“Vinna Katz! Vinna Katz!” called out a robust, tall, stocky gentleman in a neatly pressed white shirt and clean navy blue suit.
I came to Puerto Rico for a brief stay for a wedding. The bride and groom were generous to send a chauffeur to pick me up at the airport.
Jose, the chauffeur’s name, is extremely social, waving to each and every employee, and really, Puerto Rican in sight…
He says to me in Spanish, looking at the distance in a deep baritone voice, “My old man used to say that once people recognize you on the island its because you are getting old. I am now, 57 years of age, and can finally understand what he meant” and then let out a chuckle that sounded like a lightning rumbling.
We sat in the car for about 30 minutes, where he took the time to tell me, “Mira niña, let me tell you about Puerto Rico”. He explained the history, the mountains, the fauna, and even stopped the car to show me a local eagle, which he says, is almost extinct. You could not only hear but also feel the pride he feels for being from Puerto Rico.
“I would never leave this place, and you might not ever want to after getting to see it.” He said as he dropped me off at the St. Regis Hotel Bahia Beach in Rio Grande.
Since I took practically one of the first flights out of Miami to Puerto Rico, I am the the first guest to arrive. As I enter my room, a beautiful suite with ocean view, comfortable bed, fully stocked bar and oh! Gorgeous bathroom that has a rain shower and a deep bathtub, I can’t help but realize that my stomach is growling angrily at me. Feed me! Feed me!
I stroll or more like dance (Caribbean music is playing in the background) down to the pool restaurant, sit at a table facing the ocean, breath in the fresh ocean breeze, and open the menu to find… an American based cuisine? Caesar salad, hot dogs,and hamburgers?
Aaaa! Why? Food for me is part of the experience. I ask the lovely waitress “ What happened to the local flavors?”. She smiled and called over the Sous Chef, Richard Padilla, a situation that most people would feel embarrassed in, I must admit. Richard however, came over and totally agreed with my question and told me he was working on getting the local flavors in, but that meanwhile he would whip something up for me.
15 minutes later and I had, what I truly believe is the best Ropa Vieja Mofongo I have ever had. Mofongo is a typical Puerto Rican and Dominican dish that is a plantain, yucca mash served with “Ropa Vieja” on top, which is a savory shredded beef dish with a tomato base sauce.
Later in the night we enjoyed a beautiful meal at the Jean-Georges restaurant Fern where the Chef Maycoll Calderon took his time to explain everything in beautiful detail. He later in the trip was so kind as to let me film him make a signature avocado pizza.
This personalized treatment is what the St. Regis prides itself with and I can honestly say everyone in the wedding group received.
Things to Do:
- Enjoy the beautiful private beach
- Play a round of Golf, they have a 18 hole Golf course designed by Robert Trent jones Jr.
- Relax and get treated at their 10,000 square foot Remède Spa
- Bike around the tropical property
- Take a cooking class or join a wine tasting
- Enjoy nightly story telling around an outdoor fireplace for both adults and children.
- Have energetic kids? They have a fully staffed The Iguana Kids Club ages 5-12 that is designed to entertain your children with fun filled activities and new friends.