The ribbon-cutting ceremony this Thursday, May 10, to unveil the Rio Mar Beach Resort & Spa, A Wyndham Grand Resort, will mark the beginning of a nearly three-year plan to fully transform the property in Rio Grande from a Westin resort to a Wyndham staple.
Sure, the name will change in a matter of a day, but plans
to renovate the property and give it Wyndham's signature look will take a
little time. Travel Agent recently spoke with an excited Peter Strebel,
president of Wyndham Hotels and Resorts, about upgrading the property, as well
as preliminary plans for the Wyndham brand to build new properties in the
Major Renovation of Rio Mar
But first, back to the
Strebel said the project as a whole will take about two to three years to complete and will begin as early as the fall. Work on the Casino will begin in May and will be completed as early as October. Strebel says it still hasn't been decided whether to close the casino down entirely during the renovations.
Strebel says the resort will be given a Wyndham feel by incorporating such brand signature products as the "Be Well" bed ensemble, which will include all new linens, pillows, new duvets and duvet covers, as well as signature pillows and blankets; signature items from the Michael Graves collection, including a specially-designed coffeemaker, ice bucket and alarm clock clock/radio/MP3 player; and an upgraded bath care line from Bath & Body Works called True Blue.
Wyndham will be making moderate changes to the staff as well. While Strebel says the 1,200-member staff will remain intact, Mark Stevenson was hired as the new managing director, while a new director of sales and marketing will be hired shortly. The current director of sales and marketing will stay on in "a lesser capacity," Strebel says.
Stevenson is a 35-year hospitality veteran who will be responsible for the operation of the 500-acre resort, including oversight and management of the 1,200-members staff, golf facilities, spa, casino, food and beverage outlets, rooms, sales and marketing.
Stevenson will begin his new role on May 10. He was
previously the general manager of The Ritz-Carlton,
While living in
"Mark has been a great addition," Strebel says. "His background and his knowledge of the island will work quite well here."
Strebel says a local sales team is handling all travel agent inquiries, setting up personal meetings and purchasing advertising in travel agent publications.
"The travel agent community is a strong component for
us, so we are doing everything we can to keep them involved with
progress," Strebel says. "We've had positive feedback with everybody
we have reached out to, including a recent meeting with Liberty Travel. Wyndham
has a strong presence in the
Sprawling Resort Is Ideal for Large Groups
Fifty percent of the resort's clientele are groups, which mainly consist of corporate incentives groups, while the other half are leisure travelers, which can include the soft adventurer, avid golfer or spa enthusiast. During the holidays, the resort does very well with families, Strebel says.
"This is one of the largest resorts in the
The best room is the Governor's Suite, which is one of 70
suites offered at the resort. It has its own living room, dining room and a
large balcony overlooking the ocean. Half of the resort's suites overlook the
ocean, while the other half overlook the
The 600-room Rio Mar Beach Resort & Spa offers agents a 10 percent commission. Agents should contact Tina Bernard, director of leisure sales, at 856-424-5410, for more information.
Strebel, a 25-year-lodging veteran, was named president of Wyndham Hotels and Resorts in October of 2005, following the company's acquisition of the brand. Among his accomplishments, Strebel directed the launch of the company's TripRewards loyalty program, the largest of its type in the lodging industry, which helped boost system-wide revenue per available room, an important industry performance metric. He also oversaw four distribution channels that deliver more than $1 billion in revenue annually.
At the Rio Mar Beach Resort and Spa, clients have many entertainment options. Golf lovers will enjoy the two championship golf courses designed by Greg Norman and Tom and George Fazio, as well as a putting green and driving range. There is also a large pool, 13 tennis courts and an onsite casino. Guests can revitalize at the exclusive Mandara Spa.
Nearby, El Yunque Caribbean National Forest is full of
streams, waterfalls and panoramic views, where guests may go snorkeling or
diving. Guests may also visit Old San Juan to discover