Memorial Day is coming, a long weekend dedicated to honoring those who serve in the U.S. armed forces. In Puerto Rico, a few hotels are going out of their way to welcome members of our military - past and present - with special discounts.
- The Sheraton Puerto Rico Hotel & Casino offers rates as low as $195 when you book on their website by selecting "Government Employee" under the rate preferences, or by calling 877-822-0000 and mentioning the "GO" rate plan.
- The St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort offers rates as low as $299; similar to the Sheraton, just select "Government Employee" under the rate preferences on their site, or call 877-782-0106 and mention the "GO" rate plan.
- The Wyndham Rio Mar Beach Resort & Spa has rates starting at $139 for military and government workers through December 23, 2013. Use the rate code GOVGEN when booking on their website.
- Last but certainly not least, the W Retreat & Spa in Vieques offers rates starting at $254 when booked online. Select "Government Employee" under the rate preferences, or call 877-822-0000 and mention the GOFLOAT rate plan.
With all of these deals, you'll need to show a valid government ID when checking in.
It seems that Mother's Day brunch has been around as long as Mother's Day itself. I don't exactly know or when it became the go-to meal to show Mom how much you care, but I do know that several Puerto Rican restaurants are going all out for your moms this Sunday. Here are a few choice options:
- The Sheraton Puerto Rico Hotel & Casino is rolling out a grand spread from 11-4 with a breakfast station, seafood station, seafood station, mofongo station (that sold me), and a carving station including roasted rosemary leg of lamb, NY strip, malanga-crusted Mahi Mahi and manchego-stuffed pork loin.
- At the newly reopened Condado Vanderbilt Hotel, Chef Juan Jose Cuevas invites you to indulge in a brunch that can be buffet style or a la carte, with artisan cheeses, charcuterie, fresh seafood, and traditional brunch dishes with a twist.
- Casa Lola - Chef Robert Treviño invites you and Mom to a champagne lunch with dishes like tropical jumbo shrimp with risotto, chocolate cheesecake with honey truffle oil, and more.
- Finally, Mares Restaurant at the Ritz-Carlton, San Juan has a brunch that includes a gazpacho and sorbet station (sold), a raw bar, cheese and charcuterie selection, breakfast station, and a carving station with roast prime rib, roast turkey with pumpkin pudding, and sweet plantain and herb-crusted salmon. A la carte menu also available.
Mother's Day is a week from now, and it's as big a deal in Puerto Rico as it is on the mainland. And if you really wanted to spoil Mom, a weekend in Puerto Rico is a pretty good way to show your love!
Of course, whether you're here for Mother's Day or not, a family trip to the island is always fun; my family has planned numerous vacations on the island Â over the years, and we've always had a blast. And a major reason why we always have a good time is because there is always something new to do in Puerto Rico.
That made me think of a few ways we could spend Mother's Day in Puerto Rico. From the food (and if Mom's never tried a good mofongo before, I suggest you start there) to the historic and natural wonders of the island, there are many ways to indulge our moms next weekend... even if it's just a little retail therapy she's looking for (I would take my mom to Lisa Cappalli's boutique in Old San Juan). Â Added bonus: If you shop for your Mother's Day gift at Plaza las AmÃ©ricas, the largest mall in the Caribbean, you can enter to win a $5,000 shopping spree in Plaza gift cards.
Of course, the one thing Mom will always appreciate is a spa, and Puerto Rico happens to have some terrific ones at some of their best hotels and resorts.
And finally, there will be plenty of special Mother's Day menus on offer around the island. Stay tuned to this page; I'll be adding a few tasty choices this week.
Who doesn't want to be in Puerto Rico this May? Comiccon is here (and so is Hercules, a Power Ranger, wrestler Kevin Nash, and more)! Two superstars of Latin music will serenade their legions of fans at the Coliseo in San Juan. Restaurant Week offers bargain meals at some of the best eateries in the city.
Throw in a funky dance festival (the first of what is hoped to be an annual event), a marathon and half-marathon around the capital, and patron saint festivals, and you've got a full-of-fun May Calendar.
One of the highlights of the April calendar of events is the reenactment of a historic battle in Old San Juan, which takes place this weekend. Here's the rundown of what took place in the past, and what's taking place in the present.
The setting: Castillo San Cristóbal, the mighty fortress that guarded the city of San Juan from attack against the east.
The year: 1797.
What happened: A large British force of more than ten thousand troops, led by Sir Ralph Abercrombie, launched a massive (and final) offensive against Puerto Rico. At the time, the island was essentially the military muscle of the Spanish empire, guarding a key waterway from the Old World to the New.
Knowing that a naval attack was futile against the heavily defended city, the British planned a land assault, and Castillo San Cristóbal was essentially all that stood between them and victory. Spanish soldiers defended the citadel and, although heavily outnumbered, repelled the attack.
What's happening: This weekend, (April 27-28), you can catch military drills, firing demonstrations and educational programs at the fortress. "Soldiers" in period costumes will be visible on the ramparts and walking through the fortress, and and ranger-led programs will be offered at both Castillo San Felipe del Morro and Castillo San Cristóbal.
Check out the tentative schedule of events and relive history in Old San Juan this weekend!
Terrific news about Puerto Rico! The island has just won the Caribbean Tourism Organization's Destination Stewardship Award for 2013. The award was introduced this year to recognize a destination that "is making solid strides toward sustainable tourism management."
Over the course of many travels to the island, I've consistently met tour operators, business owners, tourism officials and just regular people who have a deep and abiding commitment to preserving the natural beauty of this island. And when I thought about it, I came up with a pretty significant list of programs, initiatives and ongoing conservation efforts that prove just how committed Puerto Rico is to sustainable tourism.
It's amazing how much you can do for fun and adventure in Puerto Rico; and it's pretty cool that a lot of these efforts come with a commitment to being green. Congrats to Puerto Rico!
The Travel Channel's new show, "Park Secrets," visits some of Puerto Rico's most alluring and enchanting destinations, from Vieques Island to El Yunque to Cabo Rojo's spectacular Playa Sucia.
As a matter of fact, Puerto Rico has its share of secret, or at least not as well known as they should be, parks and natural habitats. For example, a tour of the island's natural reserves is a journey through mangrove forests, idyllic islands, coastal beaches and even bioluminescent lagoons. And then there are the diverse forests around the island. Apart from their natural beauty and vital roles as habitats for the island's fauna, flora and birds, these comprise some of the best adventure destinations in Puerto Rico.
It doesn't take much to discover a "secret" park here, or to find a tour guide willing to take you out and about in the gentle wilderness. The Conservation Trust of Puerto Rico is a good place to start, as they conduct a variety of nature tours around the island. For more active excursions, companies like Aventuras Tierra Adentro and Acampa will introduce you to experiences that are way more exhilarating side of a walk in the woods.
The Travel Channel's new show, Park Secrets, is airing two new episodes this Sunday. "Hidden History" and "Swamp Things.' In the first show you'll get an inside look at one of San Juan's iconic fortresses, while Swamp Things features a fun romp through El Yunque followed by a visit to nearby Luquillo Kiosks.
As one of the guests on the show, I was only too happy talk about some of my favorite activities in Puerto Rico, and in honor of Puerto Rico's amazing parks (and associated secrets), I'm dedicating this week to the island's greener pastures.
Tune in this Monday, April 22, at 10:30 am and 11:00 am for back-to-back journeys to Puerto Rico, courtesy of The Travel Channel!
What do Eva Longoria, Marc Anthony, Khloe Kardashian and Mary J. Blige have in common? They were all recently spotted spending some quality R&R time in Puerto Rico. And like millions have done before them, a few of them decided the beach was the place to be.
If people-watching is an activity that you like to indulge in when you want to hit the beach, let me recommend Isla Verde Beach. Steps from some of the city's most exclusive destinations (like the El San Juan Hotel, Ritz-Carlton, San Juan and Water & Beach Club), this gorgeous, deep crescent of golden sand caresses the Atlantic Ocean and typically enjoys near-perfect weather almost throughout the year.
And by the way, if you don't want to just lay on the beach and work on your tan (or people-watch), there's something else you can do here: kiteboarding!
One of my favorite events of the year is finally here: Saborea, Puerto Rico's fantastic food festival, kicks off in San Juan tonight and runs through Sunday. The food-fest takes over Escambrón Beach and features an all-star lineup of culinary talent.
Among those in attendance this year are Jennifer Behm-Lazzarini, Season 2 winner of Gordon Ramsey's reality TV show MasterChef, award-winning journalist and chef Denisse Oller, producer and host Marc Summers, along with some of the best local (and imported) chefs. Visitors also get to to enjoy tastings from 30 restaurants per day, not to mention rum samplings and other treats as they make their way through the large pavilions overlooking the ocean.
It's a wonderful event; I was last there in 2010 and had an absolute blast. If you're in San Juan this weekend, don't miss it!