By Katrice L. Mines, Editor
Before I arrived at Dorado Beach, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve, I’d decided that I couldn’t leave without having its Island Cobb Salad. A friend had asked me, as I was planning my trip, what I most look forward to when I travel and I admitted it was the culinary escape. Without even realizing that was top of mind for me, I’d already browsed the resort’s fare between its five options for dining.
A serene sanctuary tucked away on the Puerto Rico Caribbean coast, Dorado Beach is one of those dwellings where your mood adjusts as soon as the sound of the ocean welcomes you on property. Nothing about what you’ll experience has been left to chance.
From the reception area, a wide-open airy corridor, you are immediately tranquilized by a concoction of what you see and hear. The stimulation of senses is key here. While waiting for my room, I idled for lunch in a very modern, chill Encanto Beach Club Bar and Grill where the sand, breeze and view taunt you just steps from the shoreline. The Island Cobb Salad, I was assured, was an excellent choice. Medleyed corn, egg, cheese, avocado and plantain chips aside skewered grilled lobster and mango dressing – essentially, perfection. In the background, a subtle hum of good music which would shift to an ambient thump for evening diners. I was with it.
I had settled in, prepared to spend a bit of the afternoon on a sofa between the pool and Grill when my “Embajador” or butler who would attend to my every need on-property arrived to escort me through the carved out jungle. As we walked along the curvy path to a vista overlooking the eastern side of the beach, I shed all consideration of time in the balmy breeze. In my room, I straightaway opened the sliding doors to extend the space outside in from the terrace and stretched out on the chaise. I’d seen people below but somehow it was quiet; the resort’s take on guest individuality was well-achieved.
Dorado Beach, with its private residences, spa sanctuary, and harmonious sense of place that flows uninterrupted into the natural surroundings, is where you go to overload on relaxation. An intimate retreat blending Laurance Rockefeller’s novel environmental design philosophies and modern, yet minimal décor, this resort blurs the boundaries between outside and in, creating an open-air enclave that embraces the natural splendor and diverse culture of an unspoiled corner of the world. From the dedicated butler appointed to create an experience tailored to your needs, to the lush indulgent spas, dining experiences and adventurous recreational prospects, the resort is clearly designed to allure the world’s most discerning travelers. It’s not often you’re treated to the option of an indoor or outdoor shower. The choice isn’t difficult.
Spa Botánico, its five-acre spa set within a fragrant pineapple garden, could almost singularly define the experience of being away here. Inspired by nature to impart a holistic sense of well-being, the refuge pairs local Puerto Rican ingredients with indigenous soothing traditions performed in the most unique of spa settings for a full sensory experience. Body scrubs are blended in the spa’s kitchen, combining Coconut Oil, Shea Butter and healing ingredients indigenous to the island. This integration with the natural world is reflected in its fresh and unique offerings which take place entirely outdoors within a lush, private garden setting. For me, the Coffee and Clove Scrub – a revitalizing treatment using caffeine, sugar and the essential oils found in cloves to exfoliate, remove impurities and leave the skin feeling soft, refined and moisturized.
Beyond the Usual
Though I wouldn’t peg myself as adventurous, the lure to get out on the water of its swimmable beachfront is almost inescapable. And so I ventured out in a combo-kayak with a guide stopping to explain the geology of the surrounding mountains, the sea grass beds and marine life below. My first-time kayaking nerves were for nothing as the water was calm for quite a relaxing hour spent paddling out from the shore. If in fact you crave adventure, however, there are options like kitesurfing, paddle boarding, windsurfing and sailing.
In the early evening, when the air is soothing and the sun has set, you will note movement throughout the pathways where you’ve felt almost completely secluded in other moments. You see families and couples alike heading to dinner at Mi Casa by José Andrés for a menu of tapas and featured meals that focus on Puerto Rico farm-fresh ingredients, flavorful unions and a novel signature style; and you very well may meet them on your stroll back in for the night. And the next day, in this retreat where time stands still, it is your pleasure to do it all again. AT