The 21-room eco-friendly small inn will be located at the foot of El Malecón La Esperanza, close to one of Vieques’ most visited beaches, Sun Bay. The project’s design contemplates solar energy use and used water-recycling technologies to minimize its environmental footprint.
“This project is one that we had to pursue for all the positive aspects it brings to the table: its economic impact for the island municipality of Vieques, the expansion of hotel inventory and its sustainable development methods that seek to harmonize tourism development with our environment,” EDB President Ivonne Otero said. “Tourism is a key part of economic development and at the EDB we’re sure the El Blok will be an example of this.”
Once operational, the small inn will generate 23 direct and 34 indirect much-needed jobs on the island municipality, and will join a small group of hotels that have weathered the economic storm of the past five years and are still catering to Vieques’ tourism.
The El Blok will feature 12 standard rooms, eight deluxe rooms and one room for special-needs guests. It will also feature a 60-seat restaurant, “Parrilla La Central,” a bar, a 1,200 square-foot meeting room, a panoramic deck, and 10 parking spaces, as News is my Business reported in February.
“We came to Vieques a few years ago and, like many dreamers, we fell in love with this place, its beaches and its charisma,” said El Blok President Simon Baeyertz, during the groundbreaking ceremony. “A great team of Puerto Rican consultants and developers guided us along the way … until the local and global economy stopped.”
However, he credited the EDB for its willingness to provide financing for the project.
“We hope to make this historic piece of Vieques into something that we can all be proud of,” the hotelier said.
In recent years, Vieques tourism has taken a beating with dwindling occupancy rates attributed to the general economic depression and historic problems with air and ferry transportation services between Puerto Rico and the island municipality.
Tourism Co. statistics show that some 6,748 people visited and stayed in Vieques from July 2010 to February 2011, down 14 percent from the 7,821 visitors that traveled to the island municipality during the same period the prior year.
In all, Vieques has about 500 rooms available for use at dozens of small hotels, along with another 157 rooms at the W Hotel Retreat & Spa. The swanky resort opened in March 2010 after renovating the property occupied by the Martineau Bay until it’s closing in 2007.