Fast facts: It is an unincorporated territory of the United States; the U.S. dollar is the official currency; and many people speak both English and Spanish. I was surprised to learn that it’s a huge culinary centre; it’s home to talented chefs and offers local coffee, cacao and rum that go into lip-smacking recipes and awesome drinks.
San Juan, Puerto Rico’s capital city, has Spanish colonial-style buildings, the most historic of which are found in Old San Juan with its cobblestone streets lined with shops, galleries and restaurants. The 195-hectare St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort, one of the top luxury hotels in Puerto Rico, is about 35 minutes by car from San Juan, on a former coconut plantation in a secluded area surrounded by the ocean, rivers and El Yunque National Forest. Guests can tee off at the challenging golf course designed by Robert Trent Jones, Jr., enjoy spa pampering, savour the cuisine of famous international chef Jean-Georges at Fern restaurant, lounge at the pool esplanade or bask on the pristine, sandy beach.
A floating pathway delivers guests to the secluded massage villas of the Remède Spa. (You can go to the spa as a day guest.) After a great 60-minute massage that included a head massage with light oil, and the use of hot stones and hot towels to relax and open the muscles on tight spots in my body, I had access to the women’s-only garden (there is a separate one for men). It houses a steam room, sauna, hot and cold plunge pools, and open-air showers. To cap my day off in style, I dined at Fern on shrimp salad with champagne vinaigrette and grilled octopus with hot black-pepper sauce. Sitting at my table, I gazed upon the ocean as the sun set in glorious pink and orange hues, and felt very fortunate indeed.