Spent 3 nights at the end of June in a plunge pool room on the west beach. The grounds of the resort, the room design and furnishings, and the architecture of the public spaces are all beautifully done. Almost every employee had a welcoming smile and was friendly and eager to please. The food was mostly very good. However, there were a few service and quality issues which, at this price point, prevented me from giving the property 5 stars. We take 1-2 vacations per year and we are not overly picky travelers, but we expect to get the quality of service that we pay for. When we stay at a Marriott, we don't expect the same level of service as a Ritz-Carlton. But I had very high expectations for the level of service at this resort and I left a little disappointed.
We had a somewhat negative impression before we even arrived because of the terrible traffic we encountered driving from the airport to the resort. Be aware that if you fly in on the weekend, there may be a lot of beach traffic. We booked a private car through the resort (and our driver was terrific; the traffic was not his fault). But the fact that it took so long to get there made me wonder if we had made a mistake booking a hotel so far from the airport. When you are only spending 3 nights, you really want to maximize your vacation time. When I mentioned at check in that our drive out to the resort had been uncomfortably long, I received no apology or commiseration or offer of a complimentary bar drink to soothe my nerves. I thought that was what 5-star service entailed.
I was disappointed with the embajador service. The embajador who showed us to our room on the first day offered to deliver a daily newspaper which we never received. We were not even offered a daily coffee delivery, as other reviewers have mentioned. The embajador also did not know when we had dinner reservations or spa treatments booked. I had spent several minutes on the phone prior to arrival with an efficient employee who handled all of those reservations. I would have expected the embajador to know our itinerary. Once we told her that we had dinner reservations at Encanto that night, I would have expected an offer to pick us up and drive us there, but she did not. These details were small, but I expected more from both the cost of the room and the Ritz's reputation of 5 star service.
The food and beverage service on the beach was a little slow. I think they were lightly staffed, because the property appeared largely empty for the days we were there. There was a bit of a language barrier with the pool/chair attendants. While the beach was mostly empty, allowing for a pretty private experience, be aware that the sand to the water is quite sloped and we found sitting in the lounge chairs to be rather uncomfortable. I wish there had been more flat sand at the top of the beach leading down to the water's edge. There is an area closer to the pool that has a more flat sandy area, but the chairs there are more crowded together. One of the selling points of the plunge pool room for me was the ability to walk from the room's terrace right out to a lounge chair on the beach. It was unfortunate that they were so uncomfortable. Also, dirty glasses with cigarette butts in them were left on a beach table for more than 24 hours. Again, a small detail, but one that bothered me more and more when I considered the cost of the room.
Breakfast service at Mi Casa was inconsistent. One morning we had a lovely server who was friendly and very eager to help. Two other mornings, the service was slow and not as friendly. For example, we were the only people in the dining room one morning and we could not find our server to bring us our check when we were ready to leave. Dinner at Mi Casa was wonderful. The service and food were top notch. We had two dinners at Encanto, which were also great. One night the restaurant was practically empty and the sushi chef came over to talk to us, a personal touch which I enjoyed.
Highlights of our visit included a long bike ride through the property. Be aware that there are a few hills that could challenge you. We also visited the water park and thoroughly enjoyed it. We arrived right when it opened and it was not crowded, and it soon rained, but I imagine it could get very crowded on a nice day. Also, the Encanto beach club pool was very busy on a Saturday evening when we went for dinner. The main pool near reception appeared to be much more quiet and private.
My husband I had tree house massages at Spa Botanico. It is the prettiest spa I have ever been to. You could definitely spend a few hours relaxing here. One drawback was that it rained on the day of our spa visit, so in order to enjoy the warm and cold plunge pools, we had to sit out in the rain. Not a big deal until it started to thunder. Also, although the attendants were helpful and friendly, when I did have a few questions I could not find anyone to help me. My massage therapist was wonderful. I did hear a little construction noise during the massage, but the gentle breeze blowing through the trees made up for any extra noise.
I had wondered which resort rooms were more desirable. I am glad I chose a west beach room, because I could walk out to the beach. The east beach rooms may have a little more privacy, but in my opinion the beach in front of them was unpleasant. It is too rocky for chairs and difficult to even walk on. The sound of the surf pounding on the rocks was just as loud and soothing on the west beach side. We loved the plunge pool, but be aware that there is no privacy; anyone walking by your room will see you. And the pool attendant arrives every morning to provide maintenance, so if you are a late sleeper you might want to make sure your shutters are closed.
Another note about our room: the light in the closet was not working properly. It would flicker and then die. This was problematic because it made it impossible to see into your suitcases; the light from the dressing area was not bright enough to light the closet. We called maintenance and we assume they visited while we were out, but later that evening the light was flickering again, and we had to bang on it every time we entered the closet for the rest of the trip.
Final tip: bring your bug spray! The mosquitos made it uncomfortable to sit out on the terrace by the plunge pool.
Overall, I am glad I was able to experience this resort, but I left feeling like I did not quite get my money's worth. I am not in a hurry to return.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Somewhere between idyllic and perfection sits a Puerto Rico resort of such intimate luxury and rare character, it calls to those who believe every journey should be a voyage of discovery. Once a 1,400-acre sugar plantation owned by the Livingston family, Dorado Beach caught the eye of conservationist visionary Laurance S. Rockefeller, who in the 1950s transformed the lush landscape into one of Puerto Rico’s most exclusive luxury resorts. With its serene coastline, private residences, spa sanctuary, golf courses and a harmonious sense of place that blends masterfully into the natural surroundings, Dorado Beach, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve invites guests to arrive spellbound – and depart speechless. ... more less
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