$25M ‘green tourism’ hotel-school planned for Loíza
The northern coastal town of Loíza, Puerto Rico, is poised to host a new hotel and hospitality school that would be developed at an estimated cost of $25 million on a municipal property known as Finca Renacer, Loíza Mayor Julia Nazario said.
During a news conference, Nazario — flanked by Ray Cifre, president of Areytos Development Group, and Stanley Tapia, director of the Ana G. Méndez International School of Hospitality and Culinary Arts — said the municipal legislature approved the planned project.
“We build from what we are. As we had already announced, this project will consist of rooms, a restaurant, a swimming pool, conference rooms and other additional facilities,” she said.
“The operational success of hotel concepts under the hotel-school format has been proven in tourism markets that include the United Kingdom, France and Scotland. This is an initiative that will definitely boost tourism and create jobs for our people,” she added, noting that those jobs could range from management and administration to customer service, maintenance and gastronomy.
“It’s an initiative that will also have community alliances in the social and cultural sphere, as well as in the economic sphere,” she said.
Areytos Development Group and the municipality are collaborating to build the project under the principles of “green tourism,” Cifre said.
“This type of tourism development comes from the combination of tourism and the environment, it is an ecological alternative based on respect and preservation of nature, minimizing the use of the limited resources of the environment, using water recycling techniques and use of solar energy and focusing on ‘farm to table,’ a way that small farmers can get a fair price for their products and can move forward with their crops,” Cifre said.
Meanwhile, Tapia said the agreement between the group of investors and the municipality of Loiza allows the university to continue with the discussions to formalize the future collaboration of what will be the first concept of its kind in Puerto Rico, which will serve under a structured format as a practice and development center for Ana G. Méndez Hospitality and Culinary Arts students.
“On behalf of the School of Hospitality and Culinary Arts of Ana G. Méndez University, we confirm our interest in this great chance to continue generating opportunities for our students and the economic development of Puerto Rico through tourism,” Tapia said.
As part of the agreement, Areytos Development Group will be responsible for obtaining the permits and licenses required for the construction, development and operation of the project. The contract provides a 12-month term to get construction permits. The municipality of Loíza will assist the entity during the permitting process.
The developer will also be responsible for getting the financing for the development and construction of the project. The municipality will not be responsible for repaying any loan or credit facility that the company obtains to develop the project, town officials assured.
Although the cost has been initially estimated at $25 million, Cifre clarified that the project will not “have an absolute investment cost until we can prepare architectural, engineering and design plans, as well as obtain the permits that will regulate the final product authorized to be developed at Finca Renacer. However, considering that exception, we believe the project will require an investment that could amount to $25 million.”
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