In late November, we had a 4 day award stay at the new St Regis Bahia Beach Resort on the NE side of Puerto Rico. We hadn’t been to Puerto Rico in quite awhile. After picking up our rental car, I did remember that in no way did I want to take Route 66 or 3 out west towards the resort; instead I took 187 which is extremely easy to access and is just outside the airport exit. 187 in my opinion is one of the most beautiful roads in all of Puerto Rico, usually one is whizzing by beach/ocean views or driving in a tree/palm canopied area, simply a marvelous way to drive to the resort. There are a few towns one goes through but they have some delicious food shacks that serve local cuisine and beers for a VERY cheap price. The entrance to the St Regis is on 187. A normal drive will take 30 minutes but if leaving during busy traffic times, plan on 45 but no more than an hour. There is resort shuttle (we noticed a couple using the resort’s Lincoln Navigator for their airport transportation). I do now know the cost for utilizing the resort’s airport transportation option. Cost to valet is $22 per night, there was no self park option that I was aware of. Edited to add: I wouldn't take 187 all the way from SJU to the resort at night, you miss out on all the beauty. Two large iron leaves mark the entrance to the resort. After a short curve, one comes to a very large gatehouse with substantial wooden gates. An attendant will come out and ask your purpose for visiting. They will then check the list, open the gate and provide directions as to how to get to the Plantation House, which is the heart of the resort. After making the last curve, we came upon the Plantation House, a large two story square wooden building with a 2nd story balcony surrounding it. There are two large square koi ponds on either side of the walkway to the House, along with multiple flaming cauldrons (gas flame). The wooden door into the House is a monster of a door, but swings easily if there is no one to open it for you. After opening the door, you’ll look through the seating area for the Plantation House bar, onto the great green lawn which stretches to the beach and then the ocean, BEAUTIFUL. There are two check-in sit-down desks, no usual counter check-in. We were offered either champagne or mimosa; I think that you could ask for a different drink if you wanted as I noticed some others upon check-in drinking a glass of wine (or sangria). As a plat I was told we were upgraded to a luxury room from our award reservation (which is a standard room). A note about the rooms. A standard room is a single room that contains the bed, TV, etc, they are 740 sq feet. The other classes of room are an Astor or Luxury, the layout on these is basically the same all through the resort, these are 1200 sq feet rooms with a full separate sitting area (living room), bedroom, HUGE shower room with both an wall mount and overhead mount, (if including the large tub, the room is 15 x 20), a full 2nd bathroom w/shower, and a bar area with bar sink & college dorm room fridge with not much mini-bar items in it so there is plenty of room to put your own water, beer, champagne in it. The difference between an Astor & Luxury room is Astors are located on the garden level with a patio as opposed to the Luxury which is either on the 2nd or 3rd floor with a balcony. Our luxury balcony contained a table with four chairs as well as a couch with hassock. This seemed to be the case resort wide. There are only a few grand suites, more on those later. At check-in we were informed that we were to receive a free movie per night of our stay. Even though this was an award stay, there a resort fee of $55.05 (plus $4.95 tax) brings the total resort fee to $60 per day. After check-in we were introduced to our bellman who escorted us & our luggage to our room. The individual buildings (which for Luxury rooms contains 4 to 6 Luxury units (depending upon height of building)) are all connected by a wooden walkway which for most of it’s length was 1.5’ above the surrounding ground. The walkway is wide enough to allow a golf cart and a single person to pass. It can be a bit of a hike to the further buildings. Music speakers are situated every 10’ or so, pumping out smooth jazz world pop music. On a personal note I found this ok during the daytime but at night when the sounds of the jungle are prevalent, turn the music off is what I kept thinking each time I was on the walkway, it takes away from the tranquility. We were told the resort was 85% full while we were there, that said we normally didn’t pass any other guests but almost always passed various workers going about their jobs. The one gripe (besides the night music) I have is during busy evening times (like 6:30pm), there are multiple carts whizzing along delivering rooms service; it quite disrupts the peaceful walk to the Plantation House. I fail to see why a ‘cart only’ path couldn’t have been constructed a bit further out from the buildings so that this cart issue wouldn’t occur. The business center is in located in the conference center building in a room called ‘the office’. There are 3 HP PC’s as well as a high speed copier/printer for one’s use. There are 6 buildings that have ‘unobstructed’ views of the ocean, I put ‘unobstructive’ as these buildings are some 70 yards from the beach, in between lies a combination of lawn, as well as lots of palms/trees. There are no rooms which sit right on the beach/ocean. Personally I think this is a good thing. Two of the buildings are to the west of the Plantation House. The furthest building to the west is the Governor’s building which contains the 3 ultra large 2500+ sq feet Governor’s suites. I doubt one would ever get upgraded to these from a base reservation, but one could hope. The other building just to the west has luxury rooms described above. There is a similar building just to the west of the Plantation House. While the views might be nice from both of these buildings, personally I think that the buildings are too close to the Plantation House so one would perhaps smell the restaurant smells as well as hear guests, however I did not stay in these buildings so I can’t say for sure. Further to the east are 3 more buildings that have ocean views. All are called Casa Atlantico so if you have a room in these buildings, you’ve done well. The furthest building away from the pool/Plantation House has rooms 1211, 1212, 1213, 1214, 1221, 1222, 1223, 1224. The ocean view building just to the east of this has rooms 1111, 1112, 1113, 1114, 1121, 1122, 1123, 1124. The ocean view building just the east of this building and next to the pool area has rooms 1011, 1012, 1013, 1014, 1021, 1022, 1023, 1024. Our room's AC system was very loud, changing the fan speed did nothing to change the loud 'whooshing' noise of the air being forced through the vents. We still were able to sleep, just not as quiet as I would have expected a St Regis AC system to be. Speaking of the pool, it is a multi tier pool with lots of curves so that one isn’t looking a football field of chairs. The pool chairs are quite wide and very cushy which is a pro. The only con is that the hinge of the chair is mid torso, so if one is 5’ 10” or greater, your back will be bent in the upper section rather than at the hips, if I slid up the chair so that I was bent at the waist, my upper shoulders and head were above the cushion and therefore I could not rest them. Very poor design. For shorter folks & kids, this won’t be a problem. There are 9 cabanas at the pool, as well as a few beach cabanas. I didn’t think much of the pool cabanas but the beach ones were quite nice and away from the grouping of beach chairs. The chairs at the beach are a metal chaise lounge type chair, with wide plastic straps (much firmer & wider than avg beach lounge chairs. We found this very comfortable. There was generally one bar open at the beach, 50% of the chairs had a service flag one could raise to indicate you wished service. The beach is what I would call a working beach, it is brown coarse sand. There is a tractor that hauls a sweep/pick up trailer behind it to sweep up the bits of plastic, glass and other man made materials that will wash up on the shore. The ocean had good sized waves, I don’t picture this beach to be a good swimming beach but if the wind shifted from the south, perhaps the waves would calm down. There always seemed to be rough chop in the water, so I don't think this is a good snorkeling beach/location either. The ocean has a green color here due to the waves and shallow bottom. The St Regis has one of the largest beach fronts of the resorts I’ve been to in Puerto Rico, but it also has the same problem. Lots of trash outside the area where the sweeper cleans. Tires, 5 gallon plastic buckets, plastic water bottles were all washed up when we took our ½ mile stroll down the beach away from the resort. This should be cleaned up, period, no excuse for the trash not to be picked up. The remainder of the buildings are situated in a roughly in a shallow U shape behind the Casa Atlantico buildings and pool area. This is where we were. We found our room to very quiet and enjoyed sitting out on the balcony listening to the frogs/jungle. The walkway that the carts use it is a shallow U behind all the buildings. All rooms face the ocean with the exception of a couple of buildings called golf view rooms. These a ‘far away’ from the House and beach, personally in no way would I want one of these rooms. We had a spa afternoon, Mrs. Sweet Willie enjoyed the mani pedi she received and I really enjoyed the massage. In the same building that houses the spa is the workout room, I looked in and saw 4 elliptical trainers as well as 4 treadmills. I did not see much in the way of resistance/weights but as I said, I only looked in. The mani was $30, pedi $75, 60 minute massage $165. Also offered are couples massage, beach front massage and in-room massage. There is no lounge; breakfast is served at the Jean-Georges restaurant Fern located on the 2nd floor of the Plantation House. It did have some of the most delicious French toast I’ve ever had. There are perhaps 12 tables out on the balcony facing the ocean, a very nice place to take breakfast. There is quite a bit more seating inside. At night if it is windy, they have large shades that can be lowered to fend off the wind. We did dine one night at Fern; after all it is the famous Jean George, so one has to right? The menu consisted of: Starters ($14-19, foie gras $25): Rice cracker crusted tuna, spicy scallion sauce Salmon tartare, avocado & ginger dressing Butternut squash soup, mushrooms & chives Steamed shrimp salad, tender greens, avocado & champagne dressing Black pepper octopus, sweet onions & aji dulce Peekytoe crab cake with ginger marinated chironja & cilantro Foie gras brule with pineapple-lemon jam A couple pizzas: black truffle & fontina cheese or mushroom & goat cheese Mains ($29-45) Slow cooked salmon, mashed potatoes, Brussels sprouts & truffle vinaigrette Roasted Grouper, aromatic black beans, avocado & scallion Wood roasted Maine lobster w/local oregano & lemon Parmesan crusted organic chicken, salsify & lemon-basil sauce Rack of lamb w/smoked chili glaze, broccoli rabe & leek fondue Grilled pork chop w/bok choy, green chili butter, mint & lime Beef tenderloin w/gingered shitake mushrooms, soy-caramel sauce A tasting menu is offered as well for $78, which included starters of tuna, fois gras, soup, and mains of grouper, tenderloin. Also one could choose from a number of different meats (salmon, snapper, lobster, chicken, pork chop, lamb chops, beef tenderloin) as well as some various sides. For both of us the ultra hit of the night was the black pepper octopus, TERRIFIC !!! We also dined a few times at Sea Grapes, the pool side restaurant. Good sandwiches, decent pizzas, delicious smoothies. We wanted to end our evening with one of the free movies but on each of our nights, Lodgenet was not working so no movies, quite a bummer. Our butler stated a case had been opened with Lodgenet and they were working on it but it didn’t help us on our stay. We had brought in some beer & a bottle of champagne to enjoy. The room’s bar did come with some nice options (wine & champagne was ½ bottles, hard liquor was 375mls): La Crema Pinot Noir & Sonoma Cutrer Chardonnay ($18), Don Q rum, Chivas Regal, Bailey’s, Patron Silver (roughly $15). A few different kinds of beers/cans of soda ($5), Fiji water ($4). The bar did come with 2 pieces each of glassware: rocks, tall, wine, champagne as well as a wine opener and a muddle stick. Missing from the bar area was a small knife so I could cut some limes up. For supplies, less than 5 miles away is a Walgreens (very nice as I actually needed a prescription filled), a supermarket as well as some various fast food outlets (McD’s, Burger King). Also less than 10 miles away is El Yunque rain forest national park (good for some hiking) as well as one of my favorite beaches anywhere, Luquillo. Luquillo is a public beach so don’t go on weekends when it will be packed. It is an old coconut plantation. A ¼ mile down Luquillo beach, one can access various food shacks for cold Medallas and cheap grilled eats. I had the pleasure of speaking with the manager David, a very warm person who in my opinion really had a passion for the property. We spoke about service overall in Puerto Rico, (which has increased in its quality IMO), their strategy was to hire younger (so no bad habits) and mould these folks into the St Regis service philosophy. It has worked, there were a couple service errors (nothing too terrible) and overall the service level here is fantastic for Puerto Rico. Lots of warm smiles & can-do attitude. We overheard a few comments about how long things took but this never happened to us and quite frankly these folks sounded like the type that are never pleased anyways. The property is only 3 weeks old, so there are still some signs that it is newly opened. Along the walkways, one can see a bit of construction debris (cut wood, odd cement chunks) but this is rare, not common, as most construction has been cleaned up. There are a number of palms on the property & by the pool, that still have their 2x4 bracing on them to hold them up until the roots take hold. Again, with time the bracing will be removed. There were a number of dogs on the property, clearly strays. While most were always off in the distance or would move away, I did see a dog that was spooked by a stroller, bark at the couple that was walking along the path, I’m sure not too comforting for those guests. Some days we didn’t see any, some days we did. While we very much enjoyed the food at the St Regis; I do dislike only dining at a resort, so we asked the concierge for some nearby restaurant suggestions, stating local, not polished atmosphere places were ok with us. He recommended Riche’s Café ( www.richiescafepr.com ) and printed out directions. I looked at the Google directions and they seemed ok to me. So we started out, knowing that some good restaurants in Puerto Rico are tucked away in spots, we searched for 50 minutes before calling the St Regis via cell phone. Within 3 minutes I realized that I knew exactly how to get to this restaurant and that the directions were totally wrong. In my opinion the concierge should have EXACT directions and know for certain that the directions they are providing are accurate. BTW, Riche’s Café was a really fun place; it is on an open air restaurant on a tall hill top overlooking the some buildings to the ocean. Our mains of pork tenderloin w/tamarind glaze, & skirt steak charrasca with chimichurri sauce & a guava BBQ sauce were delicious; this hit was the appetizer of baby conch served in a warm garlic sauce (I’m going to be dreaming about this one for awhile) The only other service issue that bugged me was there were times were NO ONE was available via phone. At 6:30pm I tried to call valet, our butler & the front desk. Not one person answered with me giving ~20 rings. Of course when we walked to valet there were 6 guys standing around, not one near the valet phone. Then at 10pm, I tried front desk, no answer. I was able to get a hold of our butler and she said she would try. She couldn’t locate any front desk staff. I rarely golf on vacation, the golfers I did speak with raved about the course. So if you are a golfer and didn’t bring your shoes/clubs, the St Regis has them there for you. There were quite a number of young children at the resort, all seemed very happy partaking in the St Regis kids club and seemed to enjoy their ‘care-taker’. We requested a 'late' check out of 1pm and it was granted no problems. While it was the most costly award stay we’ve had with SPG to date, it was a fantastic stay and we can’t wait to get back.