What: When The St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort opened in late 2010 (it was the first St. Regis in the Caribbean), it set a new standard for luxury in Puerto Rico and quickly became a go-to spot in the islands. Puerto Rico has long been a popular tourist destination, of course, with San Juan serving as a frequent port of call for cruise ships. The St. Regis on its own, however, added plenty of new reasons to visit—world-class golf, a Jean-Georges Vongerichten restaurant and a Remède Spa in a remarkable natural setting. Luxurious and exclusive accommodations—there are only 139 rooms—are built into low-slung plantation houses and have the famously comfortable St. Regis beds (with carved headboards), enormous bathrooms with walk-in rain forest showers and high ceilings with rattan fans circulating the fresh air from your terrace.
Where: The St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort is located less than 30 miles from San Juan at the base of 28,000-acre El Yunque National Forest, the only rain forest on U.S. soil. The rain forest is home to a wealth of exotic species, including ferns, wild orchids and flowers. The resort also borders the 5,000-acre Espíritu Santo River State Preserve, where you can view a variety of birds, as well as hike and kayak.
When: Spring is an ideal time to visit The St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort. The weather is gorgeous—highs are generally in the mid-80s, so you can bask in the sun or enjoy hiking without being too hot. However, peak season tends to be late fall to late spring, when Americans are trying to escape the cold winter weather in the States. Word is when the resort opened in November 2010, it immediately sold out for Christmas, so the holidays are also extremely popular.
Why: Built on a former coconut plantation, the oceanfront resort sits on a 438-acre Certified Gold Audubon Signature Sanctuary nature preserve. You can walk, bike and kayak through the grounds, and view the local plant and wildlife, while the native coquis (tree frogs) provide a soothing background chorus. Sun seekers will love the lagoon-shaped pool that allows for a number of lounge chairs right next to the water. The staff regularly passes through with treats such as frozen grapes, and the Bahia Beach offers beachfront cabanas complete with the St. Regis butler service available for rent. Parents will appreciate the Iguana Children’s Club, which offers nature walks, bird watching, turtle feeding and other activities. Meanwhile, a visit to the gorgeous spa includes a champagne welcome alongside the top-notch treatments, and golfers can get their fix on the Robert Trent Jones Jr. course.