A healing hacienda ensconced in nature
12 Treatment Rooms
Entering Spa Botánico, a five-acre sanctuary within Dorado Beach, A Ritz-Carlton Reserve, feels a bit like discovering a lost world where healing botanicals bloom wildly. A towering 80-year-old ficus tree strung with globe lights guards an apothecary portal where herbs line each wall and planters hang from a vaulted ceiling. Step through the weathered arrival portal into the nature-inspired, open-air spa, and you’ll next glimpse a long, vine-draped pergola shading a reflection pool and, beyond that, a pineapple garden. Choose any winding path and you’ll find treasures from waterfall showers spilling out of old-fashioned barrels to plunge pools seemingly built into the jungle.
There is a twist to this scene, however: Though Spa Botánico looks like a centuries-old secret retreat, it was built in 2012. The result is a thoroughly modern spa with Caribbean character and perfect-for-privacy foliage to spare.
The amenities at this Puerto Rico spa are as bountiful as its herb gardens. Changing rooms, in which each locker is etched with a botanical image and an antique apothecary placard reading “Dr. R. Marty” hangs on the door, have copper vanities stocked with toiletries — a shower cap, razor and comb are already in your locker — plus mango candy for a pre-treatment pick-me-up. Men’s and ladies’ relaxation rooms are reminiscent of luxury barns, with floral prints stacked to the rafters, dark wood planks underfoot and pillow- and blanket-strewn chaises facing a wall of windows. A selection of magazines, fruit and nut snacks, and Harney & Sons teas enhance your downtime.
Outside, past a steam pavilion designed to resemble a tree house or jungle hut, you’ll find the spa’s purification gardens, where a variety of warm and cool pools are tucked beneath palm fronds and boulders. The natural landscaping makes it easy to forget you’re in a spa at all. For a reminder, simply step into the full-service salon, a spacious, sunlit building with yet more plants hanging from the ceiling and a list of local spa ingredients — cacao, guanabana, miel (honey) — etched onto the walls.
Ten standalone treatment pavilions, including one couples suite, feature floor-to-ceiling windows on three sides. Though you can see out, rest assured no one can peek in, as outdoor walls and mature trees shroud the rooms in privacy. Soaring, wood-beamed ceilings are outfitted with fans; wood floors complete the rustic look. For the ultimate connection with nature, though, book one of Spa Botánico’s two tree house massage platforms. In this outdoor environment, save for a thatched roof and billowing white curtains, you’ll enjoy treatments specially created for the elevated spaces. Indulge in a hammock massage or a Thai massage on a padded mat, among other options.
True to its focus on naturally derived healing practices, Spa Botánico uses products, such as lemongrass-ginger massage oil, created from herbs grown in the onsite gardens. The earthy spa offers a host of facials, manicures and pedicures — including several designed for men — plus massages, couples treatments and “Spa Botánico rituals” targeting everyone from travelers (with polishing crystals and a mud wrap) to sun worshippers (with a soothing post-beach formula) to the “mamá to be” (with herbal poultices). Of the handful of massage therapies available, Ebb & Flow is a rhythmic kneading most similar to the classic Swedish version. The ManoSantas Apothecary Ritual, on the other hand, may be the most unusual; this three-hour massage treatment begins with a consultation with a manosanta, or traditional Puerto Rican healer, to formulate a custom blend of botanical massage oils. Those looking for a haircut, blowout, makeup application or waxing service will find it at the spa’s luxe salon, which will pamper you until you emerge at Dorado Beach, A Ritz-Carlton Reserve a new person.