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Puerto Rico's Top 5 Luxury Hotels

From beachfront luxuriant relaxation to downtown urban energy to rainforest wilderness retreat, Puerto Rico offers a very diverse range of world-class accommodation that has been expanding steadily in recent times - and has been continuing to do so even into 2010 while the resort scene has slowed elsewhere.

Something for everyone among the different interests and tastes that fall under the broader label of luxury traveler is what Puerto Rico has succeeded in providing, with global brand hotel names making their presence apparent from coastal to inland areas. Whatever setting and types of amenities you choose for yourself on this island, its overall great asset is the ease of getting around to further points around Puerto Rico. Consider any of these that represent a luxury brand in their area of the island - along with that ease of reaching beyond to Puerto Rico's many other natural and man-made attractions.

W Vieques - Vieques Island

W Retreat & Spa - Vieques Island, is the W brand's first retreat within North America. Set on 30 acres of beachfront property on Vieques, this new arrival blends the brand's sophisticated signature style and programming with the stunning nature and wildlife of the most well-known of the "Spanish Virgin Islands". The property has 157 stylish guestrooms and suites with private patios and balconies offering expansive ocean views; an exciting epicurean experience at miX on beach inspired by Alain Ducasse, featuring organic, local ingredients handpicked from the island's growers; W Cafe for the on-the-move traveler; Spa Chakra, a serene sanctuary offering seaside yoga and authentic holistic treatments inspired by the island; 24-hour fitness center with top-of-the-line Technogym machines and personal training; W beach's two secluded shorelines; WET splash pool, bar, and private cabanas overlooking the ocean; tennis courts; and Wired, a complete business center. At the highest end of accommodation, guests can check into one of six WOW Suites. As the largest room type at W Vieques, these suites will caterer to the traveler seeking maximum indulgence, presenting panoramic views of the ocean and a private balcony or patio area with direct beach access. Targeting both adventure seekers and those looking for a quieter, more laid back experience, organized excursions are available by land or sea, including mountain biking, scuba diving, snorkeling, fly fishing and deep-sea fishing. Other highlights include nighttime kayaking in the world's brightest Bioluminescent Bay and horseback riding off the ocean shore. For a powerful taste of regional history, take time to visit the world-renowned Conde de Mirasol Spanish Fort, restored into a museum of Viequense culture.

The Ritz-Carlton, San Juan

You could certainly think of this renowned hotel name as occupying the most central of any location in San Juan, given its beachfront address in Isla Verde. The Ritz Carlton, San Juan makes ample use of this idyllic space, being spread out over eight acres to accommodate some 416 guestrooms, most offering either ocean or neighborhood and island views. The main amenities are its four restaurants that span cuisine influences from North American to Continental to Caribbean, the extensive Ritz-Carlton Spa, San Juan with an extensive list of therapies and treatments, an adjacent salon and fitness center, and a 24-hour casino. Onsite outdoor activity is rounded out with tennis courts and available pro instruction, complimentary non-motorized water sport and for simple outdoor relaxation, a huge swimming pool. Room feature highlights include three telephones with dual phone lines and data port; sumptuous marble baths stocked with European toiletries; fully stocked mini refreshment bar; luxurious 100% cotton linens and goose down or non-allergenic foam pillows; plush lightweight bathrobes. The downtown city, the international airport, and the wonders of El Yunque Rainforest are all either just a few minutes driving distance or a very short ride into the countryside.

El Conquistador Resort, A Waldorf-Astoria Hotel

With so much on hand to suit any discerning traveler's needs, there is much you may come away remembering about any stay here, but at least one consistent memory shared by most guests will be of the breathtaking vistas available from every room and many of its public areas. Located on the eastern tip of Puerto Rico near the fishing village of Las Croabas, and dramatically set along the length of a 300-foot bluff, the El Conquistador Resort, The Waldorf Astoria Collection spreads across 500 acres and overlooks the converging waters of the Caribbean and the Atlantic. On its other side of course is the looming outline of the Luquillo Mountains, home to El Yunque's rainforest interior, making for a splendid horizon when you're out on their 18-hole Arthur Hills design golf course here. The resort destination features 750 redesigned guestrooms and suites, and is also home to the recently opened Coqui Water Park; private Palomino Island with its array of water sports and other recreational activities along white sand beaches; a renowned Golden Door Spa; a tour desk offering excursions to San Juan and the famous bioluminescent bay; a casino equipped with table games and slot machines; as well as numerous dining options including an outpost of New York's famed steak restaurant, Strip House. Accommodation at this vast location is divided into five villages, including Las Casitas Resort, a Waldorf Astoria(TM) Hotel, a separate adjacent resort consisting of one-, two-, and three- bedroom style villas with full kitchen facilities, three private pools, as well as 24 hour butler service. The newly designed accommodations throughout the El Conquistador Resort include plasma flat screen television, telephone with data port and WiFi Internet access, in-room safe and mini-refrigerator.

St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort

Among the most prominent world-class large resorts to open in the Caribbean in 2010, the St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort is also the first St. Regis property in the region, and has an idyllic location on a former coconut plantation nestled between the El Yunque rainforest and the tranquil waters of the Espiritu Santo River. Taking full advantage of its outer surroundings, the spectacular 483-acre resort embraces the Island's natural beauty while bringing along its own standards of service and luxury to the Puerto Rico resort landscape, offering St. Regis' legendary Butler Service and featuring Jean-Georges' restaurant Fern, a 10,000 square foot Remede Spa and a magnificent golf course designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr. Designed by acclaimed architectural firm Hill Glazier, the resort boasts 139 luxuriously appointed guest rooms, including 35 suites with private terraces offering spectacular ocean views and 25 private St. Regis Estate Homes. Seamlessly blending Puerto Rico's rich culture and natural beauty, accommodations have been built in low-rise plantation style buildings to harmonize the guest experience with the exquisite surroundings and exotic nature that will be preserved around them. Guest accommodations feature beautiful residential interiors, custom-designed furniture and spacious marble bathrooms, in addition to Pratesi linens and high-tech amenities such as high-speed wireless internet, a 40-inch LCD television in room, integrated television in bathroom mirrors and an iPod docking station. The resort has been thoughtfully developed, ensuring that the local plant and wildlife have not been disturbed, efforts which have already earned it the Audubon's Gold Signature Sanctuary certification. In keeping with its awareness of Puerto Rican culture, signature restaurant Fern offers tantalizing culinary creations prepared with the freshest indigenous ingredients by chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten such as papaya, mango, and coconut. The 10,000 square-foot Remede Spa presents a decadent and unrivalled spa experience with treatment rooms featuring private outdoor terraces, relaxation room, steam and sauna facilities, cold and hot plunge pools, exercise area and a fully equipped state of the art fitness center.

Horned Dorset Primavera

Turn off the world and turn on all the luxuriance of an ultra-luxuriant world-class retreat is the underlying philosophy and onsite approach at this exquisite small hotel located on Puerto Rico's northwestern coast, just two miles from the town of Rincon. The Horned Dorset Primavera is set among rolling hills at the ocean's edge and already renowned for classic European service executed in an atmosphere unique in Puerto Rico. A member of Relais & Chateaux, an international organization of the best small hotels and restaurants, the hotel has already received numerous travel industry accolades as one of the top hotel destinations both within the Caribbean and globally. The guest accommodation is divided into two categories here, with Primavera Suite and Horned Dorset Residences available. All 22 of the Primavera Suites consist of two floors, with a large living room, small marble bathroom and wet bar on the first floor, along with a private terrace with a private dipping pool. On the second floor is a spacious bedroom with a king-sized canopy bed, a master bathroom in marble with a freestanding cast-iron tub, and balconies that look out over the gardens and sea. There are three types of suites: Garden - with a view of the tropical gardens; Partial Ocean View - with views from some windows toward the ocean; and Cliffside - with full ocean view. The 17 Horned Dorset Residences are newly renovated and consist of the same amenities as the Primavera Suites. Because they are historically renovated, they vary both in size and in layout. Common to all of them are king-sized beds, wet bars in marble and black granite, two bathrooms (one with a cost-iron, freestanding tub), and fine views of the ocean. Guest amenities onsite on the seven acres include three pools (including an infinity pool), a gymnasium with modern equipment, an ocean-view yoga pavilion, full range of spa services available in-room, the Restaurant Aaron, and the informal Blue Room and sea-side terrace, serving tropical French and local cuisine.

- Hal Peat

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