Dorado Beach, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve

100 Dorado Beach Drive, Dorado, 00646, Puerto Rico

It may be only 22 miles west of San Juan, but Dorado Beach, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve feels a world away. The resort has a spectacular location on a three-mile stretch of beach on Puerto Rico’s north shore, where Clara Livingston once ran a sugar plantation—and Amelia Earhart visited before departing for her fateful world tour. In 1958, Livingston sold the property to Laurance S. Rockefeller, who turned it into the first of his legendary Rock Resorts. Known for his green streak, he designed the hotel to respect the local beauty, mandating that buildings could not be taller than the surrounding palm trees.

The Ritz-Carlton—which reopened in October 2018 after a meticulous restoration following Hurricane Maria—pays homage to that original vision. Here, every room is beachfront, with floor-to-ceiling sliding doors that disappear into ocean views, plus deep soaking tubs, outdoor showers shaded by gardens, and either spacious balconies or private plunge pools. As part of the property’s renovation, rooms were refreshed with a color palette that amplifies the natural beauty just beyond the doors. Additionally, the grounds showcase 3,000 new plant species, the spa is offering new locally inspired treatments and cuisine, Encanto Beach Club Bar & Grill features a refreshed dinner menu, and the Positivo Sandbar debuted an omakase and ceviche bar directly on the sand. There’s even an entirely reimagined signature restaurant, Coa, which serves farm-to-table fare cooked on the grill. Still standing strong on the verdant, 1,400-acre grounds are the five 18-hole championship golf courses. The biggest challenge is pulling yourself away from the luxury of the resort to tee up a shot.

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Paradise Found in Puerto Rico

Dorado Beach, A Ritz-Carlton Reserve opened its doors in late 2012, but the lush tropical property has been around for decades. The 1,400 acre plantation was once the home of female pilot, Clara Livingston, and her family who cultivated the land into a once thriving pineapple and sugarcane plantation in 1928. After her death, conservationist and visionary Laurance S. Rockefeller bought the property and transformed it into the eco-resort we have today. There are 150 rooms, all ocean front views and some with their own private plunge pools. The exclusive “Embajador” service provides you a personal butler for the duration of your stay. This unique, well designed resort offers you complete seclusion even when at full capacity. You’ll never feel crowded; you will always feel welcomed. I love that everyone smiled, waved and greeted me every time I encountered a staff member or fellow guest. The best time to come is February to April. You can enjoy three miles of secluded beaches accessible only to Dorado Beach Resort guests. You can reserve bikes to tour the property at your leisure. But to truly take advantage of all the Ritz-Carlton has to offer, plan your stay for at least five days. This is a hidden paradise within a paradise. I did not think Puerto Rico could be more beautiful until I stepped inside the Dorado Beach Resort. Now I don’t want to leave.

Su Casa: History & Beauty at Dorado Beach

This Spanish-style home, Su Casa VIP Villa—my favorite part of the insider’s tour of the Ritz-Carlton Dorado Beach resort—was once the house of Clara Livingston from 1928-1955 and today you can now find all 1920s era furniture and art inside! Ms. Livingston was a female pioneer: a pilot who managed her father’s 1400 acre sugarcane and pineapple plantation after his death. Living here for two decades, she played host to famous guests including Amelia Earhart. After her death, she requested that no alterations be made to the estate until after the final Livingston had passed. The property was purchased by visionary and conservationist, Laurance S. Rockefeller, who sought to create the first eco-luxury resort in Puerto Rico. The doors opened in 1958, then in 2012 the The Ritz-Carlton took over to create the incredible resort it is today. The hotel still resides on the original 1400 acre plantation and mixes Livingston’s historic elegance with modern amenities. I should also note this villa is dreamily perfect for weddings.

The Secret Spot

One of many unique aspects of your experience at the Ritz-Carlton’s Dorado Beach is the Embajador (“butler”) service. Upon checking in, you are assigned an embajador to your room to assist you with any and all needs from making dinner reservations to renting bikes for the duration of your stay. When I and my fiancé arrived to the Ritz-Carlton, we were quite a bit early. Our room was not yet ready, which was not a problem at all. The front desk offered me use of several amenities to accommodate me while I waited, but I was more interested in a tour of the resort. My request was met with a genuine and enthusiastic man acting as my embajador for the next two hours. He indulged my every question, providing historical details and cultural facts about the plantation on which the resort was built. Then we asked,"What is your favorite spot on the resort”. He pondered this for a moment, driving us around in the golf cart while the breeze whipped through our hair. His face lit up as he was able to decide on just one thing: the secret spot behind suite buildings 9 and 10. So he took us straight there. A little gazebo highlighted the landscape, perched on an outcropping of land and surrounded by the blue ocean and toffee colored sands on both sides. He told us this is the best view on the resort, and they often times will set up special dinners for honeymooners or couples to enjoy a quiet and intimate evening alone by the water. We loved it.

Luxury Line Up

Can you imagine a more alluring spot to soak in the sun while sipping on an expertly crafted Mojito? Me neither.

The Great Spa Escape

Surrounded by heavenly smells, exotic island textures, and natural sounds I could spend my whole vacation soaking up the carefully curated details in Spa Botanico’s luxurious spa escape. After waltzing through a delicate curtain of lavender and dried flower bouquets of the Apothecary Room—an entrance I adored by biking past several times to catch a whiff of the calming scents (aka “ride-by smelling”)—Spa Botanico at the Dorado Beach Ritz-Carlton is a little like stepping into a grotto. The Apothecary Room opens up to a terrace of green ivy and flowers separated by a reflection pool. The Shade Room is where you’re greeted and escorted to begin your unique spa experience on 5 acres of beautiful tropical land. Why yes, I would love to sip on the house specialty pomegranate tea, freshly brewed this morning and awaiting my hands and lips. And yes, thank you I will slip into this soft cotton sarong and gaze at the sculpted, manicured herb garden before my therapist arrives. Come for a treatment, stay all day. Trust me, you’ll want the entire day to yourself. Right. Here.

Sauna, Cold Dip, Jacuzzi, Repeat!

The Ritz-Carlton does an excellent job of providing their guests a secluded, intimate experience with the tropical beauty of Puerto Rico—and that certainly extends to the spa. When I arrived, I was one of 4 other women and once my treatment was completed, I was the only person in the grotto and had the freedom to enjoy every little thing to myself! With eyes closed, the sauna’s steam and rhythmic music lured me into a deep relaxation after my massage. To refresh I took a quick dip in their cold soak tub, then headed to the glittering blue titled bottom rock jacuzzi where I lounged, hidden behind the jungle. At my leisure, I made my way to the outdoor shower to cleanse with the signature, house made shampoo, conditioner, and body wash—an alluring scent of ginger and lemongrass (which, luckily you can purchase in their spa store). I can’t rave enough about the Spa Botanico at Dorado Beach. I mean, 5 glorious acres of luxury spa all to myself? I was reluctant to leave, and paused for a good while in the Apothecary Room before jumping back on my bike to pedal back to my Ocean Reserve suite with plunge pool overlooking the blue waters of the Atlantic. Okay fine, I like everything outside the spa too.

A Massage Above the Rest

Experience a massage above the rest—literally atop a tree house or in a hammock—at the luxurious Ritz-Carlton Dorado Beach resort. The signature Tree House Massage came highly recommended so I booked a session in their open-air platform house. With the soft sounds of nature and a cool breeze, I enjoyed an hour of bliss. Awakened with a fresh cup of pomegranate tea (I was well on my way to drifting off before my therapist even started), after the treatment I was ready to explore the rest of the spa. There is one thing I request every year, for any special occasion: a massage. I’ve had massage all over the US, in India, and in Puerto Rico. So when I wound up at the Ritz-Carlton Dorado Beach resort, I had one activity on my mind. This rated as one of the top experiences I’ve had so you must check it out. Something to note: the spa is separated by men and women’s areas. You’ll never encounter someone of the opposite sex while relaxing and enjoying the amenities and treatments of the spa (unless its a couple’s treatment session).

Stay Fit at Dorado Beach

The Ritz-Carlton’s Dorado Beach Resort’s gym is spacious with tons of natural light and modern, clean machines. And with the hotel’s multiple fitness centers, and activities located on the property you’ll want to use your work out clothes! Head over to the Plantation Village side of the resort for a beautifully designed wellness center complete with sauna and steam rooms in the locker rooms. Then utilize their personal trainers and specialty classes so you don’t miss that TRX back home. There are also several outdoor activities—water sports, tennis courts, and athletic classes are offered on a regular basis—but the fitness center is equipped for your use 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Golf in the Tropics

Originally designed by Robert Trent Jones Senior, the Ritz-Carlton’s Dorado Beach resort creates the most luxurious golf experience in the Caribbean. Their four 18-hole golf courses (East, West, Pineapple, and Sugarcane) play host to PGA tours, celebrities, and legendary golf pros. The Ritz-Carlton offers Stay & Play packages to accommodate your golf vacation. Take in the breathtaking views as you make your away through the beautifully manicured greens and around the resort property.

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