Romance is always of the menu in Puerto Rico. There's something about the combination of secluded white sand beaches, rich heritage, colonial architecture, Latin dance and exotic rum concoctions that lends it itself to a passionate getaway for you and your loved one (or perhaps the person you'd like to make your loved one). So if things are cooling down at home and you are looking for a way to warm them up, book that Puerto Rico vacation now.
Hotel Milano (tel. 877/729-9050; www.hotelmilanopr.com) is a centrally located small hotel in Old San Juan, footsteps from the historic center of the city and its many attractions. The hotel boasts a spectacular rooftop restaurant with panoramic harbor views. There's also free Internet usage for hotel guests. High season here begins on November 20, 2006 and extends through May 31, 2007 but room rates are very affordable. Small rooms start from $90 per night, queen sized rooms are $145 and rooms with two double beds are $155. The minimum stay on weekends during high season is two nights. State tax of 9% and city tax of $3 per person per night are additional.
Paradores de Puerto Rico (www.gotoparadores.com) features 23 registered Paradores, generally historic homes (although some look conspicuously modern and not much like houses) that have been converted into family-operated inns. The paradores can be found throughout the island in both coastal and inland locations. Two adults can spend two nights at a choice of four beachside properties, seven coastal inns, three town locations or four mountain hideaways for $299 per room as part of a special package offer that includes accommodation, American breakfast daily, dinner, taxes, tips and 25% off a Hertz car rental.
If you really want to stay away from the tourist crowds, head to the north coast and the beachfront Parador Villas del Mar Hau (www.paradorvillasdelmarhau.com). It is located on an unspoiled stretch of sandy beach, Playa Montones, near five world-class surfing beaches, spectacular submarine caves, an 18-hole golf course at Ramey base, Las Cascadas waterpark, Aguadilla airport, and not too far from the RÃo Camuy Caves Park and Arecibo Observatory. The cozy one- and two-bedroom cottages are reasonably priced at $95 per night for two people and $130 per night for four people (with a two-night minimum stay required).
For those more interested in staying in the thick of the action, there are several inns available in the Condado and Isla Verde areas around San Juan. Casa del Caribe Guest House (tel. 877/722-7139; www.casadelcaribe.net) is a quaint bed and breakfast nestled in the heart of Condado. Only a block from the beach in a quiet neighborhood but close to a wide selection of restaurants and shops, rooms here start from $50 per night per room for a single, $65 for a queen room and $75 in a king room during the low season (which lasts until December 14, 2006). Three people could comfortably share the Deluxe king room with day bed for $85 per night. Even in high season, rates are only $20 more per room per night. There's a three-night minimum stay.
Numero Uno Guest House (tel. 866/726-5010; www.numero1guesthouse.com) is located in Ocean Park, a stone's throw away from Condado. This family owned and operated eight-room inn with a pool also features Pamela's Caribbean Cuisine, a well-regarded beachfront restaurant. It is still considered mid-season until December 10, 2006 and prices during this time start from $75 per room per night and go up to $165 a night for an apartment or an ocean view room. Children under 12 stay free in their parent's room. Taxes (9% hotel tax, $2 per person/per day city tax and 15% service charge) are additional.
The beachfront Tres Palmas Inn (tel. 866/372-5627; www.trespalmasinn.com) in Isla Verde is a Spanish mission-style 12-room inn with an ocean view sun deck and jacuzzi pool. Room rates range from $81 to $146 in low season and $87 to $175 in high season (plus room tax).
With the current "Gigantenormous Sale" offered on all three-night plus Travelocity (www.travelocity.com) package deals purchased by November 16, 2006, it's hard to find better deals on a Puerto Rico getaway (plus you get $200 off your next vacation of five-nights or more). If you are really watching your pennies, taking into account that $100 off, a six-night Puerto Rico vacation departing midweek on American Airlines from New York in late November and staying at the budget Mango Inn in Isla Verde (only a one-star rating) is $432 per person including all taxes based on double occupancy. Just be a little bit careful when you make your reservation online as the crafty folks at Travelocity try to up-sell you airport transfers (for a lofty $35 per person) and that item is already pre-highlighted on your purchase screen -- so you need to de-select it (round-trip taxi fare to Isla Verde, including a tip would be about half of that). Same with travel insurance for $28 per person -- although you may want to consider that (even if some credit cards may offer similar coverage for less). Or step up a bit and stay at the three-star San Juan Water and Beach Club (formerly known as and still referred to as the Water Club). This Art Deco gem in Carolina, across the road from beach is one of the "it" places in Puerto Rico, with a roof top pool, cool bars and ultra chic restaurants. A six-night airfare/package here from New York is only $725 per person (after the $100 per couple discount) including all taxes. Don't forget to enter promo code "GiantSale" when purchasing online.
Airfare is always pretty reasonable for the U.S. to Puerto Rico, even in peak winter months. Fares on JetBlue (tel. 1-800-JETBLUE; www.jetblue.com) in November and December, 2006 start at $99 one-way from New York or Orlando to San Juan or Aguadilla, but inevitably you will probably end up paying between $109 and $149 for the return flight. Delta, Continental and American Airlines pretty much all match JetBlue's fares to San Juan, especially midweek.
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