Opened in november, the St. Regis Bahia Beach sets a new high-water mark for Puerto Rican resorts. The 483-acre property, which is about 40 minutes by car from Old San Juan, encompasses two miles of private sandy beachfront; a golf course designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr.; a 10,000-square-foot, marble-swathed spa; and 139 low-slung, plantation-style accommodations, 35 of them suites with verandas overlooking the sea. The lush grounds, on a former coconut plantation, include a native-plant nursery that also grows fruits, vegetables, and herbs for Fern, the resort’s Jean-Georges Vongerichten restaurant.
Bahia Beach is St. Regis’ first foray into the Caribbean, and, despite the hotel’s size, the company seems to be stepping carefully. The developers of the resort, which is bordered by the Espiritu Santo River and El Yunque rain forest, planted more than 70,000 native and naturalized plants, created a network of aquatic habitats and preserves, and set aside space for an on-site bird sanctuary. Visitors can also venture out to view wildlife: Bahia Beach offers bird-watching trips to El Yunque and snorkeling excursions along the coral reef just offshore from the resort. St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort, 787.809.8000, www.stregis.com