Puerto Rico Hotels & Rum

Researching some particulars for a client the other day, this is what I came up with for travel this weekend from the New York Metro Area:

Flights on AA out of JFK start at $345; out of EWR AA is $500.
Out of EWR, UA is the least expensive at $400.
Business Class out of EWR is $1000 on DL; out of JFK it’s $584 on AA!

Of the high end hotel brands, the Ritz Carlton is the least expensive (details are via Virtuoso with differences to the American Express Platinum Card in parenthesis):

Ritz-Carlton San Juan is $419. Upgrade upon arrival subject to availability (guaranteed with AMEX Platinum). Full breakfast at Mares Restaurant (continental only with AMEX Platinum). Resort fee is 16%/night (covers use of the Fitness Center, selection of daily fitness classes, high-speed internet access in all guest rooms, wireless connections in public areas, at the pool and on the beach, limited services at the 24 hour Business Center, use of the following non-motorized water sports equipment [weather permitting and based on availability]: float mats, and snorkeling equipment). $100 F&B credit. Property last renovated 2011. Note: there is a casino onsite.

St. Regis Bahia Beach is $489 (fourth night free with AMEX Platinum). Upgrade upon arrival subject to availability (guaranteed with AMEX Platinum). Full breakfast in room or at restaurant (continental only with AMEX Platinum). VIP Welcome amenity. 15% discount at Remede Spa. 15% discount at Bahia Beach Golf Course. $60 resort fee. $100 resort credit. Property Opened 2010.

[The client’s friend had initially settled upon the Intercontinental Hotel there.  I looked for alternatives to that particular hotel and rate.]

The IC rate she most likely saw is $165. Breakfast buffet at restaurant. Resort fee is 16%/night (covers fitness center, pool, beach chaise, and towel). Full prepayment is required and nonrefundable. Word is: expect a fabulous beach experience; and not a hotel experience. 😉 Most people HIGHLY recommend against the IC.

A better recommendation would be the La Concha Renaissance Hotel (Suites Wing as it’s newer) for $260 ($179 for regular rooms). It’s younger and more of a fun feel. Pools are great. VERY centrally located near all the bars and shopping. 18%/night resort fee although there is no mention of it on the website and people have reported it being included in their rate.

Note: most hotels charge a resort fee — which can go upwards of $70/night.

Sampling Rum:
“Take the free Bacardi tours offered daily at the distillery in Cataño, outside San Juan. You’ll be rewarded with two free rum drinks afterwards. Take a ferry from Old San Juan, then a bus or taxi, or go by taxi (about $30, depending on your starting point). Information: casabacardi.org. The Edmundo B. Fernández firm, makers of Barrilito, welcomes visitors (but not large groups) to its facility in Bayamón outside San Juan and sells three-packs of rum starting at $27. Call first: 787-785-3490. The DonQ distillery in Ponce is not open to the general public, but the brand offers tastings in the Ochoa Building near Pier 1. The venerable El San Juan Resort & Casino has a lobby bar dedicated to premium rum and tequila. Rums of Puerto Rico (rumcapital.com) has a rum cart at Pier 4 when ships are in and offers tastings at the Old San Juan visitor center and at various hotels and conventions.”

Be sure to book a Bioluminescent Bay tour. But do it after you arrive or ask the concierge for assistance.


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