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The St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort, Puerto Rico [Master Thread]

The St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort, Puerto Rico [Master Thread]

Old Nov 21, 19, 10:57 am
  #466  
 
Join Date: Jan 2013
Location: BOS
Programs: AA EXP, DL PM, Hyatt Diamond
Posts: 1,990
Originally Posted by TDRAL View Post
Do not plan to eat at the hotel, the food just isn't that good. The Paros restaurant at the hotel was very disappointing. So there's a strip of restaurants about a 15 minute drive from the hotel. The best two are La Parilla and Terruno. Our favorite was Terruno. The best higher end dinner we had (near-ish to the hotel) was in Fajardo at Restaurant Pasion por el Fogon. Also, don't sleep on El Verde BBQ.I would also consider taking an hour drive into Guavate for a pig roast, but you want to go very early (around 5-6pm) much later than that and it shuts down.
Thanks for this! Looking at Google Maps, all of these restaurants look to be 45+ min away - is there some route that Google doesn't identify? 15 minutes is do-able for dinner, but 45+ every day isn't. For example:

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Old Nov 30, 19, 10:58 am
  #467  
 
Join Date: Oct 2014
Programs: AA CK; Marriott Plat
Posts: 83
It seems the elite breakfast benefit has changed from full buffet to continental only - any idea when this change happened?
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Old Dec 1, 19, 10:03 am
  #468  
 
Join Date: Jul 2017
Programs: UR, Marriott, AA, WN, Chick Fil A Red
Posts: 179
We have a 5 night stay here with our kids (2, 5 and 7 yo.) I know theres a water activity area for the older kids, but are there any other recommendations for things to do?
NeGourmand is offline  
Old Dec 1, 19, 11:00 am
  #469  
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: Washington, DC
Posts: 609
Originally Posted by NeGourmand View Post
We have a 5 night stay here with our kids (2, 5 and 7 yo.) I know theres a water activity area for the older kids, but are there any other recommendations for things to do?
There's the kids club that has activities every day, sometimes several times a day (lots of art activities, sports, walks, etc). They also are open most all day every day and you can just drop in to do an activity or play video games. When you check in, head to the concierge desk and they can print you out a calendar of all the events happening while you are there. On Friday and Saturday nights, they also have movie night where you can drop the kids off for a fee and they'll do dinner and a movie from 6-10 so you can have time away. There's a minimum age though I think of 3 or 4 - I don't think actually the age matters as much as if your youngest is potty trained.

Some fun ones for kids besides the kids club are the daily 6pm Koi pond feeding at the main entrance and make smores at the fire pit a few times a week. You can also feed the ducks, turtles and fish at the Wellness Center anytime they are open - just ask for the fish food at the front desk there. And of course, you can take them kayaking and biking (they have kids bikes with training wheels and also have trailers to put behind adult bikes). Our kids also love the water course in the middle of the lake, but that's better for your older kids. You may also want to bring a kite (always windy there) and some floats for the pool and sand toys for the beach - they sell there but at StR prices (if you are renting a car, stop at Ralphs or Walmart and you can get some there as well as snacks/food/drinks).

Hope that helps. We've been there 3 times now with our similarly aged kids and they are always asking when its time to go back.
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slariz is offline  
Old Dec 1, 19, 11:19 am
  #470  
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
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Originally Posted by callmedtop View Post
Thanks for this! Looking at Google Maps, all of these restaurants look to be 45+ min away - is there some route that Google doesn't identify? 15 minutes is do-able for dinner, but 45+ every day isn't. For example:

https://www.google.com/maps/dir/St.+...18.3804451!3e0

Sorry that no-one responded. I don't know why it is taking you all the way around, unless something happened to 187 going the other direction, whichi is how I have always gone to RTE 3.
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Old Dec 1, 19, 12:42 pm
  #471  
 
Join Date: Jan 2013
Location: BOS
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Originally Posted by Score8 View Post
Sorry that no-one responded. I don't know why it is taking you all the way around, unless something happened to 187 going the other direction, whichi is how I have always gone to RTE 3.
Strange - thanks!
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Old Dec 6, 19, 9:43 am
  #472  
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: New York, NY
Programs: Marriott Bonvoy Lifetime Tit, Hilton Diamond, BA Gold, Carlson Gold, UA*S,
Posts: 1,326
Among the finest of properties on the island situated in the tropical waters of the Caribbean and Atlantic is the St Regis Bahia Beach resort which has undergone a $60 million renovation since Maria wrought destruction on the property.

All of the hotels 139 rooms along with the surrounding swimming pools and beach area have essentially been rebuilt from the ground up.

Situated about 30 minutes drive from the island’s capital San Juan we drove through several small villages which have all but been abandoned after the hurricane passed through. It means that upon arriving at the beautifully landscaped resort you are essentially in a bubble: one of luxury and tranquility.

The St. Regis is proud of its history having been started in 1904 by John Jacob Astor - the first property being in New York City. Such heritage is remembered nightly in Puerto Rico as one of the hotel’s Butlers uncorks a bottle of champagne using a sword!

Guests gather on the back lawn of the property just after sunset as the ocean waves crash against the shore.

After a sip of champagne it was time to feed koi swimming in pools at the front of the hotel. A nearby heron watched closely as youngster fed the fish.

The entire resort is situated in lush jungle foliage with 12 buildings full of guest rooms and each linked by wooden walkways that run through the rainforest. At night the sounds of frogs called coqui’s which are endemic to the island can be heard chirping away as they try and find a mate.

Aside from the frogs which are rarely seen, other jungle wildlife are often seen about the property. We saw several bright iguanas darting in and out of the foliage and climbing up the trees.

By the time daylight arrives the chirping has calmed down and the full beauty of this resort is bathed in sunlight for all to see.

The rooms have been designed by Puerto Rican designer Nono Maldonado who decided to accentuate the resorts proximity to the sea in its design. Each of the suites and rooms are decorated in soothing colours of blue, white, turquoise and grey. It makes for a relaxing feel the moment you walk through the door to escape the heat and humidity, even in mid-November!

Some of the rooms overlook the ocean, while we were able to enjoy the garden view. Opening the patio allowed us to walk directly into the beautifully manicured tropical grounds.

Breakfast is served poolside at the Sea Grapes restaurant, with a whole range of cold cuts of meat, fish, fruit, bread, pastries and egg dishes. Food from the restaurant can also be enjoyed throughout the rest of the day poolside.

On the weekend that we were there, the hotel was said to be a capacity due to a wedding, but it never felt full at any point, with plenty of space to be had wherever we were with more than enough sunbeds to choose from.

It’s just a short walk from the pool area, across a lawn, to reach the soft sands of the two mile Baha beach. Puerto Rico is so far south that even in the middle of autumn, the ocean water feels like a warm bath.

If sitting by the pool or wading in the warm waters are not your thing there’s plenty of other activities guests can enjoy including kayaking through the jungle streams or waterboarding on a nearby lake.

Younger guests can enjoy themselves at a specially dedicated kids club set aside from the main adult areas of the resort.

Come dinnertime, there is no need to leave the resorts grounds. We had several meals at Greek restaurant, Paros where we enjoyed everything from salmon, lobster, branzino and even the children’s spaghetti tasted fantastic.

Local Puerto Rican food can be had at the nearby Beach Club restaurant. I tried mofongo - a dish made from fried plantains, fried, then mashed with salt, garlic, broth, and olive oil.

The staff at the St. Regis are known as Butlers. Each day they would iron several items free of charge for us. Service is one of the things the hotel prides itself on, and the staff were exceptionally attentive whether we were eating in one of the dining rooms or sitting on a lounger by the swimming pool.

Also on property is a spa that comes with sauna, steam room, jacuzzi and cold water plunge pool. The spa is also sat in the most luxurious, jungle type setting.

After the hurricane struck two years ago, many residents decided to leave the island for good, and headed to the relative safety of the United States.

Some joined other family members living in Florida or New York where the Puerto Rican diaspora thrive. But tourism officials are keen that they still draw visitors whether it be to sample the islands beautiful colonial capital San Juan or simply to enjoy some downtime with guaranteed sunshine, year round.

In terms of what was not so good at the resort...

  • Maintenance - For a resort that had a $60m refurbishment, there were a couple of issues with maintenance. The shower by the steps to the main pool was clogged every day that we were there. After people had used the shower, the water didn't drain away. I don't know if it was clogged with sand or what, but it just left a cold puddle!
  • Bathroom hygiene - The ladies bathroom was out of paper towel on several occasions throughout the days when visited. The floor was also often wet - and the overall impression was that they didn't look particularly new.
  • Concrete block - In the Sea Grapes restaurant, the pillars that hold the roof up are sat on concrete blocks which several guests, including myself, slammed their knees into! The server even admitted that guests often did it on a daily basis as they fail to see how the brickwork just out. It was very painful! Surely this needs some kind of padding or maybe painting a different colour so that they stand out more?
  • Misc charges - We were charged $1.50 for a Tylenol pill. It just seems ridiculous to charge anyone for that especially when paying an $85 resort fee. Also it was impossible to get a Tylenol from anywhere but the spa. After it closes at 7pm, it was not possible to obtain simple medication.
  • Food pricing - Overall, I felt the pricing for food around the resort, particularly at Sea Grapes was VERY expensive. A ceasar salad was $17 and this was without any add-ons such as chicken of shrimp which was a further $6. For $17 this should be among the best salad i've ever had... but it was just pretty average and the lettuce was limp. The dressing tasted bought and not freshly made.
  • The mahi-mahi tacos cost $18 for two tiny tacos with tiny tiny pieces of grilled fish! Outrageous actually for that kind of money. Why is the resort charging prices that are more expensive than New York? It's $18 before tax and service. Particularly on simple items like the salad, it really feels like a rip-off. Are prices in Puerto Rico very expensive? Surely not on simple stuff like salads?
  • At breakfast, I enjoyed the spread but it was never replaced fast enough or just left to get cold. The roast potatoes were bland and cold despite being under a heat-lamp. The smoked salmon was almost always empty and when replaced just 9 pieces would arrive! Each guest normally takes 2-3 pieces (without being greedy) so after three guests, the place needs replacing again! Really frustrating.
  • Also at Sea Grapes, the Quesadilla was not well made either. It was loaded with cheese instead of a gentle amount.
  • I was also disappointed that the juices at breakfast were not fresh. I would have expected the orange juice at the very least to have been freshly squeezed.
  • Sunbeds - I would have liked to have seen comfier sunbeds and a maybe a permanent member of staff down by the beach. Something nice with cushions would be more pleasant. It seemed rather windswept and abandoned.
Johnny Rocket is offline  
Old Dec 6, 19, 9:46 am
  #473  
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: New York, NY
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Posts: 1,326
Very colourful piece here - https://www.dailymail.co.uk/travel/a....html#comments
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Old Dec 7, 19, 2:30 pm
  #474  
 
Join Date: Jul 2017
Programs: UR, Marriott, AA, WN, Chick Fil A Red
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Originally Posted by slariz View Post
There's the kids club that has activities every day, sometimes several times a day (lots of art activities, sports, walks, etc). They also are open most all day every day and you can just drop in to do an activity or play video games. When you check in, head to the concierge desk and they can print you out a calendar of all the events happening while you are there. On Friday and Saturday nights, they also have movie night where you can drop the kids off for a fee and they'll do dinner and a movie from 6-10 so you can have time away. There's a minimum age though I think of 3 or 4 - I don't think actually the age matters as much as if your youngest is potty trained.

Some fun ones for kids besides the kids club are the daily 6pm Koi pond feeding at the main entrance and make smores at the fire pit a few times a week. You can also feed the ducks, turtles and fish at the Wellness Center anytime they are open - just ask for the fish food at the front desk there. And of course, you can take them kayaking and biking (they have kids bikes with training wheels and also have trailers to put behind adult bikes). Our kids also love the water course in the middle of the lake, but that's better for your older kids. You may also want to bring a kite (always windy there) and some floats for the pool and sand toys for the beach - they sell there but at StR prices (if you are renting a car, stop at Ralphs or Walmart and you can get some there as well as snacks/food/drinks).

Hope that helps. We've been there 3 times now with our similarly aged kids and they are always asking when its time to go back.

We just left the resort today, and found your posting very helpful. It really is an excellent resort and Id not hesitate to return. One suggestion I might make for others is to be sure to book transportation in advance for return to the airport if not renting a car. Out of curiosity, I checked Uber/Lyft a few times, including the Saturday we departed, and there were no cars available. Quite the way to ruin a trip if it caught one by surprise. I used the same company suggested earlier in the thread, Island taxi, and they were reasonable and on time. $70 o/w from resort to SJU.
NeGourmand is offline  
Old Jan 3, 20, 7:35 am
  #475  
 
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: Formerly Box 350, Boston Mass, Oh two one three four
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Posts: 3,465
2 weeks away, and we will have a car. Looking for driving day trips from the property. Already taking a Rain Forest tour, but looking for beautiful vistas, quiet beaches, amazing nature sites. Not planning on Zip-lining, or boat trips or similar.

Where can we get in a 2-3 hour drive (each way)? I see things like "Silver Seas Beach" and "Bosque Estatal de Ceiba Natural Reserve" relatively nearby and other nature sites further to the south
Out of my Element is offline  
Old Jan 3, 20, 11:06 am
  #476  
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 502
Originally Posted by Out of my Element View Post
2 weeks away, and we will have a car. Looking for driving day trips from the property. Already taking a Rain Forest tour, but looking for beautiful vistas, quiet beaches, amazing nature sites. Not planning on Zip-lining, or boat trips or similar.

Where can we get in a 2-3 hour drive (each way)? I see things like "Silver Seas Beach" and "Bosque Estatal de Ceiba Natural Reserve" relatively nearby and other nature sites further to the south
We liked Window Cave. a small drive out. nice little tour. We didnt realize until it was to late but they have a huge observatory / telescope thing on the drive to window cave but unfortunately it had closed by the time we were done with the cave.
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Old Jan 3, 20, 11:17 am
  #477  
 
Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: YVR
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Originally Posted by nocod View Post
It seems the elite breakfast benefit has changed from full buffet to continental only - any idea when this change happened?
I've been going here since it first opened (and the first year SPG didn't have breakfast for Elites). Breakfast was always continental, so if they ever extended you a buffet it was courtesy from the restaurant. They do have the alternate resort fee amenity of $10/day for F&B as well though.
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Old Jan 3, 20, 11:56 am
  #478  
 
Join Date: Jan 2013
Location: BOS
Programs: AA EXP, DL PM, Hyatt Diamond
Posts: 1,990
Just got back from 5 nights here (12/27 through 1/1). A good stay overall. A few thoughts:
  • The property itself is as beautiful as everyone here reports, and is quite green and lush
  • The hotel was fully sold out for the holidays. Our SNAs, requested 11 months prior, did not clear, and we received the room we booked (Deluxe Garden, one step up from base)
  • ~75% of guests were families with small children. I came into the stay expecting this given the holidays, but man was it annoying
  • We had to fight for pool loungers every morning, as by 9am every single chair was 'occupied'. This appears to be yet another resort where people put a magazine on a chair to claim and then show up hours later. I can't stand this. I ended up tipping the pool women daily to handle my chair 'reservations'. Really just a miserable, low-class practice.
  • F&B was fine, but unremarkable. Seagrapes was the worst of the lot - food was bad. Paros was good, but not great (and expensive for what it was, even relative to resorts). The bar had a sushi set up most nights for the festive season which was actually quite nice. The Beach Club's food was good, but service was a disaster. We had to make reservations for all of our nights given the hotel was sold out.
  • Waiting in line for breakfast just feels so down-market. Breakfast felt like a cafeteria with all of the kids running around. Food quality was OK but felt 4* at best. The $9 hot food upcharge is fine but feels cheap. Shoutout to Felipe, the head chef of the property. He dealt with my dairy allergy in a very friendly, professional, and caring way, and was an absolute stand-out of the trip.
  • The concierge, especially Dineys, was fantastic - Dineys might be the single best Concierge I've ever experienced in my travels
  • Service in general was friendly and better than I expected, but its still on island time. A few employees stood out as excellent, and a few others were quite rude.
  • The room was nice enough, but maintenance issues already. One of the sinks would barely drain, the hot water stopped working on NYE as we were trying to get ready for NYE dinner, etc. The giant shower is such a disappointment; what a waste of space. If you're going to dedicate that much space to a shower, why not make it a luxurious experience with multiple showerheads, a bench, etc.? As it stands, half of the shower room doesn't even get wet. What is the point?
  • We loved the StR Bar and had some great cocktails there. The ambiance both inside and outside is quite nice and enjoyable
  • For NYE they offered a $135pp buffet. We skipped as we are light eaters and I have a dairy allergy which is always tough on buffets. We went to the Beach Club instead for dinner, and then joined the NYE party afterwards (cash bar). They had a great local band and fireworks at midnight. It was nice but felt like a mid-tier wedding. Nothing special but also not bad.
Ultimately this was a good stay and on points how can I really complain given the $2K/night rate they charge over the holidays. The holidays are a tricky time, because rates are insane, families with kids are aplenty, and service standards drop. So, that's probably biasing my takeaways, but:
  • This is a very well-run resort given the challenges of dealing with so many families/children at high occupancy. Service was not amazing, but it was good enough given its location (we're not in Asia!) and occupancy levels
  • I will never stay at a resort like this over the holidays ever again
  • Having stayed primarily at small, boutique resorts over the past few years (Amanpulo, Amankila, Aman Sveti Stefan, Amanoi, Carmel Valley Ranch, Alila Jabal Ackdar, Four Seasons Dubai, etc.), I really was spoiled - this felt like a glorified Westin in comparison. A lot is likely due to the holiday timing, but it was just a totally different type of experience. Paying $2K/night here when you can pay less at any of the other places listed (even during festive season) is absolutely criminal.
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Old Jan 3, 20, 5:57 pm
  #479  
 
Join Date: May 2007
Location: WAS
Programs: UA GS, AA EXP, WN A-List, Hyatt Glob, Marriott Amb, Hertz PC
Posts: 1,072
Does this resort still take SNAs? Not showing up as an option. I had an issue for a reservation in December that I ended up canceling (said they were unavailable and no one at Marriott could help me despite requesting 6 months in advance).
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Old Jan 5, 20, 3:41 pm
  #480  
 
Join Date: Mar 2016
Posts: 32
a very mixed experience

My wife and I left yesterday after a 5 night stay. Overall, our experience was pretty disappointing.

First, the Positives:
  • Landscaping - the foliage is amazing and even though you could pretty regularly hear some type of internal combustion engine working to maintain it, the "Garden View" room is wonderful. Especially when considering there didn't appear to be any units with plunge pools or impressive sea views. Relatedly, the jungle noises (i.e. frogs) at sunset are really wild; the first night we thought some type of in-room noise maker automatically kicked in because the sounds were so crisp and pronounced.
  • Beach - the sand is soft and it's long in both directions so good for a several mile daily walk / run if appealing to you; we walked all the way to the town of Vieques the first morning.
  • Room - modern and updated with a very comfortable chaise lounge on the porch for enjoying the scenery. We enjoyed the oversized shower / tub area even if it was a little wasteful in terms of space.
The Disappointments:
  • Guest Demographic - as a few other posters have mentioned, this place is set up to serve families, especially those with small children. We've stayed at a few other St Regis beach locations and this is the first where we've noticed such a specifically targeted clientele. A few examples are: (1) no dedicated Adults area of the pool, (2) little to no alcoholic drink service on the beach, (3) uninteresting (bordering on juvenile) food menus, (4) insufficient seating at SeaGrapes (the main food destination for all 3 meals), and others.
  • Service - maybe I'm being too harsh given the time of the year, demographic, and the occupancy, but to me its unacceptable to not get any response from the Butlers. At a minimum, all requests should receive "Sorry we can't accommodate this" but for 2 of the 3 requests we made, we received absolutely no feedback at all. One of the requests - tickets to the NYE party - was a bummer for obvious reasons. The other (box of matches) struck me as pretty straightforward and achievable for folks who are supposed to be known for getting basically whatever you want.
  • Marriott - "as a titanium elite, you can have the continental buffet except for the salmon and bacon" lol; this seems small and maybe even pedantic but why not move those items to a separate area to avoid sounding so low-scale? Are we really doing continental buffet carve-outs now?
    • I've come to terms with the fact that SNA's are mostly useless; I realize they wouldn't have processed at this level of occupancy but the hotel wouldn't even allow me (or Marriott customer service for that matter) to set them up to try. I wish I'd just donated the 50 night award instead of wasting it (again) on the SNA's.
  • Accounting - we had full buffets each day (paid the $9 hot breakfast surcharge) yet ended up with different bills 3 of the 5 days. this was sorted out at the end with the front desk, but it really shouldn't be so hard. We also had a ~$140 mysterious room service charge on our bill that was removed at check-out as an "error" but if we didn't point it out it wouldn't have been removed. And don't get me started on the resort fees...
  • Food - the buffet was your standard StR buffet but the rest of the food at the resort is flat out not good. Given StR's reputation we were really surprised at first until it dawned on us that the average age they're cooking for is ~12 years old.
A couple other thoughts:
  • For two reasons, definitely rent a car for transport:
    1. Ubers are unreliable and the local taxi services know they have a captive audience so up-charge you pretty steeply.
    2. More importantly, you'll want to leave the resort to eat if you plan to be there for any more than 3 days and renting a car will allow you to drive over to Loquillo to try out the kiosks.
  • Generally speaking, the people working at the resort were lovely and I don't want this review to indicate otherwise. The main reasons for our dissatisfaction seemed to be some combination of a lack of personnel / process training, failure to staff up during a peak period, and a general misalignment of the resort's product versus our expectations.
My wife and I have done a lot of travel chatting over the last year and I think this stay finalized our decision to pivot away from full Marriott loyalty. I'm inclined to think part of the demographic here was the byproduct of the Marriott merger (although, candidly, it was our first "American" StR stay), the elite benefits clearly deteriorate as each year passes, and it just doesn't feel like our travel goals align with Marriott's intended product. Furthermore, Hyatt's position is getting more and more appealing as they pull in the boutique SLH locations so after the StR Mauritius early next year we'll probably be done for a while. Oh well...it was a decade of good fun!
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