RINCON, Puerto Rico -- It's not as if agents who book the Horned
Dorset Primavera here have to twist their clients' arms to visit
and revisit the Mediterranean-style estate, set on seven beachfront
acres along Puerto Rico's rugged west coast.
The Relais & Chateaux-member property already does a healthy
amount of repeat business as well as new business, according to
Wilhelm Sack, general manager.
No matter. This winter, the property has even more reasons to
toot its horn. Its 22 villa suites open their doors this month,
just in time for the high season.
Located on a hill adjacent to the main hotel and connected to it
by an arched stone footbridge, the two-story, privately owned
oceanview units are managed by Horned Dorset.
Each of the whitewashed villas is available in the hotel's room
inventory except during the 30 days per year that the owners can
choose to stay in their own units.
The 1,400-square-foot suites are maintained and serviced by the
hotel; villa guests have the same housekeeping, concierge and room
services as guests in the hotel. In-room massages also can be
A new infinity pool is the centerpiece of the landscaped villa
grounds. Villas are furnished with canopied four-poster beds from
Indonesia; carved wooden desks, armoires, dining room sets, cedar
cabinets and wet bar from Bali; and sconces, chandeliers and tiles
The details have been well thought out: Closet space has been
allocated for women's long dresses; bedside reading lights have
strong wattage; French doors open to unobstructed sea views; and
golf carts are available to transport guests from their villas to
the main hotel.
Stone terraces and an 8-by-10-foot pool off each living area,
along with a large bedroom, sitting area and a balcony overlooking
the Strait of Mona, complete the layout.
Large marble bathrooms, long a fixture in the hotel's guest
accommodations, have Kohler oval tubs, bidets, brass fixtures,
double pedestal sinks and walk-in showers.
Cooking is not permitted in the villas, Sack said; however, a
small kitchen provides counter space for setting up private dinners
prepared by the property's chef or for room service items.
Horned Dorset's policy banning TVs, radios, telephones and Web
access in the guest rooms carries over to the new villa units as
well. Jet Skis and cellular phones also are off limits. In
addition, parents are discouraged from bringing children under the
age of 12.
The Horned Dorset's four-star, dinner-only restaurant, presided
over by chef Aaron Wratten, offers French dishes and tropical
selections from five-course prix-fixe or eight-course tasting
menus. Dinners are priced from $68 per person, excluding beverages
In addition to the villas, other additions this season at Horned
• The Blue Room cafe will serve lunch and dinner from a
bistro-style menu of fish dishes, salads, steak and local items,
according to Sack. "This is a casual restaurant that offers our
guests new choices at meal times," he said.
• The reception area has been enlarged and relocated to a space
within the main building.
• A private catamaran anchored at the hotel's private beach will
offer four-hour cruises for up to 24 passengers. The cruise is
priced at $28 per person. Two-person kayaks are available for rent
for $45 a day.
• The Horned Dorset's workout room has been enlarged.
The bulk of the hotel's business is from the U.S., and the age
range of guests is between 40 and 55. Repeat customers tend to be
older and stay longer, according to Sack.
Sack said close to 30% of the property's guests rent cars, 30%
fly into Mayaguez from San Juan, "and the rest we transfer from San
Juan." Transfers are $65 per person; the cost of transfers is
included in stays of a week or longer.
The story behind the name
RINCON, Puerto Rico -- What does the name Horned Dorset
Primavera come from?
Horned dorset is a breed of white-faced sheep with large horns
and textured wool, originally from Dorset, England.
Hotel owners Harold Davies and Kingsley Wratten raised horned
dorsets at their inn in upstate New York, which they named after
the breed of sheep.
In 1987, the two set out to build a small hotel in the Caribbean
with the same emphasis on cuisine and attention to detail that they
had established 10 years earlier in their Horned Dorset Inn in
They chose Puerto Rico because of its beaches and people. Their
search ended with the discovery of a semi-abandoned guest house on
Puerto Rico's west coast called La Primavera.
They met with lawyers, architects and tourism officials, and the
Horned Dorset Primavera was born. By 1988, a small hotel of 22
suites and rooms was fashioned from the hillside. Five guest rooms
were ready for Christmas.
Meals were served on the ground floor because the second-floor
kitchen and marble-floored dining room were not ready.
In 1992, Horned Dorset became a Relais & Chateaux member; in
1998 the new hacienda called Casa Escondida opened with eight rooms
fronting the ocean, four with private plunge pools and four with
private balconies or roof decks.
The property has won numerous awards, including Conde Nast
Traveler's Gold List for the past four years.
At a glance: Horned Dorset Primavera
Location: Rincon, Puerto Rico. A two- hour drive
from San Juan. Flights also serve nearby Aguadilla and
No. Of Rooms: 31 rooms, including eight in Casa
Escondida; 22 villas.
Gourmet dinner-only French restaurant, Blue Room restaurant and
verandah. Computer center, boardroom, two pools, private beach and
evening entertainment. Off-site excursions, such as whale-watching,
windsurfing and golf can be arranged.
Rates & Commission: Through Dec. 14, from $280 per room,
double, to $1,000 per villa; from Jan. 2 to late March, from $540
per room to $1,500 per villa. Five-night minimum stay required Dec.
20-Jan. 1. Rates range from $595 per room to $1,800 per villa.
Commission is 10%.
Meal plan: MAP (full breakfast and prix fixed
dinner, excluding tip) is included in the villa rates year round
and in the hotel rates in high season.
Packages: Gourmet, honeymoon and getaway programs
available from Classic Custom Vacations.
Reservations: (800) 633-1857