A weekend at the Dorado Beach, a Ritz Carlton Reserve
Sometimes life is all about the spontaneity. What would life be without crazy spontaneous ideas? Shouldn't we all plan not too much when going on vacation and let sacrifice do its part? I thought myself that I would give it a try and in the end it brought us to one of the world's best seaside resorts: the Dorado Beach, a Ritz Carlton Reserve. Nestled on the most picturesque spot of Dorado - the Puerto Rican people call it Paradiso - this is most probably the best location you can find on the pretty US island outpost in the Caribbean. Let's be honest, with those big chain hotels having 500 to 800 rooms over in Vanderbilt, personal service and vacation vibes get lost. Alright, it's impossible to know each guests name with 1000 persons staying over, so the best alternative is to get out of San Juan. Well, there we have Rincon where you can't do anything else than surfing and Dorado. While this remote place is more home to residences and long-term vacation, Ritz Carlton reserved a limited amount for guests not owning property on Puerto Rico.
Unless you plan to stay at the resort 24/7, opt for your own four wheels, ensuring to also see a bit of the island and in best cases go for shopping. In case you got your rental car, don't put too much trust in the GPS, cause they tend not to be extremely reliable on the island, so we ended up in front of the Embassy Suites Resort rather than the Ritz Carlton. Well, clever enough too identify a four star property with one of the world's number one Caribbean beachside properties. When we asked some random guys on the street for direction they helpfully told us the approximate direction and within 15 minutes we were standing there: at the gate of Dorado Beach being welcomed by the security guard who called the hotel and informed them about our arrival. Once we drove through the entire golf course along a wonderfully arranged lane we finally reached the main entrance of the Ritz Carlton Reserve. I would say the welcome was impressive: an arrey of people were waiting and assisting us - some took the baggage, the other one the car and one lady showed us the way to the front desk where we have been introduced to our Embajador (personal assistant during the stay). Check-in was extremely fast and we did nothing beside answering questions, no paper nor anything else. Within 5 minutes of arrival we were standing in front of our West Oceanfront Room following our Embajador.
She opened the door and through the cool breeze coming out of the room, we were greeted by a nice, aromatic and mandarin-like smell that turned out to be the hotel's spa signature scent. The vast bed- and living room area was facing a full glass window front overlooking the beautiful green scenery of the resort and the Atlantic ocean in between the palm trees. A performance at its best! There's always such an appeal a room has to me when first entering, this time it was perfect - not just because of the smell, the desing and the view, also because of the amazing layout of the room with the best part yet to come. Ritz Carlton knows how to make impressive arrivals and it was a surprise when we found a bottle of an excellent Rosé along a small fruit plate and a handwritten letter place on top of the biggest minibar we have seen during our Caribbean trip. Oh my gosh this minibar was simply stunning with everything you can think of including San Pellegrino, Acqua Panna and Voss just to mention the water choice.
In front of the bar area of our room was the spacious bathroom which had a glass front overlooking our private patio (even tough we were staying on the first floor) where the outdoor shower was located. The double vanity desk was just great as was the free standing tub next to the vast shower corner. All toiletries were full size (300ml) and by the hotel's spa brand - tough a very relaxing smell. One of the most impressive things of our stay was the fact that they made up the room again in the morning even tough it was our departure day. The last time I experienced such a great service was at the Corinthia London and it's very much appreciated so we could take some more pictures before leaving paradise. Of course the beds were just outstanding as you would expect it from a Ritz Carlton property.
All in all Dorado Beach has three pools, one in the west area of the resort, one in the east wing and one in the waterpark - last was closed on weekdays since it's been low season. While the east wing pool had access to a great beach, it was more frequented by families and children whereas the pool at the east wing was just stunning, calm and gorgeous. During the time we spent at the pool we were served complimentary water, small bottles of sun protection as well as occasional snacks such as a coconut sorbet and fruits. It's the little details that make up a great resort and in fact there are no big costs involved in such pleasant amenities. Service at the pool and beach was always great and there was always somebody helping you with any request you have.
Since we haven't had sushi for a long time now (it's quite hard to find sushi on a Caribbean island) we booked a table at the Asian beach restaurant next to the pool area in the west wing. Actually, it was quite cool to have the feet in the sand while enjoying japanese food with a great taste and good portion size. We ended up paying 80 USD for 2 maki rolls each, two bottles of water, a seaweed salad and service charge which was fair enough for an upscale sushi dinner. The main highlight remained breakfast which is served in the upscale gourmet restaurant Mi Casa. The buffet was one of the finest we have ever seen with the most amazing quality. They had several different juices, freshly cut Iberico ham, excellent salmon, wonderful pasties along with fruits that don't even grow on Puerto Rico. Service was simply outstanding, the yound lady even arranged some small surprises during breakfast including an amazing granola with a strawberry mint tartare and fresh tomatoe bread along our huge egg dishes.
During the day, I wanted to visit the spa but could not find an entry besides one that didn't really look official. Anyways, I was impressed of how beautiful the spa is with a private men and women area including amazing showers and a supercool pool underneath the trees in the mid of a small jungle - that looked so stunning and I really recommend you going there once staying at Dorado Beach. Unfortunately we could not go golfing during our stay since the greenfee for the hotel's own golf course was higher than we expected - but this gave us more time to spend at the gorgeous pool and shallow sea which was great. When we had to leave our amazing room we headed towards front desk where we were checked-out before our car arrived and the luggage has been packed. All in all it was a simply gorgeous stay at definitely the best resort in Puerto Rico. I would even go a step further and say it's one of the best hotels in the Caribbean along with two Saint Barths properties.