PR_hotelPuerto Rico is an easy cultural destination for a family vacation.  No passport needed for US citizens, most people speak English and it is a short flight from the east coast and Midwest.

This past winter break I was searching for a destination that would warm us up, not take too long to get to and be affordable.  I also needed a place where my son could play golf.   I checked several places in Florida but since airfare was about that same to Puerto Rico, I thought it was a great opportunity to experience a new culture.

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We were guests of the Embassy Suites Dorado Hotel and Golf Resort.  The pool kept my tweens busy and the golf course made my teen happy.  You literally walk out the front door of the hotel and onto the golf course designed by Chichi Rodriguez.  My son took lessons from Aaron West, a golf pro from Michigan who helped him find his swing.

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Our room was spacious (2 rooms really) and overlooked the ocean.  All of the rooms had a view of either the golf course or the ocean.  The hotel restaurant was fabulous.  We ate mafungo and the kids especially liked Puerto Rican desserts.   Also on property is the Japanese hibachi restaurant.  The dinner and sushi were good (not great) and the service needs work.  Our chef, however, was a lot of fun.  He encouraged my son to toss a raw egg on a spatula and then cheered him to toss it higher.   It hit the ceiling.  You can imagine the rest.

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A full cooked-to-order breakfast was offered every day including omelets, pancakes, yogurt and fruit. In the evening, guests received complimentary cocktails and light snacks at the manager’s reception. The snacks weren’t the best but the drinks at the bar included top shelf liquor, not cheap well drinks.  And if you needed to exercise your slot machine arm, the Dorado opened a brand new casino just days before we got there.

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The kids loved the alcohol-free pina coladas and eating giant burgers by the pool.  I loved the attentive and friendly doormen.  They offered activity and food suggestions, held our golf bags in the bell station and went out of their way to make us comfortable.

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The Dorado is a value hotel that gave us the winter respite we needed.  For the non-golfer, I would recommend booking a tour or two because the Dorado does not offer transportation and taxis are expensive.  You can walk a mile to the main road where you will find CVS, Baskin Robbins, a grocery store and Martin’s BBQ (that is supposed to have amazing mafungo) or you can rent a car nearby that will cost you about $40/day.

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The only venture we made off property was to the ferry that took us to Old San Juan where we toured the historic Castillo de San Cristobal and ate mafungo at the famed Raices – an old but now renovated landmark restaurant with great authentic décor and expensive but good food.