Six months after breaking ground on the $50 million Zafira hotel and time share property in Vieques, developer Keith St. Clair confirmed construction will begin this week.
The project was held back by a permit required by U.S. Fish and Wildlife, aimed at protecting turtle nesting areas on the beach at the Esperanza sector of the island municipality, St. Clair told this media outlet.
“We were required to have an extra permit because there’s turtle nesting there, and we have to make sure that the shadow wasn’t going to affect the area,” said St. Clair. “So, the architects had to do a bit of tweaking.”
With that squared away, St. Clair said the site will be set up this week with the trailers, the office, and fencing.
The 118-room boutique hotel, which will face the Caribbean Sea, will feature an infinity pool, restaurant, spa, disco and suites and villas. St. Clair has partnered with Marcelino Álvarez and Manfred Markoff to build the property on the island municipality.
“There will be movement on site this week. We’re going to lose about two months on the back-end, but the construction company has said they have no problem picking up on time. Provided we get started this week, we should be okay on the original delivery date,” St. Clair said, confirming the hotel should open in mid-2022.
About half of the projected investment will be dedicated to the construction phase, which will generate some 180 direct jobs and more than 50 indirect jobs. Once operational the Zafira resort will create 60 direct jobs, as previously reported.
Sources reject W Hotel has been sold
In related news, information circulated last week suggesting that the W Hotel — the largest luxury property in Vieques until Hurricane María hammered the island in September 2017 — had been sold via auction for $22 million.
However, this media outlet spoke to three sources separately who said the information is false, and the property remains in the hands of Reig Capital, based in Spain.
Attempts to reach Reig last week were unsuccessful. However, Vieques Mayor Víctor Emeric, as well as Puerto Rico Tourism Co. Executive Director Carla Campos, both denied a transaction had taken place.
Furthermore, Julia Pacitti, spokeswoman for Marriott Hotels & Resorts — which operated the former five-star hotel — said, “the W Vieques has not been sold. We have no further updates on the property at this time.”
Ritz Carlton in Isla Verde to re-open
However, Pacitti did confirm that the iconic The Ritz-Carlton resort in Isla Verde is expected to open during the second quarter of next year.
“Please note that this is the estimated re-opening timeframe but is not guaranteed,” she said.
The 416-room beachfront property also sustained significant hurricane-related damages, as previously reported, and has been closed for nearly two years.
This media outlet asked her for further details about the remodeling work, but Pacitti said. “we cannot share any more information at this time.”