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Paul Klein

Dorado Beach and Bahia Beach, Puerto Rico, John Chaffin

I was invited by Marriott Hotels to tour the recently re-opened Dorado Beach, A Ritz-Carlton Reserve and St Regis Bahia Beach Resorts.

 

Day 1:  Traveling on a completely sold out early morning United Airlines flight to San Juan Luis Munoz Marin International Airport, I arrived on time to meet up with my small group of 3 people and our luxury SUV with driver and transfer to the Dorado Beach Resort.  The Transfer took about 45 minutes and we arrived at check in time and had a couple of hours before are welcome dinner at Positivo Restaurant.

The resort looked amazing. They had restored all of the trees and tropical foliage and in fact, the resort’s Tropical gardens have expanded.  We were all staying in West Beach Ocean Reserve kings. My room was in Building 2 on the second floor with a balcony. The room was very spacious, with a large balcony with a table and chairs plus a lounge chair. The contemporary decorations looked fresh and new, with spacious dressing room and large bathroom with indoor and outdoor showers. The building is steps from the beautiful beach.  I met my group at 6:30 for dinner. Positivo Restaurant is an excellent Japanese fusion restaurant with excellent sushi and sashimi. After dinner, everyone retired to their rooms after a long day of travel.

 

Day 2: We had early breakfast the next morning at COA Restaurant, a local farm to table menu, with a wood burning oven. COA has an excellent breakfast and dinner menu with an extensive wine cellar.

After breakfast, there was a tour of the resort by golf cart. We visited the villas and private residences, as well as the three golf courses and the amazing Spa Botanico.

We had lunch at Encanto Beach Club Bar & Grill, overlooking the Adult Beach. The restaurant has a Mediterranean menu with grilled fish and Octopus and salads and a dozen different flavors of fresh hummus.

After lunch, the group did a bike ride visiting the beach areas of the resort. Later on that afternoon, we had spa appointments at their amazing spa. I was able to enjoy their “Manos Santas” spa treatment.

Dinner was at COA restaurant hosted by Iva Jozic, the Director of Sales. The Resorts Sommelier, did a wine pairing for our dinner with some excellent wines from their collection.

Day 3: We had another early breakfast at COA restaurant and then biked out to meet our guide for our Rockefeller Bike Tour at Ambassadors of the Environment by Jean-Michel Cousteau. We biked three miles of the trail which paralleled the ocean and cut through a local tropical forest. After the tour, we returned to check out of our rooms and depart Dorado Beach.

At noon, we commenced our ground transfer to the St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort Located in the Rio Grande area of Puerto Rico. The transfer on average should take about 45 minutes, but we encountered some heavy traffic in San Juan, and upon arrival at the St Regis Resort, a long line at the security gate which took about an additional 20 minutes. All told, our transfer was about one and a half hours.

Upon arrival, we were greeted by our host, Beatriz Palerm, Destination Sales Manager with welcome drinks. After checking in at reservations, we were driven by golf carts to our individual rooms. We were informed at arrival, that the resort was completely sold out by a large corporate group. We were all staying in Superior King rooms with Balcony. One of the nice things about this resort, is the St Regis Butler Service is extended to all of the room types. I was met by my butler at my room and was given a tour and then taken back to meet our host for a tour of the resort.

 

The St Regis resort had to be completely rebuilt and re-landscaped after Hurricane Maria and had just reopened in December of 2018. The resort looks as beautiful as when it first opened and the new rebuilt buildings are lighter in color and more contemporary. The beach has been completely restored as well with Two and a half miles of soft golden sand.

Another nice feature of the resort is that the large corporate group which had the majority of the rooms, were off-site during the days and evenings at the corporate event space and dining venues, so it felt like the resort was almost empty for the leisure guests that were staying there. After our resort tour, we headed back to watch the nightly Champagne Sabering at Casa Grande with Jose Torres the General Manager and had dinner at Parros. The restaurant is located at Casa Grande and has a nice Mediterranean menu. The grilled seafood was excellent. After dinner, we all headed back to our rooms.

After the tours of the resort, here are my two main observations: 1. It will take the resort a few months to properly train all of the new butlers, as there was a 40% turnover in staff from the old regime. 2. There are only the two restaurants on site, a third casual restaurant serving lunch is located over at Bahia Beach. In my opinion,they need another dinner venue.

 

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Day 4: Breakfast at Seagrapes Restaurant at 9AM to begin our day. This restaurant is beachfront located and has both indoor and outdoor seating. They have an outdoor grill, which at breakfast time is used for made-to-order omelets. After breakfast, the group was given a Nature Tour of the property. We met our guide and commenced our tour by golf cart of The Espiritu Santo River and one of the Bird sanctuaries. Our guide pointed out the very limited remaining Hurricane damage to the Mangrove canopy which guard the beach.

After our tour, we had lunch back at Seagrapes Restaurant and had several hours of leisure time in the afternoon to enjoy the pool and our rooms. At 4pm , the group headed to the Spa for a tour and individual appointments. The facilities were extensive, and I enjoyed my Pedicure. Dinner was at Paros. Our group had very early departures in the morning, so after dinner, we headed back to our rooms.

Day 5: The day commenced with a 4AM wake up call and 430AM departure transfer to the San Juan Airport. My flight was scheduled for 6:05AM, but was delayed by an hour, as one of the flight crew was late arriving. On the flight home, we all stayed in our seats, as the plane encountered a lot of turbulence.
The trip, with two beautifully restored resorts, and outstanding guides was memorable and I thank my hotel hosts and three travel companions for a wonderful trip.

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