World-Class Pampering in the Caribbean
It’s no wonder that Puerto Rico is known as ‘La Isla del Encanto’ (the Island of Enchantment). With its miles of white-sandy beaches, lush vegetation, a vibrant nightlife scene, and fantastic food, Puerto Rico is a top destination in the Caribbean. Along its scenic coast, several luxury hotels provide 5-star service to those who seek a pampered and lavish experience. These 5 hotels, which set the standard for luxury lodging in Puerto Rico, are on the top of our list.
Ritz Carlton Reserve – Dorado Beach
Dorado Beach, A Ritz Carlton Reserve is a beautiful blend of natural beauty and splendor. The resort, which opened in December 2012, is set on the former Rockefeller estate in Dorado and exemplifies all the beauty and splendor of times past. The 114 guestrooms and Su Casa, the original hacienda dating back to the 1920's, are spread over 50 acres of land and sit directly on the beach.
For those seeking pure relaxation, the Spa Botánico, a sanctuary located on 5 acres of land, offers a revitalizing experience through the use of modern and indigenous techniques. Private butler service and a personal ‘embajador’, who waits to fulfill every wish, is part of the unrivalled and personalized guest service at Dorado Beach.
With so many exclusive amenities, it comes without question that the dining experience is also unforgettable. Mi Casa, by internationally renowned Celebrity Chef José Andrés, is a blend of the chef’s native Spanish cuisine and the local flavors of the Caribbean. The beachfront setting is the perfect way to savor the chef’s creations.
St. Regis Bahía Beach Resort
Driving into the St. Regis at Bahía Beach is like driving into a world of untouched, tropical beauty. The lush green vegetation is perfectly manicured and extends as far as the eye can see. The property, once a Caribbean coconut plantation, is situated between the beautiful blue waters of the Atlantic Ocean and Puerto Rico’s El Yunque rainforest.
The construction of the resort was carefully planned, ensuring no disturbance to the natural plant and wildlife of the plantation. This ‘green building’ earned the St. Regis Bahía Beach the Gold Signature Sanctuary certification by the Audubon society. In addition, to match the guest experience with the natural surroundings, the accommodations, including 139 guest rooms and 35 suites were built in a low-rise plantation style.
For golfers, the Robert Trent Jones, Jr. golf course provides for a fantastic game in a setting with holes along the beach and views of the rainforest. Those seeking pure relaxation can lounge by the seaside pool or indulge the senses at the Remède Spa for a truly relaxing Caribbean experience. Renowned Chef Jean-George Vongerichten incorporates Puerto Rican ingredients into his traditional techniques that results in an unforgettable experience and an explosion of flavors. Dining on the outside terrace, overlooking the ocean is priceless. The property is only a 45-minute drive from San Juan so a day trip to the Old City is very doable.
If golf is your game, head to Royal Isabel, located in the Porta del Sol (West Region) for a golfer’s paradise. The links course is built on 426 acres of oceanfront property and is becoming one of the worlds most talked about golf resorts. The course was designed to take into account the natural shape of the land, making it a very wild and natural game. Who can resist playing on a majestic cliff overlooking the mighty sea?
Royal Isabela brings together private club accommodations with warm Puerto Rican traditions resulting in a perfect mélange of a country club in the tropics. With only twenty 1500 sq. ft. casitas, the lodging is limited but therefore very exclusive. However, if you seek a full-service spa along with other resort amenities then Royal Isabela is probably not the right place for you.
Horned Dorset Primavera
The Horned Dorset Primavera has been consistently rated as the top hotel in Puerto Rico. Described as an oasis, the 39-suite boutique hotel is perfect for a couple’s retreat. With no TVs or telephones and a private pool by each villa, it’s a sure way to relax and get away from busy, every-day life. The décor is Spanish colonial with Moorish influences and looks like it could be set on the southern coast of Spain. Marble bathrooms, Mahogany finishes, Moroccan lamps, arched doorways and exotic plants can be found throughout the property.
The hotel is located in Rincón, a town known for its amazing surfing and home to a large American expat community. Yes, it’s a trek from San Juan (over a 2 hour drive) but Rincón is a lovely, laid-back town to visit. The beach at the Horned Dorset Primavera doesn’t compare to those at Dorado Beach or at the St. Regis but the beautiful beaches of the Porta del Sol are only a short drive away.
One of the best amenities of the Horned Dorset Primavera is its award-wining cuisine at Restaurant Aaron. Chef Aaron brings his training from France and experience from New York City to wow you with his French cuisine to which he adds a Caribbean twist. It is hailed by many locals and tourists alike as the best restaurant in Puerto Rico.
W Retreat & Spa – Vieques
Until a few years ago, the Island of Vieques was off the radar. It is slowly gaining in popularity and exhibits all the beauty and wonder of a gorgeous Caribbean Island without the crowds and pretentious air. It embodies the essence of tranquil Caribbean life and offers amazing snorkeling, scuba diving, authentic eateries and one of Puerto Rico’s famous bioluminescent bays.
The W Retreat & Spa is luxurious, yet rustic and playful. You’ll find polished cement floors, splashes of bright color, funky chairs and geometric patterns. The luxurious rooms range from 560 sq. ft. to 1400 sq. ft. and overlook the Atlantic Ocean or the landscaped gardens. In this full-service resort, take advantage of the Away® Spa where the inspiration is drawn from earth, wind and water for an invigorating and sensual experience.
Paulina Salach is a writer, food critic, event producer, cultural guide and entrepreneur. She is the co-founder and organizer of Puerto Rico Restaurant Week™ and owner of Spoon Food Tours. Contact info: firstname.lastname@example.org