Article courtesy of the Affluent Traveler Collection
A vibrant island where the Old World meets the new, Puerto Rico is an unparalleled destination of immense beauty and one-of-a-kind experiences. Here you can discover spectacular natural wonders such as the world’s largest dry forests, the only tropical rainforest in the U.S. National Forest System, shimmering pink salt flats, underground caves, waterfall hikes, three of the world’s five bio bays, and the longest zipline in the Americas. Now add to all that a diverse cultural mix of Spanish, Taino Indian, and African heritages, and you have some of the most incredible cuisine, art, and music found in the Caribbean. Even better, nearly every facet of the island has reopened to travelers, including public beaches, nature reserves, museums, and much more.
While much has changed in travel over the past year, visitors to Puerto Rico can enjoy peace of mind knowing the island is going above and beyond to keep them happy and healthy so they can once again experience all the unforgettable sights, sounds, and flavors that make the island the heart and soul of the Caribbean.
To make sure all visitors remain healthy, Puerto Rico is enforcing local measures developed by the Puerto Rico Tourism Company (PRTC), alongside U.S. Travel Association (USTA) guidelines. This includes social distancing, mandatory face coverings in public areas, and a variety of mandates for businesses – including, but not limited to, reduced capacities and high standards of cleanliness in accordance with CDC and EPA guidelines. Travelers entering the island are required to fill out a Travel Declaration Form through the Puerto Rico Health Department’s online portal, get a molecular COVID-19 test (nasal or throat swab) no more than 72 hours prior to visiting the island, and show proof of a negative result or they must quarantine.
The Puerto Rico National Guard is assisting with enhanced health screenings of all arriving passengers at the Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport in San Juan, where all passenger flights are currently being diverted. Face masks are mandatory. All arriving travelers will be pre-screened via thermographic cameras to monitor temperatures, and enhanced protocols will take place at baggage claim before exiting the airport.
Puerto Rico is committed to ensuring those visiting this island gem have the information they need to have a safe and fun time. Along with widely-spoken English, no passport, currency exchange, or new phone plan is required for U.S. citizens. Additionally, retesting is not required for U.S. citizens returning home.
Whatever your preferred style of travel, Puerto Rico’s impeccable collection of luxury accommodations is certain to satisfy even the most finicky of visitors who desire only the very best. To meet the needs and wants of travelers from across the globe, a select group of exclusive resorts continues to raise the bar on the health and safety of their guests, all while continuing to provide an incomparable level of service.
Dorado Beach, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve, is a gorgeous resort with a remarkable story. According to General Manager, George Sotelo, “This is a resort with soul, steeped in history and tradition.” When developer Laurance S. Rockefeller opened his resort in the 1950s, he took care to preserve what made the former plantation, and Puerto Rico, so special. Buildings were no taller than palm trees. Nature was left to unfurl beautifully. Access to the ocean remained unobstructed. Over the years, the 50-acres retreat has carried on Rockefeller’s legacy of catering to those who value discretion, human connection, and tailored luxury.
Ideally located on a former coconut plantation and situated between the El Yunque National Forest and Espíritu Santo River State Preserve, St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort is an Audubon International-certified sanctuary that is set on 483 pristine acres and two miles of secluded beach with stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean. Guests will enjoy artful cuisine, the lush and exotic wildlife of the sanctuary, an expertly designed 18-hole golf course, and watersports. For indulgent relaxation, guests can pamper themselves with a custom spa day at the resort’s Iridium Spa. The resort’s enviable setting combined with the legacy of St. Regis creates a luxury retreat where adventure, history, elegance, and tropical splendor blend seamlessly.
At the Condado Vanderbilt Hotel in San Juan, guests are invited to experience the indescribable sheen of grandeur that’s unlike any other. Restored to its sparkling glory through a meticulous renovation, the landmark Condado Vanderbilt stands as a monument to timeless elegance and style, all while offering its own hallmarks of exacting service, exquisite amenities, and fine dining. The hotel features unique Spanish Revival architecture, opulent interiors, and dramatic hotel ocean views. Dining at the hotel is a jubilant affair as well since each restaurant serves exquisite food expertly paired with the finest cocktails and wines. The Condado Vanderbilt provides a beautiful perfect island setting with its captivating oceanfront views, legendary service, and dazzling ambiance.
Poised flawlessly between city and shore, Fairmont El San Juan Hotel invites the area’s lush landscape into the newly renovated guest rooms, suites, poolside, and oceanfront villas rooms.
The hotel is located ten minutes from Old San Juan on the award-winning Isla Verde Beach and artfully blends the best elements of yesterday, today, and tomorrow. On-site are four pools, beachfront villa rooms, a three-level Fitness Center with a unique Sky Deck, beach activities, luxury pool cabanas, and signature dining. For the ultimate in rejuvenation, the hotel’s Well & Being Spa offers a palette of uniquely rewarding and deeply personalized experiences in an amazing setting.
WINING AND DINING
When it comes to the finest dining and libations in the Caribbean, Puerto Rico is in a league of its own. Travelers can take their pick from thousands of diverse restaurants island-wide, including those on the smaller islands of Culebra and Vieques.
Foodies are certain to discover an exhaustive variety of restaurants and dishes spotlighting Puerto Rico’s farm-to-table movement. The relationship between restaurateurs and local farmers supports local agriculture and celebrates food that’s grown entirely on the island. This exciting culinary movement is flourishing with prevalent farms such as El Pretexto and Frutos Del Guacabo. Restaurants and bars, such as Verde Mesa in Old San Juan, feature a plethora of locally sourced ingredients in an array of sophisticated and charming settings.
Of course, no vacation to Puerto Rico is complete until you’ve savored some of the world’s very best rum. As the Rum Capital of the World, Puerto Rico is responsible for over 70% of the rum sold in the U.S. The island is home to the world’s largest premium rum distillery, the famous Casa Bacardí. Other can’t miss rum producers include the locally loved Don Q rums, for a cleaner and more refined rum; and Ron del Barrilito, the oldest rum producer in Puerto Rico that has aged their world-class spirit for almost 140 years in Hacienda Santa Ana.
SHOP ‘TIL YOU DROP
Whether you’re searching for souvenirs, locally-made hand-crafted items, or luxury brands, there is an incredible collection of locally-owned and designer boutiques, malls, and outlet stores throughout Puerto Rico.
For souvenirs, handmade items, and art pieces, head to Old San Juan to shop for products that showcase Puerto Rican culture. You’ll find an eclectic selection of art galleries and gift shops that reflect the island’s colors, traditions, and history, and provide a true one-of-a-kind shopping experience in the heart of the old city.
If you’re in the mood for a more luxurious shopping experience that includes famous global brands, check out the Mall of San Juan. There you’ll find upscale boutiques including Louis Vuitton, Bulgari, Hugo Boss, Carolina Herrera, and Gucci, to name a few. You’ll also discover that this mall likely has many of the stores you’ll find at home, such as Nordstrom, Anthropologie, and Bath & Body Works.
Plaza Las Américas in Hato Rey (a district in San Juan) is the largest shopping center in the Caribbean and offers everything from food courts to movie theaters and more than 300 different stores! Whether you’re in the market for a luxury item or just want to take an indoor stroll, this will be your one-stop place to shop.
For factory stores and outlet shopping with a tropical twist, head to the Puerto Rico Premium Outlets in Barceloneta. Only a 45-minute drive from San Juan, you’ll be grabbing some great deals on name brands such as Calvin Klein, Michael Kors, a Nike Factory Store, and many, many others.
- Lisell Travel