Secluded oceanfront luxury in Puerto Rico
100 Rooms / 15 Suites
If Dorado Beach, A Ritz-Carlton Reserve, feels singularly exclusive as you first approach its open-air arrival pavilion, which frames the Atlantic Ocean and rises out of a modern-day moat teeming with water lilies, it is. Occupying 50 beachfront acres first developed by a Rockefeller conservationist, the resort was the first Ritz-Carlton Reserve in the Americas and only the second in the world when it opened in December of 2012. With a staff of personal embajadores ready to fulfill any request and a secluded stretch of swimmable beaches, it delivers on the brand’s vision of a hyper-luxurious boutique resort steeped in its unique location.
At once family-friendly and romantic — the grounds and paths were planned in a curved design so you glimpse less people on your private escape — Dorado Beach, A Ritz-Carlton Reserve is perhaps above all a haven for discerning nature lovers. This is where high thread counts meet an evening chorus of coqui frogs, and where you can control your TV with your iPhone while watching a merry band of lizards dart around outside your room. Indulge in breakfast from a celebrity chef at Mi Casa by José Andrés, and then hit the 11 miles of nature trails that circle the resort. Dorado Beach is the best of both worlds.
In choosing to build where Laurance Rockefeller placed his 1950s eco-resort, Dorado Beach, A Ritz-Carlton Reserve gained one huge benefit: It was grandfathered into the footprint of the original hotel, meaning every guest room faces the ocean and enjoys a proximity to the beach that’s not allowed on new builds today. It also enjoys a protected shoreline courtesy of boulders set out by Rockefeller, and mature vegetation throughout; though all but one structure — Su Casa, the resort’s 8,000-square-foot version of a presidential suite — is new, designers SB Architects preserved the property’s existing, and prodigious, tropical flora. The clean lines and sleek marble found in your guest room wouldn’t be out of place in a world-class city, but step outside, and you’re surrounded by towering palms and mango and almond trees.
Flanking East and West beaches in 11 buildings, the 115 guest rooms at this Puerto Rico hotel are large, starting at 941 square feet, and take full advantage of the setting with enormous sliding-glass doors facing the ocean and plenty of outdoor living space. Plunge reserve guest rooms and all suites and residences feature private pools — there are more than 50 on property — where your embajador will prepare your lounge chair each morning. All accommodations offer indoor and outdoor rainforest showers, deep soaking tubs, a French press with local coffee, iPhone docking stations and stocked bathroom cabinets that surprise and delight with not only hair dryers, but also flat irons, diffusers and a wooden “amenity chest.” For something original, book Su Casa, the resort’s renovated four-bedroom 1920s hacienda, tucked behind ample greenery for maximum privacy. You’ll be soaking up history itself as you lounge by the oceanfront infinity pool at an estate that was once home to pioneering pilot Clara Livingston.
Among the many resort activities at Dorado Beach, A Ritz-Carlton Reserve, five-acre Spa Botanico stands out as a world unto itself on the island. This hacienda-style sanctuary may be as new as the hotel, but it was built to look as if it has stood here for a century, and with an herb-filled apothecary portal, a vine-covered shade house, a pineapple garden and two tree-house treatment platforms, it certainly has an air of the ancient. Herbs grown onsite are integrated into the spa’s teas and treatments, from a hibiscus refreshment to the signature lemongrass-ginger-scented oil.
Golf, too, is a draw, and three Robert Trent Jones Sr.-designed courses present a variety of challenges and ocean views. Like every aspect of the Ritz-Carlton resort, the golf courses are distinct to their setting, with each hole of the East Course bearing the name of an indigenous tree such as the uva de playa, or sea grape.
Epicures will find a suitable hideaway in Dorado Beach, starting with Mi Casa by José Andrés, which puts a Puerto Rican spin on chef Andrés’ signature Spanish tapas. Here, jamón ibérico is paired with tropical fruits such as guava and pineapple, along with a wide selection of local rum. Two other restaurants, Positivo Sand Bar and Encanto Beach Club Bar and Grill, and a gourmet market offer more Caribbean-influenced dining options.
Families also enjoy a full slate of activities around the property. As at other Ritz-Carlton hotels, Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Ambassadors of the Environment program provides hands-on adventures for children and adults, with a focus on the nature and culture of Puerto Rico. A watersports center will set you up with kitesurfing, sailing, surfing and more, and the adjacent Watermill offers an aquatic playground complete with water slides and a lazy river on weekends. Of course, you can always simply retreat to one of the resort’s two pool areas to achieve total relaxation by sand and sea.