Dorado Beach Culinary Getaway: A Memorable Stay In Puerto Rico

We can all agree that some vacations really stand out. For me, a type-A foodie, this lies in the details and noshes. A recent visit to Dorado Beach, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve, for the annual Culinary Getaway sealed the deal as one of my all-time exceptional experiences.

Just 40 minutes from the San Juan airport is a secluded 1,400-acre sanctuary facing three miles of pristine aqua coastline. Rich with history, the property was once owned by Clara Livingston followed by Laurance S. Rockefeller. It currently serves as a luxurious getaway just a short hop from the continental United States.

Upon arrival, you will be whisked through the massive gates to be greeted by hotel staff with freshly made fruit ice pops in the open-air lobby for check-in. An embajador, your personal concierge, will provide a quick tour and escort you to one of 100 guestrooms. The property remains environmentally friendly, accentuating the lush surroundings and using them as a muse for the flow of walkways and buildings, many of which are hidden among coconut and pineapple palms. Single guestrooms are located in two-story bungalows, all situated to provide breathtaking views of the Caribbean. Many open directly onto fine white sand of the beach and have a private plunge pool. All are appointed with grand, floor-to-ceiling glass doors, allowing your room to be one with nature. Staff anticipate your every need and make sure that all requested amenities and items you didn't even know you needed, like an afternoon fruit and brie plate, are always at your fingertips.

At night, fall asleep to the lull of waves crashing against the rocks through the screened plantation shutters. Outdoor showers and deep soaking tubs with picture windows are also standard, along with spacious floorplans and a mini bar. If you are traveling with a group or prefer solidarity, Dorado Beach also offers private villas and even the five-bedroom hacienda that was once the Rockefeller residence. The accommodations were so elegant and cozy that I could have spent my entire trip in my room and been perfectly content.

But, alas, I ventured out to the magnificent property that Dorado Beach has to offer, such as three golf courses, an 11-mile nature walk, private waterpark, two luxury pools, and, of course, their flagship restaurant Mi Casa, one of Puerto Rico's most acclaimed eateries by chef, José Andrés. Spa Botánico is unlike any spa you've ever visited. Try a massage in a treehouse or a hammock, followed by a quick dip in the alfresco pools and waterfalls.

The extravagance is plenty but gets taken up a notch for one special weekend a year known as the Dorado Beach Culinary Getaway. Hosted by José Andrés and flanked by his famous chef friends, it is a weekend that will delight all of your senses. It starts with a welcome reception complete with paired wines, food, and conversation, followed by an electric party full of Puerto Rican flare. Celebrated local chefs prepare their most extolled dishes in the form of small bites and current food trends, like the comeback of French terrines and foie gras, along with octopus and tripe. You'll hob knob with culinary elite like renowned television personality Anthony Bourdain, legendary New York Michelin star chef Eric Ripert, and the master of burning food himself, Tim Love. Dancing goes late into the night, but make sure to get a good night's sleep for the days ahead.

The following days are full of intimate gatherings at the historic Su Casa hacienda, lively and interactive cooking demonstrations, book signings, and even a five-course meal prepared by all of the famed chefs. But the one event that can't be missed — the one that will change your life view on cooking forever — is the Chef's Discussion.

Set in the second floor living room of Su Casa is a lime green couch and on it will sit four of the most notable chefs of our time. The lights are dim, the iberico ham, gourmet cheese, and charcuterie are plentiful and somehow your glass of bubbly never dips below half full. Photos on the wall include wayward pineapples and Amelia Earhart, who frequented this same room (and some say was the last place to be seen before her disappearance). The chefs sit down, drink in hand, and begin to banter like old friends with the audience. A truly memorable evening; this event alone is reason enough to make the trip.

Between it all, laze at the pool, dine at other fine restaurants on the property, or hire a car service to take you into Old San Juan, up Pig Highway for pork on a spit or to see history at Castillo de San Cristobal. You can choose how much or how little you want to do at this breathtaking location.  

Whether you plan to visit on a relaxing vacation or want to join the fun on the Culinary Getaway to Dorado Beach, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve, visit