|The Puerto Rico Tourism Company's Yolanda Figueroa and Gabriel R. Emanuelli on the trade floor of the 13th annual Luxury Travel Expo|
LAS VEGAS -- During our recent coverage of the 13th annual Luxury Travel Expo at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, Travel Agent sat down with representatives of the Puerto Rico Tourism Company and discussed everything from the upcoming Ritz-Carlton Reserve to American Airlines' recent Chapter 11 filing.
Gabriel R. Emanuelli, director of sales and marketing for the Puerto Rico Tourism Company, and Yolanda Figueroa, the Puerto Rico Tourism Company's regional director/west coast and midwest region, spoke to us on the trade floor of the exhibit earlier this week and obviously focused on the destination's growing luxury product.
With the Ritz-Carlton Reserve still slated to open in December of 2012, Puerto Rico continues to attract big name luxury brands. And that's quickly earning Puerto Rico the reputation as a luxury resort powerhouse in the Caribbean.
"Obviously, it's something we are very proud of," Emanuelli says of Puerto Rico's robust luxury product, which is a Four Seasons shy of having just about every major luxury hotel brand on its island. "It really says a lot about what brands Puerto Rico chooses and it really says a lot about the quality of our infrastructure."
Hotel products you won't see in that infrastructure anytime soon are all-inclusive resorts. Nothing against all-inclusive resorts, Emmanuelli says, but they don't' fit in with the nature of the destination. And the nature of the destination, says Figueroa, leans heavily on restaurants outside of resorts.
"We feel with the airfare travelers are saving by coming to Puerto Rico, there really isn't a need for all-inclusives on the island," Emmanuelli says, noting that flights to Puerto Rico are, in some cases, 25-50 percent cheaper than other flights to the Caribbean.
And frequency, the main reason flights are that cheap to Puerto Rico, seems to always be increasing, which gives the destination a cushion if carriers cancel routes. However, in the case of American Airlines' recent Chapter 11 filing, Emmanuelli says he doesn't expect it to affect flights to Puerto Rico.
"We don't think American's flights to Puerto Rico will be affected, but we have so many other airlines just in case," he says. "In fact, JetBlue recently passed American for the most flights to Puerto Rico."
"With the money they save on flights, they have even money to spend on their vacation," he continued, "so they don't need to save the money at an all-inclusive. Plus, we want them to eat at our restaurants."