Having fun at La Concha Renaissance in Condado [VIDEO]

After much deliberation Rachel picked La Concha in Condado for the first few days of our trip to Puerto Rico this year. We had a lot of fun here, but the best part had to be the Staff at the resort.

The staff there was helpful, smart, and extremely accommodating, they were definitely the highlight of our stay at La Concha

My second favorite thing was the sleek modern vibe the place has, rather than talking your ear off about it I made this video so you can see for yourself – Check it out and lemme know what you think in the comments below.

Bahia Beach and Fajardo

Day 4:
Rain rain go away, come back another day. We were picking up Jonathan’s Dad from the airport today and we had some time to kill so of course we went to the mall. The mall in San Juan is called Plaza Las Americas. It’s a huge mall – think there were 3 different levels. After the mall, we spent the rest of the day with family.

Travel Quick Tip: Firehouse Subs at the mall is VERY SLOW. They give out beepers for each order – this makes it look like there is no line but in reality there are tons of orders ahead of you.

After spending most of the day with family, we are off to the St. Regis. It’s located in Rio Grande on Bahia Beach and is very secluded. It was difficult for us to see the property on the drive in because we were checking in around 11pm.

The entrance to the plantation house is impressive with fire pits lining the walkway up to the oversized front door. The check-in process was quite personable. We are seated down at a desk in what looks like a cozy den. We are given a map of the property and our keys and the bell man proceeds to take us and our baggage to our room via golf cart.

We stayed in a standard room and it far exceeded our expectations (check out this video tour of our room at the St Regis, Bahia Beach). Decor is plantation style – dark cherry wood furniture, recessed beamed ceiling and rattan ceiling fans. Neutral tones used throughout the bathroom. Bathroom has a rain shower that is almost as big as the rest of the room. The mirror in bathroom even has a TV! Not sure I will actually use it but it was pretty cool.

Double vanities in there too. As I have mentioned before, I’m really picky and there was a musty smell in the room but I don’t think the room had been used in a while. I can’t imagine that they are ever 100% booked with the prices they charge here.
Entrance to Plantation House:

Day 5:
Our mini boat snorkeling tour is scheduled for today 🙂 We had to be in Fajardo at 8:30am. According to Google Maps, it’s about a 25 minutes away. We left about an hour early so we had time to stop for breakfast. There is always traffic around here so be sure to give yourself extra time to make it anywhere. It ended up taking us an hour because there was a bad accident on the way.

After check-in, we get loaded onto our mini-boats.

Travel Quick Tip: There is not much room in the dry storage area so I would suggest bringing as little as possible – towels, sunglasses, sunblock.

As soon as we start our engines to head out of the marina, our boat stops working. They try to fix it but are unable to and we have to ride with the tour guides. Kind of a bummer since so the cool thing about the tour was getting to drive/ride in your own mini boat. They apologized and we were refunded the whole amount back. The tour guides were great – Efrain & Gilbert.

Water was a little rough so we it took us longer to get to Palomino island and we only ended up stopping at one snorkeling spot. The snorkeling was pretty average but the boat ride out to the island was fun. We hung out on Palomito Island for about an hour. This is the island where the filmed Pirates of the Carribean 4.

Even though we slathered on the sunblock, we got plenty of sun today. The entire trip was about 3.5 hours. We ended up having lunch at the restaurant there at the marina (Marina Puerto Chico). We had carne frita and rice and beans. It was very good and I don’t think we spent more than $20. We were pooped by the time we made it back to the resort and ended up taking a nap after showering and getting cleaned up.


Picture 1 of 5

Travel Quick Tip: For $15, the kayak company takes pictures of you throughout the excursion and emails them to you. You also receive one 5×7 print. Well worth the money.

We decided to eat dinner at the hotel restaurant, Fern. It is operated by a world-renown chef – Jean-Georges Vongerichten. Not sure who that is but I’m not familiar with too many chefs unless they have a show on Food Network. The food was a bit fancy for me and ended up ordering a tomato, basil and mozzarella pizza which was not that great. How do you mess up pizza? I like cheese on my pizza and I think they put one small slice of mozzarella on each slice.

Jonathan opted for the salmon dish. He seemed to enjoy it. I had a few bites of his creamy mashed potatoes and they were delicious. They served a little grouper hush puppie and some yummy bread. Our bill came to about $50 – which was for an appetizer and dinner entree. We didn’t order any drinks, just water. In my opinion, the food was average at those prices.

Day 6:
Like most Starwood Properties, they offer complimentary coffee & tea in the lobby or in this case the Plantation House. We enjoy a cup of coffee and take up with us to Fern for breakfast. This is the only retaurant on the property that serves breakfast. We ate breakfast out on the terrace which had a beautiful view and wonderful breeze. Jonathan ordered the cold buffet and I ordered a basic breakfast (scrambled eggs, potatoes, tomatoes). It was a standard breakfast and ran us about $40.

We hung out at the pool bar for a bit and enjoyed some tropical drinks. Of course they weren’t cheap – $17 each. But they were very good and there was nice breeze while we were out there. We saw someone order one of those oversized bottles of Fiji water for $10 – CRAZY!

For lunch we ventured off the resort and ate at La Familia Bakery for lunch. Thanks to Trip Advisor for helping us find this little gem. They serve sandwiches and of course baked goods. Unfortunately they turn their press off at 2pm and we were not able to order hot sandwiches. The gentleman at the bakery offered to make us cold sandwiches which was very nice of him. We ordered a ham and cheese sandwich, 2 donuts (which tasted very fluffy and delicious), and 2 cafe con leches for $9. What a bargain! They open at 6am so we will definitely be stopping by for breakfast on our way out of town.

Travel Quick tip: La Familia is busy in the morning so plan to wait for your breakfast. Food is good and I would definitely go back for breakfast but it was kind of stressful when we trying to get to the airport that morning.

We decided to check out a place called El Verde BBQ for dinner. It seemed like a place where people go for local puerto rican dishes like rotisserie chicken, rice & beans, lechon, yuca, etc. We ordered lechon and arroz con gandules for about $7. Good food for a great price!

Travel Quick Tip: It’s not a fancy place – there are a couple of tables and benches to eat there. I would suggest just picking up some food to go from here.

Overall, the St. Regis property was beautiful. It really is more of a retreat because of it’s location. I would highly suggest having a rental car if you want to avoid eating at the over-priced restaurants on site. The pool area was beautiful and there is access to Bahia Beach which is pretty.

Unfortunately, we don’t play golf so we didn’t get to experience that part of the resort which is one of it’s major amenitites. As part of the resort fee, you can also use non-motorized equipment at the boat house (paddle boards, canoes, etc). Personally, I prefer the W Spa and Retreat at Vieques because of the location – it offers the beach and several different pools which offer more privacy. The atmosphere and decor was more hip and fun for us.

Day 7:

Headed back home to Florida. JetBlue flight was ontime and we landed 20 minutes early!

La Concha Renaissance in Condado

Quick tip: This year I booked our vacation starting on Monday vs. Friday or Thursday. I felt so much less stressed out having the whole weekend to pack and prepare for the trip.

Day 1:
Jet Blue flight arrived on time 🙂 We picked up our rental car and we were on our way. Unfortunately when I clicked on the address to hotel from the email on my phone it did not google the correct address and we ended up lost and in the hood. Very scary!!

We finally made our way back to the highway but keep in mind when you take an exit off the highway, most of the time you end up on another highway. We ended up going off course quite a bit.

What should have been a 20 minute ride turned into 1.5 hour ordeal. Not a great way to start our vacation but now you know – TYPE the actual address into your GPS on your phone. Driving into the Condado area is not too impressive. Perhaps we can drove in the back way or something. I was feeling a little nervous about our hotel. When we pulled up, it did look a little run down.

We finally arrived to La Concha Renaissance Hotel and we checked into our room. We had booked a room with an ocean view and when we got up there it was pretty small room. The room was big enough for the king size bed – no desk or sitting area. It was quite surprising but we didn’t know what the rest of the rooms looked liked. Our room had an exterior door with no lock that led to two rooms at the end end of the hallway. One of them was ours. It didn’t seem very safe – someone could mug you back there and no one would ever know it.

The view was very nice. The hotel has a small private beach as well as a pool looking out towards the beach. We ended up requesting another room but we were starving and went down to the bar for a “quick bite” to eat first.

Atmosphere is really nice – very cool and laid back. Lots of white furniture. We ordered a few drinks. My mojito was $11. I suppose we should learn to expect that at a hotel in a touristy section of town. We ordered Churrasco and Fries to share. It took about 35 minutes for our food to arrive. I think our bartender forgot about our order and brought us some plantain chips and guacamole free of charge. The food was decent but the experience wasn’t so great. Our total bill added up to $42 for 2 drinks and a lunch entree.

We requested a different room and were moved to a lower floor. The front desk person was extremely nice and said the other room was the only one avaialble at the time of check-in. He understood why we wanted to move with the room being so small. It was meant to be a connecting room with a larger room or suite.

We walked into our room – what a difference. There was a desk and seating area. Looked at the bathroom and it was clean but the shower was a little grimey. I have this weird thing about dirty looking grout. Although the room was an improvement, there was an extremely loud vent running outside. Try to avoid staying on the 4th floor if you stay here. We felt like we were being a pain but requested another room.

This time we were moved up to the 10th floor. Funny because this was room was slightly larger than the first room and slightly smaller than the room on the 4th floor. I had read on trip advisor that the newer tower had the nicest rooms and requested one over there but was told that no rooms in our category were available. We had booked an ocean view room with Marriott points and the new tower only had suites. We settled in because we were tired after traveling all day.

Finally around 7pm, we decided we needed to go eat and Jonathan found a restaurant on YELP with 4 stars and over 200 reviews. It was called El Jibarito. It was located in Old San Juan which is about a 3 miles away from the hotel. We had to park in a garage and walk about 4 blocks to the restaurant. Kind of spooky walking around there at night – the streets are narrow and not well lit. There were lots of people walking around so I guess it’s safe.

We get to the restaurant and it was packed. Yelp rarely lets us down! We split a dish of pork stew, rice and red beans, side salad and ordered a side order tostones (fried green plantains). The garlic sauce for the tostones was really good. We saw good reviews for their garlic chicken and shrimp so I have to imagine those entrees were delicious too with that garlic sauce 🙂 Our dinner came to a total of $17. We didn’t order drinks – just bottled water. What a bargain!

Got back to the hotel around 9pm and we showered got ready for bed. Although the hotel is very clean and decorated nicely – I had an issue with the shower. They attempted to make it a modern walk in shower where only half is covered by a glass enclosure. It’s kind of small for that design and you end up getting cold. The water does not drain properly and there is standing water left sitting in your shower. Kind of gross. Going to have to ask for a squeegee or something to get rid of that water. Jonathan called it a “shabby renovation.” Obviously we have minor issues with the standards here but the service is outstanding. All of their staff are friendly and manage all of your requests as best as they can.

Day 2:
We consulted YELP again and decided to go to a local spot called Pinky’s for breakfast. It’s about 4 blocks away from the hotel – right off of Ashford Ave. YELP did not disappoint. We both enjoyed a hearty breakfast and cafe con leche for about $12.


The sun was out and we decided to have a beach day. La Concha has a small private beach and as guests of the hotel they set up beach lounge chairs and umbrellas for you – free of charge.

After a couple of relaxing hours on the beach, we decided to visit the pool area which is very nice. You will have to get there early if you want to find seating with an umbrella. We cooled off in the pool and then decided to leave the hotel for lunch. We asked one of the bell hops for a suggestion and he directed us to a place called Pure and Natural. It was practically next door to our hotel. It’s one of those all natural healthy food places. They had quite a selection of raw juices and shakes. Pricing wasn’t horrible – we paid about $22 for two sandwiches and a lemonade. However, it took a very long time for them to prepare an egg salad sandwhich and a grilled mahi mahi sandwich. The place was ok – next time we may just try Pinky’s again for lunch.

The gym is open 24 hours for those of you that like to work out late night. It’s a decent facility with fairly new equipment. Great view of the beach from all the cardio machines.

After doing some research on YELP again, we decided to go to Jose Enrique’s for dinner. The restaurant had 4.5 stars with about 65 reviews. The reviews did mention it was difficult to find and it was. There isn’t a huge sign outside the door and not really well lit outside. We actually drove right past it – I thought it looked like a house on the street. There is only street parking so we had park a few blocks away in a lit parking lot.

We finally get there and the hostess tells us it’s a 1.5 hour wait. The place was packed but we were hungry and decided to find another spot. We ended up having dinner at Cafe de la Plaza. It was across the plaza which was packed with locals. We ordered a couple of drinks and Mofongo with Churrasco. It was served with a red sauce and pretty tasty. Our bill came to about $30.

Quick Tip: I would suggest trying to get to Jose Enrique’s right when they open at 11am to avoid a long wait.

Day 3:
Breakfast at Pinky’s again 🙂 The sun was out so we hung out at the beach again. This time we were able to find a little cabana facing the beach. I have to say that the grounds and amenities here at La Concha are really nice. They have several several different pools – one actually faces the beach. Atmosphere is very laid back and they have servers from there poolside restaurant out and about taking food and drink orders on the beach and by the pool.

We stopped by a pizza joint for dinner down the street from the hotel which was a bit over priced – $3.95/slice. Pizza was pretty good but I love pizza – even the frozen kind 🙂 It was July 4th and we were able to see the fireworks on our walk home to the hotel.

Mini Boat Island Hop and Snorkeling Tour [Video]

No vacation would be complete without an adventure, right?

This time we decided to go snorkeling with a twist – we took a guided mini boat tour that left out of Puerto Chico Marina right around the corner from El Conquistador. If you’re staying in Fajardo Kayaking Puerto Rico‘s Mini Bout tour is definitely worth checking out.

Our guides Gilbert and Efrain were really cool dudes, knowledgeable about the area and funny to boot.
This video was shot with my GoPro HD Hero and the photos that were mixed in were shot by our guides.

Quick Tip: It’s an extra $15 bucks to get the photo package and it’s totally worth it.


St Regis Bahia Beach Resort [Video]

So I finally shot my first video with the GoPro HD and I gotta say, it’s way better than I expected.

In this video Rachel gives you a “Cribs” style tour of our suite. After that you’ll go for a walk through the Plantation House and to the pool. Have fun 😉

Some of the highlights to the room were:

  • The massive shower
  • TV in the bathroom mirror
  • Remote control lights and a/c
  • Blue Ray PLayer
  • Semi-private porch

The St Regis Bahia Beach is definitely a nice place to stay, even if the staff was a little clumsy. Next time I’d want a room with a view of the ocean.