My wife and I recently stayed at the St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort in Puerto Rico for 5 nights from January 6th - 11th. To provide some background/context for this review, we are in our early 30s and planned this vacation specifically for relaxation purposes while our 2 year-old daughter remained at home with my in-laws. We do stay at high-end resorts but by all means, it is not always a necessity.
Overall, we had a wonderful time at the St. Regis and it is a place that we would recommend quite highly; the amenities were excellent, the activities available are varied and the property is beautiful, expansive, unique, secluded and intimate. From what we have seen, this is also a very family friendly resort with sources of outdoor entertainment for young children. In fact, there were many couples visiting with young kids and teenagers; therefore, if you have issues with kids at the pool side or children at the dinner table (no matter how fancy it is), you will surely be disappointed. Personally, we did not mind it a bit having been in that situation before and we actually appreciated the laid back atmosphere. Despite the fact that we had a great overall experience, there were inconsistencies within our stay that still need to be resolved by the management and I will address this at the end. After reading some of the earlier mixed and negative reviews here, we were admittedly apprehensive. However, it is apparent that the staff and management have perhaps reviewed the feedback and criticism and have made efforts to rectify the majority of the issues that earlier guests have pointed out.
In terms of the resort itself, it is expansive, quiet, intimate and quite beautiful. There are various activities available on the premises including kayaking, fishing, golfing and tennis. This is clearly a place meant for those people who want to have a quiet and peaceful time for relaxation and reading by the beach or pool. If you get bored easily or if you require entertainment, this may not be the right place for you. We were perfectly content. In terms of transportation, there is reportedly a car service available to take you from and to the airport for $120 each way. My understanding is that there are taxis/transportation services from the resort to San Juan as well although I do not know the cost. We rented a car through Enterprise for 5 days for $120 flat. Of course, there is a $20/night valet fee for parking at the St. Regis; therefore, the cost of renting vs. using their services is a wash in my opinion. If I had to do it over again, I probably would not have rented a car given that we used it only for 1 day to travel to San Juan and ended up wanting to spend as much time as we could at the resort itself. For families with kids, it may make some sense to rent a car to acquire supplies at the local supermarket (Ralph's) given the price of simple products such as milk or juice at the resort. In addition, the drive is quite simple and straightforward.
The rooms quite nice with enormous showers and a soaking tub. We stayed in a room with a garden view with a private balcony. There are Ocean View suites available as well but because we arrived during a week where the resort was booked, there were no opportunities to upgrade but definitely ask.
In terms of food, there are three restaurants at the resort: 1. Seagrapes 2. Fern 3. Molasses (Located by the golf course; we did not dine here). Menus are all available online. Seagrapes is located by the pool and overlooks the beach. Lunch is very relaxed, laid-back and 'beachy' whereas dinner is a bit more formal and a live band provides entertainment. The lunch menu is quite eclectic and consists of flat bread pizzas (very good -- the piquant sausage w/ garlic was excellent), salads and sandwiches. The dinner entrees consisted of various seafood items including halibut, grouper, and salmon. Wagyu steak was an option as well. Lunch items range from $17-$26 while dinner entrees range from $24-38. Cocktails are $15 which is the typical cost of a drink at a NYC hotel bar so albeit pricey, not unexpected for us. By the way, the cocktails are incredible. To summarize, the lunch options are great for a day at the beach but dinner is 'average' at Seagrapes.
Fern is Jean-George's restaurant at the resort which consists of 'fusion' contemporary cuisine. The atmosphere is a bit more sophisticated but not stuffy. Meals can be eaten either inside the dining room or outside on the balcony overlooking the main lawn and the ocean. During the day, the ocean breeze and view really made our breakfast and brunch absolutely perfect. At Fern, the brunch and breakfast is not to be missed --- I ordered Eggs Benedict over smoked salmon every day; it was definitely the best meal of the day but the view played a large role. Dinner was good and consistent. It was definitely not the best cuisine we've had (we lived in NYC for many years so we have been to some great places) but it was consistent, well seasoned, and satisfying -- nothing particularly special. Service was spotty at times (waiters not filling the water, incorrect items on our bill, providing dessert menus in a very untimely manner etc.) but our waiter did thank us for our patience at one point without prompting and even though this was a small gesture, it went a long way for me.
We ordered Room Service two of the nights because we could not get reservations at Fern and did not want to have dinner at Seagrapes every night. One reviewer commented that the menu 'was a joke' which I didn't understand as it appears to be very similar to other high-end resorts and hotels in general. The menu is similar to that of Seagrapes including red snapper ceviche, burgers, grilled salmon, gnocchi, etc. The food was mediocre and the portion size was a bit small. However, it's room service --- I have low expectations to start. The only issue I had was the staff fielding the orders --- the first night, the woman taking our order was excellent and knew the menu quite well, even items not on the menu. During the second night, the woman taking our order was clueless. As noted previously, be prepared to pay for extra fees associated with room service --- this includes a $5 delivery charge and a 22% service charge + tax (17% of the service charge goes into the tip)
Final Recommendations/Advice for Food at your stay at the St. Regis:
1. Request 'butler' order morning coffee to be delivered at a specific time to your door on a daily basis rather than using the in-room coffee markers. We learned about this from previous reviewers on Tripadvisor. It is complimentary and 100 x better given that it is made in a French Press. Coffee over your terrace or ocean view is the best way to start the morning.
2. Seagrapes is excellent for a satisfying meal at the beach or poolside. Be aware that a 18% tip is already included into the bill; Our server was kind of enough to point this out the first day we arrived.
3. Consider going to Fern for breakfast or brunch every morning --- it's worth it both for the food and ambience; Dine on the terrace overlooking the ocean; I regret that we did not do this from day one.
4. Consider going to Fern for most of your meals --- Seagrapes became tiresome after a while. I would skip out on room service. If I had to do it all over again, I probably would've skipped dinner at Seagrapes and proceeded to go to dinner every night at Fern instead (if there are openings; BTW - you can book reservations through Open Table and it is encouraged that you do so ahead of time; we didn't think when we first arrived that reservations would be necessary at all but we were wrong. Overall, the cost difference is neglible and the food is much superior than that of Seagrapes.
My wife received a prenatal massage at $165. There have been complaints about the cost but when we used to live in NYC, this was the typical cost of a 1 hour massage at the Elizabeth Arden Red Door Spa so we did not think that it was unreasonable for a resort (in contrast to that of the Mandarin Oriental where it can be around $250 per hour). Per her report, she had a wonderful experience. Apparently, from the outside, it is rather inconspicuous but upon entering, it was beautiful, comfortable, and luxurious ... this is coming from some one who has had many massages in her lifetime. "Well worth it" was her comment.
Overall, we were happy with our stay. However, there are clearly some issues that still need to be sorted out. We felt that the service was overall excellent and the staff was extremely friendly. I think that many of the concerns initially raised by reviewers have been fixed (for the most part) regarding 'clueless' staff. I found them to be quite responsive and will likely improve with a bit more time.
1. The issue regarding the air conditioning unit has been mentioned by previous reviewers and it really is a serious problem. Whoever made the decision on the air conditioning really should be fired. The management should seriously consider re-installing or re-working the A/C because it is extremely loud, to the point where my sleep was hindered. Given the humidity, A/C is essential and I enjoy sleeping in silence or gentle background noise. This A/C unit is akin to a jet plane engine (a bit of hyperbole but really, not overly so)
2. Spotty and inconsistent service with clean-up by the suites. We didn't experience the housekeeping others did. We had our beds cleaned, shampoo replenished and beds turned out in the afternoon. One issue that I had was various laundry baskets left in the hallway and the fact that our breakfast coffee trays were left outside our door ... all day. It appeared at times that no know knew who was truly responsible for the pick-up. The 'little things' do matter.
The St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort provided us everything that we wanted in a vacation. It is an amazing property with excellent service, food and ambience. It is quiet, relaxed, and private. We had a great time and would recommend it to friends and family members ... however, this is a recommendation with a caveat: If you are in need of being entertained (live entertainment, lots of activities, exciting adventures, etc.) this is not the place for you. If your goal is to relax, play some tennis and golf, go for a bike ride or to kayak, read by the pool or beach, and to enjoy some wonderful cuisine and ambience, this is the perfect place. If you have children, it is indeed family friendly and would be a great vacation spot for teenagers and younger children (the staff is very open to having kids around; I can't say the same for the guests) Finally, if you are the type of individual who demands exceptional service and consistently stay at 'the best places possible' I am certain that as is, it will not live up to your expectations and you will be disappointed. For those who are a bit more laid back, I do think that with a little more time and a few additional adjustments, the staff and the amenities will improve and it will be a truly great place to stay in Puerto Rico.
- Also Known As:
- The St. Regis Bahia Beach Hotel
- The St. Regis Bahia Beach Hotel Rio Grande
- The St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort Puerto Rico/Rio Grande
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Designated as Puerto Rico’s first and only AAA Five Diamond resort and the leader in luxury on the island and in the Caribbean, The St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort, Puerto Rico has been designed with the entire family in mind, providing a variety of extraordinary services and activities that will keep all guests entertained from sunrise to sunset. Located on a former 483 acre coconut plantation, it is nestled between El Yunque National Forest and the sparkling Atlantic Ocean on the northeast coast of Puerto Rico. Certified Gold Audubon Signature Sanctuary, the lush Resort features a tennis center, a golf course designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr., as well as 4 miles of nature trails, 70 acres of lakes and a boat house for water sports. The intimate St. Regis Bahia Beach boasts 139 rooms including 35 suites, where The St. Regis’ iconic Butler service is available. Most of the guestrooms overlook amazing ocean and garden views setting a new standard in luxury accommodations, service levels and facilities for the Caribbean. An indulging Remède Spa and the exquisite dining options will delight all senses, including Fern Restaurant, featuring culinary creations by world famous Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Molasses Restaurant, St. Regis Bar and Seagrapes. In addition, abundant banquet space is available to accommodate a variety of outdoor or indoor events. Featuring amazing ocean or garden views, it is the perfect setting for small or big gatherings as well as weddings. The elegant tropical magnificence of The St. Regis Bahia Beach creates a world for its guests that they will never want to leave. ... more less
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