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Hotel Success Depends On Private-Public Partnership

President of International Hospitality Enterprises says time for partnership & development is now


May 2, 2002
Copyright © 2002 CARIBBEAN BUSINESS. All Rights Reserved.

"Without a true partnership between the developer and government, construction of major tourism projects is practically impossible," said Hugh Andrews, president of International Hospitality Enterprises.

Once that partnership is established, Andrews said the sky is the limit as to what can be accomplished.

Andrews, a keynote speaker during the first luncheon at the Caribbean Hotel Association’s 6th Annual Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Investment Conference, described his involvement in the development and redevelopment of five hotel and resort products in Puerto Rico.

The five hotels were the Condado Plaza, El San Juan, El Conquistador, Las Casitas Village, and El Convento.

"We were fortunate that each of these properties quickly became leaders in their market segments, and by doing so we were able to honor our commitments with the investors, lenders, employees, government and the communities in which they operate," Andrews said. "I am convinced that none of these hotel success stories would have been possible without a true partnership between the developer and government."

Two weeks ago, the local government invited more than 100 tourism and transportation leaders from the airlines, cruise, and hotel industries, as well as developers, wholesalers, and retail travel organizations to analyze Puerto Rico’s tourism product, to give recommendations on how to do a better job with tourists, and to advise how to increase the island’s share of the worldwide tourism pie.

"The message is clear, Puerto Rico is not about to rest on its laurels," Andrews said. "The government is committed to repositioning Puerto Rico as a destination, generating new demand, and diversifying its tourism product. And is hard at work developing a strategic plan to make it happen."

Andrews reiterated that his goal is to build real estate assets that will not only pay back its lenders but also produce a return for the investors.

At the moment, Andrews is ironing out financial plans to purchase the former La Concha Hotel and Vanderbilt Hotel. He is also involved in the purchase of the former Holiday Inn Crowne Plaza in Isla Verde.

"I believe that now is the time to be developing new hotels," Andrews said. "No, I’m not totally crazy. I know that airlines lost a record $15 billion last year and hotel occupancies dropped, forcing the industry to lower rates. But we all see clear indications that the situation is improving."

One indication mentioned was that the Federal Aviation Administration forecasted a 17% increase in air passenger travel for 2003.

"My feeling is that if you wait to start a project until demand is totally back again, given the three to four years required for development, you’re bound to be a day late and a dollar short when your product finally comes on line."

This Caribbean Business article appears courtesy of Casiano Communications.
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