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Timeshare Giant Westgate Resorts Eyeing Puerto Rico For $70 Million Investment


May 17, 2001
Copyright © 2001 CARIBBEAN BUSINESS. All Rights Reserved.

Westgate Resorts, a leading timeshare resort company in Orlando, Fla., is looking to expand its portfolio outside of the U.S. mainland and Puerto Rico was selected by the company as the ideal place to launch its new product in Latin America.

As early as October, Westgate wants to build 250 timeshare units, measuring 1,614 square feet each. This will add 750 rooms or 500 keys to the island’s hotel room inventory, at an estimated investment of $70 million.

Once operational, the new Westgate resort in Puerto Rico will employ close to 500 people.

Nelson Cienfuegos, executive director of the International Division for Westgate Resorts, told CARIBBEAN BUSINESS that the company is currently negotiating with local entrepreneur Arturo Diaz Jr. to buy 30 acres of land at Coco Beach in Rio Grande, next to the Paradisus Coco Beach Resort, also known as Sol Melia.

Diaz is president of Betteroads Asphalt Corp, the largest asphalt producer and paving company in the Caribbean, and Empresas Diaz, a construction conglomerate.

"Diaz has 30 acres available on his 1,000-acre site at Coco Beach. However, we believe the parcel will be too small for our company’s development plans," Cienfuegos said. "We are looking for alternative sites in Puerto Rico."

The alternative that Westgate has in mind is to possibly buy the former Holiday Inn Crowne Plaza in Isla Verde, which still remains closed after Citibank became the owner of the hotel in exchange for closure of debts that the former owner, H.I. Development, had with the bank.

"The former Crowne Plaza is a property that has caught our attention. It is especially attractive because the deal includes close to five acres located adjacent to the hotel," Cienfuegos said.

After Westgate opens its first resort in Puerto Rico, the company plans to open an additional 250 units within the next four years, which means another $70 million investment and 500 more jobs.

Westgate is searching for a location that is easy to get to, close to the airport and has the necessary infrastructure to operate a five-star quality timeshare operation in Puerto Rico.

Puerto Rico was Westgate’s final pick after evaluating 11 other destinations such as Mexico, Guatemala, Panama, Venezuela, Chile and the Dominican Republic, just to name a few.

Some of the key elements that Cienfuegos said distinguished Puerto Rico from the rest of the destinations included its effective timeshare law, the number of Puerto Ricans who are currently vacation owners of Westgate units, along with having a sales office already established in New York, where a large Puerto Rican population resides, which is another attribute.

"Out of our 115,000 vacation owners, close to 5,000 live in Puerto Rico," Cienfuegos said.

Westgate also has plans to expand its telemarketing services to Puerto Rico and open a Vacation Store, which highlights the various destinations where Westgate is located, at Plaza Las Americas or Plaza del Sol.

Central Florida Investments (CFI), headed by David Siegel, is Westgate Resorts holding company. CFI is one of the largest privately held corporations in the Central Florida area, with more than 5,000 employees and over $300 million in annual revenue.

Westgate Resort’s portfolio includes six luxury timeshare resorts—Westgate Vacation Villas, Westgate Lakes, Westgate Town Center, Westgate Towers, Westgate Miami Beach, and Westgate Daytona Beach. This does not include its seventh and newest resort, Westgate Smoky Mountain Resort in Gatlinburg, Tenn., and plans for its eighth resort, Westgate at the Canyons in Park City, Utah.

This Caribbean Business article appears courtesy of Casiano Communications.
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