With outstanding views, spectacular sights, and a culinary experience second to none, San Juan, Puerto Rico can rightly claim to be the culinary capital of the Caribbean and Central America.

Indeed, Puerto Rico can be recognized the Culinary Capital of the world having drawn from the experience of the Taino, African, European, American, and Pan Caribbean cuisines.

The delicious cuisine which embodies the use of avocado, cilantro, the ginger, sweet peppers, and onions are used regularly to produce the tantalizing aroma and exhilarating feasts, for which Puerto Rico has become renowned. Those influences are evident today throughout the country, making it a world culinary destination that is so much sought today.

Apart from the culinary achievements in Puerto Rico, the island is known for the highly skilled works of art that are carved by experts. The tradition has lasted for the past five centuries, back to the time of the Tainos, who worshiped statues known as Cemi.

El Conquistador Resort

El Conquistador Resort, sprawling across a cliff top 300 feet above the sea, is a Hilton Waldorf-Astoria Resort comprising a grand hotel of unique villages with dramatic views, an Arthur Hills championship golf course, a world-class casino, Golden Door Spa, where tranquility is the ultimate luxury, and the $12 million sprawling Coqui Water Park, unlike none other in the Caribbean!

Click photo to book El Conqistador Resort

Click photo to book El Conquistador Resort.

A mere 31 miles east of San Juan, El Conquistador Resort is among the Caribbean's most complete destination resorts, spread over 500 acres in the quaint fishing village of Las Croabas, Puerto Rico.  The Resort overlooks the converging waters of the turquoise Caribbean Sea stretching to the east, and the sapphire blue Atlantic Ocean, which extends to the north.

This luxurious Puerto Rico resort is divided into villages: the Waldorf-Astoria Resort, is a separate luxury resort which features one-, two-, and three-bedroom style villas with full kitchen facilities, three private pools, as well as 24 hour butler service; the El Conquistador Resort features 750 guestrooms and the Las Casitas Village, which boasts 234 villas — for a total of 984 rooms in the entire complex.

Fine Dining Restaurants

Blossoms: Serving Pan-Asian cuisine, including a sushi bar, teppanyaki tables, and Chinese specialties; open for dinner only and for lunch and dinner on Sundays. Media personnel were also guests at La Piccola Fontana, presenting fine Northern Italian cuisine in an exquisitely appointed, elegant ambiance.

Stingray Café: A favored casual spot next to the marina dock, specializing in Caribbean dishes and seafood. The dinner was sponsored by Lydia Feliiano, Director of Marketing and Communications. The media team also enjoyed dinner at Strip House hosted by General Manager, Dermot Connolly, Executive Chef Miguel Santiago, and Director of Food and Beverages, Gamal El Fakih. Apart from the seductive atmosphere and innovative menu, the five course menu was especially conceived by Chef Santiago, and featured the best locally grown, farm-to-table ingredients.

Casual Restaurants

Ballyhoo Bar & Grill: Featuring shrimp, conch fritters, quesadillas, and burgers; with ocean and Palomino Island views; open for lunch and dinner.

Café Bella Vista: A casual open-air spot overlooking the main pool complex, ocean; located on Palomino Island; fare included pizza, sandwiches, and salads; open for lunch and dinner.

Café Caribe: Offering sandwiches, traditional American dishes, and Caribbean specialties; located near the Casino.

Casitas Café: Overlooking Las Casitas Village pool; providing open-air, ocean-view seating with teak umbrella tables and an a la carte breakfast.

Iguana's Café: Featuring burgers, chicken, seafood, snacks, and tropical drinks in open-air seating; located on Palomino Island; open for lunch only.

Open air dining at Casitas Café.

Las Brisas Restaurant: A casual restaurant offering panoramic ocean views and a two-level indoor terrace; buffet and a la carte breakfast.

Oasis Bar & Grill: Serving hamburgers, nachos, frozen yogurt, and other light fare; located in Coqui Water Park.

The Golf Grill: Located in the golf course's club house; serving lunch and cocktails overlooking the 18th hole, with views of El Yunque Rainforest.

Ventana del Caribe: Overlooking the beautiful Atlantic Ocean and Palomino Island; open-air, ocean-view seating with teak umbrella tables and lunch menu; located by the Las Casitas Manor House and Bahia Azul Infinity Pool.

Virgin Burger: A ‘50s style outdoor café featuring burgers, sandwiches, salads, and tropical drinks for lunch.


Palomino Island: The Resort's private 100-acre white sand tropical island paradise for watersports, including snorkeling, scuba diving, windsurfing, as well as hiking, kayak rentals, and horseback riding.

Coqui Water Park: This state-of-the-art aquatic playground is an amazing 2.4-acre destination themed after the nearby El Yunque Rainforest. It sits along the Caribbean Sea and overlooks the Atlantic Ocean. Among the astounding features are the iconic Torre de Yocahu, a tower from which three high-speed water slides flow, including El Gigante Dormido (The Sleeping Giant) with an intense 40-foot drop. An 8,000-square-foot “lazy river” is filled with 180,000 gallons of water that push riders sitting leisurely in inner tubes around the park. An 8,500-square-foot infinity-edge pool, a rope bridge, and speed, tube, body and kids’ slides are other highlights.

Golden Door Spa: The Caribbean’s largest spa, featuring:

26,000 sq. ft. spa including 25 treatment rooms
Movement studio with a variety of fitness classes
State-of-the-art fitness center featuring comprehensive fitness assessments and personal trainers
Treatments incorporating products indigenous to the surrounding rain forest and ocean
Juice bar and a tea room with panoramic views

The magnificent Golden Door Spa.

Championship Arthur Hills Golf Course: 18-hole, par-72 golf course with practice putting green, driving range, pro shop, and clubhouse.

Pools: Four freshwater swimming pools and three additional private pools at Las Casitas Resort, including the magnificent Infinity Edge Pool (for Las Casitas guests only), and a 30,000-square-foot deck in the main pool complex, with private cabanas.

Tennis: Seven tennis courts featuring a stadium court and resident tennis pro.

Fitness Center: Complete with state-of-the-art exercise equipment and free-weights, along with dramatic views of the Caribbean Sea and Atlantic Ocean.

Marina: 35-slip private marina offering deep-sea fishing charters, sailboats, catamarans, and yachts.

Entertainment: Activities include golf demonstration clinics, guided environmental tours at nearby El Yunque Rain Forest, sports including basketball and beach volleyball, and a supervised kids club - Camp Coqui.

There are retail areas off the main lobby that provide a plethora of designer and trendy boutiques with specialty merchandise.

Conrad San Juan Condado Plaza

The stylish and recently renovated Conrad San Juan Condado is ideally located on San Juan’s posh Condado strip. The Conrad San Juan Condado Plaza has the distinction of being the only hotel to overlook both the Atlantic Ocean and the tranquil Condado Lagoon. The resort is San Juan’s premier urban oceanfront hotel. The relaxed island lifestyle blends Conrad San Juan Condado seamlessly with the electrifying energy of Puerto Rico’s largest casino and a wide array of activities. The sleek design of the hotel makes it an ideal urban hotel destination for business or leisure travel, while still capturing the dynamic energy of the island of Puerto Rico.


Click photo to book The Conrad San Juan Condado Plaza.

The 570 Leo Daly-designed deluxe guest rooms and suites feature breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean or Condado Lagoon — most with private balconies. Other amenities include high-speed Internet access, ergonomic chairs with oversized workstations, premium cable television, Plasma flat-screen televisions, electronic safe, complimentary in-room coffee/tea, hair dryer, refrigerator, and iron with ironing board.

Dining Options

Café Caribe:  A casual restaurant, cocktail bar, and gelato parlor. Café Caribe is perfect for a casual lunch, relaxing dinner, or family get together. The restaurant overlooks the Atlantic Ocean and provides dramatic views. Open daily for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It is the perfect spot for gelatos, ice cream, and desserts.

Aqua Bar and Grill:  Steps away from the beach and centrally located to the ocean and pool areas is Aqua Bar & Grill, a picture perfect setting for a quick bite, outdoor lunch, or a refreshing specialty drink from sunrise to sundown. The poolside menu specialties include a delectable assortment of grilled items, salads, and sandwiches, and unique cocktails at Aqua Bar, such as the traditional “Mojito.” No reservations required for this scenic dining spot.

Unique ambiance at Pikayo.

Pikayo:  Chef Wilo Benet’s flagship project has set standards and raised the level of luxury in fine dining in Puerto Rico.  Opened in late 2009, Pikayo combines exquisite taste with exclusive ambiance and unique creativity in its cuisine.

Denny’s:  The full-service, family restaurant is open 24/7, serving classic American food and every day value for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, located on the first level of the Lagoon Tower.

Eight Noodle Bar:  Condado's newest Asian fare restaurant and sushi bar, renowned for its trendy decor and the freshest Chinese and Japanese cuisine, both traditional and modern. Conveniently located directly across from the casino, this dining spot is perfect for a quick bite, full dinner, or can be prepared to take to your room. A perfect late night dining spot, open daily for dinner.

Starbucks:  Specialty coffees, snacks and sandwiches with outdoor dining.

Beach & Pool:  Beautiful beach and protected swimming area with water sports complex featuring windsurfers, aqua cycles, kayaks, and snorkeling gear.  In addition, the hotel features three outdoor swimming pools — one saltwater and two fresh. These include an activity pool with swim-up bar, a lap pool overlooking the Condado Lagoon, and a sparkling pool boasting a shallow area with waterslide for children. A whirlpool spa offers spectacular ocean views and the massage area; amazing look-out points with hammocks are perfect for oceanfront relaxation.

There are many lounges at the Conrad San Juan Condado Plaza.

Lounges: Moon Bar is the newest addition to the Conrad San Juan Condado Plaza’s ETERNAL Lobby Lounge scene, joining the renowned Ice Bar and Fire Bar lobby lounges. Open daily from noon to 1 a.m., the Moon Bar caters to guests and locals who are looking for a fashionable spot to relax and unwind or to meet with friends or business colleagues. Artistically designed by Kevin Durand, the Moon Bar’s 360-degree shape allows for excellent lobby views from all angles and features live music, luxuriant crystal chandeliers, and an ambiance that is signature to a top-quality bar lounge experience.

Casino: Lavish, yet elegant in design, the 12,500 square-foot casino is one of Puerto Rico’s largest, operating 24-hours. Test your luck at a truly entertaining choice of more than 400 slot machines and gaming tables.

El San Juan Resort & Casino

Dramatically set on one of Puerto Rico's most picturesque beaches, the El San Juan Resort & Casino has long been recognized as one of the leading resorts and casinos of the Caribbean, and is now better than ever having completed a multi-million dollar redesign, renovation, including enhancements to the lobby, guestrooms, and meeting spaces, and an alluring new pool and beachside experience, Encanto Beach Club.

Click photo to book El San Juan Reort & Casino.

Click photo to book El San Juan Resort & Casino.

The resort’s evolution highlights already-impressive amenities, including an extensive selection of dining and entertainment venues, a 16,500-square-foot casino, and 35,000 square feet of versatile meeting and event space. Its marbled floor and hand-crafted mahogany paneled walls and ceilings are breathtaking.

Located along a two-mile beach in San Juan’s fashionable Isla Verde district, the El San Juan Resort & Casino is at the center of the city’s vibrant nightlife and cultural attractions. Considered one of San Juan’s most popular gathering places, the hotel’s ornate lobby features red marble, mahogany paneling, and carved ceilings, an antique chandelier of Czech crystal, contemporary art pieces, the Rose Ultra Lounge, and three renowned lobby bars:  The Gold Bar, The Silver Bar, and The Blue Bar.

The resort offers 386 newly-designed guestrooms, including 22 suites. All accommodations are climate-controlled and offer high-speed, WiFi Internet access, flat screen TV, cordless phones, including dual-lines and voicemail, ironing sets, fully-stocked mini bar, and an electronic in-room safe.


The Palm Restaurant:  A famous New York institution, featuring delicious steaks and fresh seafood.

Yamato:  Considered Puerto Rico’s finest Asian restaurant, Yamato features a sushi bar and an authentic teppanyaki table.

Koco for fusion food and rum.

Koco:  New, modern Caribbean fusion cuisine and Rum Bar.

La Piccola Fontana:  Presenting fine Northern Italian cuisine in an exquisitely appointed, elegant ambiance. This dinner was hosted by Olivier Maumaire, General Manager, and Betty Gonzalez, Area Director of Communications, Hilton worldwide. The group enjoyed Northern Italian creations of Milan’s native Chef, Alfonso Pescarino, including risottos, pastas, steak, and seafood.

Brother Jimmy’s:  The first and largest Brother Jimmy’s location outside of New York City, boasting a Backyard Movie House, Swamp Water Cocktail Bar, mechanical bull, 22 high-definition LCD flat-screen televisions, and more.

La Terraza:  A casual-elegant dining experience in a breezy tropical setting, overlooking the pool, tropical gardens, and Encanto Beach.

Galleria Pizza & Trattoria:  Authentic pizza, fresh salads, hearty sandwiches, and more.

Encanto Grill:  Beachfront al fresco dining, serving grilled specialties and a fresh array of tropical salads and sandwiches.

Aquaire: Located across from the Olympic pool, Aquaire is a delightful bar and restaurant, offering al fresco seating.

Starbucks:  Specialty coffees, sandwiches and salads; two locations.


Spa:  Located on the hotel’s tenth floor, the Edouard de Paris Day Spa is a peaceful rooftop oasis offering five serene and luxurious treatments rooms where guests enjoy invigorating massages, facials, and therapeutic body treatments.

Get a garden massage before your dining experience.

Casino:  16,500 sq. ft. casino offering blackjack, roulette, craps, state-of-the-art coinless Las Vegas-style slot machines, and large-screen televisions; San Juan’s most glamorous casino.

Encanto Beach Club:  The Encanto Beach Club offers guests a social atmosphere never before seen in Puerto Rico with an open-air lounge of 24 canopied, double-sided daybeds along the shoreline, three private cabanas, 25 versatile, retro-circular lounging pods, hammocks, swings, a swim-up bar, a Burger Bar and outside showers. Overstuffed chaise lounges and cocoon chairs bring relief and comfort to the indulgent poolside environment; plus spacious sundecks, a grotto waterfall, two pools, a swim-up bar, and three whirlpools, while the Isla Verde Beach offers jet skiing, parasailing and a variety of water sports.

Additional Activities: Lighted tennis court with practice sessions with a professional instructor offered daily; complimentary children’s activities, and a rooftop fitness center.

El San Juan Resort & Casino is located five minutes from Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport. Read more travel news about Puerto Rico in Jetsettersblog.com.

— Feature by Edwin Ali, Jetsetters Magazine Caribbean Editor; photos courtesy of the properties.