The Fairmont El San Juan hotel has named Kelley Cosgrove as general manager of the Isla Verde property, which is also in line to undergo a round of renovations, this media outlet confirmed.
Cosgrove, who brings with her 33 years of experience with the chain in properties in Canada, Dubai, Hawaii and California, has been quietly running the local property since early April.
“We have held off on the announcement, because so many different things were happening in the marketplace with the pandemic creating a lot of changes regarding how we need to operate,” she said in an interview with News is my Business.
Since taking over the job, Cosgrove said the hotel has been dealing with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, which prompted the government of Puerto Rico to impose a series of measures to contain the spread of the virus. That included cutting back on tourism-related activity since mid-March.
“This hotel is being impacted like all hotels are on the island and abroad really, because of the pandemic. But we’re working hard to support the rebound of the tourism industry, working with the U.S. Travel Association and, of course, working with Discover Puerto Rico and the Puerto Rico Tourism Co. to promote our island and to make sure that people don’t forget all about us,” said, who is the first female general manager of the El San Juan hotel.
In recent months, the Fairmont El San Juan has been targeting local residents with short-term getaway offers to stay at the property, which she said have generated a positive response. Furthermore, the beachfront property has established a series of safety protocols to generate confidence in the visitor.
“We offer a lot for people to be able to come enjoy a getaway here at the hotel in a safe way,” she said, noting that current occupancy at the hotel is split between 75% local residents and 25% off-island visitors.
As for drumming up business in the coming months, Cosgrove said, “we’re going to have to continue to be innovative. I think this will remain a bit different and unpredictable in many ways, but I think if we stay focused on safety and leveraging the amenities in the property, I can say I’m cautiously optimistic at this point.”
Upgrades, reopening of retail in the pipeline
The hotel executive confirmed that there is a “multimillion dollar” renovation project planned for the property that will include several areas, specifically the Banyan villas and the presidential suite. The project also calls for the return of the El San Juan Beach Club, she said.
“Our beachfront restaurant Aquarelle [on the Beach] will also receive a significant investment and re-positioning. The design process is nearly complete, and work will begin in early 2021 once permits are received,” she said.
Regarding the casino — which has not opened since Fairmont took over the management of the El San Juan Hotel in January 2020 — Cosgrove said “negotiations are underway to reopen and we will share further news once we finalize the deal.”
Meanwhile, retail operations in the hotel, including several on the first floor, are coming back online. Il Sole Restaurant, ArtLab3, Gustavo Arango, Martiza and Viaggi have reopened, with several others — Boronea, Tropical Togs Swimwear, and the Candy Shoppe — in line to restart operations.
The hotel will also be adding two new retailers — Mo-Da Flowers and Terra Arts — to its roster of shops soon, she said.