As the former director of content for Forbes Travel Guide, one of the questions I’m often asked is, “Where should I go on vacation.” Of course, the answer depends on a lot of factors (geography, active or leisure, long or short) but one place I have been to many times myself is Puerto Rico—and the resort I always visit while I’m there is The St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort.
My husband’s family is from Puerto Rico so it’s a special place for us. But since they have been in America for several decades, it’s really about the splendid sunshine, delicious food and warm and friendly vibe found in abundance all over the island. The people in Puerto Rico are truly amongst the most warm and friendly I have encountered. We also love that we don’t need our passports and it’s easily accessible from many U.S. cities. From Chicago, we can hop the early morning flight and be poolside by lunch.
The resort is also very dear to us. We first visited a mere month after it opened and I was five-months pregnant. I saw my daughter on our first full ultrasound and counted all her fingers and toes one day and were poolside the next. (My husband slugged all the mojitos for us.) We loved it so much we went back again and again; our daughter (now five) has been there three times herself and immediately took to the place.
A half-hour drive from San Juan, the St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort has it all—private beach; high-class Remede spa; Robert Trent-designed golf course; outstanding Fern restaurant (the other two restaurants, Molasses and Sea Grapes, are also terrific) and lush (lush) grounds.
As you make your way to the resort from the airport, passing big-box stores and small towns, you are bound to wonder where on earth you are going. Then there’s a surprising turn on a country road with a canopy of trees and suddenly the resort’s grandiose black gates appear, revealing a 483-acre gold-certified Audubon International sanctuary at the base of El Yunque National Rainforest. The spectacular grounds are what make the resort truly special. Elevated wood planks snake around the resort with signs signaling iguana crossings. At night, the sweet sound of the island’s native coqui frogs fills the air.
Each evening, guests gather around the plantation-style lobby to enjoy a nightly champagne sabering and dine upstairs at Fern. Kids love feeding the koi outside the lobby every evening and making s’mores around the campfire.
The resort’s Remede spa is definitely worth a visit. Be sure to ask about the beachfront treatments in the thatched-roof cabanas.
Dress-wise the resort is laid-back, think: resort-chic but comfortable. Visit the Vacation Shop for what to pack.