|Puerto Rico is looking to draw more affluent clientele to its shores (shown, Tamarindo Beach).|
No longer content to sit idly by while affluent travelers head to more exclusive islands such as Anguilla, St. Barts and St. Lucia, Puerto Rico is aggressively putting itself back in the game.
A flurry of activity involving some of the biggest names in luxury travel and an ambitious marketing campaign from the government are the first salvos fired in what could eventually be an interesting battle for your high-end clients in the Caribbean.
The investment in the Starwood portfolio of brands now tops $1 billion, with the recent arrival of prestigious properties such as the Sheraton Convention Center and two of its upscale properties, W and St. Regis.
The St. Regis Resort & Residences in Río Grande is slated to open later this year with 139 guest rooms plus 153 branded residences. Already open for business is W Retreat & Spa Vieques, which has 157 rooms and 65 suites on Puerto Rico’s secluded Vieques Island.
|St. Regis Resort & Residences will open in Río Grande later this year with 139 guest rooms.|
Also this year, the restored Condado Vanderbilt will be opening in San Juan. This five-star, 93-room hotel also has 212 condo hotel units that stand on the site of the property originally built in the early 20th century by the famous Vanderbilt family.
In 2012, expect the opening of the 241-room Ritz-Carlton Reserve in Dorado, a combination of hotel and residences; the 230-room Cayo Largo Four Seasons Resort in Fajardo; and the JW Marriott Coco Beach Resort & Spa as part of the 1,000-acre, master-planned development called Coco Beach Resort.
Looking further out, the Regent Punta Candelero at Palmas del Mar in Humacao is expected to open in 2013. It will include 148 rooms plus 153 branded residences. Also opening in 2013, in Humacao, is the Mandarin Oriental Palmas del Mar Resort & Spa, a 130-room resort that represents a $400 million investment.
Spa Suites at La Concha
La Concha Resort recently added luxury Spa Suites in the resort’s newly unveiled Suite Tower. The $100 million all-suite addition to a beachfront corner of Puerto Rico’s Condado area boasts signature features that include a hot tub and shower on the outdoor terrace. Suites are either studio or one- or two-bedroom, and come with full panoramic balconies affording ocean views, comfortably chic furnishings, European-style kitchens, architectural lighting, and high-tech amenities. The Suite Tower also houses the Ocean Lounge, with an adults-only pool, dedicated concierge and valet parking services.
Doing it Better
The government of Puerto Rico recently launched its new economic development program, “Puerto Rico Does It Better,” in an attempt to attract American business and tourists and emphasize the U.S. territory’s commitment to quality.
The campaign will be supported by a comprehensive marketing effort that includes advertising and public relations. It will specifically target investors in four key sectors—green energy, hospitality, housing and public-private partnerships related to infrastructure, such as roads and ports.
Since taking office two years ago, Gov. Luis Fortuño has pursued a pro-growth approach to jump-start the region’s stagnating economy. These initiatives include a groundbreaking plan to dramatically simplify the tax code and sharply reduce corporate and individual tax rates. This tax relief proposal—the biggest in Puerto Rico’s history—will cut income and business taxes by more than $1 billion annually over the next seven years. Fortuño is off to a fast start—and so is Puerto Rico.
|At W Retreat & Spa Vieques, the fire pit is a popular gathering place.|