I was lucky enough to attend a bridal press trip last month to the Waldorf-Astoria El Conquistador Resort &Golden Door Spa, east of San Juan, where the Caribbean and Atlantic meet. Puerto Rico is one of my favorite Caribbean jaunts for its reliably gorgeous weather year-round, utter ease of travel (no passport required and a speedy four-hour plane ride), no currency changes and fun-loving, friendly culture. Its close proximity to El Yunque rain forest, multiple on-site restaurants including Strip House, tons of pools, an on-campus water park AND a private island called Palomina which boasts an even smaller satellite island called Palominito you can access from the former. In short?A destination wedding or honeymoon at El Conquistador is a veritable Russian nesting dolls experience of island offerings.
On-staff “Bride Whisperer” Patricia Villali is incredibly personable (she informs brides she has a “rain button” she can press to stop it from pouring on the big day… “But sometimes God doesn’t listen,”she quipped) and the destination wedding packages are completely customizable for a multitude of budgets, aesthetics and personalities. The property is split into two hotels–the main El Conquistador, which is larger, and Las Casitas, a more private villa experience with a separate reception check-in and even a landing area
for private helicopters. It’s a favorite of a certain A-list celeb whom I’d never be so crass as to name (Johnny Depp).
You can opt for a wedding at one of the many ballrooms at the El Conquisador property on the isle of Puerto Rico or bring the party to the smaller private island of Palomino, owned by the hotel just a short boat ride away. It’s also worth noting that the hotel’s contracted caterer is INCREDIBLE and the on-site pastry chef makes confections in every possible iteration, each more delish than the last. From the property, if you’d prefer a more intimate ceremony, you can even take the party to an even smaller island called Palominito, accessible via kayak from Palomino. When you want to be back in San Juan, I know a boat you can get on and return, in the paraphrased parlance of “West Side Story.” There’s a ferry and for a little more luxury, a private yacht you can charter.
The rooms at the El Conquistador are minimalist chic, featuring a clean white palette with pops of bright color, panoramic views of the ocean and a mondo bathroom with a full-on vanity setup (my favorite). Here’s a tour of my room:
The El Conquistador Resort is located at 1000 El Conquistador Avenue Fajardo 00738 Puerto Rico. Call (888) 543-1282 for reservations.