Puerto Rico: Dorado Beach, A Ritz-Carlton Reserve
Dictated by the colorful story of its past, Puerto Rico’s Dorado Beach was originally settled by the artistically skilled Taino tribe, served as a historical “barrio” and was then named a “new pueblo,” distinguishing it as an escape for the elitist population. The beginnings of this region’s eminent presence commenced with its purchase by real estate investor, Alfred Livingston, who had a keen eye for undeveloped gems. Livingston purchased nearly 1500 acres of barren untouched coastal land and transformed it into a lush paradise by means of planting lofty palms, tropical flowers and manifesting a gorgeous jungle. At the age of 22, his daughter Clara Livingston inherited this magical development where she extended her father’s legacy through the continued development of countless amenities including an air strip dedicated to her passion for piloting where she notably hosted her close friend Amelia Earhart. The original house where Clara lived, aptly named “Su Casa,” remains to be immaculately maintained and is currently one of the most luxurious accommodations on the property.
In the late 1950’s, the entire compound was acquired by Laurence Rockefeller at which time he pursued his vision of transforming this stunning plantation into one of the most glamorous resorts of the era. It burgeoned and thrived as a coveted destination for the social elite, celebrities and political figures including President Eisenhower who frequently visited to vacation with his family. After decades of unparalleled success, garnering a world-wide reputation as a luxurious getaway, 2012 brought about the coveted opportunity to re-envision the property through a synergy with one of the world’s most revered hospitality brands, the Ritz Carlton. Rapidly re-gaining the glitz and glamour by which it was characterized in its earlier years, Dorado Beach, A Ritz Carlton Reserve, showcases some of the most beautiful accommodations on the island and to this day, it maintains its prestige with a guestbook full of distinguished VIP’s, renowned entertainers and a diverse group of global dignitaries.
With northern exposure to the majestic Atlantic Ocean, Puerto Rico’s Dorado Beach has been beautifully enhanced to emphasize its rich cultural heritage and meticulously maintained by the efforts of its previous owners. The entire area is highlighted by stunning upscale estates, immaculate landscapes of follies overflowing with exotic vegetation juxtaposed by manicured lawns of vibrant flora as well as four championship golf courses. Part of an island filled with organic treasures, winding rivers, marshes and lagoons, these bodies of water flow through the region creating distinct aquatic respite and breathtaking vistas. Amid these lush acres, enveloped by the crystal clear waters, sits the Ritz Carlton Reserve. Consisting of 2-story structures sprawled along the East and West sides of the jutting shoreline, each of the façades are optimally positioned to capture sweeping views of the ocean. In the buildings that house the property’s rooms and suites, the first-floor accommodations benefit from their own private plunge pool. Those on the West side of the cove have direct beach access and at the East side of the cove, a short walk, bike or buggy ride will allow you to arrive in mere moments where the vanilla-hued sands and the glistening, refreshing still waters await. Second-floor guests are benefited by balconies with an aerial view of the immaculate shores as well as an elevated position of privacy. Upholding a high standard of hospitality, the entry-level accommodations are extremely spacious, outfitted with gorgeous decor and stylish details, which are only an introduction to the acclaimed provisions of the Ritz Carlton Reserve.
Laden with deep rich woods, decadent marble, natural stone accents and hand-painted tiles in cultural motifs, the vast interconnected spaces create an expansive canvas of fine finishes and a welcoming ambiguity between the interior and exterior. You are free to choose between immaculate personal amenities such as a contoured cement soaking tub or an adjacent outdoor rainfall behind a sleek wall of glass. Deluxe products from the resort’s Spa Botánico are stored at your fingertips and the sensual aura of relaxation drifts into the surrounding rooms through an infusion of aromatherapy scents. Fluffy pillow-topped beds lay before over-sized pocket doors that can easily be tucked away to invite in the natural light, fresh air and soothing sounds of the ocean. In addition to being a guest in one of the immaculate rooms or suites, the Ritz Carlton Reserve also offers remarkable residences that range from 1 to 4 floors and just as many bedrooms. Those located on the first floor or roof level each have their own stunning private pool. To experience an immersion into unique luxurious distinction, the site’s legendary 5-bedroom “Su Casa” villa is elaborately decorated and expertly restored in the Spanish Hacienda style and intertwined with modernized touches. The grand dual entry staircase is an outstretched welcome into this finely-tuned Moorish masterpiece. Upon your approach, you can peer through a central key-hole door that frames an infinite gaze directly down the ground-level walkway, through the open atrium lined with tiled fountains, and past the gorgeous infinity-edge swimming pool to the sparkling water and blue horizon beyond.
Every accommodation at the Ritz Carlton Reserve is assigned an “Embajador” (your own private butler), who meets you upon arrival and introduces himself to be at your behest for absolutely anything you may need. Skilled at acquiring personalized dining reservations, gourmet room service, special booking requests, spa services, and much more, this professional serves as your single point of contact with whom summoning any of your desires are only one text message away. The direct dialogue continues as the Embajador loves to proactively check in to ensure that every detail of your experience is perfectly customized to your liking. The services throughout the property are over the top and one of the highest rated hospitality environments overall. At its best, the word “no” does not exist, as anything and everything is seamlessly provided for you at any time of the day or night.
Not that this property is in need of any additional fabulous attributes, however one of the most revered elements of fascination is the Spa Botánico. Settled in the midst of 5 lush acres of tropical greenery, it is among the most elaborately designed and meticulously planned yet tastefully procured spas in the world. This surreal paradise looks and feels as though it has been cultivated from the Earth, brimming with organic opulence from contemplation gardens, planted privacy walls, architectural boulders, as well as perfectly landscaped lawns for outdoor instruction and relaxation. Seemingly spawned from a dream, approaching the stout masonry work of the spa entrance, you feel a strong heir of antiquity as you are greeted by a pompous fanned tree of ancient stature centered in the circular driveway. Each component has been thoughtfully placed with honor and pride, as the gardens are also proudly marked by pineapple plantings as an homage to the region’s origin as a plantation for this ornamental fruit. Aromatic herbs purposefully grace the grounds as an added indication that this is a special place for ultimate pleasure, profound healing, rest and respite, where “comfort” is an understatement and nature is at your service.
In sequence, the following realm of relaxation is the vitality pool flanked by twin trestle-covered walkways. As one of only several co-ed spaces, women are then led to the right and men to the left of the compound where you will encounter a breathtaking space composed of a tropical garden setting inset with a natural spring-like hot tub aside an invigorating plunge pool as well as refreshing hot and cold plunge buckets. There is an array of outdoor showers privately stowed away into the leafy backdrop, subtly separated by rock partitions, stylish brick and preceded by a path of textured gravel and smooth paving stones. The doorways articulating this circular space lead into the spa's interior structure, providing access to the steam room or dressing room, which is highlighted by intricately hand-painted locker doors. Emerging from your initial phase of relaxation to the expanse of the sprawling complex that exists almost entirely outdoors, you are then warmly greeted by your assigned therapist who guides you across the stunning lawn and vibrant garden to one of the most coveted spaces along your wellness journey. The treatment pavilions are thoughtfully composed to provoke a sense of mindfulness and stimulate a profound personal connection with nature, enrapturing you in restorative sensations from head to toe. Also an absolute favorite for couples, your private room is a peaceful indoor-outdoor space architecturally blended into the natural formations and overflowing with an abundance of jungle vegetation. It features an intimate organic soaking tub, side-by-side massage tables for dual service, a sensual outdoor shower and nearby raised marble platform for scrubs and rinses - all seamlessly composed into a scene for sensational solitude or ultimate romantic repose. To commence or conclude your day’s holistic healing, you can also find solace in the detoxifying steam room or among the cozy beds and lounges of the glamorous relaxation room. The high level of meticulous landscaping and tastefully selected amenities magnify the intensity of each service on their incredible menu of offerings. Spa Botánico harbors a truly transformational experience to revive your soul, emanating a pure aura of tranquility that transports you to an environment of luxurious well-being.
For amazement and enjoyment through exquisite flavors, this resort has an array of highly-acclaimed menus inspired by American, Spanish, Asian and authentic Puerto Rican cuisine. Elegantly seated on a coveted beachfront terrace, globally renowned Chef José Andrés curates a bold culinary experience at Mi Casa. Combining the greatest gourmet assets of aristocratic Spain, American delights, native craft and his own innovative flair, he has procured a breakfast and dinner menu to exceed expectations of fine dining. For a more trendy and casual approach to seaside fare, Positivo Sand Bar is situated to serve you with your feet in the sand. You can choose between bar seating, a traditional alfresco table or a plush pod for lounging. Preparing phenomenal tapas and small plates, their menu spans a mix of local favorites such as the Cubano sandwich along with Asian dishes including a sensational sushi assortment and crunchy tempura. To complement the exceptional cuisine, the service here is simply incredible with a vibe that is very inviting and laid back. Additionally, Encanto Beach Club Bar and Grill is the ultimate choice for modern casual dining (especially for families) where fresh-grilled entrees meet icy tropical cocktails against a picturesque beachfront backdrop.
Perfect for weekend escapes or extended getaways, this destination is only a swift flight from the U.S. Mainland and the trip to Puerto Rico can be made with extreme ease considering the absence of an international customs gate. Outside of the Ritz Carlton’s beautiful estates are museums with artifacts from visits by the King and Queen of Spain, the Juan Boria Theater, brilliant festivals including “El Carnival del Plata” (February) and Cocolia Festival (Summer), as well as a plethora of family-friendly events and activities. In addition, the Ritz’s Kids Korner, located within the safe confines of the magnificent Dorado Beach Clubhouse, presents and abundance of crafts, entertainment and amusement. The Ritz Carlton Reserve is highly recommended for stunning wedding ceremonies, unforgettable honeymoons and couples seeking a customized intimate escape. It is also an ideal destination for reunions, large groups, and spa getaways. Dorado Beach is a special place that deserves to be revisited many times throughout the year, as the nurturing environment invites you to reconnect with your inner self along with the surrounding natural beauty, all within a picturesque environment that exudes the epitome of luxury.