Calling all Caribbean shopaholics and fashionistas. There is a new “Nirvana” in our midst and it’s called the Mall of San Juan. Over 90 stores, some of them rather exclusive to this region and a very modern and stylish design, makes this mall my new go-to for shopping trips in the Caribbean.
Puerto Rico has long been the place to go to for shopaholics everywhere, the Caribbean in particular. I remember the days when American Airlines still offered two flights a day to San Juan from my little island of St. Maarten. We used to leave in the morning with an empty suitcase and return on the night flight with several suitcases filled to the brim, with everything from clothes and shoes to washing detergent and Dunkin Donuts. Yes, we were those type of tourists. No shame was the name of the game. We had some serious shopping to do and there were so many shops, but so little time, and the Mall of the Americas was the place to be for most Caribbean shoppers. But that was then.
How things change. As I grew older my interests shifted from more material stuff to experiences instead. I am now more into traveling and seeing the sites than spending my days inside a mall. That is until I attended a private shopping tour at the Mall of San Juan last month. Hell, who am I kidding. Like most island girls, I too am deprived of the ever so necessary shopping rituals we females have to indulge in every now and then. Retail therapy is a real thing and we need it every so often in order to keep our sanity.
While I’m no longer into shopping sprees or have no interest to shop till I drop, I discovered that I do still enjoy shopping a lot but that I prefer a more refined and relaxed setting. I admit that at my age bargains are still attractive but so is comfort, luxury and exclusivity. This is why the Mall of San Juan is now my preferred destination for any time I feel a need to blow some cash.
With its sleek design, open spaces, lots of sunlight and great restaurants to chow down at, this mall is more worldly than others I’ve visited in Puerto Rico. The fact that the Mall of San Juan has stores that are not available on any other Caribbean island is proof of that merit. Department stores like Saks Fifth Avenue and Nordstrom and shop favorites like Anthropologie, Urban Outfitters and everyone’s favorite H&M can be found here.
I suggest starting around 11am with a reconnaissance tour of the mall. Make a mental note of all the stores you must visit and all the items you must try on. Take a lunch break an hour or so later and head upstairs to Il Nuovo Mercato, a restaurant with an open floor plan and several food sections to choose from, like pasta, pizza, a salad bar, a coffee bar, a fish place, a bakery and a meats place. Sit there and enjoy a meal amongst other shoppers and admire the decor of this unique restaurant. Try to eat light since you still have several outfits to try on later.
Now, it’s time to do some serious shopping, but before you start why not book a session with the very knowledgable Nordstrom fashion team, who will happily show you the latest fashion trends and colors.
I found this particular Nordstrom to have quite a lot of brands I love, like Top Shop for instance and I would definitely recommend you start your shopping here.
While cruising the mall make sure to drop in and say “Hi” to my friend Nelson at Oil & Vinegar. This is especially a must for those who like food or love to cook. Over 50 different oils and vinegars, a great assortment of wine and a very helpful staff, Oil & Vinegar is best experienced with friends and family.
Lush is another one of those musts inside the Mall of San Juan. Confession time: I must be one of the last people on earth to draw a complete blank at the mention of the store name, but it was love at first smell as I entered the store for the first time ever. I could not get enough. It smelled so amazing in there and the walls were filled with all sorts of very colorful soaps and face masks.Vegetarian and Vegan hair treatments, sugary lip scrubs and lotions and creams that will leave your skin smooth as a baby’s bum, is why Lush is now my favorite store and one of the main reasons why I will return to the Mall of San Juan. Besides, I desperately need a refill of my R&B hair conditioner and avocado shampoo.
Here is a few fun facts: the mall offers the Passport to Shopping Discount booklet with exclusive offers to visitors to the island. Shopping here is also a much nicer experience since you don’t need to drag all your bags from store to store. Make use of their complimentary luggage storage to shop, store and shop some more. Going with a group of girlfriends? make sure to book a custom shopping tour, and did I mention the Prosecco bar up on the third floor where you can enjoy a cold prosecco while you looking over beautiful Isla Verde?
The Mall of San Juan is owned by Taubman Centers, also responsible for the Mall at Millenia in Orlando, International Mall in Tampa and every islander’s favorite mall, the Dolphin Mall in Miami. San Juan’s newest mall opened in 2015 and is strategically located within minutes from the beachfront hotels in Isla Verde and Condado.
What are you waiting for? Grab your girlfriends and book you shopping trip to San Juan now.
*My shopping experience was sponsored by the Mall of San Juan and Il Nuovo Mercato but all opinions and thoughts are my own.