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honey. Signature treatments at the Ritz Carlton Spa include a
passion fruit-scented Rainforest Stone Massage and a two-hour
Drift to Sleep Treatment that is designed to promote sleep at a
deep state of sub-consciousness. Other posh spas located around
the island include the 12,000-square-foot Olas Spa in the Caribe
Hilton in Condado and the Eden Spa, in partnership with the
Sheraton Old San Juan. The Balinese-inspired Mandara Spa at
the Rio Mar Beach Resort & Spa offers ritual treatments, such
as Salsa for the Soul ( 5½ hours of spa indulgences) and Latin
Lovers Ritual (side-by-side massages and facials and a light lunch
together on an ocean-view balcony).
Food and Drink
Puerto Rican cuisine is called “comida criolla.” Flavorful, but
not spicy hot, it can be traced back to the indigenous Taíno
people whose diet staples were corn, tropical fruit and seafood.
When the Spanish arrived on the island, they introduced olive
oil, eggplant, onion, garlic, rice and cilantro, as well as beef and
pork to the native fare. They later brought slaves from Guinea
and the Gold Coast of Africa to work in their sugar cane fields.
The Africans left their mark on Puerto Rican food with plantains,
bananas, okra and yams. The flavors of these different cultures
have mingled over time to create the food of today. You’ll enjoy
fresh seafood (often caught that same day—sometimes even the
same hour!) and delicious tropical fruit juices made from locally-grown pineapple, coconut, mango, papaya, lime and tamarind.
The local comfort food is called “mofongo,” the main ingre-
dient of which is fried green plantains, with a variety of add-
ins mashed in according to the cook’s whim. There are pork,
chicken, seafood, vegetarian and even strictly vegan versions.
Puerto Rico is the world’s largest rum producer, distilling
more than 35 million gallons of the liquor each year. You’ll find
it in light, gold and dark varieties, with the subtle-flavored lighter
ones favored in mixed drinks. The Casa Bacardí Visitor Center
is a quick ferry ride across San Juan Bay. There, you can learn
about the history of rum and the bottling process. Yes, they do
give out samples at the end of the tour.
Art and Fashion
For those interested in Caribbean art and contemporary
architecture, San Juan’s Museo de Arte is a must-see. After a
four-year, $53 million renovation, the Museo de Arte was transformed from a 1920s hospital building to a Modern Neoclassical
structure. The cultural hub now features work by Puerto Rican
artists, as well as a 400-seat theater and a five-acre garden.
The Botello Art Gallery in the Hato Rey financial district is
a beautifully restored colonial mansion that is the former home
of Angel Botello, a Puerto Rican artist. Botello’s paintings and
sculptures are on display, as well as his impressive collection of
authentic Puerto Rican santos (hand-carved religious figures that
have been produced since the 1500s).
More than 20 art galleries are within the city walls of Old San
Juan, ranging from hole-in-the-wall spaces to opulent exhibition
halls. The first Tuesday of each month, the gallery owners open their