of travel, but was excited to see that many of the restaurants offer at least a nod to traditional Puerto Rican food. We sampled Piragua, which is a Puerto Rican snow cone, Mofongo, a traditional Puerto Rican dish made with seasoned plantains, and sipped Acai, a super food similar to a smoothie. It was topped with granola and quite delicious.
Don’t Miss Activities at the El Conquistador Resort
Anyone with kids will want to spend at least one day at the 2.4 acre Coqui Water Park within the resort. The park has a lazy river, infinity pool, zero entry area with a slide for little ones, and of course bigger slides, including the El Gigante Dormindo (The Sleeping Giant) with a 40-foot drop that reminds me of a similar slide at Typhoon Lagoon at Disney World. I opted not to try that slide because I don’t like going airborne several stories above the pool. I would much rather leave the kids with dad and slip away for a spa treatment at the Waldorf Astoria Spa. The hot tub and soothing steam room are a little more my speed.
One of the most unique activities at El Conquistador is Foot Golf. My husband is a golfer, but I’m not. However, I can appreciate the beauty of the Arthur Hills golf course at El Conquistador and would love an opportunity walk the course and see the views. In Foot Golf, you use a soccer ball and your feet to drive and sink a putt. It’s a great way to get kids and non-golfers to experience the course.
As we disclose whenever applicable, Sue was hosted by El Conquistador Resort, as a guest on behalf of Pit Stops for Kids. All opinion is her own.