El Conquistador beckons travelers from its perch atop a seaside cliff above the sleepy fishing village of Fajardo. This 500-acre Waldorf Astoria Resort is situated between the converging waters of the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. It looks like something straight out of a maritime fairytale. Tempted? Read on to discover why you'll love Puerto Rico's El Conquistador Resort with kids.
Why Puerto Rico
It’s easy to see why Puerto Rico is known as la Isla del Encanto, or the Island of Enchantment. Expect warm Caribbean breezes, verdant jungle backdrops, tropical white sand beaches, delicious food, hip-swaying music and friendly people. Just a two-hour flight from the continental U.S. and no passports required for American citizens, Puerto Rico pretty much makes the perfect getaway for families seeking fun in the sun.
A complete destination resort
El Conquistador Resort is counted among the Caribbean's most complete destination resorts. It offers 23 different restaurants, a 100-acre private island, the on-site Coqui Water Park, Camp Coqui kids club, an all-ages arcade, and much more. This Waldorf Astoria property is divided into five villages. All villages share the main resort’s grounds. This includes Las Casitas Village, a separate luxury resort with private villas and 24-hour butler service.
Activities for the whole family
If your children are anything like mine, sunbathing isn’t going to cut it when it comes to a Caribbean vacation. El Conquistador keeps active families content with everything from tennis lessons with a resident pro, golf clinics on a championship Arthur Hills 18-hole/par-72 course, environmental tours in and around the surrounding El Yunque Rain Forest, and a brand new activity called footgolf. This precision sport brings the best of both soccer and golf together, so all ages and stages can play together.
El Conquistador’s guests-only Palomino Island
Hop aboard a complimentary ferry to El Conquistador’s private Palomino Island. Here you can revel in water sports like snorkeling, kayaking, scuba diving, windsurfing, paddle boarding and jet skiing (for additional fees). After that, float on the gentle ocean waves while relaxing on inflatable rafts shaped like pizza, donuts, manatees and other sea creatures. You can also try coconut painting and lawn games on the island. Those who want to stick with turf instead of surf can hike to discover hidden waterfalls or saddle up at the stable for a horseback ride across the beach.
Back at the resort, water babies can dive back into water, thanks to four freshwater swimming pools, plus three additional private pools at Las Casitas Village.
Or, head to Coqui Water Park, a state-of-the-art, 2.4-acre aquatic playground themed around El Yunque rainforest. Young thrillseekers will flip over its iconic Torre de Yocahu, a tower from which three high-speed water slides flow, including El Gigante Dormido (The Sleeping Giant) that boasts an intense 40-foot drop. Kids must meet a height requirement (different for each slide) and can ride unaccompanied. Other highlights include an 8,500-square-foot infinity edge pool, a rope-bridge and an 8,000-square-foot lazy river.
Dining at El Conquistador Resort with kids
Take a break from water play with a traditional piragua. The Puerto Rican shaved ice dessert is covered in fruit flavored syrup and topped with everything from gummy candies to coconut kisses.
When it comes to kids’ palates, El Conquistador gets that not all kids likes the same things. Twenty-three different restaurants, all with their own menus and atmospheres, ensure there’s something for the most discerning of young eaters. Order everything from American-style burgers and fries to papaya-glazed pork belly. Adventurous eaters will want to taste traditional mofongo, Puerto Rico’s signature combination of mashed plantains, garlic and pork cracklings.
Those with food allergies can be accommodated with advance notice at El Conquistador Resort. My nut- and dairy-allergic daughter had plenty to eat (and how!).
My 7-year-old gave double thumbs up to the following eateries:
- Cozy's Gourmet Market: Head to this grab-and-go spot for countless choices of sandwiches, fruit, imported meats and cheeses, bottled beverages and freshly baked cakes, cookies, scones and muffins.
- Las Brisas Restaurant: This casual restaurant offers a full breakfast buffet (a la carte too), plus panoramic ocean views.
- Starbucks: We’ve all picked up a latte and lemon cake at the familiar chain, but the Puerto Rican version is the only place you’ll find an impossible-to-resist Churro Frappuccino.
- Virgin Burger: This 50’s style outdoor café features burgers and sandwiches served on buttery pieces of traditional pan sobao as well as salads, tropical drinks and hand-churned milkshakes.
- Iguana's: The place to eat on Palomino Island, this casual lunch joint is all about burgers, chicken, seafood and bar-style snacks.
- Blossoms: This upscale restaurant offers Pan-Asian cuisine, including a sushi bar, teppanyaki tables, and Chinese specialties. Kids might just find themselves invited to join the chef as he prepares the meal!
Also not to be missed, parents can pick up pre-packaged kits containing chocolate bars, graham crackers, marshmallows and roasting sticks, and join other families around the communal fire pit. Families will love sitting around the fire while coqui frogs sing late into the night.
Scout About program
El Conquistador acts as a steward of the surrounding rainforest and introduces curious kids to its native flora and fauna through its original Scout About program. Using a map, kids seek out specially marked points of discovery hidden around the resort while collecting color-coded wristbands. Collecting them all earns kids a spot on the resort’s Hall of Fame!
Ki' Spa for kids
Wind down from all the activity at the 26,000-square-foot Waldorf Astoria Spa. Even little ones can get in on the pampering at Ki’ Spa (“earth spirit” in the native Taino language). This dedicated spa program offers treatments just for kids. Each service incorporates products indigenous to the surrounding rainforest and ocean, and can be enjoyed mommy-and-me style (or daddy-and-me, of course). My daughter and I highly recommend “the sun healer” massage – a soothing combination of aloe, avocado and dilo oil. It smells like marshmallows and soothes sunburn like a dream. What a wonderful way to cap off an amazing visit to Puerto Rico!
Which experience at El Conquistador with kids would you enjoy most? Let us know in the comments below.
A Note from The Offbeat Travel Mama: My daughter and I fell in love with Puerto Rico as guests of El Conquistador, A Waldorf Astoria Resort. As always, opinions, stories and experiences are my own.