It’s hard to believe that just one week ago I was experiencing the ultimate relaxing trip, courtesy of Hilton HHonors. Stunning views, captivating sounds and food so appetizing.
If you missed my post about my first 3 hours in Puerto Rico, you’ll want to go back and get caught up. Salsa dancing anyone? I knew from those first few minutes at the Embassy Suites Dorado del Mar – Beach & Golf Resort that I was in for a real treat.
Did I mention this trip was without children? 🙂 Hence, relaxing. I wasn’t in “Mommy” mode and could simply enjoy and let someone else do all the planning and worrying for me. Oh, and they did.
A huge thank you to Michelle, Matt (and even Jenny back in Chicago), who planned and organized this trip. But I really wouldn’t call it a trip. When I was presented the itinerary for the weekend, I realized it was more akin to an “experience” or “getaway”. Yes, the gorgeous brochure above was our official itinerary for the weekend.
Let me take you along………
After a restful night sleeping in a king-sized bed all by myself (oh, and what a luxury it was not to have the elbow of a certain 5 yr old in my face), I once again headed for the balcony. I spotted some dark clouds off in the distance, but nothing could take the smile off my face.
I packed my bag for the day and headed down the elevator, with a wonderful view of the atrium.
One perk of staying at Embassy Suites Dorado del Mar is that a complimentary (FREE) breakfast is provided for all guests at Paradise Cafe. This is a full cooked-to-order breakfast with omelets, fresh fruit, bacon, sausage, and more…….delicious!
As with the evening before, several members of the Embassy Suites team and our PR team joined Emilie, Jeni and I for breakfast.
As we chatted with the team, we learned so much about the island, right down to the coquie. A coquie (pronounced ko-kee) is a small frog you’ll find throughout Puerto Rico. You’ll often find the coquies begin to sing when the sun goes down at dusk. I would never have thought I was listening to frogs………they sounded more like birds calling to one another.
While we would have enjoyed spending more time at the resort, we had some big plans. I only hoped the weather would cooperate.
(Jeni, Emilie, and I)
We departed the resort area and enjoyed a picturesque trip through parts of Puerto Rico until we reached San Juan Bay Marina.
We were going on the San Juan Dreamed Daytime Sailing Tour!
We boarded the 38 foot sailboat after waiting for some clouds to pass. (Whew!) She was called “Poema de Amor Libertad”…..or “Poem of Love and Freedom,” and she was ours for the next couple of hours.
We would sail within protected waters so there was no worry of anyone getting seasick, and found that the boat comfortably fit our group of five plus two others (Captain and Crew).
Oh, and let’s talk hospitality. Fresh Pina Coladas (offered with or without alcohol) were immediately served alongside fresh strawberries. Later, we snacked on the most amazing plate of appetizers. I think we dug into that plate before anyone could take a photo. 🙂
This sailing excursion wasn’t about adventure. We wouldn’t be snorkeling or getting in the water. We were to simply enjoy. I was all for that!
During the tour, we would get a unique view and perspective of Puerto Rico, from the water. With a quick view of a map to let us know where exactly where we’d be heading, we were off.
It didn’t take long for us to get out from our comfortable seats and brave the “deck”. All it took was the crewman spotting dolphins coming our way.
DOLPHINS! I wasn’t expecting this.
(Emilie, Me, Jeni)
And while we held onto our cameras and phones a bit tighter on the deck, else they fall into the water below, the three of us absolutely enjoyed catching some rays while taking in the sights.
(Toes: Emilie’s, Mine, Jeni’s – LOL)
I dare say we enjoyed the very best views of Old San Juan. We learned so much about the history of Puerto Rico during this trip thanks our Captain. This is El Morro Fortress (or Morro Castle) and one of the most visited tourist attractions with over 2 million people visiting per year.
Historically, for many heading to the Caribbean, this was a first stop. They made their way to the historical city gates and gave praise for safe passage across the Atlantic Ocean. So much history is contained within these walls, even being occupied during WWII.
Anytime we wanted a drink, it was there. But we learned early on……don’t let go or else. We were on a sailboat after all.
We had a 2:00 reservation at a restaurant that locals rave about….Budatai. The restaurant sits above a wonderful shopping area below and has breathtaking views of the ocean. I can only imagine the atmosphere in the evening out on the patio.
With a mid-afternoon reservation, we almost had the entire place to ourselves and took advantage of it. The menu was amazing as the type of food served would be “Asian-Fusion” with a Puerto Rican edge.
Thankfully, we all were “eyeing” more than one item on the menu and decided to order many of them and share! Savory items like Spicy Tuna Pegao and Asian Lobster Mash House Kimchee were an instant hit, though we all had our particular favorites.
Next, it was time to visit another Hilton property. This time we were heading to the Olas Spa at the Caribe Hilton San Juan. The Spa is located in a building separate from the hotel, but just steps away from the water. I wish there would have been a bit of extra time where I could have toured the resort, as the open-air lobby seemed to call my name.
But it was spa time. Massage, Pedicure, Manicure, Relaxation………..that meant no photos. 🙂
A quick drive back to freshen up and change clothes and it was a night out on the town with dinner, a local festival, and even fireworks. While they swear they didn’t arrange them, I like to think that Michelle and Matt had those fireworks just for us.
Dinner reservations were at Grappa, an authentic Italian restaurant which made pasta from scratch each day. Mmmmmmmm.
We each ordered an entree, but we did enjoy some appetizers like Calamari…..my favorite! Although, for the first time I dipped the Calamari in a sauce made with Calamari Ink. I had no clue what that was at first, but it was mouthwatering!
(Left to Right: Me, Jeni, Michelle, Emilie, Matt)
You didn’t think the night ended there, did you? After a quick call home (to say goodnight to a special little girl), we met downstairs at the Embassy Suites for some downtime and great discussions. After a bit, Emilie and I decided we just couldn’t stay indoors. We headed out to the beach and enjoyed a late-night chat under the stars until 1am.
STOP: I was the lucky one. My flight didn’t head out until later the next day. I was able to explore the resort more…….and most importantly, the beach! STAY TUNED……I’ll have one more post! BEACH DAY!
The Great Getaway Giveaway is going on right now…..yes, starting this week you can vote (and possibly win) an “Adventure” themed vacation! (TIP: can enter daily).
Plus, the Hilton HHonors Great Getaway Campaign has amazing deals at Hilton Worldwide’s 10 distinct hotel brands. FYI – I spotted prices for the Embassy Suites Dorado del Mar – Beach & Golf Resort, where we stayed, from $129 per night (includes full breakfast) as part of the Hilton HHonors Great Getaway Campaign!
Check out my first post, I’m Puerto Rico Bound with Hilton HHonors, for more details!
(This is a sponsored post as part of a campaign for Hilton HHonors. All opinions are my own.)