Puerto Rico Soars

 

Dorado Beach: A Ritz-Carlton Reserve
Patio with plunge pool, Plunge Reserve Suite, at Dorado Beach: A Ritz-Carlton Reserve

 

Long after Puerto Rico began redefining itself as a luxury hot spot in the Caribbean, the destination continues to add luxury resorts one after the other. And with new airlift and dining options, Puerto Rico is poised to carry its growing momentum throughout the year. 

More Luxury Hotels

With all the hype and excitement leading up to the opening of the Caribbean’s first Ritz-Carlton Reserve, the Dorado Beach, in December, agents and clients alike may have missed the openings of two other viable luxury options in Puerto Rico. 

In May of last year, the quaint, luxury boutique resort, O:Live Boutique Hotel, debuted. This resort should appeal to art and photography lovers as each floor features collections of photos taken by the owners during trips to the Mediterranean. O:Live Boutique Hotel has 15 rooms. Suites are equipped with see-through spa showers and tablet smartphones. We were told the best rooms here are the Mediterranean Suites-Lagoon View, which overlook the Condado lagoon. 

Also, the hotel just launched the new members-only Rooftop Club, offering a lap pool, two Jacuzzis, a bar, a wood fire grill and more. Clients looking to become members should e-mail at

[email protected]

. For all other enquiries, agents should contact Edgardo Rosario (

[email protected]

), reservations supervisor.

Meanwhile, golfing enthusiasts really need to know about the luxury golf resort, Royal Isabela, which opened in April. Royal Isabela features an 18-hole golf course, a residential community, private beach access, hiking/biking trails and La Casa, which offers fine dining and 20 Casitas. The hotel also has a farm, garden and nursery. The owners, brothers Stanley and Charlie Pasarell, spent years hitting golf balls here, discovering tees, fairways and greens, and were inspired to build this hotel. And the Golf Links course at Royal Isabela is pretty dramatic as it curls itself along rugged cliffs, providing challenges and marvelous views of the coastline’s meeting with the sea. The landscape’s native grasses, natural sand dunes and deep canyons are integral to the layout, while sod-faced bunkers add a Scottish flair to this island gem.

 

O:Live Boutique Hotel
Sunny dining room at O:Live Boutique Hotel

 

But don’t get us wrong. While these two openings shouldn’t go unnoticed, the opening of the Dorado Beach, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve has definitely been the biggest news to hit the destination this year. The eagerly anticipated $342 million, 115-key ocean front luxury resort located on the footprints of the former Laurance Rockefeller estate, a celebrated destination for more than 50 years, opened its doors on December 12. The Ritz-Carlton Reserve brand extension features signature, one-of-a-kind boutique resorts located in choice settings around the world, each with a distinctive personality and sense of place. Dorado Beach, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve is the second in this exclusive portfolio worldwide, joining Phulay Bay in Krabi, southern Thailand.

Encompassing three miles of Caribbean coastline and covering 1,400 acres, Dorado Beach, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve includes 100 rooms and 14 one-bedroom suites, all directly on the beach, plus Su Casa, the original Spanish Hacienda renovated back to its original 1920s’ style to serve as a four-bedroom, beachfront VIP villa.

Agents should reach out to Isabel Gracia ([email protected]), director of sales and marketing.

New Flights

In April, Southwest Airlines launched new nonstop services between San Juan and both Orlando and Tampa Bay. Southwest has previously announced that the carrier will assume AirTran’s San Juan service to Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood on September 29.

JetBlue Airways announced in early March its intention to launch new daily nonstop service from Chicago’s O’Hare to San Juan. JetBlue’s third destination from the Windy City is scheduled to begin service on November 20. Flights will leave Chicago at 9:30 a.m. and arrive in San Juan at 4:10 p.m., while return flights leave Puerto Rico at 3:45 p.m. and arrive in Chicago at 6:55 p.m.

Also, agents should be on the lookout for two new United Airlines flights to San Juan from Orlando. Although nothing is final, Travel Agent was told those new flights should be expected by November.

New Culinary Options

As for new eateries, tell foodies heading to Puerto Rico about 1919, a new restaurant in the Condado Vanderbilt area. The restaurant and cigar bar opened last November. It offers a four-course pre-fixed menu at dinner, a three-course menu at lunch and à la carte service available at all times. Some popular entrees here include the boneless veal rack and cheeks, the venison and the wild striped bass. 

Also, be sure to mention Al Sur, which opened last year in the Museo de Arte de Ponce and is helmed by Chef Ariel Rodriguez, who also operates the very popular Augusto’s Cuisine in San Juan. It is open Wednesday through Sunday for lunch and dinner. To book a reservation for clients, agents should call 787-848-0366.

Agent Advice

Dilworth Daley of Daley’s Destinations in Severn, MD, says one of the best-kept culinary secrets is Mofongo’s, which, of course, serves the local mofongo, a fried plantain-based dish from the Spanish Caribbean. It is across the street from the Sheraton Old San Juan Hotel & Casino. “You can get all different kinds of Mofongo here and I must say the best Pina Colada ever,” says Daley.

As far as nightlife goes, Daley says clients should head to the Condado area. “Some people now call it the new South Beach [Miami],” he says. “There are so many places to choose from, really.”

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