We just returned from our annual getaway to the Horned Dorset in Rincon, Puerto Rico. We have done this for so many years that we could make the two to two and a half hour drive from San Juan to Rincon with our eyes closed, but it could be tricky for a new guest without a GPS in the car.
We have stayed in several hotels, all inclusive resorts and very exclusive resorts in the Caribbean and enjoyed them all for what they were designed to be, but the Horned Dorset is the only one we come back to repeatedly for the quite serenity and simple beauty. It’s a little pricy, but absolutely worth every penny. Over the years we have stayed on the North and South ends of the property, which make up what I would call Spanish or hacienda style residences on the North and a more Mediterranean look and feel on the South. It is two very different feels, but the same attentive service. Our room was actually a two level suite with two full baths including a sumptuous master bath with marble from floor to ceiling, white porcelain free standing sinks, a footed tub large enough for two and a walk in shower. Overall, I think it must have been about 1400 square feet. It had a small kitchen, ice maker (a really good idea if you like having lots of ice) and a private patio and plunge pool facing the Caribbean (we were right on the Straights of Mona, about 20 feet above the beach on a bluff that gives you an exceptional view of the coastline all the way to Mayaguez and sunsets to die for). The hotel staff is always there when you need them, but do not hover over you. Maybe you give up the extra drink at the beach from time to time, but the trade off in privacy is worth it. Overall, the service was warm, welcoming and attentive.
If you are looking for a lot of nightlife “in” the hotel like the Marriott in San Juan, then this resort will not satisfy you. It is designed for people like my wife and I who work hard for months on end and just want a place to relax and get away from society. We want a place that will pamper us as if we are the only people in the universe, not just another room number. Even though there are casinos and nightclubs about 15 minutes away in Mayaguez, we rarely go there unless we go with friends who are looking for entertainment. There is a wonderful golf course along the ocean’s edge about 30 minutes away. And there are plenty of other things to do if you get out and about (this trip I went fishing for Blue Marlins out near Desecheo island on the Contender Fishing Boat, scuba diving (also near Desecheo with Taino Divers), and snorkeling near Steps Beach). We also went out to eat a lot on this trip which is very unusual for us. We had wonderful food at all sorts of places from the English Rose for breakfast to Banana Dang’s for coffee and sandwiches at lunch to some outrageous dinners at the Ode to the Elephant, Casa Islena, Pools, a Sushi and Martini bar at the intersection of Rt115 and Rt429 (I have forgotten the name), The Tropical Bar on 115 as you enter Rincon from Anasco and the Harbor Restaurant. We were going to try some others, but ran out of time. And I have to mention Mango’s, a truly unique gift shop with clothing, sea glass jewelry, surf board rentals and a place to simply set down and do nothing short of taking a nap. It has to be a stop for anyone who goes down Rt413 (the “Highway to Happiness”) between Rincon and Aguadilla and wants to step back into Malabo circa 1965.
Inside the grounds of the resort there is little but peaceful bliss and the beauty of a botanical garden with over 150 varieties of flowers and other exotic plants. In the Primavera Suites near the front gate there are no clocks, TV’s, radios, newspapers or contact of any kind with the outside world. If you need to stay connected to email and the daily news, bring your iPhones and laptops, because the resort frowns on this kind of thing. Just don’t bring it to the pool or beach and disturb the guests who are escaping to a different sort of world. The north side of the resort has all the other trappings and that is why we prefer the Primavera Suites.
There are not enough superlative words to describe the Horned Dorset. For us, it represents everything we are looking for from abject beauty (more so in the summer when there are more flowers in season) to the comforting atmosphere. Even when the resort is full to capacity we rarely see other guests because the property has three main pools, a small and intimate beach and a plunge pool for every suite. The beds alone are enough to keep you in the room. They are the most comfortable I have ever slept in.
There are other reasons for us to come here, which seem more mundane, but it builds up to the overall experience. In all the years I have come here, I have never been bitten by one mosquito. The resort is clean from one end to the other which is a detractor at other locations where we have stayed. The flooring in the rooms is a type of tile that invites you to take off your shoes and walk on them. The temperature of the air is always between 80 at night and 95 in the day. The beach water temperature is perfect for swimming and snorkeling. The skies are blue and the afternoon rain showers are brief.
If you are cost conscious, you can find other suitable accommodations in and around Rincon. At the Horned Dorset you will not see any sign of cash or a financial transaction until you appear at the front desk for check out. Your bill will be neatly tucked into an envelope. All you do is sign and depart. No worry about this or that. I have never found a mistake on the bill and it has always amazed me how they can keep track of such things like drinks at the beach or a snack by the pool.
If you don’t want to make the drive, you can always fly into Aguadilla airport (an old SAC Air Force Base or take Cape Air from San Juan to the Mayaguez airport. Everyone should know that you could go from one end of Puerto Rico to the other in about three hours, so nothing you do is really that far away. There are good roads on the north and south of the island and a lot of times we travel south from Rincon to Ponce (see the old fire station) and then up through the mountains towards San Juan to get to destinations on the east end of the island like the rain forest, the mangroves or the bioluminescence bay.
If you stay in the Primavera Suites and want to stay connected, we have found that most of the major cell phone carriers provide good phone and Internet service. Just bring your Internet connector for your computer. We have seen people use all sorts of devices to do the things they enjoy. Just be mindful to not disturb the tranquility of this little slice of heaven.
I think that the people who enjoy the Horned Dorset the most are people who come here to decompress from work or want a romantic getaway. A number of people have come here to get married or celebrate an anniversary. Since they don’t allow children, I don’t think a traveler will come here looking for entertainment for their kids, so it will be adults. If you are looking for an action packed adult adventure, it is not likely that the Horned Dorset will be your cup of tea. But if you want privacy, intimacy, seclusion, and quiet relaxation with a good book and perhaps a local drink under a palm tree, try the Horned Dorset. You might find yourself coming back again and again like we do. We looked up airfares for a return trip in December or January and I think we are going to choose early December. Of course, this is entirely up to my lovely wife. For my part, I will provide all the attention she deserves when we get by to our slice of heaven.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The Horned Dorset Primavera is a small luxury hotel located in northwestern Puerto Rico, two miles from the town of Rincon. It is set among rolling hills at the edge of the beautiful Caribbean Sea and is known for reserved European service executed in an atmosphere unique in Puerto Rico and the award-winning Restaurant Aaron. The hotel is a member of Relais & Chateaux. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Horned Dorset Primavera Rincon
- Horned Dorset Primavera Puerto Rico/Rincon