From private plunge pools and award-winning spas to onsite organic farms and sprawling nature reserves, Puerto Rico’s eco-luxury hotels are equal parts green and glam. The experience is a far cry from the crunchy, granola retreat you might picture when you think of a standard “eco-friendly” getaway. Due to its lineup of rich ecosystems, including bioluminescent bays, more than 300 miles of beaches, and the only rainforest in the U.S. Forest Service, this tropical paradise easily attracts top-shelf hotels that specialize in catering to environmentally-minded travelers who appreciate a massage after a long hike. Today, Puerto Rico boasts some of the top properties that pair an eco-minded ethos with incredible Caribbean experiences at a range of price points. And it’s only getting better.
In recent years, Puerto Rico has continued to expand luxury hotel offerings with an impressive flurry of anticipated openings and re-openings. Yet with growth comes a responsibility to protect the island’s precious natural resources. Backed by the Puerto Rico Energy Public Policy Act, which calls for the territory to be running on 100% renewable energy by 2050, many luxury hotels built sustainably for the future. Puerto Rico also created the first “Design and Operation Guide for Sustainable Tourism Facilities’’ to help hotels achieve sustainability for years to come. The result? A wealth of eco-luxury lodging options, from bed and breakfasts to resorts that present their guests with various nature- and wellness-themed perks, including yoga, watersports, and hiking trails.
Whether you’re looking to unplug on the beach, explore tropical rainforests, or indulge in farm-to-table dining, here are our seven picks for eco-luxury hotels in Puerto Rico.
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Opened in 2018, El Pretexto is an intimate “farmstay” bed and breakfast that celebrates Puerto Rico’s agricultural heritage. The farm-to-table restaurant—open exclusively to hotel guests—sources many of its fruits and vegetables from the property and hosts pop-up dinners with some of the country’s top chefs, including Mario Pagán and James Beard Foundation Award nominee Francis Guzmán. When you aren’t tempted by made-from-scratch dishes like smoked chorizo croquettes with Hamachi and tobiko, try a little yoga in the garden gazebo or book an open-air massage with views of the surrounding mountain peaks. Guests can also hike to nearby waterfalls through a forest of palms and banana trees. Because of COVID-19 protocols, El Pretexto is only welcoming guests from Tuesday to Thursday and from Friday to Sunday to allow a 48-hour window to sanitize and air out rooms in between parties.
Royal Isabela isn’t your typical golf resort. Perched dramatically along cliffs that rise 200 feet above the ocean, the links provide jaw-dropping views of the hotel’s serene 426-acre nature preserve. Next to golf, food reigns here. An on-site organic farm supplies Royal Isabela’s acclaimed Jota Restaurant with vegetables, herbs, and fruits, while local fisherman, cheesemakers, and small family farms source any ingredients that can’t be grown. You can enjoy treats including burrata with compressed starfruit and brioche crouton while taking in postcard-worthy views of the Atlantic from its outdoor terrace. After a day of paddleboarding on the mysterious Guajataca River and exploring two miles of private sandy beach, guests can cozy up in standalone villas equipped with plunge pools and terraces. To ensure guests’ health and safety, Royal Isabela offers contactless check-in, provides hand sanitizer in rooms and all common areas, and enforces physical distancing in dining areas. Guests also have the option to cancel any cleaning services during their stay.
Luxurious beach retreats
Dorado Beach, A Ritz-Carlton Reserve
This luxurious beachfront resort offers some of the island’s most glamorous accommodations on an incredible 1,400-acre nature reserve. At the full-service Spa Botánico, wellness treatments like custom massages and body scrubs using local ingredients are performed in rooms overlooking the treetops and a pineapple garden. Dorado Beach also boasts an impressive water sports program with surfing, paddleboarding, sailing, snorkeling, and more. There’s even something for budding naturalists: Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Ambassadors of the Environment introduces kids to the natural wonders of Puerto Rico. Due to current circumstances, the hotel has implemented a variety of new health and safety protocols. Upon arrival, guests receive a temperature check and welcome kit, including wipes, hand sanitizer, and a face mask before checking into a room that has been sanitized with electrostatic sprayers and ultraviolet light technology.
Hix Island House
With no phones, Wi-Fi, or TV, Hix Island House is perfect for travelers looking to go off-the-grid. Not that anyone is roughing it at this luxury property, located on the blissful island of Vieques. The hotel’s 19 lofts are equipped with private open-air terraces, outdoor showers, and luxurious Frette linens. Guests can take to the nearby beach and arrange horseback riding, biking,sailing, and fishing, or kayaking on Vieques’ bioluminescent bay. A true paradise for those seeking an authentic Caribbean experience, Hix Island House earned the first Sustainable Tourism Facility certification from Puerto Rico Tourism thanks to its commitment to eco-tourism. To get to Vieques, take the recently reopened ferry from Ceiba (note that all passengers must have a negative COVID-19 test on hand and stay masked during the ride) or fly into Antonio Rivera Rodríguez Airport. Hix Island House currently follows increased cleanliness practices, such as disinfecting rooms between guests, providing individually wrapped food options through room service, and asking guests to supply their own yoga mats.
The St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort
Located between El Yunque National Forest and Espiritu Santo River, the St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort offers the best of Puerto Rico’s natural landscapes. Rent bicycles to explore nearby trails, lounge by the seaside pool, or visit the boathouse for paddleboarding and fishing adventures. Home to two bird sanctuaries, St. Regis has the only Audubon International Gold Signature Sanctuary certification in the Caribbean. It hosts a hatching site for four different sea turtle species from April to July. Wellness-minded food lovers will appreciate the property’s two-acre garden that supplies fresh produce for its restaurants, including hand-picked mango, passion fruit, bananas, cucumbers, and cilantro. There’s even a resident flock of hens that produce eggs for the hotel. With the Marriott Bonvoy mobile app, guests can select “Contact Lite” service options such as mobile check-in, a mobile key, and other requests. The property’s 10,000 square-foot spa and fitness center remain open—make sure to book an appointment in advance for social distancing purposes.
Eco-Adventures on land and water
Rainforest Inn Boutique Bed and Breakfast
Nestled in the secluded El Yunque National Forest, this romantic bed and breakfast provides a tranquil retreat from the outside world. Each of Rainforest Inn’s three exclusive villas features spacious terraces with hammocks and views of the lush, surrounding rainforest—perfect for booking a couple’s massage or enjoying a fresh vegetarian breakfast. If private hikes to secluded swimming holes and mountainside waterfalls are your thing, then consider this paradise found. A bonus: Monserrate Beach in Luquillo , a lively area known as the Riviera of Puerto Rico, is less than 15 minutes away by car. Communication with guests, including coffee orders and activity check-ins, is currently as contactless as possible thanks to a convenient text messaging system. Because of social distancing measures, the pool and yoga studio require reservations.
Hacienda Tres Casitas
A true glamping experience, Hacienda Tres Casitas combines the intimate charm of a family-run property with the perks of a hotel, including an outdoor pool and complimentary homemade breakfast with local Puerto Rican coffee. Here, guests stay in quaint casitas equipped with private patios where they can take in the mountain breeze and stars at night. Located between the towns of Cabo Rojo and San Germán, the property is also close to nearby beaches like Boquerón and Combate and less than a 30-minute drive to La Parguera, a popular bioluminescent bay in Lajas. Hacienda Tres Casitas has enhanced cleaning and safety measures in place, including contactless check-in and check-out, individually wrapped food options provided at breakfast, and temperature checks for guests and staff.