Dorado Beach Ritz-Carlton Review: Paradise in Puerto Rico

Katie Riley Avatar

Entrance to the Watermill Water Park in Dorado Beach.
Entrance to the Watermill Water Park, Dorado Beach. Photo Credit: Katie Riley

The Caribbean has no shortage of incredible beach resorts. From the all-inclusive resorts of the Dominican Republic to the exclusive retreats of St. Barths, travelers are spoiled for choice when it comes to luxury travel in the Caribbean.

I’ve been lucky enough to visit a few of them, but one luxury resort has been on my radar for more than a decade: Dorado Beach, a Ritz Carlton Reserve in Dorado, Puerto Rico. Consistently voted as one of the best resorts in the Caribbean, if not the world, Dorado Beach is a paradise of rare proportions.

After a recent visit, I discovered that Dorado Beach not only lives up to its many accolades, but it also makes for the perfect escape for a girlfriend getaway.

Where is Dorado Beach Ritz Carlton?

A Forbes-Five-Star resort, Dorado Beach is set in the exclusive enclave of Dorado Beach, a gated community about 35 minutes from San Juan.

The community is centered around three golf courses, a water park, shopping boutiques, and a 1400-acre nature preserve. At its heart is Dorado Beach, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve.

One of only five Ritz-Carlton Reserve properties in the world, the resort promises a luxurious experience with personalized service, extraordinary dining, and endless amenities.

It’s the kind of place you go for an anniversary, honeymoon, or a splurge-worthy escape. With a friend celebrating a milestone birthday this year, it felt like the perfect place to unwind and celebrate.

A lily pond at the entrance of the Dorado beach.
Lily pond at the entrance of Dorado Beach, A Ritz-Carlton Reserve. Photo Credit: Katie Riley.

Checking in to Paradise

The check-in experience at Dorado Beach begins long before arrival, when the guest experience team reaches out to assist with any reservations, activities, or dining needs.

“Welcome Ladies!” we heard as our doors were opened upon arrival at the resort’s porte-cochere. A team of staff quickly unloaded our bags, welcomed us with cold water and frozen popsicles, and offered to take a group photo in front of a spectacular lily pond.

We were whisked to an open-air reception area with a water feature and a perfectly framed view of the Atlantic Ocean.

We visited Ritz Dorado Beach during the high season in February, when rates are at their peak. As Dorado Beach is part of the Marriott Bonvoy family of resorts, it is also possible to book a room using loyalty points.

We had reserved an oceanfront, two king-bedded room and were informed that although our room was not quite ready, we were welcome to take a tour of the resort and start enjoying the beach and amenities right away.

Communion with Nature

Dorado Beach is located on a former sugar plantation that was purchased by Laurance Rockefeller in 1958. It would become the first of Rockefeller’s Rock Resorts—a collection of luxury escapes founded on the ideals of preservation and communion with nature.

It is apparent at every turn that Dorado Beach upholds the idea that true relaxation is best found in nature. The resort is laid out in an open-air format, with walkways surrounded by lush greenery, and low-lying buildings that are never taller than the surrounding palms.

SheBuysTravel Tip: Although the resort is completely walkable, some restaurants and the spa can be farther afield. Take advantage of the complimentary golf cart transportation. Bell services were always ready to drive us anywhere. Riding around the lush pathways at night to the sound of tree frogs was great fun, and our driver pointed out a few spots that were especially beautiful when lit up at night.

Swim at the oceanfront Infinity Pool, Dorado Beach.
Oceanfront Infinity Pool, Dorado Beach. Photo Credit: Katie Riley.

Guestrooms at Dorado Beach, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve

With 114 beachfront accommodations spread across 11 buildings, there’s not a bad room at the resort.

Buildings front either East or West Beach, with West Beach closer to the two-mile stretch of private beach.

Our ‘standard’ two-king room was located on East Beach and had incredible views of the Atlantic.

The large terrace with dining set and plush lounger was the perfect spot to watch a sunset or unwind to the sound of crashing waves.

The massive bathroom had a double sink, soaking tub, and large walk-in stone shower that also connected to an outdoor shower.

Many first-floor rooms and suites have private plunge pools, and the smallest room on property clocks in at a whopping 950-square-feet.  

Enjoy ocean views from Oceanfront two king room, East Beac.
View from Oceanfront two king room, East Beach. Photo Credit: Katie Riley.

Butler Service

One of the perks of Dorado Beach is the Embajadore program, where every room is assigned a dedicated butler to assist with any needs during your stay. Our butlers, David and Amaryllis, were always on hand to assist with questions, reservations, and provide thoughtful touches like beach bags, buckets of ice, and golf cart transportation when needed.

SheBuysTravel Tip: Take advantage of the complimentary woven slides and beach bags in every room. There is also great shopping at the resort’s three boutiques, each of which offers some beautifully branded clothing and merchandise to take home.

Beach and Pool Area

The resort’s beach is a two-mile stretch on the Atlantic Ocean. The shore is protected by an outcropping of rocks that ensures the surf never gets too rough.

Beach attendants provide towels, sunscreen, snorkeling gear, and buckets of icy cold water daily. Every day complimentary treats are offered on the beach, such as smoothies or frozen popsicles.

We settled right into the deep loungers and enjoyed every afternoon splitting our time between the beach and the resort’s oceanfront infinity pool.

Family-Friendly Features

Though we were visiting on a girls’ trip, we all have kids and were anxious to see some of the offerings for families.

There are miles of paved paths throughout the Dorado Beach community, and complimentary bikes are available for every guest. We took a quick bike ride one morning to The Watermill, Dorado Beach’s massive waterpark complex.

Modeled after a Puerto Rican sugar mill, The Watermill is only open on weekends and shares access with members of the Dorado Beach community. With multiple water slides, pools, and a lazy river with floats, it’s a fun destination for kids who want to burn off some energy.

Another family-friendly pool is also available at the Encanto Beach Club along West Beach, but it is also used by members of the Dorado Beach community.

The Oceanfront Infinity Pool in Dorado Beach.
Oceanfront Infinity Pool: Photo Credit: Katie Riley.

Dining at Dorado Beach

Dining at Dorado Beach is an elevated experience focused on the freshest produce, seafood, and locally inspired dishes.

On our first night, we ate at Flor de Sal, the resort’s newest restaurant which opened in summer 2023. The al fresco dining room is casual, yet refined and the menu is Italian inspired, featuring freshly made pastas, burrata, and locally sourced seafood.

Coa is the resort’s signature restaurant; it is where we enjoyed the best meal of our trip. The menu is focused on steak and fresh seafood, and we loved the briny oysters, seared scallops, and incredible beef tenderloin. Coa is also home to La Cava, one of the largest wine cellars in the entire Caribbean.

Positivo, the resort’s oceanfront restaurant set directly in the sand, serves sushi, tapas, and locally inspired dishes. Positivo also offers pool and beach food service, and we ate lunch every day on the beach, enjoying poke bowls, fresh guacamole, and salads.

La Cucina Gourmet is the resort’s grab and go market and coffee bar.

Enjoy delicious meals at Dorado Beach
Flor de Sal, Dorado Beach. Photo Credit: Katie Riley

We found the food at Dorado Beach to be exceptional, and never felt the need to leave the property for meals during our stay. Every restaurant at Dorado Beach offers outdoor seating with ocean views, a reminder that even while dining, you are in paradise.

SheBuysTravel Tip: Take advantage of the resort’s nightly rum tastings in The Library. Every night a complimentary tasting of the region’s best rums is on offer. As Puerto Rico is considered the rum capital of the world, it makes for a fun activity and a great value.

On-site Amenities

Dorado Beach offers a wide menu of experiences for guests, including on-site activities like stargazing, horseback riding, nature trails, tennis courts, cooking classes, sailing and catamaran tours. The concierge can arrange for several off-site experiences, including tours of Old San Juan, ziplining and kitesurfing adventures and excursions to nearby El Yunque National Rainforest.

The resort’s fitness center was bright, modern, and had top-of-the-line equipment, as well as energy drinks, protein bars, and a meditation garden for unwinding after a workout. Biking, hiking, tennis and pickleball are also available. The 11-mile Rockefeller Nature Preserve is a great way to explore the entire community, while also enjoying the verdant flora and fauna of the region. Dorado Beach is known as Puerto Rico’s premier golf destination and the resort’s three professional courses—one designed by Robert Trent Jones– are a huge draw for golfers.

The Ritz-Carlton Reserve offers a children and family program, Ambassadors of the Environment, which has daily programming for kids, nature seminars and guided experiences for families. The thoughtful activities are designed to engage kids and families with the natural environment, with an eye towards educational experiences.

Take a spa day in Dorado Beach at the Spa Botanico.
Entrance to Spa Botanico, reflecting pool.Photo Credit: Katie Riley

Spa Botanico

If there is one ‘must-do’ of your stay at Dorado Beach, it’s the resort’s incredible spa, Spa Botanico. A five-acre sanctuary in the heart of the resort, Spa Botanico is consistently ranked as one of the most beautiful spas in the world.

Housed in a Spanish hacienda style building that is made to look old, Spa Botanica was built in 2012, but you’d never know it.

Guests enter an open-air apothecary portal with dried herbs hanging from the ceiling, before checking in to an outdoor reception area with cabanas, and a large reflecting pool.

Men’s and women’s changing areas are designed to resemble an old apothecary and a relaxation room offers house-made granola, fruit, and a variety of beverages. Treatments take place in standalone pavilions, or for the ultimate splurge, in one of the spa’s two treehouse platforms.

The grounds include a pineapple garden, meditation area, outdoor showers, and multiple lounging spaces.

The best spot to unwind at Spa Botanica is the water garden with an in-ground jacuzzi, cold plunge tank and plunge buckets designed to douse guests with cold or warm water. Relaxing among the verdant palms and native plantings is an otherworldly experience worth the trip to Dorado Beach alone.

Resort Details

There’s no doubt that Dorado Beach, A Ritz-Carlton Reserve, is an expensive resort, and the $150 per day resort fee on top of the room rate will remind you of that. The resort fee includes Wi-Fi, bicycles, snorkeling gear, all non-motorized water sports, valet parking, access to the waterpark, morning tea and coffee, and a rum welcome amenity.

While the embajadore experience is complimentary for every guest, it is considered standard to tip your butler at the conclusion of your stay.

Located at 100 Dorado Beach Drive in Dorado, Puerto Rico, the resort is about a 35-minute drive from San Juan airport. We did not venture outside the resort during our stay, so we did not rent a car, and booked airport transportation through Puerto Rico Green Transportation.

Katie Riley Avatar
Based in Annapolis, Maryland, Katie Riley is an award-winning journalist covering travel, food and wine, road trips, family adventures ,and luxury escapes. Her work has appeared in Wanderlust, Today, Matador Network, Explore, Luxe Recess, Coastal Style, Chesapeake Family Life and other publications. When not traveling, she can be found boating and exploring the Chesapeake Bay with her husband and three children.
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