Puerto Rico | luxury beach resorts

Back from a four night stay in Puerto Rico, I wanted to share some quick thoughts on four luxury beach resorts at which I stayed or visited.

Dorado Beach, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve. This is the view from my Pool Reserve room at Dorado Beach, a stunning new resort built literally on the footprints of the old Rockresort built in the 1950's. One of the most stunning beach resorts I've ever seen, guests rooms are spacious, beautiful, and leave nothing to be desired, especially the view. Every room is beachfront with floor-to-ceiling glass doors that open wide, inviting the sunshine and the sound of the crashing waves into your living space.

Loads of recreational opportunities: long protected beaches with the most divine tropical water, two swimming pools, three championship golf courses, tennis courts, the most relaxing spa, as well as an Ambassadors of the Environment program for children. Virtuoso guests also receive daily full breakfast for two, upgrade if available from a second floor Reserve room to a first floor Pool Reserve room, and a $150 resort credit for your stay.

Just opened six months, there are still a few service issues, but the resort is committed to training staff — or hiring new staff — to achieve the service levels that Ritz-Carlton guests have come to expect.

St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort, like most St. Regis properties around the world, draws on a tradition of luxury in a grand style, featuring butler service for Suite guests. Its 139 rooms and suites are found in a number of two- and three-story buildings throughout the resort, and rooms and large and attractive, decorated with a Spanish colonial flair.

Pictured above is a beautiful statue posed in the reflecting pool in front of the entrance to the resort's lobby. Recreational activities include a golf course, tennis courts, extensive paths for hiking and biking, as well as a bird sanctuary on a secluded island that guests can visit by borrowing a kayak (complimentary). Virtuoso guests receive a daily full breakfast for two, upgrade if available, and a $100 resort credit to be used during their stay.

El Convento is in the heart of Old San Juan, an ideal place to stay for a brief pre-cruise or post-cruise visit to San Juan. Located in a former Carmelite Convent just across the street from San Juan's cathedral (the oldest in the Western hemisphere), guests can step out of the hotel and explore the colorful streets, shops, parks, and restaurants of the historic district of San Juan.

This is four-star hotel, named by Trip Advisor as the #1 hotel in San Juan, has small rooms and smaller bathrooms, but rates are extremely reasonable with a lot of value add-ons. Free WiFI, daily wine and cheese reception with eight varieties of wine, and Virtuoso amenities that include daily continental breakfast for two, upgrade if available, $25 spa credit, $75 lunch or dinner credit, and a $50 food and beverage credit for stays of three nights or more.

Consider the Ritz-Carlton San Juan for one of three reasons:
  1. You have a late night flight arrival into, or an early morning flight out of the San Juan International Airport, or
  2. You want a Caribbean beach vacation, at an easily reached destination, at a very reasonable price.
  3. You're looking for a resort during Christmas - New Years but don't want to deal with 7-10 day minimum stays.
The resort has the look and feel of a traditional Ritz-Carlton, with economical City View rooms but also Balcony Ocean Front views that look directly over the wide beach that borders the hotel. A large central swimming pool is pictured above. Virtuoso amenities include daily full breakfast for two, an upgrade if available, and a $100 food and beverage credit.

You can get Virtuoso amenities at nearly 1,000 luxury hotels around the world just by using a Virtuoso travel consultant.

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copyright (c) 2013 by David Ourisman LLC. All rights reserved. If you have comments on this column, or questions about booking travel, email me or visit my website.

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