The Ritz-Carlton San Juan recently brought back a familiar face to helm its operations, Jacqueline Volkart, who is intent on putting the property at the forefront of preferred locations for business and pleasure travel.
During an interview with this media outlet, Volkart, who has been with Ritz for 21 years, said attracting business to the island must be a concerted effort by different components of the hospitality industry, including airport management and the government.
“We depend on clientele from outside the island. Anything the airport can do to improve and bring more flights and routes will definitely help our island and the business in general,” said Volkart who first served as general manager for the Ritz-Carlton San Juan from 2006 to 2008 and returned to the post a month ago.
Volkart’s career with Ritz has included tenures at its properties throughout the Caribbean, including Miami, Key Biscayne and Cancún. She worked as general manager at The Ritz-Carlton Battery Park in New York.
Now back in San Juan, Volkart’s responsibilities will include overseeing an upcoming renovation of the beachfront property’s 30,000 square-foot ballroom space, which is slated for October-November.
Once completed, that would be the most recent in a string of upgrades the 416-room Isla Verde hotel has undergone in recent months. So far, The Ritz-Carlton San Juan has completed upgrades to its Ocean bar and grill as well as its 12,000 square-foot spa and fitness center.
Although she refrained from disclosing how much was invested in the upgrades, Volkart said all of the projects are part of a 10-year renovation plan that is financed with money set aside in a reserve account for such investments.
But while keeping the property “updated and in good shape” is always a priority, Volkart acknowledged that so is customer service.
“Everybody in the service industry has to focus on service and kindness to the customer, so they will have the desire to come back,” she said. “That’s why we focus on staff training.”
The Ritz-Carlton San Juan opened its doors in December 1997 to attract high-end travelers to the island, standing basically alone in the category. Since then, the property has been joined by a handful of luxury properties — including sister hotel, the Dorado Ritz Carlton Reserve — and the St. Regis Bahía Beach in Río Grande.