Dorado Beach, A Ritz-Carlton Reserve had just opened in Dorado, Puerto Rico and I couldn’t get there fast enough. After working in 5-Star hotels for 6 years, I became accustomed to the finer things in life, and the bar I set was high. This glitzy and glamorous sanctuary on the Atlantic Ocean was more heavenly than I ever could have imagined. Allow me to take you through my dreamy Puerto Rican vacation that went off without a hitch!
Since I’d never been to Puerto Rico I decided to book airport transfers through the hotel concierge. Whenever I travel somewhere new I like to book transportation directly to take the guesswork out of it. This ensures you are getting reliable and safe transportation. Once I’m familiar with an area I’ll branch out to Uber or local taxis. With that being said, if you already feel comfortable jumping in head first then by all means haggle with that cab driver in your new destination, but always, always be aware of your surroundings no matter where you are and always trust your gut.
The drive to Dorado from San Juan Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport took about 45 minutes in afternoon traffic. A driver named Felix picked me up in a shiny black sedan and handed me an ice-cold Ritz-Carlton bottle of water – nice touch. He let me choose between taking the scenic route or taking the fast route. Naturally I went with the scenic route – I crave new cultures after all. Turned out that Felix was also a certified tour guide! He even stopped a few times so I could take pictures while passing postcard-grade views of the historic Old San Juan. He was so great that I still have his business card saved for my next trip to Puerto Rico.
What kind of hotel hires a tour guide to do their airport transfers you might ask? A Ritz-Carlton Reserve, that’s who. The Ritz-Carlton has a separate group of hotels call Ritz-Carlton Reserves. They are very exclusive, very luxurious, and very worth it. So far I’ve only been to the property in Dorado Beach, but I hope to see the others some day – especially their Thailand & Bali properties!
It’s gorgeous, amiright? This colorful lily pad display, set on an old plantation, graces the front drive of this jaw-dropping tropical oasis. The landscape designers ensured the sweet aroma of fruits and nuts cover the entire property, even making its way to my private outdoor shower. That’s right. Every suite comes with its own outdoor shower. Suites also boast soaking tubs the size of hot tubs, rain showers, walk-in closets, wet bars, seating areas, and ocean-front terraces. They also offer upgrades to suites with private plunge pools and suites featuring private rooftop terraces and pools. Notice how I keep saying “suite?” That’s because this hotel only offers suites!
An Embajador, or Ambassador, greeted me with a chilled refreshing towel and welcome drink in their open-air lobby upon arrival. He loaded my luggage on a golf cart and then whisked me through winding paths surrounded by tropical plants to my room. If you’re ever feeling too famished to walk, an Embajador will be right there to pick you up in a golf cart. It was nice for dinner since I like break out my wedges and glam it up.
The rooms are nestled among tropical landscaping in multiple two-story buildings all along the shore. I noticed a lot of bicycles in front of my cluster of rooms. I was told the resort offers complimentary bikes to use on the nature trails (also on property) throughout my stay. Check-in was done right in my suite and I was shown all the in-room amenities including complimentary tea, coffee, bottled water, and fresh fruit. By the time I unpacked, my Embajador already had my complimentary bicycle waiting for me outside. Now, to the pool!
This property has so many special qualities and perks I can’t possibly cover it all. The beach town of Dorado is beautiful and vibrant once you leave the grounds too. I even had one of the best Italian meals of my life off-property in Dorado – and that’s coming from an Italian (so you know it was good)!
If you venture out for some authentic Puerto Rican food, make sure to try a dish called Mofongo. It’s essentially fried plantains smashed with garlic sauce, with or without protein, and then shaped into balls. I’ve always had it with shrimp and it’s A-Mazing. Just make sure to eat it at a restaurant. It doesn’t travel well.
The food and drinks on property are all excellent. The resort is home to three restaurants and a gourmet snack shop. I dined at all of them and everything was fresh, locally inspired and creatively presented. My favorites are Mi Casa by José Andrés for breakfast, Positivo Sand Bar for Lunch and Encanto Beach Club Bar & Grill for dinner. Try the Pan con tomate y jamón Ibérico at Mi Casa for breakfast – Toasted bread with fresh tomato and Spanish Ibérico ham. It’s simple and it’s life changing.
Sadly I didn’t have time to experience the water activities, golf courses (plural), or culinary classes because I was too busy doing absolutely nothing on the beach or by the pool. I did, however, save time for their five-acre open-air nature-inspired Spa Botánico.
The scent of their pineapple garden surrounds you as you step on the spa grounds. An enormous Banyan Tree adorned with hanging lanterns lives in front of the villa-style spa entrance. You’ll enter through the Apothecary Room that houses endless fragrant herbs and lavender, which then leads out to the open air spa lobby.
Except for their treatment rooms, locker rooms and relaxation rooms, all the spa facilities are outside (though they do offer two open-air tree house massage rooms). Trickling waterfalls and hot & cold plunge pools were created to look as if nature intended them to be there. Covered in rocks and surrounded by tropical foliage, the water therapy area here is not to be missed. I highly suggest purchasing a treatment that comes with a bath as well. This was the first time I ever experienced a luxurious bath outside in a garden. My words simply can’t do this spa justice.
I loved the Dorado Beach property so much that I suggested it for a family vacation a few months after my return home. When I arrived back in Puerto Rico for the second trip, this time with my father and brother in tow, we were greeted upon arrival by the hotel manager, who gave us a private tour of the property and arranged for us to tour Su Casa, which is a 1920’s-style 8,000 square foot beach-front Spanish style hacienda. And yes, you absolutely can rent out the entire glamorous house (which includes an outdoor tub overlooking the ocean).
This property encapsulates everything that a 5-Star resort should be. From the jaw droppingly beautiful facilities, to the delectable food and drinks, this Ritz-Carlton Reserve will have my heart for eternity. Until we meet again, Dorado.