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The Caribbean provides a picturesque setting for many multisensory experiences. One of my favorites is feeling a cool breeze on my face while savoring fresh seafood in an open-air, beachfront restaurant. So, it’s no wonder that I was delighted with my first dinner at Gingambo, the recently revamped restaurant at San Juan Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino.
The casually elegant dining venue, which offers indoor and outdoor seating, serves an array of creative cuisine inspired by Puerto Rican culinary traditions. (I especially loved the lobster mofongo, a traditional dish that is made with mashed plantains.) And it’s a perfect example of how recent renovations have brought new life to one of the highest-profile hotels in the chic Condado district of San Juan, Puerto Rico’s capital.
Indeed, San Juan Marriott is in the midst of an ambitious, $20 million upgrade that is touching nearly every part of the property, with fresh design and new services.
The property is reporting a healthy occupancy rate that also reflects positive trends in Puerto Rico’s tourism industry, according to Joaquin Cruz, the hotel’s director of marketing.
“‘Hamilton’ really put us on the map,” he said, noting the publicity garnered when American playwright Lin-Manuel Miranda staged his hit Broadway show in Puerto Rico several months ago. “Jimmy Fallon came down, too. That was very positive.”
The first phase of room revamps has wrapped up in the Cabana Tower, providing a glimpse of what accommodations will be like in the coming months when completed in the main tower. Soothing tones of tan, gray and blue flow throughout the redesigned guestrooms, each of which is furnished with well-designed lighting, a wall-mounted flat-screen television, a minifridge, a safe-deposit box and other amenities.
I loved the comfortable couch and stylish, contemporary armchair that outfitted my room, as well as the bathroom, which exuded a handsome style, with a large shower and flattering lighting.
But, of course, I was most drawn to the sizable balcony, which offered a stunning view of the beach, pool and ocean. The beachfront view is, after all, a big reason why people gravitate to a hotel such as San Juan Marriott. Another alluring detail is the hotel’s expansive swimming pool area; beautifully landscaped, it has plenty of room to relax. Guests can also paddle up to the swim-up pool bar or shoot down the waterslide, which is designed for adults and older children.
They can also stay in shape — both mentally and physically — at San Juan Mariott’s Ocean Club Wellness Center, which features a 24-hour gym, fitness classes and spa treatments.
Dining and entertainment options are exceptionally good at the property. In addition to the memorable beachfront meal at Gingambo, my husband and I sipped on expertly prepared cocktails at the Red Coral Lounge, a lobby bar where live music helps set the mood for socializing. Plans call for a new sushi bar to open later this year; it will be adjacent to the lounge and next to the Stellaris Casino, which is a draw for fans of gaming.
Location is also a selling point for San Juan Marriott, since it sits right on the beach in Condado. One of the most walkable neighborhoods in the city, Condado has countless restaurants, bars and shops within a few short blocks. Guests who would like to explore further — and perhaps enjoy a scenic ride to Old San Juan — can take advantage of the hotel’s complimentary bicycle loaning program.
San Juan Marriott is also well equipped for meetings and events, with more than 10,000 square feet of space, including a beachfront, open-air venue that as of press time is adding a new wall of art by a local artist. Whether it’s a group event or an intimate cocktail or dinner, clients will never be far from an amazing view at the hotel.
The renovation of San Juan Marriott is part of a two-pronged effort by Marriott International to serve the needs of diverse traveler types in the always-popular Condado district. A few blocks away, I toured AC Hotel San Juan Condado, which opened in 2017 following a massive upgrade to a former Radisson property. Its uncluttered, modern style provides an attractive setting for business and leisure travelers, with a rooftop pool and bar that are especially scenic.
AC Hotel San Juan Condado’s appeal for business travel and the meetings and weddings markets is underscored by plans to add a new, 1,700-square-foot ballroom and a new 14-person executive boardroom by the end of this year.
The DetailsSan Juan Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casinowww.marriott.com