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The colors of Old San Juan

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Timeless Elegance in Paradise

A Journey Through History, Luxury, and Caribbean Charm at the El San Juan, Puerto Rico's Iconic Beachfront Resort

Article by Kimberly Thomas

Photography by Kimberly Thomas

Originally published in Greenwich Lifestyle

Nestled along the pristine shores of Isla Verde Beach in Puerto Rico, the El San Juan Hotel is a beacon of elegance and luxury. Just minutes from the airport and part of the Fairmont collection, this iconic hotel blends old-world charm with modern amenities, making it a must-visit for travelers seeking a quintessential Caribbean experience. From its stunning architecture and vibrant nightlife to its serene spa and gourmet dining, the El San Juan Hotel promises an unforgettable getaway.

Opened in 1958, the hotel has symbolized Puerto Rican glamour and sophistication for over six decades. Its storied past includes hosting celebrities like Frank Sinatra and Nat King Cole. The property's grandeur has been meticulously preserved, with recent renovations ensuring it continues to shine as a beacon of luxury.

Upon arriving, you'll notice its stunning architecture, a blend of Spanish colonial and contemporary styles. The grand lobby, adorned with crystal chandeliers and rich wood accents, exudes timeless elegance. The intricate details, from hand-carved mahogany furnishings to exquisite tile work, reflect the hotel’s commitment to preserving its historic charm while providing modern comforts.

The property offers accommodations to suit every traveler’s needs. From oceanfront villas to lavish suites, each room is designed with comfort and luxury in mind. Guests can enjoy breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean or lush gardens from private balconies. The rooms are equipped with modern amenities, including high-speed internet, flat-screen TVs, and plush bedding, ensuring a restful stay.

Food enthusiasts will find paradise throughout the resort. Caña offers contemporary Puerto Rican cuisine by Chef José Enrique. Meat Market Miami provides a sophisticated steakhouse experience. For a casual atmosphere, El Bistro serves coffee, snacks, and pastries. Aquarelle on the Beach offers fresh seafood and tropical cocktails. Banyan Tree Grill features global flavors with a Puerto Rican touch, including tacos, burgers, and wings. Sushi By Bou presents a 12-piece omakase with craft cocktails and imported sake. The Chandelier Bar, with its iconic crystal chandelier, provides a stylish setting for expertly crafted cocktails and light bites. Each venue promises a unique culinary journey.

The El San Juan Hotel is renowned for its vibrant nightlife, offering guests an array of options to unwind and enjoy the evening. 'The Lobby' features live music and performances in an intimate, speakeasy-style setting. Club Brava and Ultra Lounge is the place to be for those looking to dance the night away, with top DJs spinning the latest hits in a chic, modern atmosphere. Not to be missed is the excitement of the adjacent Foxwoods Casino, where world-class gaming meets luxurious Caribbean ambiance.

For those seeking relaxation, the hotel’s Well & Being Spa offers a sanctuary of tranquility. The spa provides a variety of treatments designed to rejuvenate the body and mind, from soothing massages to invigorating facials. Guests can also enjoy the hotel’s state-of-the-art fitness center, which features the latest equipment and offers yoga and fitness classes to help maintain a healthy lifestyle during their stay.

A prime location along Isla Verde Beach allows guests to soak up the sun on one of Puerto Rico’s most beautiful stretches of sand. The beach offers a range of activities, from paddleboarding and jet skiing to simply lounging with a cocktail in hand. The hotel’s pool area is equally enticing, with multiple pools, private cabanas, and a swim-up bar providing the perfect setting for relaxation and fun.

Beyond the hotel’s luxurious amenities, the location is ideally situated for exploring the wonders of Puerto Rico. Old San Juan, with its colorful buildings and historic sites, is just a short drive away. Guests can also venture out to El Yunque National Forest, the only tropical rainforest in the United States National Forest System, for a day of hiking and nature exploration. For a spirited experience, visit Ron del Barrilito, the island's oldest distillery, for an exquisite rum tasting and tour.

Visiting the El San Juan Hotel in Puerto Rico is more than just a stay; it’s an experience of luxury, history, and vibrant Caribbean culture. Whether lounging by the pool, savoring gourmet cuisine, or dancing the night away, every moment at this iconic hotel is memorable.

Know Before You Go

  • Location: Isla Verde Beach, Puerto Rico
  • Airport: 5 minutes from Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport
  • History: Opened in 1958, hosted celebrities like Frank Sinatra
  • Architecture: Spanish colonial and contemporary styles
  • Stay: Oceanfront villas and lavish suites with modern amenities
  • Savor: Caña (Puerto Rican), Meat Market Miami (steakhouse), El Bistro (casual), Aquarelle (seafood), Banyan Tree Grill (global flavors), Sushi By Bou (omakase), Chandelier Bar (cocktails)
  • Scene: The Lobby, Club Brava and Ultra Lounge, Foxwoods Casino
  • Self: Well & Being Spa, state-of-the-art fitness center
  • Seaside: Activities like paddle boarding and jet skiing, multiple pools and cabanas, beach chairs and umbrellas
  • Seek: Proximity to Old San Juan,  El Yunque National Forest, Ron del Barrilito Rum Tour
  • Timeless Elegance at the Beach
  • Oceanfront Villas
  • A View from the Top
  • Cocktails at Cana
  • Culinary Delights
  • Rich History and Glamour
  • Rich History and Glamour
  • Poolside at the Cabana
  • Ron del Barrilito Rum Tasting Tour
  • Ron del Barrilito Rum Tasting Tour
  • The colors of Old San Juan
  • The colors of Old San Juan
  • The author in her element
  • Villa Views