Puerto Rican Renaissance

By Mike Espindle | January 17, 2019 | Lifestyle

With the recent reopening of Dorado Beach, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve, Puerto Rico is officially back in business for luxury travel.

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Make no mistake, rebuilding the infrastructure after the devastation of Hurricane Maria in 2017 is ongoing in areas on the island. But Puerto Rico likes to celebrate when it can. And celebrate it did, in unmatched style, at the recent reopening of Dorado Beach, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve (from $1,099 per night, doradobeachreserve.com). A gala weekend drew local VIPs and politicos, as well as far-ung fans such as Neil Patrick Harris, Jane Krakowski, Uma Thurman, Martha Stewart and Al Roker, to fete the property, with special performances by Questlove and Broadway star Leslie Odom Jr. This milestone not only signals a reopening, but also a rebirth of the property itself and the destination as a whole.

As a Ritz-Carlton Reserve, a designation shared by only two other Ritz-Carlton properties worldwide, Dorado Beach encompasses a massive footprint (1,400 acres) and a relatively intimate accommodation count (114 guest rooms and suites). Much of the property is devoted to nature conservancy and scenic beauty. Located on Laurance Rockefeller’s former estate, which has always emphasized nature, Dorado Beach refers to its conservancy as a “great park.” While its structures weathered the storm relatively well, most of the damage was to the grounds and gardens.

The recent multimillion-dollar renovation delivers something of a miraculous and lovingly completed masterpiece. The landscapes are gorgeously restored, and the new plantings (more than 300,000 trees and plants were reset) are perfectly cosseted. ankfully, the nearly century-old cus tree that serves as the visual anchor at the resort’s renovated Spa Botánico survived the hurricane. e property has also added public art pieces to its land trust, curated by the Arte_FITS.Foundation (arte.com).

In addition to some impressive landscape work, the property’s guest rooms and suites are refreshed with new furniture, fabrics and colorways, as well as its historic 8,000-square-foot Spanish Colonial-style SuCasa five-bedroom villa. Dining venues are reconcepted, and the entire resort now has a fresh, modern feel.

The accommodations include large ground-floor king rooms with private plunge pools, second-floor king rooms with spacious balconies, and all rooms and suites in the core area of the hotel sport oceanfront views. There are also residences available for rent. Service is universally on-point, with each guest assigned a team of embajadores, or ambassadors, to address any and every need. Golf cart transport is provided on request, but guests can also explore the property on complimentary bicycles.

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And you will want to explore. Along with nature trails, beaches and alfresco art, the resort has multiple areas in which to luxuriate. The Encanto Beach Club on the pristine West Beach offers a family-friendly enclave with a pool, restaurants and retail. The Rockefellers installed rock breakers along the beaches years ago to ensure their own children could swim safely.

The Positivo pool on the East Beach provides a more intimate beach and pool experience, with private cabanas, and a hot tub and cold plunge pool overlooking the water. And, the Goodwinds Water Sports center is a kite- and windsurfing mecca.

At the opening gala, food curated by chef and humanitarian José Andrés spotlighted Puerto Rico’s culinary excellence. That innovative vibe is reflected in Dorado Beach’s own restaurants. Encanto Beach Club Bar and Grill’s coastal cuisine leverages the area’s unmatched access to fresh seafood. Nearby La Cocina Gourmet Culinary Center offers cooking classes. Positivo Sand Bar, an omakase and ceviche bar, blends elevated mixology with a casual setting. Plus, a new signature fine-dining restaurant is set to open.

“It is with great enthusiasm and joy that we welcome guests back to our treasured Reserve. The dedication, hard work and care that [we] have invested in the transformation of Dorado Beach is truly remarkable, and we look forward to sharing it with both returning and new guests,” says General Manager George Sotelo. “We are delighted to continue to curate extraordinary experiences for our guests through new and meaningful journeys, as well as by encouraging them to rediscover the intrinsic beauty of Dorado Beach.” Tourism is a significant contributor to Puerto Rico’s economy. As early as last spring, the island’s tourism organizations started reporting a spike toward an upward trend as travelers began returning. Coupled with Dorado Beach’s dedication to rebuilding the island—$1 million was donated to assist effected employees; additional staff from local towns were hired; and the resort supports Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Flamboyan Arts Fund, which benefits youth arts organizations in Puerto Rico—a visit to Dorado Beach is not only an opportunity to relax in a spectacular locale, but also an opportunity to help do good.



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