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El San Juan Hotel & Casino has new GM

George García

The 382-room El San Juan Hotel & Casino, A Waldorf Astoria Hotel in Isla Verde has a new general manager, George García, who has been appointed by Hilton Worldwide to oversee the property.

In a statement released Wednesday, the hotel chain said García, who most recently served as general manager of the Harvard Hotel & Club of New York, will report to Barry Lewin, vice president of operations for Hilton Worldwide in charge of the Puerto Rico operations.

“We are delighted to have George join our team and take the helm at El San Juan Hotel & Casino,” Lewin said. “His extensive experience with iconic and luxury properties makes him a great fit for this renowned Puerto Rico resort.”

With 35 years of experience in the hospitality industry, García began his career in room operations and food & beverage at a Four Seasons Hotel in Canada. Since then, he has performed in operations management roles throughout the U.S., overseeing award winning properties as well as luxury establishments including The Arizona Biltmore, the former Condado Plaza Hotel & Casino, and Swissôtel Hotels in Atlanta, Chicago and The Drake in New York. He also acted as general manager and vice president operations at EMI Resorts.

García is taking over the reins of the beachfront property at the end of the peak tourism season. The executive holds a commerce degree from Instituto Panamericano in Colombia.

Hilton Worldwide has had a presence in Puerto Rico since 1949, when the Caribe Hilton in Puerta de Tierra was built. That was the first Hilton property built outside the continental U.S. that is still company-owned, and has since become an iconic symbol of Puerto Rico’s tourism.

In the last three years, the company has invested nearly $300 million in the local market, where it operates 11 properties representing seven of its nine brands — Waldorf Astoria, Conrad, Hilton, Doubletree, Embassy Suites and Hampton. In all, the company employs about 4,000 people here.

Occupancy rates remain flat
In related news, the latest statistics available from the Tourism Company show the island’s hotel occupancy rates remained virtually flat during the first 11 months of 2010, averaging about 65.9 percent in comparison to the 65.2 percent reported for the same prior-year period.

However, pre-holiday occupancy was significantly lower, at 59 percent in November 2010 in comparison to the 61.7 percent reported for the same month in 2009, the agency’s data shows.

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Author Details
Author Details
Business reporter with 30 years of experience writing for weekly and daily newspapers, as well as trade publications in Puerto Rico. My list of former employers includes Caribbean Business, The San Juan Star, and the Puerto Rico Daily Sun, among others. My areas of expertise include telecommunications, technology, retail, agriculture, tourism, banking and most other segments of Puerto Rico’s economy.

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