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Hotel Rumbao in Old San Juan officially flies Marriott Tribute flag

Hotel Rumbao, formerly a Sheraton property in Old San Juan, officially changed flags to reflect its transition into the Marriott Tribute Portfolio this week.

The change follows the property’s acquisition by Driftwood Capital, a commercial real estate investment, development and lending platform specializing in hospitality, in September 2021, as reported by News is my Business.

Though the financial terms of the deal remained under wraps, hotel officials confirmed that Driftwood Hospitality Management, which runs the hotel, has invested about $15 million in improvements to the property, which now features a blend of Puerto Rican and international elements throughout, as well as its unique name.

“The Tribute line allows each hotel to have its own independence and its own identity and personality, which is why this group chose it,” Armando Emanuelli, the property’s director of sales and marketing, explained in an interview with this media outlet.

The acquisition included the hotel’s main building, a nine-story, 180,739-square-foot property with 242 rooms, including 45 suites; a two-story, 27,500-square-foot retail complex with such tenants as Walgreens, Señor Frogs and Harley Davidson; and a third building behind the hotel that also has a tenant mix and will open a 9,000-square-foot casino in September, at the former Latin Roots location.

Negotiations are underway with a Málaga, Spain-based casino operator to equip the space with a variety of slot machines, gaming tables and possibly a sports betting area.

Wilfredo Marrero, general manager of Hotel Rumbao, said a separate investment will be made for the other areas.

Hotel Rumbao executives Wilfredo Marrero and Armando Emanuelli

“We have an 80% occupancy rate and we expect to end the year that way. The market is varied: We have cruise ships that stay multiple nights; the corporate market, which has doubled,” said Marrero. He noted that the Puerto Rican diaspora and locals account for about 20% of regular hotel guests, while the remainder come from Latin America and other international regions.

Emanuelli added that it is precisely that corporate market that will present opportunities for hotel properties over the next 15 years or so due to the expected construction activity and the firms involved in these projects.

“We’re talking about the possibility of a countless number of engineers, specialists, etc., who will be coming,” he said. “As we told the owners when they visited two-and-a-half years ago to review the property, there are very few places in the United States that represent so much business potential, because Puerto Rico needs to be practically rebuilt after Hurricane María.”

Following the sale, approximately 150 hotel employees remained with the new management.

“We’re all Puerto Rican here. The executive committee is all Puerto Rican. Driftwood is very respectful of our opinions. Of what works, and what doesn’t,” Marrero said.

This is the first investment for Driftwood Capital in Puerto Rico, and “they’re so happy about it that they’re actively looking at where else they can invest on the island,” Emanuelli said, to which Marrero added that the Old San Juan property is one of the first two hotels Driftwood owns outside the U.S. mainland.

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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