6.17.2022 – 6.20.2022 || Isla Verde Beach | Old San Juan | Puerto Rico
Where We Stayed:
We stayed at the iconic El San Juan Hotel in Isla Verde Beach, located approximately 10 minutes from the airport and approximately 15 minutes from Old San Juan. The hotel first opened its doors in 1958 and became part of the Fairmont brand in 2020. Rich in Puerto Rican history, the property is known for a 300 year-old Banyan Tree, live entertainment, one of the largest hand blown chandeliers in the lobby, numerous dining options, multiple pools, spa, casino, beach club, and more. I loved the view from the tenth floor in the main building where the spa is located.
What We Did:
We spent most of our time at the Fairmont beach club located just steps away from the pools. Isla Verde Beach is a long, wide stretch of beach framed with palm trees and clear bluish-green water. Puerto Rico claims to have invented the piña colada so when in Puerto Rico be sure to order one at the beach or pool!
We usually ended up at one of the pools towards the end of the day. These pictures were taken in the morning and do not reflect the party scene or live DJ blasting music. I didn’t realize the Fairmont was going to be such a party scene!
After breakfast one morning we took an Uber to Old San Juan to walk around the blue cobblestone streets and to visit two forts, Castillo San Cristobal and Castillo San Felipe del Morro. My favorite part of Old San Juan was walking around in between visiting the forts. The buildings and streets of San Juan are very colorful.
We had the Uber driver drop us off at Castillo San Cristobal, the largest Spanish fort built in the Americas.
We made our way to Castillo San Felipe del Morro, the second fort built in Old San Juan. If you are looking for a warm summer breeze to try and cool off or fly a kite, this is your spot. We arrived soaking wet and in need of a breeze. A long pathway leads to the cliffside fort.
Where We Ate & Had Drinks:
Over the course of the weekend we managed to eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner at the Fairmont’s signature Puerto Rican restaurant named Caña. Foodwise my recommendation would be to go for breakfast if you are staying at the hotel. They toasted to our anniversary with a complimentary glass of hibiscus infused cava at dinner and they make a great spicy margarita and piña colada if you go for lunch.
We ate lunch beachside at El San Juan Beach Club (it was called something else on the sign/menu than what it is listed as on the website).
We made a reservation at the Fairmont’s only fine dining restaurant Riva for dinner the night of our anniversary. Riva offers a five-course testing menu that starts off with three rounds of canapés – the truffle arancini and the potato stack with mushroom powder were my two favorites from that course. The second course featured hamachi crudo, followed by seafood risotto and truffle gnocchi. The halibut was one of the stars in the fourth course followed by a creative panna cotta to round out the meal. It was the best meal that we ate at the Fairmont but it does not compare to our experience at the Inn at Little Washington two years ago. That was epic.
El Jibarito in Old San Juan was the perfect spot for lunch after walking around Old San Juan and visiting the forts. I am so glad to have had this recommendation from my cousin, otherwise I would have completely missed this authentic Puerto Rican and Caribbean meal. The inside was decorated like the streets of Old San Juan and had a diner vibe to it. Cod fritters, fried plantains, and the tamale platter were the way to go. Check it out if you are in Old San Juan.
The lobby of El San Juan Hotel featured three distinct bars and a two tiered stage for entertainment. The chandeliers were the star. We had drinks here in the evening and ordered sushi for dinner when we couldn’t decide if we wanted to leave the property.
That’s the highlight reel for how we spent three nights in Puerto Rico.
Question: We had a great time in Puerto Rico but barely scratched the surface for all that it has to offer visitors. Where is your favorite place to go in Puerto Rico?