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The San Juan Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino

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The San Juan Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino
Photo © San Juan Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino

The basics:

The San Juan Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino is located in the heart of the hip Condado district, close to some of the city's best restaurants and boutiques. Occupying a privileged address along Ashford Avenue, the 513-room property offers a full array of amenities and services, and that all-important access to a pristine slice of Condado Beach.

The hotel is in the midst of an extensive renovation that has already produced an inviting lobby-level lounge (one of several trendy hotspots in the neighborhood) and will update everything from its guest rooms to its dining facilities.

Check rates at this hotel.

New and improved:

The Red Coral Lounge was the first of many renovations to the hotel lobby. The current coffee bar and noodle bar will soon be replaced by a casual dining and social area called The Hub. This will boast a transitional dining space called Cafe Tapas, which morphs from a coffee shop during the day to a Latin tapas eatery at night. Next door, the existing noodle bar will evolve into the Canton Tea & Noodle Co., a more sophisticated Asian dining experience.

While renovations continue through 2012 and into 2013, guests can still expect a comfortable stay here, thanks to the hotel's superlative service and ample facilities.

A little bit of everything:

The Marriott experience goes far beyond the rooms, which are comfortable and well-appointed if not grandiose (the ocean view upgrade is well worth it for the chance to relax on the balcony and enjoy the soothing chorus of the ocean). From morning until, well, the next morning, there's enough to keep you entertained at this resort.

Start with the beach, as so many tourists choose to do. Direct access from the ground floor leads to a broad stretch of golden sand fronting the deep azure of the Atlantic. Beach umbrellas and chairs dot the area, and the nearby beach bar stands ready to serve. Speaking of the pool, the split-level pool at the Marriott is a highlight, particularly for the kids. Water slides, falls and fountains invite you to skip the beach altogether.

Near the pool is La Vista, the hotel's signature restaurant, serving a mix of Puerto Rican, Caribbean and continental cuisine. The colorful, recently renovated interior complements a soon-to-be-completed outdoor lounge area that allows guests to dine al fresco and facing the ocean (which is a rarer treat than you might think in San Juan). While fish is a focus of the menu, I highly recommend the succulent Churrasco steak with yucca fries, chimichurri sauce and julienned vegetables.

The lobby is where most of the action takes place after the sun goes down. The aforementioned Red Coral Lounge dominates the area, giving guests a chic, open space to relax with a drink or, at night, catch the decent live band belt out a mix of English and Spanish songs. Next door is the Stellaris Casino (one of San Juan's best hotel casinos), which features slots, blackjack, roulette, craps, baccarat, poker and more. In a corner you'll even find a noodle bar that stays open until 3 am.

The hotel also features ample meeting space, a grand ballroom, business center, well-equipped gym and spa (the spa is among the more affordable I've seen at San Juan hotels). There's even a small game room for the kids. Finally, don't overlook the extras like free gaming lessons nightly at the casino and a menu of daily resort activities for kids (ranging from scavenger hunts to cookie decorating).

And when you step out, you'll find trendy boutiques and terrific restaurants (like Bar Gitano) nearby, and Old San Juan just a short cab ride away. Add it all up, and you'll understand why this hotel is so popular with virtually any type of traveler: it truly offers a little bit of everything.

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