The Best-Kept Secret in Puerto Rico

Above: The Horned Dorset Primavera

By Alexander Britell

RINCON — It’s a long road, even longer once you get to Rincon.

Before the sun set, my car passed through the large, red-yellow-technicolor Rincon welcome arch, and soon the only color left was night.

But past the streets of downtown Rincon, past the main road, around a few bends and up a few more hills, was the Horned Dorset Primavera.

It was around 8 o’clock and I made my way to the lobby, with a local band playing in the event space upstairs.

Immediately I could tell.


Sure, it had been a journey from San Juan, across the northern perimeter of Puerto Rico, after what was an early flight. And it was late.

This place was a bit mysterious — atemporal, timeless. I filed away the thought.

The bellman at reception took my bag to Room No. 1, where I would be staying for the night.



Above: one of the Moroccan-styled rooms at the Horned Dorset Primavera

It was a striking, two-story structure lifted straight out of Fez. Everything was in the right place, thoughtfully chosen, totally authentic, most of it shipped directly from the Maghreb. There was a writer’s desk and luxurious marble floors.


Outside, staring at the strong waves of Rincon’s coast, was a large balcony with a plunge pool with one of the Horned Dorset’s calling cards: the antique street lamp, many of which dot the walls and balconies of the grounds.


Then there was the bar and restaurant (the hotel is a Relais and Chateaux property, so the food is, unsurprisingly, terrific).

This, too, was another place that felt removed, happily, from time — or fixed in time, perhaps.


There were wicker chairs; a collection of rare books; lazily swaying ceiling fans overhead; old prints; a chess table, all in front of a sliver of a bartop, barely more than the width of a pair of bartenders.


Thirty years ago, perhaps longer, someone had the idea for the perfect boutique hotel in Puerto Rico, a collection of details and touches and moments. And gathered them all in this place, much like the Moroccan relics filling Room No. 1.


Everything here fits together, collaborating to create an ambiance you can’t find in many hotels in the Caribbean, much less the world. This isn’t a place that’s about the years. It’s not old, and it’s not new either.


The result is a timeless hotel, one that gently wafts you to another place entirely. Not a hotel, but an experience.

It’s a long road here, by car and by mind. But walking on the grounds, sitting in the bar, listening to the waves, one feels privy to a secret.


The kind of secret that’s never really kept — just handed along, judiciously, to those who will truly appreciate it.