New & noteworthy
By Ava Rosales
When you break it down, the literal translation is “rich port”. And how the riches abound for guests in 2022. From cultural immersions to luscious libation – Puerto Rico is the place to be.
Cocina: Pública celebrates the rich cultural heritage of the Caribbean with deep colors, textures, and flavors at this farm-to-table restaurant run by Chef Yashira Velez, former kitchen assistant and sous chef of Chef Paxx Caraballo. Pleasurable to the palate and appealing to the eye.
Over in Miramar, the family-run La Isla maintains a sustainability-focused restaurant where ingredients are harvested locally, and a conscious effort is placed on reducing solid waste and single-use plastics. Guests are encouraged to participate in the Huskee Swap program and purchase your reusable coffee cups to join the reduce, reuse, recycle movement.
Old San Juan offers an adults-only experience at Pira Rum. Opened in December, this is the first alcoholic piragua restaurant that offers the local favorite icy treat with an alcohol-infused twist. Enjoy this adult beverage with international-inspired light bites, along with the other rum cocktails like the famous Mojito.
Puerto Rico Rum Journey
Delve a little further into the history of rum, and more sipping on the island’s famous spirit, with the Puerto Rico Rum Journey. This new app shows the most comprehensive glimpse into the island’s famous rum industry and offers tastings with flights of rums and tours of local distilleries that are bound to have an educational and most likely tipsy, but well-spent day of drinking. Download the app and get earning badges.
Fairmont El San Juan
The Fairmont El San Juan deserves your full attention where the sound of iconic live music permeates the newly renovated historic lobby- couple that with the new Foxwoods El San Juan Casino, that’s jackpot for visitors.
Wyndham Grand Rio Mar
It’s not all adult action on the island though. The Wyndham Grand Rio Mar is the place for families. If you plan your stay just right, arrive on Saturday for complimentary piraguas. Children can enjoy these traditional Puerto Rican shaved ice flavor cones and as a sweeter treat for mom and dad, add a little rum for a refreshing alcoholic beverage. Throw on a swimsuit Sunday and Monday to rest and recover in a lounger beach or pool in preparation for Taco Tuesday poolside at the 5 O’clock Somewhere Bar and Grill. Grab one of the rum flights at the Caicu Bar and Tapas while enjoying live entertainment and savoring a variety of local rums. The next day is Wine Wednesdays at any of the resort’s restaurants. Close out the week with decadent desserts on Friday and Saturday nights and indulge in S’mores for a sweet dessert. For the health conscious, a shuttle from the lobby will take you down to the beach club for food truck smoothies, bowls and fresh juices. It’s nonstop dancing at the Kids Dance Parties bursting with interactive musical shows highlighted by magic acts. Explore arts, fashion and crafts at the new Rio Mart market which features designers, artist boutiques, home decor and more in these pop-up stores that are just the little treasures to surprise the avid shopper. No doubt, there’s something to do every day of the week at the Wyndham Grand Rio Mar.
Hyatt Regency Grand Reserve
Hyatt Regency Grand Reserve really takes the destination over the top for active travelers – literally. December through June, you won’t want to miss the floating water park. That’s correct, this first floating water park above the ocean challenges “aquanauts” with an obstacle course and climbing wall, monkey bars, slides and so much more. This aquatic adventure comes complete with a swing right into the ocean.
The Sand Trap + Grill and Top Golf Swing Suite is where sports enthusiasts who are not necessarily into all the sweat and physicality can virtually grab a game, in the VR sense, that is. Select from top golf, target games, zombie dodgeball, hockey, baseball, football, carnival games and so much more in one of the simulator bays. Rack up the eight ball for a game of pool or just lounge in front of an HDTV with your favorite food and beverage from the Sandtrap Bar and Grill. Then wash your cares away with a Vishy Shower Treatment. This new 80-minute water therapy experience detoxes the body and boosts the immune system, and features a mud wrap and organic oil massage. Six newly appointed private villas offer an outdoor plunge pool and shower under the open sky and dining just steps away from the beach in the newly renovated Regency Suites.
For an immersive experience that taps into your inspired, artistic senses, Dreamcatcher has opened two new locations. Check yourself in and have full access to all amenities and activities offered at the main resort, just within walking distance. The Mood Haus is a really groovy 70’s inspired house with color themes named after a famous disco diva, adorned with retro vintage pieces in each suite and outdoor space. The DaDa JaJa taps into the European avant-garde art movement of the early 20th century named for Dada or Dadaism. Its four apartments mix vintage and modern furniture in a lofty industrial space – truly capturing dreams and moods for a surreal getaway.
Condado Plaza Hilton
The Condado Plaza Hilton is back in the casino business with 15,000 square feet of gaming space and hundreds of slot machines and tables.
Punta Borinquen Resort
Punta Borinquen Resort has also joined in the 2022 “renew and refresh” movement with over $8 million in renovations, adding a 22,000 square-foot convention center to its property.
The Caribbean is back with unique, creative, and cultural experiences! From Aruba to Saint Lucia and a few other islands starting with letters in between, the time to travel is now – the present is truly a gift to savor.
The next visit to this mountain will be unforgettable. The renowned Jade Mountain and Anse Chastanet are now offering craft microbrewery and a medicinal herb garden experience that will “tap” into the ultimate pairing of tropical flavors and crafty beer making. Sip on flavors like Soursop Ale and Bois Bandé Stout. In the islands, stouts are known to make a man more “manly”, shall we say. Bise Bandé is a native tree, and the bark is thought to be an aphrodisiac, so imagine when the brewer mixes that with some spices – we await your reaction to let us know if it rises to its claim to fame. The next venture is on the sweeter side, where the cacao fruit pulp will be incorporated in a future batch. The ultimate goal is to be self-sustaining with all products home grown. The ale brewed from raw, unfermented cacao, and replacing malt with cassava, thus concocting a full menu of exclusive, locally crafted beers and seasonal ales. In the meantime, a visit to the “indigenous healing circle” at the heart of the Emerald Estate Organic Farm that is laid out with the traditional north, south, east and west coordinates clearly marked. Inquire about the healing properties of the medicinal herbs as you meander through ginger, turmeric, basil, Panadol plant, shado beni, fennel and a plethora of other plants as you make your way to shelter under the Moringa tree at the garden’s center. You’ll never need a first aid kit, once you learn the holistic healing powers found right in nature’s medicine cabinet. Grab a brew and a book to take notes on this one-of-a-kind venture into sustainable craft brewing and herbal medicine.
Dutch Caribbean island of Bonaire
This Earth Day (April 22), travel and take a pledge with the world’s first Blue Destination that is renowned for its scuba diving, the Dutch Caribbean island of Bonaire. Their pristine waters are a deliberate, conscious act of environmental conservation. Visitors may now participate in a thoughtfully designed destination pledge. Be part of the sustainability efforts by signing a promise to travel responsibly and protect Bonaire’s beauty and unspoiled natural surroundings through The Bonaire Bond. Visitors who commit to the cause will also partake in the adoption of a coral tree through the Reef Renewal Bonaire.
Caerula Mar Club
Tucked away and secluded–when a respite from the hustle and bustle or online responsibilities are needed, the Caerula Mar Club on South Andros offers the perfect escape to 10 acres of beachfront property. Take a nonstop flight from Fort Lauderdale or go private, if so inclined, because the island has its own international customs. Discerning travelers will now be treated to the island’s first fine dining restaurant, Lusca. No worries if you overlook packing an outfit or two, for you may be able to pick something out at the newly opened Roselle & Pine boutique. Get geared up for an underwater excursion at the resort’s new PADI-certified dive shop. The days can be spent basking in the sun with simple seclusion on property or by taking an excursion to Castaway Beach. Closing the day is never more glorious than at sea on a sunset cruise. All this can be arranged for your next stay away.
Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino
For those of us who find brunch that sweet spot for meals – especially when we crave the breakfast food at anytime of the day, well crave no more because La Vista at the Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino turns up its Night Brunch experience on the first Friday of each month. An ambiance of neon lights with Instagram worthy signs like “Til Brunch Do Us Part” is sure to brighten up your social media game, when you grab a welcome cocktail from the Bellini wall, beneath the “Cheers” sign. “Sip” right down for three courses of mouth-watering, savory bites of their signature favorites, Dutch Pancakes, Sous Vide Eggs, Chicken and Waffles, Red Snapper, Prosciutto Ham, Panzenela and fresh pizza. Let’s also hear it for the desserts like churros, banana cake and chocolate mousse. Don’t forget your favorite cocktail, whether it’s a bellini, sangria, or house specialty: Fruity Mojito or Gordon’s Grenade. Say “bon bini” to these “dushi” offerings. Are you ready to book the next seating because reservations are required (297-520-6312)?
Resorts World Bimini
The closest island to the United States is just a 25-minute sea plane flight or two-hour ferry or boat ride away where two new experiences await at Resorts World Bimini. Last summer, the Tulum-like Resorts World Bimini Beach Day Club opened, along with the Resorts World Bimini Cruise Port. All just in time for a Bimini Blue Adventure day, perfect for thrill seekers– first stop is Triangle Rocks for a swim with sharks, then it’s off to snorkel the S.S. Sapona shipwreck, and close the day hand feeding stingrays at Honeymoon Harbor. Just the kind of adventurous experience that makes a session at the resort’s Serenity Spa so worthwhile and necessary. It just makes sense to keep your lucky streak going by ending the evening at the casino.
The Dutch Caribbean Island of Curaçao
Want to experience one of the most diverse Caribbean islands like a local? The Dutch Caribbean Island of Curaçao is inviting you to do just that. Pop into an art workshop, hosted by emerging local painter Francis Sling at his newly opened Art Cave. Spend the day on a walking mural art tour, and dine at brand new lunch spots like De Broeders (Two Brothers) Café and Bario Urban Street Food. You may just find yourself swept up in a street festival hosted by long-term residents of both neighborhoods.
Swing back into tourist mode and accommodations and amenities are plentiful at the fully renovated Curaçao Marriott Beach Resort or the colorful Renaissance Curaçao Resort & Casino. Slip into the brand-new Curio by Hilton Collection property, Mangrove Beach Corendon Curaçao Resort. Escape to the all-inclusive Dreams Curaçao Resort, Spa and Casino, or the Wyndham-branded Kunuku Aqua Resort.
With the diverse cultural representation on the island, it would only make sense that if you missed a bit of home, you could wander into the delectable fine dining Italian restaurant, Serafina, or the cozy, New York-inspired gastro-pub, BKLYN. There’s even OBaAR, a lively Brazilian lounge – perhaps you will meet up with fellow travelers and locals for a specialty drink such as The Tropical Sizzle, at the island’s first mixology-focused craft cocktail lounge, Ochenta Cocktail Bar. Whether you choose to live like a local or travel like a tourist, one thing’s for sure, with celebrated Michelin-starred Dutch chefs, colorful architecture, culture, 35+ beaches with crystal-clear turquoise water, and 55 nationalities, you won’t escape the allure of what makes Curaçao a well desired, diverse destination.