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EL CONQUISTADOR RESORT & COUNTRY CLUB
Las Croabas, Puerto Rico
web: elconresort.com

By Roberta C. Stone, Correspondent

Indigenous peoples occupied this tropical island as far back 3000 BC. They were mostly nomadic until the time of Christ, when three different tribes occupied the island, farming tuber plants like yucca. By 1100 AD, the Tainos People had established an advanced culture of weavers and potters and lived within a social hierarchy headed by chieftains.

Columbus landed on the shores in 1493, and in a mere fifty years, destroyed the Tainos indigenous culture. By 1500, Spanish explorer Ponce de Leon named the island Puerto Rico, which means “rich port” and established the town of Old San Juan, - the earliest western settlement and the oldest walled city in the Caribbean. When the search for gold became fruitless, the Spanish began to grow sugar cane, which was and is used in the manufacture of rum. By 1800, Spanish rule deteriorated and the British slowly took over the island in the 17th century adding cash crops of coffee, tobacco to the already lucrative sugar cane industry. After the Spanish American War, Puerto Rico became an American colony.

About the El Conquistador Resort and Golden Door Spa // El Conquistador is the definition of an "all inclusive" resort. The El Conquistador Resort and Spa is an array of Spanish style buildings set beautifully on a 300-foot cliff overlooking the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. Spread over 500 acres, it offers a plethora of accommodations and activities that make it the ultimate destination resort on this charming island.

El Conquistador has the world -renowned Golden Door Spa offering patrons a full service spa and fitness center. There is an 18-hole golf course with outstanding views of the ocean. It has seven lighted tennis courts, horseback riding, a full service water sports center offering wind surfing, scuba diving, sailing, snorkeling, deep sea fishing and private charters. The resort is dotted with six outdoor swimming pools, including a children’s pool with a water slide and adult lap pools. The stunning new infinity pool overlooking the sea located in Las Casitas is a beautiful addition. The hotel has its own private island with a great restaurant where guests are ferried to beach it. The resort offers up 12 terrific restaurants, four lounges and a casino. There are 22 retail shops as well as a casino for the adventurous gambler. Of course, there is ample room for large conventions as well.

Entertainment // If you want to dance all night or almost all night, try Casablanca’s, the Moroccan themed nightspot. They offer up enticing cocktails too. If you prefer a more relaxed atmosphere, try Amigo’s Bar. Happy Hour is fun at Bar 21 overlooking the marina, which has live sporting events on giant televisions. If you prefer elegance after your sumptuous meal, try Drake’s Cigar Bar. It has the elegance of a private club where you can enjoy a fine scotch or cognac with a good cigar. In addition, live music can be heard all over the resort – from a soothing piano bar or jazz to electric Latin beats. Looking for action? Try the hotel’s 13,000 square foot casino where the bells are always ringing with new winners at the slots, or try your luck at black jack, craps, roulette or baccarat. Of course, you can always venture off resort grounds to the hundreds of clubs that abound on the island.

Cuisine // There are twelve varied restaurants on the grounds to entice anyone’s palate. Families have several choices. Try Café Caribbean for authentic Caribbean inspired cuisine as well as traditional American favorites. Café Bella Vista is another good family restaurant serving pizzas, sandwiches, pastas and exotic drinks, frappes and frozen yogurt shakes. Ballyhoo Bar and Grill is a fun place for seafood, conch fritters, pizza and burgers. Las Brisas Terrace is a great indoor-outdoor casual dining area. If you are looking for an intimate elegant dinner, there are many choices. Try Otello’s for a candlelit northern Italian dinner, or Isabela’s Steak House overlooking the Caribbean for an outstanding steak, fresh fish or lobster dinner. Le Bistro offers elegant French cuisine, fine French wines, cognacs and cigars in a charming, intimate setting. The Stingray Café combines true island ambience and delicious fish dishes. A really fun place that is a favorite of guests is Cantina de Las Olas, a hopping Mexican restaurant that serves up delicious south of the border meals in a relaxed romantic atmosphere. The house really jumps on full moon nights when a buffet and mariachi band enters the scene. As you can see, the possibilities are endless, but there is always the option to leave the resort and venture into the island’s hundreds of eateries, should you choose.

Shopping // There are over twenty retail shops on the grounds with a variety of services, including morning coffee, muffin and paper, gift shops with unusual selections, and clothing stores where tropical digs, can be acquired. Ice cream parlors and candy shops can also be found to satisfy that late night sweet tooth. Need a souvenir tee shirt or baseball cap to bring home? No problem. Most stores are located in the hotel’s main lobby, like that dazzling jeweler near the casino, but some can be found in the many areas spread throughout the grounds.

Activities // If you are an active person, you have come to the right place. Up for a round of golf? Tee off on the Arthur Hills Championship Golf Course, a par 72 with breathtaking ocean views and challenging terrain. If water is your thing, take a ferry (runs every 15 minutes) to the resort’s private Palomino Island, where you can soak in the sun on the 100 acre tropical island or enjoy water sports like windsurfing, wave running, banana boat rides or kayak rentals for starters. There are snorkeling tours and even horseback riding on the island. You can also opt to swim in the resort’s freshwater pools with a 30,000 square foot deck in the main area and waterslides for the kids.

Enjoy tennis on any of the seven courts, or take a long walk on the extensive grounds. Remember that the resort contains the exclusive Golden Door Spa that offers ultimate fitness or extreme pampering in its 25,000 square foot state-of-the-art facility replete with face and body treatments, fitness classes, yoga, Tai Chi, a weight room, a beauty shop, and a store with natural rain forest products.

Into deep-sea fishing? Take a charter boat and land a catch, or just rent a catamaran, sailboat or yacht for a romantic day at sea. The marina has 21 private slips as well.

Children’s activities abound at Camp Coqui. Two different age appropriate programs offer kids nature hikes, ball games, water activities, marine biology talks and craft activities to peak any young person’s interest, all for a minimal fee. Private babysitting is available 24/7.

The resort has a great program called Kidcierge offering daily activities for teens, including Spa Circuit Camp, complimentary golf demonstrations as well as a daily Rock and Roll Hour.

Places to See // If you prefer to leave this paradise, El Conquistador offers day trips to El Yunque Rain Forest for hikes and tours, San Juan, Old San Juan or St. Thomas for shopping, walking tours, beach visits, festivals, flea markets and other attractions. Old San Juan’s historic sites, like the Old Fort, have been compared in scope to some of the world’s greatest attractions. There are also bioluminescent bay tours you can experience by kayak. There are numerous eco-tours, driving excursions, dive and bike adventures that can keep any visitor occupied throughout his vacation.

How to Get There // The El Conquistador Resort is located 31 miles from the SJU - Luis Munoz Marin International Airport - Take 2nd right out of the airport onto Route 26 East. At fork go left merging w/Rt.3 after 45 min. drive, turn left at intersection 194. At 3rd light turn left onto Ave Conquistador. Follow lodging sign (right turn) till the end.

Tips // Make sure you visit Old San Juan – its full of funky streets, shops, art galleries and unusual restaurants. Also DO NOT MISS the Bioluminescent kayak tour. It’s awesome for the whole family. Las Casitas, the new luxury condos, are very charming. Even though they are more expensive, when you stay there, you have free access to the Golden Door fitness center, as well as added amenities that the main hotel doesn’t include. Even if you don’t stay in one of their luxury Las Casitas, visit their restaurants. They are less crowded and sometimes less expensive than the main hotel’s eateries. If you are a walker or jogger, the grounds of the resort offer wonderful pathways past pools and ocean overlooks that make for a tranquil outing. Watch what you order at the upscale restaurants, as they can get pretty pricey. Take advantage of the many packages offered when booking a trip. It can save you money. Wear sunscreen.

By Roberta C. Stone, Correspondent

I liked the fact that El Conquistador was located apart from the main strip of hotels in the heart of Puerto Rico. It felt private and away from it all. I also liked the fact that it wasn’t a high rise, but spread out horizontally rather than vertically. It gave it more of a feeling of living in a little town with lots of quaint neighborhoods (Las Casitas) rather than hotel row.

I thought I would not that the resort did not have its own beach nearby, but I found the excursion down the cliff in the funicular fun and a good way to meet people. The fifteen-minute ferry ride to Palomino Island was another joy ride I would not have taken had the beach been closer. The island itself had beautiful white beaches and velvet warm water with a real unrushed Caribbean feel.

I think my favorite memory was the coqui frogs chirping their songs at nightfall. It was better than a lullaby.

DESTINATION SNAPSHOT

LOCATION:Las Croabas, Puerto Rico
RESTAURANTS: 23 (includes bars and lounges)
CLOSEST MAJOR AIRPORT: Luis Muñoz Marin International Airport (SJU)
ACTIVITIES: DINING, CASINO, GOLDEN DOOR SPA, COQUI WATER PARK, PALOMINO ISLAND & BEACH, ARTHUR HILLS GOLF COURSE, PRIVATE MARINA


WEBSITE:
elconresort.com

PHONE:
787.863.1000


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