Photo by Misshattan
Dorado Beach, however, would soon mean more to me than simple social media posts. This extraordinary island home began flirting with my heart the moment I stepped foot on its Puertorrican soil.
Photo by Misshattan
A platter of popsicles materialized in front of my face once I hopped out of First Class’s black SUV. Talk about lust at first sight. Mango, coconut, and guava were staring me in the face, glistening in the warm sunlight and daring me to make a decision. “Coconut, will you accept this rose?” He did, and he didn’t last long.
Dorado Beach is a Ritz-Carlton Reserve which begs the question, “What makes a Ritz Reserve different from a typical Ritz property?” I’m glad you asked. As only three Reserves exist in the world, these unique sanctuaries act as a place where all unexpressed wishes of the guest are fulfilled. As with any Ritz-Carlton, quality service and amenities are expected. At a Reserve surrounded by exotic beauty, that experience is elevated with a nature-based environment and extraordinary happenings. They say you always remember your first, which in my case was Phulay Bay in Krabi, Thailand. Dorado Beach would be my second. Mandapa, I’m coming for you next!
Photo by Misshattan
Much admired but not easily replicated, the Ritz-Carlton service is grounded in its staff who go above and beyond the call of duty. At the Reserve properties, each guest has their own butler, or embajador, who tend to any and all needs during a guest’s stay. My embajador, Julian, kindly showed me the grounds and completely explained the activities before showing me to Suite 611. I could hardly hear him as he explained the thermostat settings and in-room dining menus. The stand-alone soaking tub and outdoor shower stole the show and thus my attention, but I perked up once Julian exclaimed, “Now allow me to open the gates of Heaven.” Well okay then. By all means…
The sliding doors to my suite were then pushed back into the walls, allowing an indoor-outdoor atmosphere that I never wanted to disrupt…that is, until Julian recommended that I close the secondary screen-protected doors so as not to allow critters a home for the evening. To that news, my Gates of Heaven were partially closed, but I could still hear the music of the ocean from my cozy bed at night which is all that mattered. Well, that, and my private plunge pool overlooking the deep blue sea…
With 55 acres on the Ritz-Carlton Dorado Beach property, embajadors and other staff kindly shuttle guests from point A to point B via buggy. Immediately after exploring my room, Julian called for transportation to take me to my spa appointment. Due to an airline delay, I was running at least 30+ minutes late, but in true Ritz-Carlton fashion, the reservation was honored sin problemo.
The level of affection I hold for this spa might just surpass that of any other spa in the world. Maybe. I’d have to really think about it, but for now, Spa Botanico takes the crown. From its 90-year-old majestic Ficus tree to the stop-you-dead-in-your-tracks entry pool, it’s easy to see this is a one-of-a-kind establishment. The fact alone that its premises measure up to five acres is astounding. The beautifully constructed treatment rooms are unmatched, and call me crazy, but I think I could even wed inside the herb drying room. The eye candy is never ending…
Dear Luis Antonio, thank you for ridding of my knots, my soreness and my travel aches and pains. Carrying oversized luggage over many miles does a body good…and bad. You have raw talent, and never ever stop doing what you do!
My massage therapist might just have the best looking office in the world. The five-acre spanctuary (spa + sanctuary = too easy) is set within a pineapple garden and outfitted with “treehouse” treatment rooms (it is exactly as it sounds!) and fragrances that’ll make you want to bottle whatever intoxicating smell you’re experiencing. MmmmmMMmmmm.
Ambassadors of the Environment
These two entitled our selfie “A rose between the thorns.” Ha!
During my time on property, I received the opportunity to snorkel with the man, the myth, the legend: Jean Michel Cousteau alongside his right-hand man, Dr. Robert Murphy (no relation, although that would be very cool). Mr. Cousteau is everything I want to be – an explorer, an educator, and another fish in the sea. Like his marine pioneer father Jacques Cousteau, he prefers to spend his time underwater. Above water, his passion lies in educating the masses with his Ambassadors of the Environment program at Dorado Beach to teach people of all ages how to protect fragile coastal environments.
We’d only spent a few minutes in the water when the thunder sounded. Immediately we swam to shore where we chatted up a storm, not giving a second thought to the pounding rain surrounding us. I asked Mr. Cousteau about his favorite dive sites around the world to which he replied, “the next one!” Touché, Mr. Cousteau. Touché. Someone else perked up and asked him where he spends most of him time. When he answered “on airplanes,” my fascination with this world traveler grew even deeper. Thank you for your continued love and attention to our water planet!
Between boozy beach lunches at Encanto, Chef’s choice sushi dinners at Positivo, morning cooking classes with Chef Rory, and countless courses at one of my favorite food magician’s restaurants, Mi Casa by José Andres, I was going home with a lot more baggage than I bargained for, and I’m not talking about inside my Samsonite. The cuisine at Dorado Beach is inventive, flavorful and orgasmic. Yep. I said it. The croquetas served inside the Converse-esque shoe and I go way back to my DC days. My first date in the district was at Jaleo, another José Andres eatery where said shoe and croquetas were served. I feel compelled to thank Chef Andres not only for providing delectable dishes but also for creating compelling conversation starters.
To Chef Rory, many thanks for attempting to educate me in the kitchen. I don’t believe I’ll ever possess the talent or techniques that you do to make such a tasty hollandaise sauce. Once I actually have a kitchen of my own and stop living out of a suitcase, I will attempt to put this new found education to the test! Until then, I’ll be 9 going on 29 years old, as seen in the photo below…
Staying true to your roots while championing modernity is an interesting line to straddle, but Dorado Beach does it in class and style. In 1905, Alfred T. Livingston purchased 1,700 acres with plans to grow coconuts and grapefruits for export. His daughter, Clara, sought to continue his legacy after his passing with new construction sites as well as an airport where Amelia Earhart visited. Cut to 1955 when Conservationist Laurence Rockefeller turned the Livingston plantation into a resort and natural sanctuary, introducing the world to the first Caribbean luxury eco-resort. Well done, guys. A job very, very well done.
The Love Affair Cont’d
Photo by Kirsten Alana
Ah, but wait. There’s more. I know, I know…we’re almost done here, but I can’t leave without showcasing the Rockefeller Nature Trail complete with 11-miles winding through forests, fairways, soft beaches and secret coves…or my gym of dreams. If you don’t get a tingly giddy sensation when looking at this stunning beauty, if your biceps don’t involuntarily bulge at the thought of picking up a sleek 10 pounder, and if your heart rate doesn’t pick up at the thought of cranking out some pull-ups next to the athlete on the right, then you will never be the bar to my bell.
For kids, there’s always the Watermill Aquatic Park full of water slides, lazy rivers and fun-filled afternoons. For men, there’s world-class golfing. For women, nothing beats Michelle Farmer’s luxury resort wear (buyers beware!) or Spa Botanico’s aromatic lotions and potions. Good for the body, bad for the bank account. Kite surfing is a favorite among adventure seeking guests, but perhaps all of this is just too much. Nobody is judging if your hardest decision of the day is beach or pool…
P.S. Just don’t forget to Instagram it.