What We Love
- Daily continental breakfast is included in the Jetsetter rate
- From sweet plantains to fresh fruit, almost all produce is grown on-site
- Refrigerators are stocked with free snacks, soft drinks, local beer and Puerto Rican coffee
- Impossibly beautiful golf course, complete with caddies, is set on high bluffs above the surf
What To Know
- A daily $30 resort fee and a 10 percent service charge will be collected at the Jetsetter checkout
- Lots of daytime activities, but virtually no nightlife, with few guests, no town and just one restaurant
- Rental car is recommended for exploring nearby beach towns
- There is a local airport, but the drive from San Juan is all highway and much easier than it looks on paper
- Free WiFi
- Golf Course
- Parking On Site
- Room Service
Modern 18th-century Caribbean. The ruin-like tower on the golf course and the castle-like stone main building, “La Casa,” are so convincing you might think this was an old sugar plantation in Jamaica or Barbados, but everything is brand new. The hotel occupies just a small portion of the property’s 2,000 acres; Royal Isabela’s greatest design element is open space. From the moment you enter, through a huge stone arch that connects one garden with another, most of the resort space is outdoors, including a circular open-air stone palapa bar with tremendous sea and sunset views and a restaurant with an outdoor dining terrace. Likewise, the casitas are individual compounds indoors and out, with huge terraces, plunge pools and floor-to-ceiling sliding glass windows. These are terraced into a lush hillside of streams and waterfalls surrounding a large central free-form swimming pool, all of which sits above a private beach.
Bed and Bath
Each of the 20 casitas is terraced onto a hillside just above the Caribbean, with a split-level layout. The interiors feature tile and wooden floors, high ceilings and floor-to-ceiling windows that open onto private terraces with plunge pools. Four-poster beds are draped with decorative netting, while separate living areas are well equipped with coffeemakers, WiFi and refrigerators full of free snacks, soft drinks and Puerto Rican beer. The bathrooms are a highlight, done up with long double vanities, tubs made for two and walk-in rain shower rooms that have mirroring sets of controls, myriad nozzles and a second door that opens directly to the outdoor plunge pool.
Royal Isabela’s 18-hole oceanfront golf course is a showstopper, with even the inland holes, including a terrific island green, supplying an inspired game for both pro and novice. In the main house the single restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, with an emphasis on local produce (much of the food is grown in the property’s own gardens), seafood and inventive twists on traditional Puerto Rican cuisine. Otherwise facilities are limited; there’s a library, an outdoor bar, tennis courts and a private beach at the base of the cliff. Across the highway is the rest of the property, a family farm in a river valley, where guests can hike, bike and kayak.
In the Area
This corner of Puerto Rico is one of the world’s hotbeds of surfing; Kelly Slater sealed his 10th world championship here during the 2010 Rip Curl Pro Search. Neighboring Aguadilla and nearby Rincon are both famous surf spots, and have more developed towns with lots of bars, restaurants and shops. The resort can arrange lessons or you can try the Rincon Surf School. In Aguadilla, Aquatica Dive & Surf offers surfing lessons as well as scuba diving and standup paddleboard rentals. For a change of pace from resort dining, don’t miss surfer favorite One Ten Thai in Aguadilla, which also grows most of its own produce and combines Puerto Rico’s most authentic Thai cuisine with its largest selection of craft beers, plus frequent live music.
How to Get There
Sometimes you find a little corner of this world where just for a few days everything stops and you can just relax in incredible surroundings with staff who are passionate about making your stay perfect - welcome to Royal Isabela. The casitas are simply stunning with a huge bathroom and a shower which is big enough for you to get lost in. The private deck on each casita with a plunge pool is just fantastic especially when you take in the incredible view out to sea. Food at the restaurant is full of flavour with just the right mix of local or more familiar dishes always served with a fantastic smile and attention to detail. Having just spent three days staying at Royal Isabela, I can honestly say that you will not be disappointed and that every member of staff will make you feel like you are the only person that matters, they all seem to go that extra mile to make your trip special. One thing not to miss is the sunset buggy tour, a super relaxed chance to see some of the most amazing views and to watch the sun set over this incredible coastline!
Nestled in the quiet town of Isabela, is the quaint resort, Royal Isabela. The grounds are beautiful and well-kept with the beach is nearby. There is a magnificent course as well. It is an absolute paradise.
If you want a place for partying, this is not the place for you, but if you are seeking quiet, comfort, elegance and grace, look no further. The casitas are beautiful and private, giving you the impression, that you are miles away from the nearest neighbor. Every accent and detail in the casita is so well thought of. It is warm and inviting. Giving you the feeling of being in a southern European town.
The cuisine compares to the top quality restaurants. There is so much care given to the meals. A well thought of menu gives you a wonderful selection. A spin on the traditional dishes of the island is both creative and delightful. The use of the freshest ingredients is apparent, once your taste your meal. Every dish was extraordinary; nothing was dissatisfying.
The Royal Isabela is an spectacular experience.
The best place to disconnect from everything with the best service, view, accommodations and privacy. I have celebrated my anniversary and my birthday twice here and I never imagine that this place is in Puerto Rico, without belittling my beautiful island, I mean the type of hotel,,, its just perfect.
The Royal Isabela resort has 20 casitas (cottages) that are like no other hotel rooms you have ever experienced. At 1,500 square feet they are larger than any ‘room’ at any resort on the island. And the bathroom is huge, with two showers and a large bath, opening onto the deck. The cozy living area opens onto a deck as well, which is nestled in total privacy while offering a clear view of the ocean in the distance that you can walk to by descending 166 steps. Or so we were told, because we never left the casita except to amble up the secluded path to the restaurant for a somewhat meager continental breakfast, or the open-air bar for an early dinner. The restaurant also offers a full menu for breakfast, lunch or dinner, or they will deliver any meal to your casita. The Royal Isabela offers complete relaxation with no sounds to disturb the utter calm of the secluded casita. Even the faint hum of an invisible air conditioner was barely noticeable. And whenever you feel inclined you can strip and plunge into the ‘dipping pool’ on the deck and let the water surge around your skin as you watch birds wheeling over the open landscape. At night we enjoyed the stars of Cygnus, Cassiopeia and Andromeda and watched a fireball scurrying across the Milky Way. By now you realize that we are totally enamored by this idyllic resort. It is not just for golfers. Anyone can stay here for the sheer joy of an escape from civilization, and I loved a daily swim in the underused lap pool. The management is repositioning the resort to be more inclusive. Golfing not a necessity, contrary to a misapprehension that kept us away in the past. And clearly this is an ideal honeymooners haven. During our time in Puerto Rico we have stayed at many hotels and B&B’s and recently wrote about the Dorado Beach Ritz-Carlton. Well, the Royal Isabela is up there with the best, if not better. To reach the Royal Isabela, you can fly non-stop from Newark or Ft. Lauderdale (and some other US cities) to Aquadilla, a short rental car ride away. Or you can drive about 2 hours from San Juan, on the Autopista (freeway) to Arecibo, and then 20 traffic lights along Rte 2 heading west after Arecibo/Hatillo until you reach Rt 113 with its Indian head rock carving on the corner. Then watch for the understated, tiny sign indicating the turn-off to the Royal Isabela at the right. En route, consider a side trip to the radio observatory south of Arecibo for an experience you will never forget.
Service is excellent. Beach is not part of the hotel but they have a trail to take you there. Be careful with kids, very strong waves. Rooms are amazing... people are very nice. Facilities are out of this world. Very private..