Tucked away in the gated Ocean Park community in San Juan, The Dreamcatcher guesthouse features nine unique rooms and three suites, each one featuring its own distinct style. And though The Dreamcatcher became a beautiful space organically, co-owners Sylvia and Stephan put in countless hours and hard work, as most major renovation projects require. Read about their teamwork, recommendations for enjoying Puerto Rico, and the inspirations behind building an internationally-recognized boutique hotel.
"The inspirations to create the Dreamcatcher were the travelers themselves. It was our interactions and all the beautiful exchanges that happened all throughout that first year that gave me juice to make more rooms, to create more activities, and more spaces to come together."
What are your professional backgrounds? Have you always been interested in interior design?
Stephan was a real estate agent in New York and he also decorated high-end apartments and houses to be presented to future clients so the space could look its best. He also did short-term apartment rentals in New York and Brooklyn, which he decorated beautifully for his guests. On my end, I come from a movie set decorator background and I designed over 20 restaurants in Puerto Rico. I also studied photography and I worked on a lot of set-making for this as well.
How did the idea of creating a boutique hotel come up? Was the idea a collaboration from the start?
I started the the Dreamcatcher project before I met Stephan. I really wasn't planning on opening a hotel—I just wanted to create a communal space in my home where I could host travelers and rent a few rooms. It was a very beautiful and organic process that shaped almost without me knowing, if that makes any sense. The energy and the authentic feel of the house—because it was really my home—created a demand, so I kept making more rooms within the house to accommodate more people. One day, I realized I had seven bedrooms and a fully-running an operation in my home! That is when I met Stephan. He arrived as a guest. He fell in love with the project and saw the potential in it. Together, we expanded and with his help and expertise, we restructured everything so it could expand with a lot of care and intention so the space would not lose its intimacy and uniqueness. Stephan brought a lot of amazing ideas and practicality to the house, as well as a lot of organization and growth.
How did you come across the building in the Ocean Park neighborhood?
I was already living in Ocean Park. It was my house, which I slowly converted into what it is now.
What was the inspiration behind The Dreamcatcher?
The inspirations to create the Dreamcatcher were the travelers themselves. It was our interactions and all the beautiful exchanges that happened all throughout that first year that gave me juice to make more rooms, to create more activities, and more spaces to come together. It is still our amazing guests who continue to inspire us to create more places and more projects. The people that stay here are really special. They are the true foundation of this house.
See more of The Dreamcatcher in a full tour → A Beautiful Hotel Full of Positive Vibes & Design in Puerto Rico
How did your surroundings in Puerto Rico influence the creation of the space?
As a Puerto Rican living in New York for nearly 13 years, I kept coming back to my island looking to recharge the batteries, to channel the stress and intensity of the city, to just lay in the sand and hear the ocean and let the vibration of this very special island heal me and recharge me. Stephan also lived in the city, and we both aim to create a special place for people to vacation, to just release and enjoy. We have given everything we have to create a space surrounded by gardens, as open as possible and with the feeling of a home, decorated in the most honest way, the way we would have our homes. This house has all my family furniture and very special pieces. And our guests are literary hugged by the plants and the openness and homey-ness of the house. We have created a space for them to recharge, rest, enjoy and a base camp to explore all the beauty and uniqueness of this island. Our guests feel like locals while staying here.
What were some of the biggest challenges with creating the Dreamcatcher?
The Dreamcatcher was originally my home, as I have already mentioned. It was not designed to be a hotel. We have had to work with the house to redirect her, without losing its essence. It's a delicate balance between functionality, homey-ness and decor. I will give credit to Stephan, as he is an amazing problem solver. He implemented the right strategies to respect the work I had done and bring further comfort and growth to the house and our guests.
What makes Puerto Rico design stand out?
Puerto Rico, like many Latin American countries, is a blend of colonial beauty and history, with a few different staples of architectural profiles woven together. In our case, it's Caribbean modernism, Spanish revival and terrible urban planning. All this comes together in an eclectic manner that sometimes works, and sometimes doesn't, but that is the charm. We have a lot of design influence with trends from other cities, which splashes and accents the whole collage of this island. But what really stand out is the strong and powerful nature that ties all the beauty and flaws together.
"The Dreamcatcher will continue to grow in the sense that with time, she will host more and more people, creating beautiful memories for the people who stay here, as well as for us, the ones that hold the space for others."
If one of your guests is spending 48 hours in Puerto Rico, what would you recommend they do?
Read in the hammock, have breakfast with us, pet Malda, go to the beach, visit Old San Juan, go on one of the tours—the tour of El Yunque National Forest is the most popular one.
What are future goals for the Dreamcatcher?
The Dreamcatcher is what it is: a beautiful home where travelers come together. We provide very special services such as yoga classes, vegetarian breakfasts, unique intimate tours, vegan dinner series and massages. We know the house has grown within the space available to its maximum. We do not want to expand, and it's important to us the space stays intimate. The Dreamcatcher will continue to grow in the sense that with time, she will host more and more people, creating beautiful memories for the people who stay here, as well as for us, the ones that hold the space for others. The Dreamcatcher is so special, we don't think it can me replicated. We are in the process now of tailoring some really nice concepts, and collaborating with some very special people. Stay tuned!