December 30, 2010

Las Casitas Village Review (Puerto Rico)

In June we spent 8 nights in Puerto Rico at Las Casitas Village at El Conquistador Resort and Golden Door Spa. With a 13 yr old boy and 10 yr old girl, we need more spacious accommodations when traveling. So when reviewing hotel options for this trip, it was obvious that a villa at Las Casitas was going to be the ideal choice.

(NOTE: These pictures do not do the island justice. A low pressure system which turned into Hurricane Alex after our departure was parked over the island, causing rain & clouds.)

When we checked in, our expectations were exceeded as our casita was absolutely HUGE! It was 1800 sq ft with 2 bedrooms, 3 full baths, a spacious living room, a fully equipped kitchen, and separate dining area. The master bedroom had a king bed, lots of closet space, and opened to a balcony with table & chairs. The kids’ room had two queen beds and a large dresser, plenty of space to store their clothes. Their bathroom was smaller but had 2 sinks and a tub/shower combo. The living room also had a sofa bed so it could have easily accommodated two more people.

Guests of Las Casitas can use all of the facilities of El Conquistador, but the privileges are not reciprocal, so we always felt like we were members of an exclusive club. Because they are perched on a bluff, both resorts offer beautiful views of the ocean and other islands in the distance. I would highly recommend booking an ocean view casita, as the views were gorgeous. We could see St. Thomas from our balcony on a clear day.

The walk from Las Casitas Village to the main hotel was quite long and involved many steps, so those who are mobility-challenged might find getting around difficult. But there is a shuttle service between the resorts as well, and if it was raining, they would drop you off as close to your casita as possible. I have to admit, I was at first at bit dismayed to see how far we had to walk, but I quickly got over that. It was enjoyable because of the lush landscaping, and the kids could look for geckos and lizards along the way. I also appreciated the extra exercise after indulging in treats all day.
A funicular, or tram, runs from the resort down to the marina, where there were more shops & restaurants, a small water park (additional fee), and a ferry to the resort’s private island. The ferry ride was only 10 min, and it was nice to have exclusive use of a beach, so we didn’t see this as a huge inconvenience. There is also a very nice public beach a few minutes’ drive away.

As villa guests, we had the option of eating at the main hotel buffet, but more often we chose to eat at the small outdoor dining area at Las Casitas. It was rarely crowded and service was more personal, but we had the same buffet and cook to order options. There was a small café next door to the infinity pool, but most dining was at El Conquistador, and there was quite a large selection from casual diners and poolside pizza to four gourmet restaurants.
The casitas are ideal for families traveling together, because of the extra space and conveniences of home. But they are also grouped in courtyards so several casitas share their own “private” pool & hot tub - an ideal setup for a larger group of travelers. For a change of scenery, or activities like pool volleyball, casita guests can also venture over to El Conquistador.

The large resort complex offers lots of options for all ages and interests, which makes it an excellent choice for family reunions, weddings, or corporate events. Activities on-site included tennis, golf, & scuba lesson, and excursions could be arranged through the activity center or the marina. On rainy days, movies & games were offered for kids, and for adults there was a small casino, plus live music in the lobby in the evening. We really enjoyed having the many activities of El Conquistador available to us at the, but being able to retreat to our quiet oasis at Las Casitas when we needed some downtime.
The resort is located about 1 hour from of San Juan, in a location convenient for enjoying the many outdoor activities for which Puerto Rico is known. You can read about those in one of my earlier posts.

For more information about planning the family vacation of your dreams, contact Suzette at suzette@family-treks.com.

December 16, 2010

Ginormous Gingerbread - Part 3

And here is the final installment in this year's hotel gingerbread gallery:

Disney's Boardwalk Inn

Princess Kaiulani, Oahu

The Homestead, Virginia

Four Seasons Denver

Langham Hotel London

Four Seasons Las Vegas

Disney's Contemporary Resort

For help planning the family vacation of your dreams, contact Suzette Mack, Family Travel Advisor at suzette@family-treks.com

December 14, 2010

Ginormous Gingerbread - Part 2

Here are more amazing gingerbread creations from hotels & resorts around the world.

Ritz Carlton Bachelor Gulch

Fairmont Royal York Hotel

Hyatt Regency Vancouver

Ritz Carlton Charlotte

Fairmont San Francisco

Fairmont Scottsdale Princess

Westin Calgary

Fairmont Vancouver

Ritz-Carlton Amelia Island

Want to plan a "sweet" family vacation for 2011? Contact Suzette Mack, Family Travel Advisor at suzette@family-treks.com

December 8, 2010

Ginormous Gingerbread - Part 1

Continuing a tradition on my blog, here are some impressive gingerbread creations from hotels & resorts around the world.

Ritz-Carlton Naples, FL

Four Seasons Sydney, Australia

Manchester Grand Hyatt, San Diego

Embassy Suites South Anaheim, CA

Louisville Marriott, KY

Four Seasons Washington, DC

Fairmont Hamilton Princess, Bermuda

More photos coming! If you have a photo to share of a great gingerbread creation from a hotel or resort, please send it to suzette@family-treks.com.