Sometime around 8 p.m., just close your eyes, turn off the music and open the windows. There, you’ll hear a cacophony of loud and constant chirps, a disjointed blend from Puerto Rico’s resident orchestra, the coqui frogs. Not exactly the welcoming band I was wishing for when stepping foot on the Caribbean island. But as constant (and frankly annoying) as those loud sounds are, there was another constant to my recent trip to Puerto Rico: the luxurious lodging at the St. Regis Bahia Beach.
Since I returned from my long weekend in Puerto Rico, friends have asked me some tips and advice about what to do and see. I tell them the same answer over and over again: I really have no idea. I literally went from Point A (the San Juan airport) to Point B (the St. Regis Bahia Beach). I’ll go back, I tell them, and the next time I’ll be sure to see Old San Juan, zip line on La Bestia and go to Flamenco Bach in Culebra. But for now, the beauty of an exclusive hotel gave me the taste test of Puerto Rico that I needed.
The beach side hotel is absolutely secluded, a hidden tropical paradise that while only 30 minutes from busy San Juan seems more than light years away. The peaceful property is spread out on 483 acres, much of which is lined with tall palm trees and large fern plants that provided me a clear sense of nature being incorporated into the three-year-old facility. Adding to the exclusive and private feeling, the St. Regis’ guestrooms are spread among separate buildings, where it’s unlikely you’ll bump into many other guests.
The property has put nature as one of its priorities, allowing guests to take advantage of the serene beauty of Puerto Rico. And one of the best ways I find to learn about a new place is by going on a bike ride, something that is free to all hotel guests. Armed with the hotel’s Specialized trail bike, I went on the 4-mile biking trail available right on property. The hotel also has an immaculate Robert Trent Jones Jr.-designed 18 hole golf course as well as various water activities, like kayaking and paddle boarding.
Food and Beverage
The first person I met in Puerto Rico told me, “If you haven’t had Mofongo, then you haven’t been to Puerto Rico.” And some of the best happens to be served at the hotel’s Molasses Restaurant, one of four restaurants on property. Mofongo, a plantain-based dishes served with your choice of protein, is a Puerto Rican staple that has its own twist in every individual restaurant, though I can hardly imagine any being better than the one at Molasses.
Note to self: If I ever go kayaking in a two-person kayak again, I need to make sure I don’t go with someone I love. Because we’re probably going to end up not loving each other too much afterward. My husband and I went on a nighttime kayak tour of a bioluminescent bay in Fajardo, about 45 minutes from the hotel. The idea of seeing bioluminescent dinoflagellates illuminate in the nighttime water was pretty enticing; the ensuing blind crashes into the mangroves over and over and over and over again were not. (I am still confused with what go “this way” means. Is that left or right? Or something else?) After getting ambushed in the head by low-lying branches in the near pitch-black ride, I was surprised I didn’t end up with a concussion or two after the 30-minute paddle to the bay. But it was worth all the hits to the forehead after seeing the dark water glow against our paddles. Majestic, I tell you.