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Puerto Rico continues to emerge as sought-after meeting destination

Renovations and luxury hotel developments underscore continuing growth of Puerto Rico’s hotel and tourism product

Oct 12, 2011

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico -- With more than 1.3 million square feet of meeting space throughout the island, a world-class convention center, and an increasing range of accommodation options, Puerto Rico continues its emergence as one of the most sought-after meeting destinations offering delegates a distinctive and memorable delegate experience.

According to the officials at the Puerto Rico Tourism Company, hotel development and investment in the island’s tourism product continues to thrive as one of largest economic drivers. Currently the destination boasts a US$1 billion investment in hotel construction with 20 hotel projects in various stages of development aimed at bringing the hotel guest room count up to 15,000 by the end of 2012.

Following is a brief overview of some of the most recent hotel and infrastructure developments taking place in Puerto Rico relating to the group meetings and conventions market:

San Juan:

• The Howard Johnson Isla Verde has recently completed a US$1.2 million transformation to open common spaces, using glass to improve light and allow the outdoors to blend with the interior design. In addition to guest room updates, the lobby, swimming pool area ,and fitness center were also remodeled.

• The San Juan Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino is nearing completion on a US$2.2 million lobby redesign with deep wood finishes, rich earth tones, and textures and sleek metal accents to provide a warm and opulent gathering space for guests for socializing, networking, and conducting business. The hotel recently underwent a US$35 million room overhaul and US$2 million renovation on its outdoor poolside dining areas.

• The highly-anticipated 450-room Condado Vanderbilt is scheduled to re-open in November 2011 after a comprehensive renovation project. The high-end condo-hotel will embody grandeur and elegance within two, eleven-story towers in the heart of the Condado tourist district. The property will feature 15,000 sq. ft. of meeting space, full-service spa, dedicated butler service, and four restaurants.

Eastern Region:

• The Wyndham Garden brand recently entered the Puerto Rico market with the addition of a 107-room Wyndham Garden at Palmas del Mar. The former Four Points property features 6,000 sq. ft. of meeting space able to accommodate groups of up to 400 people. The property also features a business center, fitness center, casino, restaurant, and wine bar.

Western Region:

• The 112-room Rincón Beach Resort recently completed a US$4.2 million expansion project featuring a new 3,440 sq. ft. ballroom, divisible into four meeting spaces, and a 1,200 sq. ft. reception hall. The new space can accommodate small groups or events of up to 400 guests. In 2010, the hotel was nominated by the editors of Caribbean Travel & Life magazine as its Reader’s Choice “Best Small Hotel” in the Caribbean. It was the only Puerto Rican hotel to compete in the category.

Northern Region:

• The Ritz-Carlton Reserve Dorado Beach Resort & Spa is on track to open in late 2012 in the former setting of the renowned Laurance Rockefeller property in Dorado Beach. Guided by Rockefeller’s vision of contemporary design, local culture, and sustainability, the 130-room, low-rise, low-density hotel set upon the footprint of the original property will include 100 guestrooms and 14 one-bedroom suites, including six with rooftop pools. In addition, Su Casa, a colonial-style hacienda located on the property, will be restored as a five-bedroom villa for weddings and private events.

• In 2013, Fairmont Hotels & Resorts will roll-out its brand in Puerto Rico when it opens a 500-room property on the site of the former Hyatt Regency Cerromar, also in Dorado.

Southern Region:

• The Hilton Ponce Golf & Casino Resort is undergoing a multi-million dollar renovation to be completed in time for the resort’s 20th anniversary in 2012. Guest rooms are being completely revamped, offering LCD televisions, wireless high-speed Internet, and a contemporary décor with local “Ponceno” accents. In addition to lobby, restaurant, and recreational area renovations, the conference center has been improved with the incorporation of the Hilton Meetings standard to provide comfortable armchairs, set-up flexibility, wireless high-speed Internet access and a refreshment center.

• The Ramada Ponce Hotel is undergoing a US$19 million expansion, which will add a casino to the 70-room boutique property and provide an additional 6,000 sq. ft. of meeting space with seating for up to 300 people. Additional parking is also part of the project.

New San Juan Dining Options:

• Texas de Brazil, a popular steakhouse chain known for its churrascaria-style grilled meats done in the traditional, has opened at the Sheraton Puerto Rico Hotel & Casino. The 250-seat restaurant specializes in grilled meats cooked and served in the traditional Brazilian method over an open flame.

• Puerto Rico celebrity chef Roberto Trevino has opened Casa Lola, a free-standing restaurant in the Condado tourist zone in the architectural style of a colonial-style hacienda. The restaurant specializes in criollo-Spanish cuisine inspired by some of the Island’s gastronomic flavors. The restaurant also features private dining for group events.

Airlift Update:

• JetBlue has taken over the top spot as Puerto Rico’s largest airline serving the destination, growing 38 percent over the past year with an average of 35 flights per day from the island. Recently, the carrier introduced service from Hartford, Tampa, and Jacksonville to San Juan, as well as San Juan to St. Thomas, St. Croix, and St. Maarten. JetBlue serves San Juan’s Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport, Rafael Hernández Airport in Aguadilla, and Mercedita Airport in Ponce.

• Other airlines with heavy continued investment and growth in Puerto Rico include AirTran Airways, which has increased its seat capacity by 123 percent between 2008 and 2010, and Delta Air Lines, which has increased its seat capacity by 21 percent within the same time period.

Renovations and luxury hotel developments underscore continuing growth of Puerto Rico’s hotel and tourism product
Puerto Rico Convention Center / Image via


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