Puerto Rico tourism boost with $1 billion hotel development

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Puerto Rico is bidding to secure a larger slice of the UK’s Caribbean travel market in the next 12 months with its USD $1 billion (approx: £622 million) hotel development set to deliver 15,000 bed spaces on the island during 2012.

With over 20 hotel projects being developed, the Governor of Puerto Rico, Luis G. Fortuño, believes Puerto Rico will provide an attractive proposition for holidaymakers that are keen to take advantage of the wide selection of luxury and mid-range hotels available. “This is a very positive situation for Puerto Rico, which is served by a direct BA flight from Gatwick and is now able to offer a first-class accommodation selection to the UK market,” the Governor pointed out.

“Since last year alone, we have seen the opening of such outstanding properties as the St Regis and W Vieques, and we’re not resting on our laurels as major hotels look to introduce new properties and upgrade existing assets across the island.”

The hotel upgrades will include hotels such as the San Juan Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino, the Condado Vanderbilt, the Hilton Ponce Golf & Casino Resort, the Ramada Ponce Hotel and the Caribe Hilton also receiving substantial facelifts and renovations.

New hotels include the Ritz-Carlton Reserve Dorado Beach Resort & Spa, set to open in late 2012 in the former setting of the renowned Laurance Rockefeller property in Dorado Beach. Fairmont Hotels & Resorts will roll-out its brand in Puerto Rico in 2013 when it opens a 500-room property on the site of the former Hyatt Regency Cerromar, also in Dorado.

Mario González Lafuente, Executive Director of the Puerto Rico Tourism Company, is convinced that investment in the hotel industry, coupled with the close working partnership the island has with British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Holiday Cruises, will ensure that the UK market is well served. “We´re working to put Puerto Rico in the UK holidaymaker´s wishlist, and to this end, we have made considerable inroads with regular direct service from both British Airways and Virgin, the later in collaboration with Jet Blue. We are currently working on dynamic collaborative efforts to maximise promotion and awareness through key marketing channels.”

Key hotel developments:

• The San Juan Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino $2.2 million (approx: £1.36 million) lobby redesign is set for completion in December 2011. The hotel recently underwent a $35 million (approx: £21.8 million) room overhaul and $2 million (approx: £1.2 million) renovation on its outdoor poolside dining areas La Vista Latin Grill and La Isla Grill and Pool Bar.

• 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 consist of 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.

• 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.

• 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 centre has been improved with the incorporation of the Hilton Meetings standard.

• The Ramada Ponce Hotel is undergoing a $19 million (approx: £11.8 million) expansion which will add a casino to the 70-room boutique property.

• Out of the five buildings, the Main building of the Caribe Hilton is undergoing a full renovation representing an investment of $4.5 million (approx: £2.8 million) which will be ready for December 2011.