Puerto Rico on the Rise - Page 2

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In Old San Juan, check into Hotel El Convento, a former Carmelite convent that is now part of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World program and carries a AAA Four-Diamond Rating. Old World charm mixes with modern elegance in the guest rooms with handcrafted furniture, mahogany beams, Andalusian tiles, marble bathrooms, and vistas of the town and its bay. Each room features thoughtful amenities, such as individually controlled air-conditioning, flat panel LCD screen TVs, and BOSE sound systems.

The main attraction of Old San Juan is the town itself: stroll the narrow streets soaking in the Spanish architecture, tour the mighty forts, and bask in the temperate climes. If it's beach you really crave, the El Convento will provide you with a pass to the Isla Verde Beach Resort in San Juan. Or you can relax by the El Convento's rooftop pool, which is small but accompanied by a hot tub and unbeatable views of the colorful town. Each afternoon, retreat to the Garden Terrace, overlooking the Plaza de las Monjas and San Juan Cathedral, where cocktails and hors d'oeuvres are served to all hotel guests. It's a delightfully relaxing Caribbean scene.

El Convento has three worthwhile restaurants on its grounds. Or you can try out Aguaviva, an ultramodern restaurant with a scrumptious raw bar, inventive ceviches, and house specialties such as the lobster mashed potatoes.

Old San Juan is also a good base for exploring more of Puerto Rico, if you're the adventurous type. Acampa Adventure Tours will pick you up at the El Convento and show you that there's much more to the island than surf and sand. You can design your own adventure or choose from Acampa's trips to El Yunque National Forest, Toro Negro Rainforest, Tanama River, or Mona Island. Acampa can accommodate every comfort level, from short nature hikes to week-long expeditions that include caving, rappelling, and rock climbing.

If tramping through the rainforest sounds like a bit much, charter a plane instead from San Juan to the undiscovered southwestern coast and Copamarina Beach Resort in Guanica. This exquisitely landscaped 20-acre tropical resort is nestled right along the Caribbean Sea, with the type of white-sand beaches that you'd expect to see in a Caribbean island brochure. This secluded hideaway's guest rooms boast either a garden or sea view, or you can opt for the suites or villas, all of which are romantically private. Play golf, go scuba diving, or relax in the Bodyderm Spa. This resort is a little slice of Puerto Rican heaven.

The Puerto Rico Tourism Company (1-800-866-7827) can give you more information about any type of vacation to the island.

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