At just 100 miles long and 35 miles wide, Puerto Rico is small enough to see a good portion of it in a short period of time, and close enough to get there quickly -- it's just two and a half hours by plane from Miami, for example. As a self-governing U.S. commonwealth with Spanish, Indian and African roots, Puerto Rico is different enough to keep it separate if not entirely independent, but perhaps the changing demographic of America makes these differences less obvious. And complex debates rage about whether it will someday become our 51st state, and whether it should. As we're entering hurricane season, it's a good idea to consider travel insurance, too. For an overview of the country, visit the website for the Puerto Rico Tourism Company (www.gotopuertorico.com) As you might expect, U.S. currency is accepted, and you don't need a passport if you're entering from the United States.
Cheap Caribbean (tel. 800/912-2322; www.cheapcaribbean.com) is having a big "Explore Puerto Rico" sale. They've extended their deal to El Conquistador Resort and Golden Door Spa until May 19. It's priced from $669 for five nights/six days, based on double occupancy, for travel from New York for July 1-August 5 and October 6-November 15. It's a four-star resort located in Las Croabas, on a cliff overlooking the confluence of the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea. Other details include a $200 Discover Network travel card, good at any of Puerto Rico's restaurants, golf courses and shopping centers. (The travel card operates like a debit card.) The package includes round-trip airfare from your departure city, the aforementioned travel card, five nights in a gardenview room and a free upgrade to a partial oceanview room, and 50 percent off rounds of golf, spa treatments and watersports. Taxes, service charges, transportation to and from the airport, meals and beverages are not included. Other departure cities are available for add-on fees: Miami $100; Chicago O'Hare, Philadelphia and Boston $150; and Los Angeles, $250, for example.
Cheap Caribbean has also extended another sale at Westin Rio Mar Beach Golf Resort and Spa, for five nights and six days, priced from $559 based on New York departures, double occupancy, and good for travel June 1-November 15. As with El Conquistador, a $200 Discover Network travel card is part of the deal, and you'll also receive a second round of golf for free with the purchase of one round. The deal puts you in a resort view room for five nights. Also, meals and beverages, taxes, gratuities, airport transfers and service charges are not included, and the sale is good until May 19.
Delta (tel. 800/221-1212; www.delta.com) is running a sale to Puerto Rico from ten United States cities, starting from $109 one-way in spring and summer. Book by May 22 and travel June 1-August 1. Sample fares include Newark-Aguadilla from $119, Tampa, Florida to Ponce, from $129, and Boston to Aguadilla from $109; all are one-way fares based on round-trip purchase. There are two blackout dates -- June 30 and July 9 -- and flights to and from Aguadilla operate Monday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday; flights to and from Ponce run Wednesday and Saturday only. There is only a one-night minimum stay.
Hix Island House (tel. 787/744-2302; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.hixislandhouse.com/rates.html), located seven miles east of Puerto Rico on the island of Vieques, is an eco-friendly property located on thirteen acres. The "house" is really a series of 14 loft-style apartments; prices range from $1,167-$1,544 per week, from May 1-November 20. Fridges are stocked with local fruit, homemade bread, French press coffee, and rooms have private patios and sea views; most also have an outdoor shower. (Note: the island recently stopped serving as a U.S. military base.)
JetBlue Airways (tel. 800/JET-BLUE; www.jetblue.com) is offering some Super Fly Fares between select cities in the United States and destinations in Puerto Rico. For example, Newark is offered from $99 each way to San Juan, $99 each way from Orlando to San Juan or Aguadilla, from $109 each way from New York City and either Ponce or Agaudilla. Prices were updated May 9 and are most available for mid-week travel. The Orlando fare carries a restriction that travel must be completed by May 25, and a seven-day advance purchase is required for all departure cities.
Pleasant Holidays (tel. 800/742-9244; www.pleasantholidays.com) offers a variety of stays in Puerto Rico, from beach resorts to San Juan. Although there are no advertised specials, the four-star Normandie Hotel in San Juan is available for $590.20 per person for five nights (June 1-6), inclusive of round-trip airfare from Newark, NJ. The Art Deco hotel was renovated just last year. The rate is good for a superior room with one double bed. The hotel is located between old San Juan and the Condado tourist area.
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