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Puerto Rico Announces Latest Hotel Developments

February 12, 2007 By: Joe Pike Travel Agent

New hooks for agents, as the country strives to attract more U.S. visitors

The Puerto Rico Tourism Company (PRTC) recently took part in
the Caribbean Marketplace 2007, where it told media and travel professionals
highlights of tourism developments.

With several hotels undergoing extensive renovations, and
the announcement of new properties (such as St. Regis, W Hotel and Sheraton
Puerto Rico Convention Center Hotel), Puerto Rico's
tourism industry is on the rise. Currently, 2,308 new hotel rooms are being
built, totaling an investment of $777 million. Puerto Rico
is reaching toward its goal of 5,000 new hotel rooms by 2008. During 2007, PRTC
is working to develop 1,000 additional hotel rooms.

"I really expect this to help our travel agent
colleagues in the U.S.
They will have many great products to pitch to clients," says Luis Soto,
president of the Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin
Islands chapters of the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA).

Soto says the Puerto Rico Government is currently spending
"millions and millions of dollars" in advertising to U.S. consumers
and travel professionals. He says the renovations have been discussed for
several years. Now, with progress being made on the renovations, as well as the
recent passport restrictions to the Caribbean
(the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative), Soto says the timing is perfect.

"With the passport restrictions coming around the same
time as the news of the renovations, all you can say is, 'Timing is
everything,'" Soto says.

Some of the latest Puerto Rico hotel news: The Water Club
in San Juan has
officially changed its name to San Juan Water & Beach Club Hotel and
has added amenities including renovated bathrooms featuring bath and spa
products from H20 Plus, clock radios with MP3 player connections and Wi-Fi

The Normandie hotel in San Juan just completed an $8 million renovation

San Juan's
173-room Normandie Hotel recently completed an $8 million renovation
with features including wireless Internet access throughout the property, 7,000
square feet of meeting space, two 800-gallon fish tanks in the lobby, new art
deco furnishings, two restaurants and a spa. The historic hotel is being
acquired by Caribbean Property Group and will be transformed into a W Hotel.

The 51-room Plaza de Armas Hotel recently underwent
renovations to be converted into the Howard Johnson Plaza de Armas in
Old San Juan.

The renovated El Conquistador will include a new water park

LXR Luxury Resorts' properties in Puerto Rico—El
Conquistador Resort & Golden Door Spa, El San Juan Hotel & Casino

and Condado Plaza Hotel & Casino—have begun extensive $200 million
property renovations that will take place over the next several years.
Renovations include a new water park at El Conquistador and room, parking area
and commercial space expansions at the other properties.

The Paseo Caribe project made the Caribe Hilton in San
the largest hotel property in Puerto Rico,
with more than 900 rooms. Additionally, a 4,000 square-foot wedding hall was
built in the Las Olas Spa area, overlooking the ocean. The San Geronimo
ballroom is also being renovated and will double in size.

Starwood Hotels will manage Vieques' renovated Martineau
Bay Resort
, which is owned by the Reig Group. This hotel will close in
April to finalize a $15 million renovation to transform the resort into the
first W Resort in the world, scheduled for completion in the fall.

The San Juan Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino
has begun a $36.7 million renovation to bring the property to the level of
other luxury resorts on the island. The 402 rooms being renovated will
gradually come back into service and will be fully completed by March. The
123-room Cabana Wing will be renovated from August to November and will remain
open during the process. The finished project will include a grand lobby,
updated casino, refreshed ballroom and guest rooms with a new Latin Caribbean

A 160-room Courtyard by Marriott is currently under
construction in Agua-dilla and is scheduled to open in May.

The Renaissance La Concha Hotel & Casino is
scheduled to open by June. The 474-room hotel-condo hotel Renaissance property
will offer 15,000 square feet of meeting space, a 15,000-square-foot casino,
three restaurants, an oceanfront pool and a 5,000-square-foot fitness center on
the beach.

Bahia Beach Resort & Golf Club, Puerto
's first five-star development, is slated to open in 2008 and
will include the St. Regis Resort & Residences Bahia Beach, a Robert Trent
Jones Jr. championship oceanfront golf course.

Bahia Beach is taking shape on
483 acres of coconut palms and native maritime forest. The development, which
has secured $500 million from investors, will generate 3,200 jobs from
construction and 700 permanent jobs once it is open.

Starwood Hotels & Resorts will open the 500-room Sheraton
Puerto Rico Convention Center Hotel
as the anchor hotel for the Puerto Rico Convention Center that opened in Isla
Grande in late 2005. The $209 million hotel will open in 2009 and will be the
first hospitality and mixed-use development in the Convention Center District.

The Condado Vanderbilt Hotel is scheduled to open by
June 2009. The 300-room, independently operated, five-star hotel-condo property
will feature 20,000 square feet of meeting space, a gourmet restaurant, bistro,
spa and two oceanfront pools.

The PRTC recently purchased the old "Punta Lima"
minimum-security prison facility in Naguabo for $8.2 million, with the aim of
developing the site as the first ecological hotel complex on the island.

For more information, call 800-866-7827 or visit

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