Caribbean St. Regis Bahia Beach's eco-elegance By Michelle Baran / February 18, 2016 Share 1 Freshwater swamps meet saltwater at the St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort. Photo Credit: Michelle Baran -- There is a sense of anticipation that starts to build during the half-hour drive from San Juan Airport to the St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort, situated on 483 acres of unspoiled beachfront on Puerto Rico's northeast coast. One starts to wonder while driving past palm forests and rural farming villages just exactly where one of the most luxurious resorts on the island, and the only St. Regis property in the Caribbean, is hiding.But when guests turn off the humble highway toward the entry gates of the St. Regis Bahia Beach, what they will find is a sprawling resort, golf course and residential community tastefully incorporated into its natural setting.The St. Regis Bahia Beach is an Audubon International-certified sanctuary, meaning the owners are committed to sustainable resource management practices.Along those lines, more than 65% of the property has been set aside to serve as green space.Those areas include a variety of natural environments, including marshes, lakes, a coconut plantation, freshwater swamps, mangroves, a two-mile stretch of sandy beaches and a coral reef, making it a home for several kinds of wildlife, including birds, turtles and marine animals. Guests can learn about the local environment in the nature center located at the resort’s boathouse. Photo Credit: Michelle Baran The result is an added sense of serenity and sustainability that is infused into the entire resort experience.Of course there are the gourmet dining venues and soothing spa treatments that are requisite for any five-star property. But the St. Regis Bahia Beach's natural resources open up a whole host of additional ecoconscious activities and interactions. From the Iguana Children's Club that offers nature walks, bird-watching, turtle feeding and other activities for ages 4 to 12, to the environmental education-focused nature center located at the resort's boathouse, adults and children have the opportunity to learn about and engage with the environment of this lush corner of Puerto Rico, which sits at the base of El Yunque National Forest.The Iguana Club facility is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and costs $80 for a full-day experience and $50 for a half day. But guests can also experience it by walking, jogging or biking the nature trails (with or without a naturalist guide); exploring the bird sanctuary; canoeing or kayaking along the 70 acres of canals and lakes; or ziplining in El Yunque. St. Regis Bahia Beach also offers fishing, paddleboarding, sailing and windsurfing. Although the St. Regis Bahia Beach is a family-friendly property, the family element doesn't take away from its standing as an intimate and romantic couples retreat. An Oceanfront Queen guestroom. Indeed, for those who want to indulge, there is no shortage of extravagances. The smallest of the property's 139 guestrooms are the 674-square-foot superior tropical gardenview rooms, and the most expansive is the 2,510-square-foot governor's suite. Guests can opt for room service or one of four dining venues: the poolside bistro, Seagrapes; the destination for cocktails, the St. Regis Bar; the upscale Jean-Georges restaurant, Fern; and the classy yet more casual alternative, Molasses.Butler and concierge service attendees can help customize and enhance the experience with, for instance, a welcome cocktail served in room or complimentary laundry and ironing services for suite guests.And spa lovers can take the indulgence a step further with a facial or massage at the 1,000-square-foot Remede Spa. The tranquil spa area features indoor and outdoor waiting areas and men's and women's showers and locker rooms as well as several dipping pools, a steam room and sauna. There is also a fitness room and a yoga and Pilates studio adjacent to the spa. Golfers can tee up on the 18-hole course that weaves its way through the resort's natural environments.If guests want to get off property, they can hire a car or taxi to take them to Old San Juan or rent a Land Rover to explore the island on their own.Room rates start at $989 per night. See www.stregisbahiabeach.com.