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Marriott brings a Renaissance to Condado

Chairman & CEO Bill Marriott announces island’s first Renaissance Hotel and plans for new properties


February 17, 2005
Copyright © 2005 CARIBBEAN BUSINESS. All Rights Reserved.

Marriott International Inc., the largest hotel company in the U.S., has aggressive plans to expand in Puerto Rico, according to J.W. Marriott Jr., chairman & chief executive officer of the hotel company.

During an interview with CARIBBEAN BUSINESS, Marriott, who is visiting Puerto Rico this week, said the company will be operating the first Renaissance Hotels & Resorts property in Puerto Rico in the renovated La Concha Hotel in Condado. The property is scheduled to open by the end of 2005. Marriott also revealed plans to expand existing hotel properties on the island and add new ones, which will transform the hotel chain into the largest one operating in Puerto Rico.

"Puerto Rico is the business center of the Caribbean and a very important market for Marriott International," said the company’s CEO. "It has a good business infrastructure, terrific air service, the people are very hospitable and friendly, the weather is great, and it is an active, exciting place to visit. We think we have a great future here," Marriott said.

With security issues and the weak dollar keeping American tourists closer to home, demand for U.S.-based resorts has increased, also providing an excellent opportunity for investment in Puerto Rico’s hotel industry.

The Washington, D.C.-based Marriott International Inc. operates and franchises hotel properties under the Marriott, JW Marriott, Ritz-Carlton, Renaissance, Residence Inn, Courtyard, TownePlace Suites, Fairfield Inn, SpringHill Suites, and Ramada International brand names. As of Jan. 2, 2004, Marriott International lodging and timeshare businesses included 2,718 properties, with 490,564 rooms or suites throughout the U.S. and 68 countries and territories. Its history can be traced to a small root beer stand opened in Washington, D.C. in 1927 by J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott.

Through its management agreements, Marriott typically earns a base fee, and may receive an incentive management fee that is based on hotel profits. In fiscal 2003, Marriott International reported sales from continuing operations of $9 billion. In 2005, the company plans to add between 25,000 and 30,000 new rooms to its worldwide inventory.

During his visit to the island, J.W. Marriott expects to meet with Gov. Aníbal Acevedo Vilá to discuss the hotel company’s future plans for Puerto Rico. Marriott currently operates three properties on the island, the 525-room San Juan Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino in Condado and in Isla Verde, the 416-room Ritz-Carlton Hotel, Spa & Casino and the 260-room Courtyard by Marriott.

Plans are underway for a new 150-room Courtyard by Marriott at the former Ramey Air Force Base in Aguadilla; transformation of the 140-room Excelsior Hotel in Miramar; and a JW Marriott Dos Mares Hotel in Fajardo. A $26 million expansion of the Courtyard by Marriott in Isla Verde will get underway in March and a new 200-suite Residence Inn property is planned next door.

President of International Hospitality Enterprises Inc., Hugh Andrews, said Courtyard by Marriott in Isla Verde will increase the number of rooms and add new parking spaces, a restaurant, and meeting rooms. The new facilities will also serve the needs of the Residence Inn by Marriott. Designs for the Residence Inn have been completed and the permits approved with ground breaking scheduled to take place in 2007.

"The Residence Inn will serve the needs of families visiting the island and the extended business traveler. Residence Inn features one- or two-bedroom units with fully equipped kitchens," Andrews explained, adding that although the average stay for a tourist is one to two nights, the Residence Inn is a great alternative for tourists who spend more than a week on the island.

J.W. Marriott added that the company is also looking to opening a second Ritz-Carlton property in Puerto Rico. "We continue to look for opportunities in Puerto Rico from time to time. Our Ritz-Carlton Hotel in San Juan was recently sold to Caribbean Property Group and we hope that as we get to know each other better, the opportunity to develop another Ritz-Carlton in Puerto Rico will emerge," he said.

Rebirth of Condado

International Hospitality Enterprises (IHE) is investing $225 million in the former La Concha and Condado Beach Hotels. The Condado Beach is being revamped and will reopen as the Condado Vanderbilt, while La Concha will be a Marriott Renaissance property. Once the hotel properties are in operation, they will generate over 1,000 new jobs.

Carlton C. Ervin, Marriott’s vice-president of International Hotel Development of Marriott International, describes the Renaissance brand as a full-service property with the body of a boutique hotel. "Renaissance is the perfect brand for the rebirth of La Concha," Ervin said.

With 248 completely renovated guest rooms, La Concha Hotel will have a modern, sophisticated style that reflects the island’s tropical nature, according to Andrews, president of IHE and developer of the property. The property will include an open lobby with 14-foot ceilings; a casino with a separate entrance on Ashford Avenue; an ice cream parlor; a children’s game room, and approximately 4,000 square feet of meeting space. Andrews said the hotel’s pool will also be lowered by one level, giving guests more privacy. The old La Concha’s balconies have been removed in order to add more space to the guest rooms, which will be outfitted with high-speed Internet access, a plasma television, and modern furniture. IHE is investing approximately $200,000 per room in the property.

Proviana Colón contributed to this story.

This Caribbean Business article appears courtesy of Casiano Communications.
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