The Future of 5-Star Puerto Rico: Ritz-Carlton Dorado Beach & Condado Vanderbilt

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Dorado Beach, A Ritz-Carlton Reserve

Dorado Beach, A Ritz-Carlton Reserve

Puerto Rico is welcoming a new tier of luxury with the unveiling of two highly anticipated resorts. The new Dorado Beach, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve opened in December about 45 minutes west of San Juan. The 100-room/14-suite, Mid-Century Modern resort was originally built seamlessly into the natural environment by Laurance Rockefeller, with a judicious use of local wood and stone combined with large French doors and patios opening directly onto the beach. Ritz-Carlton thankfully maintained the deconstructed design while adding deep soaking tubs and indoor/outdoor showers, along with private pools in the Plunge and Reserve Suites.

The waterfront Su Casa Hacienda was once the home of the founding family. The 4-bedroom villa with a private infinity pool and garden, ”welcoming arms” staircase, lofty ceilings, expansive living/dining room and a cigar verandah overlooking the water is an awesome venue for private dinners.

At Mi Casa restaurant, celeb chef Jose Andres operates his first restaurant outside the United States. The menu is a mashup of modern Spanish and Puerto Rican dishes complemented with handcrafted cocktails and 30 labels of rum.

“Puerto Rico is the perfect meeting place between Spain, the country I come from and America the country where I now belong,” says Andres. “It’s the meeting point of two worlds where magic can happen.” A sample of that magic includes oysters pina colada and goat cheese/green papaya cones.

For golfers, it doesn’t get much better in the Caribbean than Dorado. There are three 18-hole courses, including Robert Trent Jones Jr.’s East Course bordering the Caribbean Sea. In the fall, a fourth course designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr. will reopen following an extensive restoration.

Spa Botanico is a 5-acre wellness and wilderness sanctuary with glass-walled treatment pavilions and cool tree house platforms for spa experiences up among the palm fronds. You enter through an “Apothecary Portal” filled with local botanicals used for treatments. Before and after, visit the Purification Gardens for the various warm and cool pools, waterfall showers and steam pavilions.
For events, there’s the 4,400-sf Surf Room Ballroom and 1,500-sf Mi Casa private dining room.

Last October, the historic Condado Vanderbilt Hotel partially reopened in the Condado area just outside Old San Juan after being closed for two decades. The landmark grand dame hotel built in 1919 was once a premier destination for Hollywood stars and important dignitaries from Charles Lindberg to Eleanor Roosevelt. Presently, the spa and five restaurants are open to the public. Michelin-star Chef Juan Jose Cuevas helms the fine dining 1919, serving ocean-to-table dishes inside the dining room with three mother-of-pearl chandeliers and expansive ocean views.

The 323 guest rooms will open later this year, but groups can check out the spa, oceanfront infinity pool and sophisticated cuisine at the hotels five restaurants. The 30,000-sf event space includes the Patio del Fauno Ballroom for 600 pax, designed with uninterrupted ocean views, floor-to-ceiling windows with automatic blackout shades, custom chandeliers from Murano and pink marble finishes.
In April we’re going to Puerto Rico to review the Caribe Hilton, Conrad Condado Plaza and El San Juan Resort & Casino. Stay tune for an upcoming “On Location” story.

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