San Juan, Puerto Rico

San Juan, Argentina

The oldest city within the United States’ territories, San Juan was founded by Juan Ponce de León in 1521 and remains one of the Caribbean’s most popular destinations, with Royal Holiday members naming it a perennial favorite year after year. In addition to its fascinating history, friendly culture, and perfect climate, San Juan is big enough to suit any urban explorer and small enough to be manageable. From the inviting streets of Old San Juan to the jungle of El Yunque National Forest, San Juan possesses everything the savvy Royal Holiday traveler might look for in a Caribbean vacation.

The Courtyard by Marriott Isla Verde Beach Resort, the Royal Holiday affiliate in San Juan, makes the perfect setting for any traveler, from businessmen and women hoping to make a big deal in San Juan’s commercial district to vacationers intent on having fun. Located on Isla Verde, a short drive from San Juan proper, this luxurious resort offers four restaurants, the 24-hour Casino Del Sol, swimming pools and whirlpools, and an easy walk from the sumptuous guest rooms to the dazzling beach. Perfect for a family holiday or a romantic getaway, any Royal Holiday member will find the Isla Verde Beach Resort to be a great starting point for a Puerto Rican adventure.

San Juan began as a Spanish settlement and military fort, one of Spain’s first footholds in the New World. In the decades following the founding of San Juan, King Phillip II and his predecessors heavily fortified the island. The resulting construction, including the forts San Felipe del Morro, also known as El Morro; Fortín San Juan de la Cruz, known as El Cañuelo; and Castillo de San Cristóbal, remain as imposing legacies to Spanish imperial might during the age of discovery. These forts, restored and operated by the US National Park Service, are must-see landmarks for any Royal Holiday traveler.

Of course, San Juan’s history extends well beyond its fortifications. Old San Juan, the city within the walls, possesses distinctive streets paved with blue adoquine stones and buildings painstakingly restored to their colonial majesty. To best view the architectural and sculptural highlights of the city, visitors should head to one of the city’s picturesque plazas, like the Plaza de San José or the Plaza de Armas. Royal Holiday’s history buff members will also do well to visit many of the other storied sites in and around the city, such as the City Hall, or Alcaldia, and the Catedral de San Juan.

The city’s long history belies many modern pleasures, however. Royal Holiday travelers will find endless fun on the beach, whether it’s visiting the Deserted Island for snorkeling or taking a trip to sunbathe at Playa Puerto Nuevo. The local cuisine, which ranges from local rum to dishes like mofongo and lechon, will satisfy any gourmand, while the abundant natural beauty surrounding San Juan, especially in national parks like El Yunque and the Bosque Estatal De Piñones, demands to be explored, whether by foot or via an ATV or jeep tour company. Depending on the time of year, visitors can enjoy one of the city’s many festivals, including the weeklong San Juan Bautista Day celebration in June.