Relax & Renew

Escape to this luxe island getaway for blissful days by the waves.

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If you’ve ever caught a flight to the Caribbean island of Puerto Rico, then you understand its allure for Charlotte travelers. It’s a mere 3.5-hour direct trip to San Juan’s modern airport, but the crystal clear waters and colorful buildings as your plane descends make it feel worlds away. And while no passport is necessary (it’s a U.S. territory), tropical breezes and a distinctly island vibe give the feeling of an exotic getaway. It’s a place you can easily escape for a weekend—but you’ll inevitably want to stay longer.

For the ultimate island escape, book your stay at The St. Regis Bahia Beach. The secluded destination, which was once a coconut plantation, is nestled between the El Yunque National Forest and the sea, and is only a 30-minute drive from historic Old San Juan. But its real appeal comes in that it’s not particularly close to anything.

Set on 483 lush acres, the resort is surrounded by forests, rivers, and ocean. And the 139-room property embraces its rainforest setting with a verdant landscape filled with flowering plants, fountains, and palms. On the way to their rooms, guests wind through the jungle on planked boardwalks past brightly colored birds and precocious iguanas. And while the rooms themselves are beautiful, with dark beams offset by creamy white décor, you won’t want to be inside for long.

Stepping onto your private terrace with its views of the palm-studded pool and the ocean beyond is certain to lure you to explore. There’s no shortage of opportunities for outdoor activities around the resort. More than 65 percent of the property is preserved as green areas, sanctuaries, and nature trails. You can spend hours walking through mangroves and alongside smooth lakes without even leaving the property. Those seeking a challenge can bike or kayak around the resort. For the adventurous, there are zipline tours less than 20 minutes away in the nearby rainforest. And, of course, there are the resort’s two top outdoor draws: its pristine two-mile sandy beach and the luxe Robert Trent Jones Jr. designed golf course complete with its requisite ocean and mountain backdrop.

Everything at Bahia Beach is designed to help you relax and slow down. Mornings are meant for meandering over to what the resort calls its Plantation House, where you’ll find freshly brewed coffee, perfect for sipping on one of its breezy porches. Spend a lazy day around the lagoon-like pool where you can take the occasional dip before pausing for lunch at the bright and airy Seagrapes restaurant. Its grilled mahi tacos taste especially fresh when you’re taking in the turquoise sea views from your table.

And be sure to set aside some time one afternoon to indulge in the resort’s Remede Spa. This serene spot offers a sense of escape all its own. Fountains and lush plants fill the open-air relaxation area where you can soak under warm waterfalls or plunge into refreshing pools as you wait for your treatment. For a euphoric island indulgence, reserve one of the beachside massages where the sound of the nearby waves is likely to lull you to sleep under your therapist’s expert touch.

Evenings at the St. Regis offer a chance to unwind in luxury. Nights begin with a traditional champagne saber toast on the front lawn, where guests mingle over flutes of the sparkling drink as the sun sets. Plan on at least one dinner at Fern, an opulent Latin fusion restaurant on the second floor of the Plantation House with sweeping views of the lawn and beach beyond. The Jean-Georges Vongerichten restaurant features many of the famed chef’s most notable dishes. Don’t skip the avocado pizza, which is topped with delicate slices of avocado, and the bright flavors of fresh jalapeno, cilantro, and lime.

If you prefer your dinner with more of a coastal vibe, catch a golf cart down to Molasses. The chic beachside restaurant offers a taste of local cuisine with plenty of seafood options. And be sure to try the traditional Mofongo, a hearty mix of mashed plantains, caramelized onions, peppers, and salsa with your choice of meat.

Picking the perfect way to end your day at Bahia Beach may be your vacation’s most difficult choice. There’s a cozy outdoor fireplace where children gather for story time and s’mores. And the bubbling oceanside hot tub beckons from beneath swaying palms. But simply sitting on your terrace surrounded by the soft symphony of the chirping coqui frogs and distant crashing waves is the perfect lullaby for ending a day in this secluded spot.

Photos courtesy of The St. Regis Bahia Beach.