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Eco, Chic!by Paul Rubio | Miami magazine | April 24, 2012
For those who think they’ve seen all Puerto Rico has to offer, think again. With the opening of The St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort (stregis.com/bahiabeach), the brand’s first Caribbean outpost, the Isle of Enchantment has introduced a rare hybrid of luxury and ecology along the coastal foothills of El Yunque National Rainforest.
Though “going green” has been trending for some time, the scene has never played out quite like this. Taking root in a 483-acre oasis, The St. Regis Bahia Beach exhibits a groundbreaking form of natural selection, where utmost extravagance thrives within a fragile ecological habitat along Puerto Rico’s northern coastline.
For its arduous environmental efforts in design and operation, the resort has achieved status as an Audubon International-certified Gold Signature Sanctuary. A sanctuary indeed. A labyrinth of wooden walkways blanketed by thousands of towering trees connect rustic-chic houses hosting guestrooms and suites. The camouflaging earth tones and rich woods of the low-rise casitas recur indoors, augmented by splashes of greens and creams. Plantation houses flank the northern reaches of the property, loosely lining Bahia Beach, a 2-mile stretch of gold sand, frequented by massive leatherback turtles during nesting season.
While the fun-in-the-sun beach-pool combo (and all associated trappings) make the Caribbean irresistible, it’s refreshing to see a place that’s so much more. The majority of the resort’s vast non-beach acreage is dotted with meticulously maintained lakes and mangroves, creating a refuge for native flora and fauna to thrive. With three biologists on site, the agenda here consists of more than pampering, splashing around and butler service. Guests eagerly partake in early morning bird watching, adventurous kayaking and inspiring ambles on four nature trails… before retreating to a rich fold of amenities synonymous with The St. Regis name.
And, for those wondering how these features take shape here? Well, the pool twists and turns across two pristine acres, forming small coves that attract the appropriate cliques of honeymooners and modern families. Crashing waves of the Atlantic help form a picturesque poolside backdrop, a view that again resurfaces along the Robert Trent Jones Jr.-designed golf course, oceanfront guestroom terraces and the property’s house bar and signature restaurant, Fern.
A Jean-Georges Vongerichten concept, Fern—its name inspired by the 50 fern species on property—pulls from the best of the iconic chef’s restaurants worldwide while throwing some native delicacies into the mix. Those keen on sampling authentic Puerto Rican flavors should also check out Molasses—and prepare for the mouth-watering explosion that is the mofongo relleno de camarones (plantain mash with shrimp).
Indulgences of a different sort extend to Remède Spa. Reflection ponds headlined by elaborate unisex alfresco courtyards and lush gardens to get you “in the zone” link this entire complex. Here, as in every other spot of the property, the hotel has taken its eco-chic mantra to new heights. And there’s no resisting the call of the wild.