Review: Dorado Beach, A Ritz-Carlton Reserve

Review: Dorado Beach, A Ritz-Carlton Reserve

NAME: Dorado Beach, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve
LOCATION: Dorado, Puerto Rico
DATE: August 2021
REVIEW RATING:
BEN SAYS: The Ritz-Carlton Reserve has a lovely beach, beautiful facilities, excellent restaurants, and flawless service. Thanks to Dorado Beach's amenities, there's something for the whole family here.
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Want to take advantage of the Marriott STARS program to receive extra perks (like breakfast and upgrades) at Ritz-Carlton Reserve? Contact [email protected] for more details. He may even be able to help if you already have a stay booked.

As I mentioned in the introduction post, the whole reason we went to Puerto Rico was because our JetBlue Mint ticket to London was significantly cheaper when originating there. Since we were going to fly to Puerto Rico anyway, we decided to visit what’s generally regarded as the island’s best resort — Dorado Beach, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve.

I recently reviewed Zadun, the Ritz-Carlton Reserve property in Los Cabos, and figured it would be interesting to check out Ritz-Carlton Reserve’s only other property in North America. Dorado Beach opened back in 2012, and was the second-ever Ritz-Carlton Reserve property (after the one in Phulay Bay, Thailand).

How to book Dorado Beach Ritz-Carlton Reserve

Ritz-Carlton Reserve properties don’t participate in Marriott Bonvoy, so unfortunately there’s no way to earn or redeem points for stays at this resort.

If paying cash for your stay at Dorado Beach, I’d highly recommend booking through a travel advisor affiliated with the Marriott STARS program, so you can receive extra perks, like complimentary breakfast, a room upgrade subject to availability, a hotel credit, and more.

Since STARS is Marriott’s own proprietary program, these upgrades will typically be prioritized over those through Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts, Virtuoso, etc. Ford is happy to help with this and compare rates and perks between programs, and can be reached at [email protected]

As is the case at virtually all luxury properties in the United States right now, paid rates are steep. This is a reflection of supply and demand — with restrictions around international travel, including testing requirements, many prefer to vacation within the United States. That’s why hotels in Puerto Rico, Hawaii, etc., have all had record rates over the past year.

Rates at Dorado Beach seem to start at $1,300+ per night, and in peak season entry level rates can be significantly higher than that.

Not included in the rate is a $125 daily resort fee, which at least includes quite a few things — bicycles, snorkeling gear, non-motorized water sports, water park access, valet parking, access to the Dorado Beach fitness center, morning coffee & tea, and a rum welcome amenity.

While I believe this is the highest resort fee of any property anywhere, in fairness it does get you access to most of the Dorado Beach amenities outside of the resort, so that will be valuable to many guests.

In the interest of full disclosure, we stayed here on a travel advisor rate. This is something Ford arranged, and I figured OMAAT readers would still enjoy getting a sense of what the resort has to offer.

What is Dorado Beach?

Dorado Beach is both the name of the Ritz-Carlton Reserve, and of the development that it’s in. I think some context might be valuable here. Dorado Beach as such is a 1,400+ acre oceanfront development, about a 45 minute drive from San Juan.

Dorado Beach has endless beachfront (as the name suggests), four golf courses, and lots of other amenities. There are plenty of houses in Dorado Beach, and they’re really pricey. Residents of Puerto Rico don’t have to pay federal income taxes, and Dorado Beach is more or less the most expensive development in Puerto Rico, and it’s home to everyone from tech billionaires to superstars. Suffice to say the people watching in Dorado Beach sure is fun.

By the way, Dorado Beach has some fascinating history, especially for us avgeeks. The property was first owned by the Livingstons, who purchased it in 1905. Clara Livingston was a female aviation pioneer, and she befriended Amelia Earheart, who stayed at the property immediately before embarking on her last attempt to fly around the world.

After the Livingstons, the property was purchased by the Rockefellers, who opened the first resort here in 1958.

Dorado Beach Ritz-Carlton Reserve check-in & lobby

The check-in experience at Dorado Beach was flawless — since you drive through a gate when you arrive at the hotel, staff are able to come down and greet you right at the driveway as you arrive, and create a personalized experience.

Dorado Beach Ritz-Carlton Reserve entrance

We were welcomed with our choice of refreshing popsicles — talk about a nice welcome!

Dorado Beach Ritz-Carlton Reserve welcome popsicles

We were escorted up a set of stairs to the open air lobby, which had beautiful views of the resort — there’s quite a bit of greenery around the lobby, and you also have the view towards the pool and ocean.

Dorado Beach Ritz-Carlton Reserve pond by entrance
Dorado Beach Ritz-Carlton Reserve lobby
Dorado Beach Ritz-Carlton Reserve lobby
Dorado Beach Ritz-Carlton Reserve view from lobby
Dorado Beach Ritz-Carlton Reserve view from lobby
Dorado Beach Ritz-Carlton Reserve outdoor paths

After a brief check-in experience, we were escorted to our room by an “embajador” (ambassador), which is the hotel’s version of butler service.

Dorado Beach Ritz-Carlton Reserve one bedroom suite

The Dorado Beach Ritz-Carlton Reserve has a total of 114 accommodations, spread out across several buildings. For some context, here’s a map of the resort (the resort itself covers around 50 acres, while Dorado Beach overall is 1,400+ acres):

Dorado Beach Ritz-Carlton Reserve map

All accommodations are connected by paths, and are either in the “east” or “west” portion of the property. Generally speaking the west side is considered more premium — that’s because the west side has a more picturesque beach with pathways, so you have a nicer view from there of both the beach and the ocean.

Dorado Beach Ritz-Carlton Reserve outdoor paths

We were assigned room 315, a West Beach one bedroom suite on the ground floor.

Dorado Beach Ritz-Carlton Reserve one bedroom suite exterior
Dorado Beach Ritz-Carlton Reserve one bedroom suite entrance

The suite is marketed as being 1,256 square feet, so it was a huge space (in general the accommodations at the Ritz-Carlton Reserve are large). Just inside the entrance to the room was a hall with a half bathroom to the right, and then a wet bar, which also housed the minibar.

Dorado Beach Ritz-Carlton Reserve one bedroom suite entryway

Past that was the huge dining area and then living room. There was a circular dining table with four chairs, and then past that an “L” shaped couch facing a wall-mounted TV console.

Dorado Beach Ritz-Carlton Reserve one bedroom suite living area
Dorado Beach Ritz-Carlton Reserve one bedroom suite living area
Dorado Beach Ritz-Carlton Reserve one bedroom suite living room
Dorado Beach Ritz-Carlton Reserve one bedroom suite living area

The minibar setup was substantial, with a Nespresso machine, tea kettle, and all kinds of drinks and snacks for purchase.

Dorado Beach Ritz-Carlton Reserve one bedroom suite in-room coffee & tea
Dorado Beach Ritz-Carlton Reserve one bedroom suite minibar
Dorado Beach Ritz-Carlton Reserve one bedroom suite minibar
Dorado Beach Ritz-Carlton Reserve one bedroom suite minibar

As mentioned above, the half bath was also located here near the entrance.

Dorado Beach Ritz-Carlton Reserve one bedroom suite half bathroom
Dorado Beach Ritz-Carlton Reserve one bedroom suite half bathroom

Then there was a door leading over to the bedroom, which had a very comfortable king size bed, and a chair with an ottoman in the corner.

Dorado Beach Ritz-Carlton Reserve one bedroom suite bedroom
Dorado Beach Ritz-Carlton Reserve one bedroom suite bedroom
Dorado Beach Ritz-Carlton Reserve one bedroom suite bedroom

Behind the bedroom was the main bathroom area, and also in that area was what could either be a desk or vanity, depending on your use.

Dorado Beach Ritz-Carlton Reserve one bedroom suite desk

The bathroom was also impressive — there were double sinks, a soaking tub, a large indoor shower, an outdoor shower, and a toilet in a separate room.

Dorado Beach Ritz-Carlton Reserve one bedroom suite bathroom
Dorado Beach Ritz-Carlton Reserve one bedroom suite bathroom
Dorado Beach Ritz-Carlton Reserve one bedroom suite outdoor shower
Dorado Beach Ritz-Carlton Reserve one bedroom suite outdoor shower
Dorado Beach Ritz-Carlton Reserve one bedroom suite toilet

Toiletries were in reusable bottles from Spa Botanico, the Ritz-Carlton Reserve’s spa.

Dorado Beach Ritz-Carlton Reserve one bedroom suite toiletries

The highlight of the room was the outdoor area, which had a dining table, a couple of loungers, and a pool (which was much larger than your typical plunge pool).

Dorado Beach Ritz-Carlton Reserve one bedroom suite outdoor area
Dorado Beach Ritz-Carlton Reserve one bedroom suite outdoor area
Dorado Beach Ritz-Carlton Reserve one bedroom suite outdoor area

The pool can be heated on request, though it was a great temperature without the need for that during our visit.

Dorado Beach Ritz-Carlton Reserve one bedroom suite outdoor pool
Dorado Beach Ritz-Carlton Reserve one bedroom suite outdoor pool

Best of all, the hotel had a direct path leading down to the beach and ocean.

Dorado Beach Ritz-Carlton Reserve one bedroom suite beach access

A few more things to note about the room. First of all, both Wi-Fi and air conditioning worked really well, which is worth calling out, because both can be a challenge at some beach resorts.

Next, stays here include a rum tasting on arrival, which is a cute touch. There’s a rum setup in your room, and then you just let the ambassadors know when you’d like to enjoy it, because they bring you large coconut-infused ice cubes.

Dorado Beach Ritz-Carlton Reserve welcome rum
Dorado Beach Ritz-Carlton Reserve welcome amenity
Dorado Beach Ritz-Carlton Reserve welcome amenity

There were also Dorado Beach hats on the desk, which guests can keep.

Dorado Beach Ritz-Carlton Reserve welcome amenity

Each room also comes with bicycles upon request, which you can use to get around the Dorado Beach compound. It’s cute how they even have wooden license plates that have guests’ names etched into them.

Dorado Beach Ritz-Carlton Reserve bikes

Lastly, I’ve gotta say that I’ve become kind of obsessed with Ritz-Carlton Reserve’s brand video. It was always on the TV when we entered the room after it was serviced, and we kind of just left it on for extended periods of time, as I love the music. Am I the only one who is a fan?

The below is the closest version I could find — this isn’t actually what they show in rooms, as the in-room version also features the Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection, and more. Anyone know if you can find the current version online anywhere?

Dorado Beach Ritz-Carlton Reserve pools

The Ritz-Carlton Reserve had two main pool areas. The most impressive pool was near the lobby, and was the most popular with guests.

Ritz-Carlton Reserve Dorado Beach pool
Ritz-Carlton Reserve Dorado Beach pool
Ritz-Carlton Reserve Dorado Beach pool
Ritz-Carlton Reserve Dorado Beach pool
Ritz-Carlton Reserve Dorado Beach pool
Ritz-Carlton Reserve Dorado Beach pool seating

Next to this pool was a smaller tranquility pool right on the ocean, which was intended for adults.

Ritz-Carlton Reserve Dorado Beach tranquility pool
Ritz-Carlton Reserve Dorado Beach tranquility pool

The next big pool was at Encanto Beach Club, which is also a club that people living in Dorado Beach can join. This pool was huge, but wasn’t quite as visually impressive as the other one.

Ritz-Carlton Reserve Dorado Beach pool
Ritz-Carlton Reserve Dorado Beach pool
Ritz-Carlton Reserve Dorado Beach pool

Dorado Beach Ritz-Carlton Reserve beach

The Ritz-Carlton Reserve has a sprawling beach, giving guests plenty of space, whether they want to lounge around or go on a walk.

Ritz-Carlton Reserve Dorado Beach beach
Ritz-Carlton Reserve Dorado Beach beach
Ritz-Carlton Reserve Dorado Beach beach

There are some rock formations maybe a couple of hundred feet into the water, which break the waves and make it safe to swim at the hotel.

Ritz-Carlton Reserve Dorado Beach ocean

It’s nice to have a private beach that’s this big, because it’s not often you get access to such a large and quiet beach.

Ritz-Carlton Reserve Dorado Beach beach seating

While there are some areas where the beach is no doubt nicest, the beach really does go the entire length of the coast, so below you can see what some of the “less nice” beach looks like, by comparison.

Ritz-Carlton Reserve Dorado Beach beach

The resort also offers plenty of non-motorized water sports, including kayaks.

Ritz-Carlton Reserve Dorado Beach kayaks

Dorado Beach Ritz-Carlton Reserve gym

Guests at the Ritz-Carlton Reserve have access to two different gyms. There’s the hotel’s gym, which is open 24/7, and is in a standalone building.

Ritz-Carlton Reserve Dorado Beach gym exterior

This was more than sufficient, and had a good variety of cardio, strength training, and free weights.

Ritz-Carlton Reserve Dorado Beach gym
Ritz-Carlton Reserve Dorado Beach gym
Ritz-Carlton Reserve Dorado Beach gym
Ritz-Carlton Reserve Dorado Beach gym
Ritz-Carlton Reserve Dorado Beach gym

There were even free energy and protein bars, which you don’t often find in a hotel gym.

Ritz-Carlton Reserve Dorado Beach gym snacks

But there was another gym option — as a hotel guest you also have access to the Dorado Beach wellness complex, which includes an 8,000+ square foot fitness center, a basketball court, a volleyball court, five tennis courts, a dance and yoga studio, and more.

Dorado Beach gym

There’s even a water park across from Dorado Beach’s gym, which hotel guests have access to when it’s open (generally on weekends).

Dorado Beach water park

Dorado Beach Ritz-Carlton Reserve Spa Botanico

While I didn’t have a chance to get a spa treatment (I couldn’t get an appointment time that worked during our short stay), I did tour the spa, and I think this might just be the most impressive spa I’ve seen anywhere. The spa itself is five acres, and at the entrance is a beautiful 100 year old ficus tree.

Ritz-Carlton Reserve Dorado Beach Spa Botanico exterior

Inside the entrance to the spa is an “apothecary portal” with local botanicals, which are used for the spa products used during treatments.

Ritz-Carlton Reserve Dorado Beach Spa Botanico
Ritz-Carlton Reserve Dorado Beach Spa Botanico

Past that was the spa’s relaxing pool and then herb garden, where there’s plenty of seating.

Ritz-Carlton Reserve Dorado Beach Spa Botanico pool
Ritz-Carlton Reserve Dorado Beach Spa Botanico pool
Ritz-Carlton Reserve Dorado Beach Spa Botanico pool
Ritz-Carlton Reserve Dorado Beach Spa Botanico pool seating
Ritz-Carlton Reserve Dorado Beach Spa Botanico pool garden

The spa then has separate gardens for men and women, including with cold plunge pools, hot tubs, steam rooms, saunas, and more.

Ritz-Carlton Reserve Dorado Beach Spa Botanico
Ritz-Carlton Reserve Dorado Beach Spa Botanico
Ritz-Carlton Reserve Dorado Beach Spa Botanico

There are also a bunch of treatments rooms, and two are even in treehouses (I didn’t have the chance to see these, since they were occupied, but what a cool concept).

Ritz-Carlton Reserve Dorado Beach Spa Botanico treatment rooms

I know for many Ritz-Carlton Reserve guests, the spa is a destination in and of itself, and I can understand why.

Dorado Beach Ritz-Carlton Reserve Livingston Library

Livingston Library is located near reception, and is an indoor space where you can cool off, play some games, read a book, or organize an activity through the concierge.

Dorado Beach Livingston library
Dorado Beach Livingston library
Dorado Beach Livingston library
Dorado Beach Livingston library

This is also where complimentary coffee, tea, and muffins are available in the mornings.

Dorado Beach free coffee & muffins

Dorado Beach Ritz-Carlton Reserve COA Restaurant (breakfast & dinner)

The Ritz-Carlton Reserve has several dining options (you can find the menus for all of them here), with COA Restaurant being the hotel’s signature dining outlet. This is where breakfast (from 7AM until 11AM) and dinner (from 6PM until 10PM) are served. The restaurant has a lounge and bar area (including an outdoor area), where you could get a drink before dinner.

Dorado Beach COA Restaurant bar area
Dorado Beach COA Restaurant bar area
Dorado Beach COA Restaurant bar area

Then there was the main part of the restaurant, which also featured extensive indoor and outdoor seating.

Dorado Beach COA Restaurant dining area
Dorado Beach COA Restaurant dining area
Dorado Beach COA Restaurant dining area
Dorado Beach COA Restaurant dining area
Dorado Beach COA Restaurant dining area

If you want a special experience, the restaurant also has a wine cellar, and you can arrange a private dinner in the room (though be sure to bring a jacket to stay warm!).

Dorado Beach COA Restaurant wine cellar

We had breakfast at COA Restaurant both mornings, and the service was entirely a la carte. If your rate includes breakfast, you can more or less order whatever you’d like. To drink I just had a hot coffee, while Ford had an iced coffee and a mixed juice.

Ritz-Carlton Reserve Dorado Beach breakfast

The first morning I ordered the avocado toast, Ford ordered the eggs benedict, and we split a berry yogurt parfait.

Ritz-Carlton Reserve Dorado Beach breakfast
Ritz-Carlton Reserve Dorado Beach breakfast
Ritz-Carlton Reserve Dorado Beach breakfast

The next morning we went with an awesome breakfast concept the hotel now offers. The Ritz-Carlton Reserve used to have a breakfast buffet pre-coronavirus, and in order to recreate that experience, there’s the “Reserve breakfast experience.” The idea is that you can order literally anything off the menu in tasting portions, so you can try a lot of things. There are no limits, so you can order as much as you’d like, and it allows you to sample as much as you’d like.

For example, below is what we split — pretty cool, eh?

Ritz-Carlton Reserve Dorado Beach breakfast

We also had dinner at COA Restaurant our first evening. We enjoyed the cocktails we ordered — Ford had a negroni, while I had a dirty martini.

Dorado Beach COA Restaurant dinner

To start we were offered some bread, and a couple of treats from the kitchen.

Dorado Beach COA Restaurant dinner
Dorado Beach COA Restaurant dinner
Dorado Beach COA Restaurant dinner

As an appetizer we split an artisan salad, with mesclun, endives, pomegranate, and citrus.

Dorado Beach COA Restaurant dinner

For the main course I ordered the dover sole, while Ford ordered the tenderloin.

Dorado Beach COA Restaurant dinner
Dorado Beach COA Restaurant dinner

For sides we ordered pan roasted heirloom carrots and sautéed broccolini.

Dorado Beach COA Restaurant dinner

At the conclusion of the meal we were offered some chocolates.

Dorado Beach COA Restaurant dinner

Everything about the meal was fantastic, from the quality of food to the service.

Dorado Beach Ritz-Carlton Reserve Positivo Sand Bar (lunch & dinner)

Positivo Sand Bar is the Ritz-Carlton Reserve’s poolside restaurant, serving lunch and dinner. The restaurant is open throughout the day, from 11AM until 10PM. It’s entirely open air, and has great views of the pool and ocean.

Dorado Beach Positivo Restaurant
Dorado Beach Positivo Restaurant
Dorado Beach Positivo Restaurant

We had lunch here on our first day. We had delicious cocktails, and then to eat I had the fish tacos, while Ford had the coconut Thai basil ceviche.

Dorado Beach Positivo Restaurant lunch
Dorado Beach Positivo Restaurant lunch
Dorado Beach Positivo Restaurant lunch

In the evenings, Positivo turns into more of a full-on Asian fusion restaurant.

Dorado Beach Positivo Restaurant dinner view

We decided to do a sake pairing with our meal.

Dorado Beach Positivo Restaurant dinner view

Among other things, we ordered edamame, shishito peppers, soft-shell crab bao, and some sushi.

Dorado Beach Positivo Restaurant dinner view
Dorado Beach Positivo Restaurant dinner view
Dorado Beach Positivo Restaurant dinner view
Dorado Beach Positivo Restaurant dinner view

Dorado Beach Ritz-Carlton Reserve Encanto Beach Club & Grill (lunch)

Encanto Beach Club & Grill is located by the second large pool, and is open daily from 11AM until 10PM. The restaurant has great views of the beach and ocean, and serves everything from pizza, to burgers, to sandwiches, to salads.

Dorado Beach Encanto Beach Club
Dorado Beach Encanto Beach Club
Dorado Beach Encanto Beach Club
Dorado Beach Encanto Beach Club view

I decided to order the heirloom tomato lavash, while Ford had the turkey burger — we both enjoyed our dishes.

Dorado Beach Encanto Beach Club lunch
Dorado Beach Encanto Beach Club lunch

Dorado Beach Ritz-Carlton Reserve La Cocina Gourmet

The Ritz-Carlton Reserve has La Cocina Gourmet, which is a market open from 8AM until 5PM daily. This can be a great place to pick up a cappuccino, beer, sandwich, or something else along those lines.

Dorado Beach La Cocina Gourmet
Dorado Beach La Cocina Gourmet
Dorado Beach La Cocina Gourmet

Dorado Beach Ritz-Carlton Reserve service

I was impressed by the service at Dorado Beach, as it was excellent across the board:

  • Virtually all staff seemed eager to please, and requests were quickly taken care of, thanks to the excellent staff to guest ratio
  • It was cool to get to know some of the staff here, because Puerto Rico is an interesting place in terms of the people who choose to live there, and everyone has a story — you have some people from the “mainland” who were looking for an adventure, some people who have lived in Puerto Rico their while lives, and some people who have roots in Puerto Rico, moved to the mainland, and are now back on their home island
  • Housekeeping was efficient, thorough, and had excellent attention to detail, and even left cute notes (like the below) in the room
Dorado Beach Ritz-Carlton Reserve excellent housekeeping

I honestly had nothing but good experiences with service here, though admittedly our stay was short.

What kind of traveler should consider Dorado Beach?

A few thoughts about the type of traveler who might want to consider the Ritz-Carlton Reserve Dorado Beach:

  • This place can’t be beat for overworked people looking for an easy vacation with limited time off — you can fly nonstop to San Juan from all over the United States, and it’s “domestic,” so there’s no testing requirement when you return home within the United States (this has been a huge draw for people to visit here lately)
  • You really couldn’t come up with an easier and more comprehensive beach vacation with something for the whole family, thanks to the Dorado Beach complex — in addition to great pools and beaches, you have everything from golf courses, to an amazing athletic center, to kids clubs and water parks
  • This could be a great stopover point for a few days if you’re traveling to Anguilla, St. Barts, etc., which are places that historically haven’t been connected directly to the mainland of the United States
  • What’s awesome is that you get such an easy vacation without sacrificing quality — the service, food, and amenities here are top notch
Dorado Beach has four golf courses

That being said, I think it’s also important to state that this is a very different vibe than St. Barts or Turks & Caicos. In other words, if you’re a couple on your honeymoon, or if you’re a Francophile who likes St. Barts, Dorado Beach isn’t going to be a replacement for that. It can certainly be a nice complement (with San Juan being a convenient stopover point to other places), but this property definitely has a different vibe.

Bottom line

The Ritz-Carlton Reserve Dorado Beach is often regarded as the best resort in Puerto Rico, and one of the best in the United States, and that’s for good reason. Everything about the resort is easy and seamless, from getting there, to the endless amenities of Dorado Beach, to the great service, to the beautiful beaches and pools, to the excellent dining outlets.

This is a resort that has something for everyone, from a breathtaking spa, to four golf courses, to a water park for kids.

If you’ve visited Dorado Beach, what was your experience like?

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  1. dee

    great overall review!! wish it were cheaper to stay there and the $125 resort fee is way overboard!!

  2. Jamie

    Ben. What an amazing and thorough review. The place looks great but I also agree it’s ridiculous to be asked to pay an additional resort fee when you are over $1000 a night. However not a bad stop off for your positioning flight lol. Can’t wait to read your reviews in London

  3. Steve

    Lol at everyone complaining about the resort fee, it's called supply and demand.
    Would you rather prefer $1325 a night with zero resort fee or $1200+125 resort fee. It's the same thing.

  4. Ethan

    Really hate Marriott has RC Reserve and Bulgari which all don't even earn points on stay. No redeeming is sad enough, but not even getting points for my bucks? For the splurge moment, I'd go with truly independent hotel then.

  5. Anthony

    Nice review. Would definitely stay there at say maybe half the price.

    Ben is one of the few travels bloggers posting real reviews at this point, so the concentration on very high end resorts where cash is the main or only option is noticeable. We all know PR is a destination more and more people want to visit. Would be great to see reviews of properties like Hilton Caribe or whatever in addition to reviews...

    Nice review. Would definitely stay there at say maybe half the price.

    Ben is one of the few travels bloggers posting real reviews at this point, so the concentration on very high end resorts where cash is the main or only option is noticeable. We all know PR is a destination more and more people want to visit. Would be great to see reviews of properties like Hilton Caribe or whatever in addition to reviews of high end stuff like this. With millions traveling today (so travel is definitely “back” for many), the lack of new travel reviews makes little sense

  6. Grey

    The room seems a bit meh. Not bad, but not worth the price. The 'private' pool is not private at all. And I would never stay at a hotel that charges 125 USD for a daily 'resort fee'.
    Beyond that, the grounds seem quite lovely and the setting certainly looks pleasant. But to try to argue that the 125 USD per day resort fee is value for money just really feels cheeky. Also, how...

    The room seems a bit meh. Not bad, but not worth the price. The 'private' pool is not private at all. And I would never stay at a hotel that charges 125 USD for a daily 'resort fee'.
    Beyond that, the grounds seem quite lovely and the setting certainly looks pleasant. But to try to argue that the 125 USD per day resort fee is value for money just really feels cheeky. Also, how dare they add the rum welcome drink to the resort fee amenities. If that is part of what you are paying for, you should either get it every day, or you should pay less after the first night. And apparently you said the water park is only open certain days, yet that is also included in the resort fee. I imagine they do not offer you a reimbursement when that is closed.
    I mean, obviously resort fees are scams, but when they don't even offer you the amenities they claim you are paying for, then it seems like even more of a scam.

  7. JetSetGo

    @Clem, Hotels separate out the resort fee charges instead of folding it into their regular room rate because they don’t have to pay a percentage of the resort fee to travel agents. Typically the travel agent who book your room get a cut of your room rate.

    @Lucky, checkout Cheval Blanc Randheli’s spa island. That is the best spa facility I have ever been to. To get on the spa island, resort transport you...

    @Clem, Hotels separate out the resort fee charges instead of folding it into their regular room rate because they don’t have to pay a percentage of the resort fee to travel agents. Typically the travel agent who book your room get a cut of your room rate.

    @Lucky, checkout Cheval Blanc Randheli’s spa island. That is the best spa facility I have ever been to. To get on the spa island, resort transport you on a private boat that glides over crystal clear water. Then you land at a stunning facility with gorgeous artwork on walls not to mention stunning view you can look out to. Once you are check in, you are lead to a gorgeous villa. Each freestanding treatment villa comes with its own shower, rest room, etc.. Not to mention trove of Guerlain product you can slap onto your face and body for “free”. In addition, best massage I ever had at any spa hands down.

  8. iamhere

    I am not sure why people would not choose the Ritz Carlton or the St Regis resort over this property. While this property looks stunning, one major issue as many have mentioned is that you are kind of stuck. They probably charge enough for meals because almost no place else to go. Besides the resort fee, I agree if they charged a little more for the rooms nobody would notice. However, remember that Reserve properties...

    I am not sure why people would not choose the Ritz Carlton or the St Regis resort over this property. While this property looks stunning, one major issue as many have mentioned is that you are kind of stuck. They probably charge enough for meals because almost no place else to go. Besides the resort fee, I agree if they charged a little more for the rooms nobody would notice. However, remember that Reserve properties are not part of Marriott. These properties can be booked with Marriott, but you will not earn nights, points, or be able to redeem points there. It's not like the regular Ritz Carlton is a bad choice and is much cheaper at best. The price of $1300 per night that people are mentioning is their off season rate!

  9. iamhere

    I am not sure why people would not choose the Ritz Carlton over this property. While this property looks stunning, one major issue as many have mentioned is that you are kind of stuck. They probably charge enough for meals because almost no place else to go. Besides the resort fee, I agree if they charged a little more for the rooms nobody would notice. However, remember that Reserve properties are not part of Marriott....

    I am not sure why people would not choose the Ritz Carlton over this property. While this property looks stunning, one major issue as many have mentioned is that you are kind of stuck. They probably charge enough for meals because almost no place else to go. Besides the resort fee, I agree if they charged a little more for the rooms nobody would notice. However, remember that Reserve properties are not part of Marriott. These properties can be booked with Marriott, but you will not earn nights, points, or be able to redeem points there. It's not like the regular Ritz Carlton is a bad choice and is much cheaper at best. The price of $1300 per night that people are mentioning is their off season rate!

    1. FNT Delta Diamond

      The "regular" Ritz-Carlton, as far as I know, has been closed since the September 2017 hurricanes. I don't believe it has reopened. Before the hurricane, like the also destroyed Ritz-Carlton a hundred miles away on St. Thomas, was very old and outdated. We did 6 corporate events (12-15 rooms per event) in a span of 3 months in San Juan and didn't get an upgrade or club lounge access once. They've reopened the Ritz-Carlton on...

      The "regular" Ritz-Carlton, as far as I know, has been closed since the September 2017 hurricanes. I don't believe it has reopened. Before the hurricane, like the also destroyed Ritz-Carlton a hundred miles away on St. Thomas, was very old and outdated. We did 6 corporate events (12-15 rooms per event) in a span of 3 months in San Juan and didn't get an upgrade or club lounge access once. They've reopened the Ritz-Carlton on St. Thomas but the rates are crazy expensive, especially with the resort fee. Service is horrible in the U.S. Virgin Islands. There's no way I would pay those rates. I'd rather pay $150 a night at the Margaritaville Vacation Club some 10 minutes away and use my savings on meals and activities.

  10. Adam

    I don't think I like how your upstairs neighbors have such a view of your private pool. Doesn't feel very private.

  11. Clem

    I really don't know what to think of this. This is a nice review, but like many hotels reviewed here recently, a lot of these are completely out of reach for most of us (unless we have a travel advisor handy ;) ).
    The room in and of itself... heh. Looks fine I guess. The spa does look absolutely stunning though, really gorgeous!
    The most shocking part to me is the bizarre $125...

    I really don't know what to think of this. This is a nice review, but like many hotels reviewed here recently, a lot of these are completely out of reach for most of us (unless we have a travel advisor handy ;) ).
    The room in and of itself... heh. Looks fine I guess. The spa does look absolutely stunning though, really gorgeous!
    The most shocking part to me is the bizarre $125 resort fee. Not because of the amount, but what the hell is the point of it? If people are going to pay at least $1200 per night, surely they can pay $1325 per night and it can be baked into the room rate instead ? And since there are no other resorts at that price point in PR, it seems unlikely that they are doing that to lower the room rate for search engines and compete with other properties, since there are none. Makes no sense to me.

  12. Omar

    Good review. It is insanely overpriced for the reason Ben mentioned in the first section; it is a tax haven for some of the wealthiest Americans with no capital gains taxes and low corporate tax rate with no federal taxes. The residences at the hotel have soared in price (from 1-3mm in 2016-17 to $10-25mm for same units today).

    A new Four Seasons is opening in Fajardo supposedly next year so hopefully that will ease the prices at the Ritz Reserve when that happens.

    1. FNT Delta Diamond

      You don't have to be a wealthy American. Almost any American who can work remotely with clients on the mainland in advertising, financial services, IT, public relations, business consulting, etc. can move to Puerto Rico, stay for 6 months and 1 day out of every year, and basically get away with no federal taxes and very little Puerto Rico territorial taxes. The key is you can't provide a service within Puerto Rico. They're hoping property...

      You don't have to be a wealthy American. Almost any American who can work remotely with clients on the mainland in advertising, financial services, IT, public relations, business consulting, etc. can move to Puerto Rico, stay for 6 months and 1 day out of every year, and basically get away with no federal taxes and very little Puerto Rico territorial taxes. The key is you can't provide a service within Puerto Rico. They're hoping property taxes and other locally generated spending makes up for what they lose in capturing your income taxes.

  13. Stuart

    @Ben. I have a question. In one of the photos it seems in the distance a guy is setting up his kiteboarding rig...but I can't tell for sure. Did you see anyone kitesurfing in the lagoon areas? This would be a big draw for me but is often not allowed at resort beaches like this.

    1. Francisco C

      Check out windsurfing at La Parguera in the southwest if the island.

    2. Stuart

      Thanks Francisco, yeah, familiar with some of the usual spots. But to find high end resorts that allow it at their beaches as well is a double bonus on days you just want to roll out of a luxury room and get a session in outside your door.

  14. eric

    this one is on the list. hopefully we can enter USA soon. (from Europe) Looks great, Did not stay at reserve property yet

  15. Alex_77W

    To Daniel: I do agree with your conclusion regarding timeshare purchasing. Past July we did stay in Hacienda Del Mar on a paid rate ($180+tax) and it was very enjoyable. I talked to the manager of that Hyatt timeshare and he told me that they are owned by Marriott Vacation but operate under the Hyatt brand. The abandoned hotel next to the timeshare is being demolished and the plan is to rebuild it into JW...

    To Daniel: I do agree with your conclusion regarding timeshare purchasing. Past July we did stay in Hacienda Del Mar on a paid rate ($180+tax) and it was very enjoyable. I talked to the manager of that Hyatt timeshare and he told me that they are owned by Marriott Vacation but operate under the Hyatt brand. The abandoned hotel next to the timeshare is being demolished and the plan is to rebuild it into JW Marriott in a few yeras. He did not know whether the timeshare will stay operational under the Hyatt brand. But you probably know all this.

  16. Luis

    Wow I thought $40 resort fees were disgusting enough. This place takes it to a whole new level.

  17. Hepworth

    Great post, again, Ben. Fantastic and comprehensive review, and thanks for going out of your way to get pictures (e.g., spa), even in a short stay. But that dirty martini doesn’t look anywhere near dirty enough! And are you not a blue cheese olive guy?

  18. Daniel

    The (abandoned) hotel next to the Ritz used to be the Grand Hyatt. Connected to the former abandoned GH is a Hyatt Time Share called Hacienda Del Mar. The current Ritz Reserve location was a Hyatt as well. All three of these properties had reciprocal benefits. My family purchased a timeshare for 75-years. Both hotels within two years of the timeshare purchase closed. Current annual maintenance rates are 2K+ per year. NEVER EVER EVER PURCHASE A TIME SHARE.

  19. DCAFrank

    That was a helluva upgrade. Just looked and rates for that Suite are $3-4K/per night - definitely not the base room. Appreciate the solid f&b review, but the room and other parts won’t apply to the vast majority of us.

  20. Pk

    Maybe I missed it but what was the pricing for f&B considering it seemed like a sort of captive resort? Also is a 1br suite a base room or were you upgraded? Kind of surprised you pulled the TA card for pricing - yeah it’s expensive but the value of a review in which the property knows Ford can steer business their way (and if they did any light googling, you) is going to be...

    Maybe I missed it but what was the pricing for f&B considering it seemed like a sort of captive resort? Also is a 1br suite a base room or were you upgraded? Kind of surprised you pulled the TA card for pricing - yeah it’s expensive but the value of a review in which the property knows Ford can steer business their way (and if they did any light googling, you) is going to be diminished as they fill your service requests first and make it not seem like the other ritz resort factories

    Also $125 a day resort fee is unacceptable. Would you pay $125 a day to use a gym and kayak?? When you’re at this price point where you’re not competing for business but rather pricing for a unique experience it just needs to be included.

  21. FNT Delta Diamond

    I admit that this is a nice hotel. It puts the other resort factory Ritz-Carlton properties to shame. However, I'm kind of appalled that for $1200-plus per night a resort fee is still charged. I mean, seriously? What do you get for $1200 a night if you still have to pay $120 or whatever in a resort fee for beach and gym access? That's beyond cheap. I guess there are a bunch of suckers because...

    I admit that this is a nice hotel. It puts the other resort factory Ritz-Carlton properties to shame. However, I'm kind of appalled that for $1200-plus per night a resort fee is still charged. I mean, seriously? What do you get for $1200 a night if you still have to pay $120 or whatever in a resort fee for beach and gym access? That's beyond cheap. I guess there are a bunch of suckers because Puerto Rico is cheap and you could live like a king for $1200 a night in a rental or Airbnb.

  22. Shariq

    Amazing report; thank you for such a detailed posting. This place looks legit.

  23. FNT Delta Diamond

    What a pointless review. Ritz-Carlton Reserve properties don't participate in Bonvoy. This is, first and foremost, a miles and points blog. Why not review one of the many points-participating hotels across several chains in Puerto Rico?

    And yes, I think it is beyond stupid that timeshares participate in Bonvoy but Ritz-Carlton Reserve doesn't.

    1. pstm91

      Pointless review? It was a fantastic review. I, and many others, appreciate the reviews of higher-end (non-points) properties from time to time.
      The points properties in PR are pretty bland, the Ritz included. RC Dorado is far and away the best property on the island so yes, this was a relevant review.

    2. Luke

      Bland? Not sure I'd say so about the St Regis Bahia, which is definitely a "points" property. I'm excited that Amex Bonvoy Brilliant with its annual fee increase is potentially making the annual night certificates worth 85k points which will hopefully make that particular hotel redeemable on it which can have cash price of $1200 to $1500 a night!

    3. UA-NYC

      Bonvoy just isn't that important to Marriott's strategy, otherwise they would find a way (aka incent) these owners along with Edition and R-C to fully participate in the program. It's just a cost center that I think they'd be more happy not having to deal with.

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pstm91

Pointless review? It was a fantastic review. I, and many others, appreciate the reviews of higher-end (non-points) properties from time to time. The points properties in PR are pretty bland, the Ritz included. RC Dorado is far and away the best property on the island so yes, this was a relevant review.

Pk

Maybe I missed it but what was the pricing for f&B considering it seemed like a sort of captive resort? Also is a 1br suite a base room or were you upgraded? Kind of surprised you pulled the TA card for pricing - yeah it’s expensive but the value of a review in which the property knows Ford can steer business their way (and if they did any light googling, you) is going to be diminished as they fill your service requests first and make it not seem like the other ritz resort factories Also $125 a day resort fee is unacceptable. Would you pay $125 a day to use a gym and kayak?? When you’re at this price point where you’re not competing for business but rather pricing for a unique experience it just needs to be included.

FNT Delta Diamond

I admit that this is a nice hotel. It puts the other resort factory Ritz-Carlton properties to shame. However, I'm kind of appalled that for $1200-plus per night a resort fee is still charged. I mean, seriously? What do you get for $1200 a night if you still have to pay $120 or whatever in a resort fee for beach and gym access? That's beyond cheap. I guess there are a bunch of suckers because Puerto Rico is cheap and you could live like a king for $1200 a night in a rental or Airbnb.

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