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Spa and travel review: Gran Meliá Puerto Rico Golf Resort

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The Gran Meliá Puerto Rico Golf Resort is a sprawling mega-resort with Spanish-influenced architecture made up of two-story bungalows spread out across many acres. Public areas are vast, with gleaming polished marble floors, abundant tropical landscaping and seemingly endless places to hang out and relax.

My family of three spent one night in room 1820, a RedLevel Garden View Junior Suite decorated in soft blues and golds. At this all-suite property, even the smallest guest rooms are large - on average 520 square feet. Rates are generally a good value, but MeliáRewards loyalty program members get further discounts; the program is free to join. The four RedLevel guest buildings are situated along the beach, but not all rooms have water views.

Many guests don't know if choosing RedLevel Service is worth the upgrade, generally $50 to $100 a night depending on room category. If you plan to spend a lot of time lounging at the resort, it's probably worth it. It may even be worth it for the daily breakfast buffet at Café Soleil alone if you have a larger family. Add to that the complimentary evening cocktails and snacks plus the exclusivity of having the RedLevel pool area with Bali beds dedicated to those guests sporting a red bracelet and the value just might be there.

Resort dining, albeit pricey, is a well-rounded assortment of pasta/steakhouse, Asian, Puerto Rican and tropical poolside cafés. We enjoyed dinner at Tempo - the resort's Mediterranean and steak restaurant - with its white linen fine dining, red and black decor and excellent service. The bread basket offered a variety of fresh baked breads but you simply must try the popovers. The gnocchi dish was delightful too.

The water is accessed through a grassy area behind the main pool. There is a small man-made beach dotted with hammocks swaying among the palm trees and large boulders along the shoreline. The beach area is suitable for relaxing but not so much for traditional swimming. What the property lacks in a proper beach it makes up for it with a stunning pool complex that's just hard to ignore. My son raves about the main pool: "Mom, it had these loungers that you can sit on in the water and these islands with Greek-columns that you could swim up to and hang out on. It was massive!" On the other hand, the escapist in me was more enticed by the scaled down intimacy and privacy of the pool at Yhi Spa with its shaded loungers and Bali beds

Speaking of the spa, do make time for a visit to enjoy the lovely shaded whirlpool surrounded by lush greenery and bubbling fountains. Slip on a silky, golden-hued robe and snack on dried figs and papaya and refreshing fruited waters while waiting for your treatment. I choose a simple massage but there are plenty of exotic-sounding tropical and rainforest inspired treatments to choose from. The fitness center was well-equipped, clean and bright - one of the better I've seen.

The resort is so large that at times it feels impersonal. This feeling may be overcome by guests who stay for lengthier visits and who take the time to get to know the staff and other guests. We used the property as a home base for its convenience to El Yunque National Forest. Our one-night stay was part of an exciting eight day tour of Puerto Rico's north coast. You can read about our itinerary by clicking here.

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