HYATT RESORTS, DORADO AND CERROMAR two if by sea
Bathing suit, check. Sunscreen, check. Sunglasses and hat, check. For kids, add an inflatable inner tube. For grown-ups, a book or two. That's the suggested packing list for a stay at the Hyatt Regency Cerromar. Or you could simply come empty-handed—all of the above are available on-site. This Hyatt, like its sisters worldwide, is a full-service, American-style resort, where reliability is the watchword. Most rooms (there are 506, stacked seven stories high) have balconies or terraces with ocean views; all come with the comforts of home (mini-bar, movies on command). And if you plan to arrive during the off-season, you can book a second room at half price.
Adults may find the palette a bit too canned-tropical, but kids won't have time to notice. They'll spend every waking hour up, out, and, very likely, in the 1.5 mph current of the man-made river pool that stretches 1,776 feet. Guests tube, snorkel, and drift, lingering under bridges, waterfalls, and at the swim-up bar. And when they get to the end, a large free-form pool that's also the drop point for two water slides, they start over. Other swimming spots are scattered around the property, fresh or salted and in all sizes: kiddie to Olympic, and, of course, there's also the ocean, an alternative that remains relatively out of mind though fully in sight.
The Hyatt Cerromar shares crescents of soft sand and 1,000 acres of a former grapefruit and coconut plantation with the Hyatt Dorado, a lower-rise, decidedly higher-class hotel built by Laurance Rockefeller in the fifties. In the Dorado's guest rooms, plantation-style beds and wooden shutters evoke an easier era. Families with very young children may prefer the quieter pace here, where the buildings disappear into the trees, and the scene—such as it is—is seaside rather than poolside. But all Hyatt comers can take advantage of the extensive activities (shell hunts, ice cream parties, beach bonfires) at Camp Hyatt, based at the Cerromar, and the impressive facilities shared by both hotels: four golf courses, 13 tennis courts, a school for windsurfing and other water sports, a spa, a casino, and a gym. The experience is more generic Caribbean than Puerto Rican, but if what you're after is a demand-free vacation for both body and mind, expecting the expected is a sure way to get there.
HYATT REGENCY CERROMAR BEACH RESORT & CASINO Carr. 693, Dorado; 800/554-9288 or 787/796-1234; www.hyatt.com; doubles from $315, kids free. HYATT DORADO BEACH RESORT & COUNTRY CLUB Carr. 693, Dorado; 800/554-9288 or 787/796-1234; doubles from $250, kids free.