St. Regis Bahia Beach (SPG): Pools, Cabanas, Food and More

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One weekend in late July my husband and I headed out for an adventure at the St. Regis Bahia Beach in Puerto Rico as part of the Amex SPG Stars program.  I talked about the room suite, service, and check-in in this post, but this installment is dedicated to the really good stuff…the resort grounds and other nearby activities.  As part of the SPG Stars program, I got to give away 30,000 SPG points last week, and the bill for the flights and room cost for this stay for my husband and I were picked up by the program.  Our ground transportation, activities, meals, etc. were on our own dime(s).  I truly do not think that the resort knew us from any other guest on the property, but it is important you know the background of the trip.

Video Review of the Property:

As as we did in Part 1 of this review, the Mommy Points team (you know, my husband, daughter, and I) are trying to move into giving you a new way of seeing what we see at various properties and locations around the world.  So, we have cracked open “Video Production 101” and made a short video of some of the things this resort and the surrounding area has to offer.  We still need to upgrade equipment (especially a mic!) and get more practice, but hopefully you will hang with us while we get better at this and enjoy what we have to offer now in the meantime.  If you have some suggestions of what you want to see more of in these videos, let me know!

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I’ll continue cover most of what is in the video in written format as well since I know videos are not the preferred communication method for some blog readers.

The Pools:

I know I should probably start with the beach when writing about a beach-front resort, but we got more enjoyment out of the pools, so we will start there.  The pools at the St. Regis Bahia Beach are multi-leveled with small waterfalls cascading from one level to the next.  This was pretty neat as it allowed for each individual level to not be overcrowded since there were essentially several smaller pools.  On the upper most pool there was a zero entry section that allowed for the families to have a great and safe (shallow) place for their children to play.  In fact, I would estimate half of the people at the pool the day we were there were families.

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There was no shortage of seating or umbrellas on the weekend we were at the resort.  There were also servers who frequently came by to see if you needed any food or drinks.

Cabanas:

We shelled out a very hefty amount of money to secure a cabana by the pool for the day.  On the one hand, this was totally justified as our elaborate plan for that day was to simply lay by the pool.  We wanted to be sure we had a good place for our stuff, and ensure that we had sufficient shade to not walk away from the day as red as a lobster.

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This is one of the “family size” cabanas. We had a “couples cabana”.

I think we mistakenly assumed it would be hard to secure a shaded place by the pool for the two of us.  Had we known in advance how easy that was, we likely would have not reserved the cabana for $300.  That price only secured us the cabana itself, the two lounge chairs outside the cabana, two waters, and a bowl of fruit.  We also had “butler service”, but in truth it seemed everyone at the pool had very attentive service.  Contrast this with our stay at the Grand Hyatt Kauai where a poolside cabana was free since it was our Diamond amenity choice.  Had we paid out of pocket there, it would have only been $50 – a far cry from $300 (though in fairness this cabana is better equipped).

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Inside the “couples cabana” by the lower pool

Included bowl of fruit

Included bowl of fruit

 

Price aside, it was very nice to have a private and shaded spot for the day.  We made the most of it by spending virtually the entire day enjoying the pool, as well as the ocean that was less than 100 yards away.  My understanding is that they do offer 1/2 day cabana rentals during the week, so that might be worth considering if price is a consideration, or you don’t think you will spend the whole day by the pool.

The "couples" cabanas like the one we had for the day.

The “couples” cabanas like the one we had for the day.

View of the ocean from the cabana.

View of the ocean from the cabana.

The beach:

The St. Regis Bahia Beach is located right on two miles of beach, and it offers exceptional views and sunsets.  We found the ocean to be a bit rough for children or inexperienced swimmers the days we were there, but it was still fun just being near the water.

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There are many chairs and huts/cabanas located near the water so you can enjoy it even if you don’t want to hop in.  The beach was very clean and offered fantastic views even if you stayed shore-side.

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On-site restaurants:

I’m fairly certain I gained 5 pounds at this hotel because the food and drinks were so delicious.  Like all things at this St. Regis, the food and drinks were pricey, but your taste buds will thank you…your skinny jeans may not.  The hotel has three on-site restaurants, Fern, Molasses, and Seagrapes.  Because of the pretty secluded location of this resort, we ate at all three.  Fern is located upstairs from the lobby area and is where we had breakfast daily, as well as dinner the first night.  The service was consistently very attentive and the food was delicious.  We had the crab cakes and the local grouper with black beans and avocado.

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Dinner entrees are largely in the $30 – $40 range, with mixed drinks around $16 each.

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Seagrapes is located by the pools and is the best alternative for an informal meal or snack, but the menu was somewhat limited.  The setting is beautiful, but the prices aren’t lower just because of the informal atmosphere.  Other than that, I have only good things to say about the food and service at this restaurant.  This is also the restaurant that services the pool and cabana areas.

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Molasses is located in the golf clubhouse, and is where we dined on our final night at the resort.  To get there we were driven by golf cart since it would have been quite the hike in dinner clothes and shoes.  The food here has a Caribbean influence, and the pork/plantain dish I had was full of Caribbean flavor.  The cucumber martini I had must have been full of Caribbean alcohol as one was more than enough!  Again, the service at this restaurant was exceptional and we saw a mix of couples and families.

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I will also add that SPG Platinum status gets you either the Continental Breakfast at Fern that includes fresh squeezed orange juice, coffee, pastries, and fruit, or a $16 credit toward any menu item.  I had the Continental Breakfast both days as it was totally sufficient, but my husband opted to “upgrade” to things like massive french toast!

Included SPG Platinum Continental Breakfast

Included SPG Platinum Continental Breakfast

Massive and delicious french toast (bacon not included)

Massive and delicious french toast (bacon not included)

Nature Center and Water Sports:

There is an on-site Nature Center and boating dock that offers kayaking, paddle boarding, snorkel equipment etc. as part of your $60 daily resort fee.  My husband and I did some kayaking and catch-and-release fishing.  We didn’t catch anything, but the kayaking was a ton of fun and a great way to start the morning.  At the nature center you can also secure bikes to use for a quick ride around the property.

Golf and Tennis:

I am not a golfer, but I can tell you that the golf course on this property is beautiful.  The resort fee includes use of the driving range, but playing the actual course costs extra.  The resort fee also includes access to some tennis, up to a maximum amount of time on the courts.

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El Yunque and Beyond:

This hotel is just a few miles from the El Yunque Rainforest.  We have visited El Yunque on a previous trip to Puerto Rico and had a great time swimming in small pools and going on an ATV adventure.  However, this time zip lining caught our attention, so we ended up almost an hour away doing the “Original Canopy Tour” in the La Marquesa Forest.  This was on the recommendation of the concierge at the resort as he said it was the best “intermediate” course.  It included transportation to and from the resort, it was certainly beautiful, and we enjoyed some of the longer portions of the zip line quite a bit!

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Kid’s Club:

While we did not use it on this trip, the property does offer an Iguana Kid’s Club for children ages 5-12 that posts that they offer “a program that incorporates an educationally based St. Regis children’s play center and video games for older children, while a separate area offers a variety of stimulating activities for younger guests.”

Overall Impression:

There is no doubt this resort is beautiful and the level of service at a St. Regis is beyond the Westin and Hyatt Regency type properties that I am used to visiting.  Of course, all of this luxury comes at a price either in dollars, points, or both.  Even with our stay provided by the SPG Stars Program, we still spent a pretty significant amount of money during our two nights just taking advantage of some basic things around the resort and eating.  We didn’t even make it to the spa during our time there and our bill was still pretty hefty.

I absolutely recommend this resort as long as the expenses you will incur while there won’t detract from your enjoyment of your stay.  If you have a stash of SPG points, you can use 30k of them per night and spend your cash on enjoying the food, drinks, and activities the resort has to offer.

The St. Regis Bahia Beach had a very healthy mix of couples, groups, and families all around the resort, so there seemed to be something for everyone.  If you have been, I’d love to hear your favorite (or least favorite) aspects of the resort.

Comments

  1. I think you should do a better job of disclosing the amount of the resort fee. It is $65 per day if I remember right. It adds up substantially over a multiple night stay, so that even a “free” stay on points ends up costing a significant amount out-of-pocket.

    I guess Amex picked up the tab for you, but not disclosing the exorbitant fee is poor form and only adds fodder to those who claim such complimentary trips lead to biased blogger reviews.

  2. Wayne, glad you liked the video and how cool you did the same ziplines!
    AgendaGuy, I make no secret of the costs of this resort. They are high both for the resort fee as well as most everything else there that isn’t already included. The resort fee is absolutely discussed in the video, but you are right that particular fee needed to be explained more in the post itself. I’m still getting the hang of double checking what I have covered in posts with both text and video and trying to make sure the most important parts are in both in case someone either only watches or only reads. Anyone who saw the video certainly heard about the $60 per day resort fee. I had also mentioned the resort fee in the post, but it is now listed with more detail. Certainly not trying to hide any costs about this joint – just still getting used to listing info in two places in the same post.

  3. Why does SPG pay for your trip if the whole point of your blog is to find ways to take advantage of their services without paying anything?

    • Cogswell, it is a part of the SPG Stars program that several other bloggers have participated in including One Mile at a Time, Loyalty Traveler, Johnny Jet, and more. I think the purpose of the program is to get more info out there about SPG hotels, the SPG credit card, etc. They are fully in support of people getting and using co-branded cards like the SPG Amex to earn points to stay at SPG hotels, so our missions align there. I personally said yes so that I could be a part of the massive SPG points giveaways they allow bloggers to do (just gave 30k SPG points away last week with more to come later this year) and to continue to gain first hand knowledge of hotels/resorts you can stay at with points. I had never been to a St. Regis before, but now can offer some thoughts to families or couples considering the trip when I otherwise wouldn’t have been able to do so. So, part of the goal of the blog are tips on earning points and part of the blog is offering tips on where/how to redeem points and what may or may not be worth it. Apparently the SPG program thinks those are good enough goals to go along with. We’ll see if I get invited back next year or not!

  4. Thanks for the explanation. Although it does make you question how they are actually making money if they are so eager to promote free stays, which in turn makes you question how much all of these points are really worth. I guess with a resort like this which charges such astronomical fees, add-ons and food/drink prices, that’s where the money is made.

    • Cogswell, while they may or may not be profitable on every single user, there is no doubt that the co-branded credit cards are profitable for the companies as a whole. Because of that, they are supportive of more people learning about and using their products. At least that is my best guess. 😉

  5. “O think the purpose of the program is to get more info out there about SPG hotels, the SPG credit card, etc”

    come on. the purpose of the program is to get bloggers to write gushing reviews of how well Starwood treats them and how awesome they are. Thats the reason. the sole reason. Bloggers already promote honest reviews of stays when they travel to SPG properties. and we all know they gushingly promote the AMEX card when those referral links are popping. This is strictly to get positive brand and hotel buzz.

    Loyalty Traveler noted that he wasn’t invited back this year… after posting some negative stay comments in his review. i wonder why

    Its clearly quid pro quo – thats why this exists. its a form of paid advertising. but please spare the whole “i agreed to take the trip only because they would give my readers 30k points” BS that all the other bloggers wrote. If everyone felt so strongly that this is why they entered the program, then they’d pick up the winner’s share of the taxes on the “free” giveaway

    • James, I’m sure they would prefer gushing (honest) reviews, but the program is not put on by individual hotels, so I think they care more about getting word out about the brand/products in general. Hopefully honest reviews that point out the pros and the cons will suffice, as that is what I am offering. As I pointed out, I said yes both to be able to give away points + increase the number of properties I have personal experience with. I don’t read my reviews as solely “gushing”, but perhaps we differ in that opinion.

      I also did think about offering a gift card or similar to go to the winner of the contest to offset any tax implications, but thought of it a little late in the game to make any difference in the first giveaway. Not sure if that would jive with the contract I have with them for this year, but I do plan to at least inquire before the next giveaway, as I would happily do something similar to that.

  6. The continental breakfast offering that you received looked pretty limited. No cereal /yogurt/ bread etc?

    Most of the SPG properties I’ve stayed at have been very generous with their offerings, but I did come across a property where they studied the back of the plat breakfast card coupon and brought exactly the minimum. nothing more, not even a refill on the juice.

    • The cont breakfast was 3 pastries, fruit, fresh juice, and coffee. I actually liked it, but it was limited. You can use the value to upgrade to something else which is what my husband did both days.

  7. I believe internet service is part of the resort fee? As a platinum guest, that would already be included anyway. What did they offer instead of internet service as a platinum benefit?

    • Michael, I don’t recall an alternate benefit, but it is possible there was something I’m not remembering at this point.

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