In Review: Puerto Rico remains on map for travel, LMM P3 ‘done deal’
Puerto Rico’s tourism and transportation industries were quite active in 2012, when a number of hotels opened for business — including the lavish Dorado Beach Ritz Carlton Reserve — and several others broke ground.
The historic Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport public-private partnership was completed and is expected to take flight early next year, when the private operators take over the facility.
- The industry kicked off the year with good news from Orbitz, which in January ranked San Juan as the second most-popular international travel destination in 2011, just behind Cancun, Mexico and ahead of London, England.
- In March, construction of the $49.5 million Hyatt Place Bayamón & Tropical Casino broke ground, marking the return of the hotel chain to the island after a seven-year absence.
- In May, the developers of the Dorado Beach property, PRISA Group, broke ground on the second phase of construction of the “Ritz-Carlton Reserve Residences,” a $72 million project that seeks to position Puerto Rico as world-class destination for upscale living and tourism. The residences ranging in price from $2.5 million to $7.5 million will be the first in the world to carry the Ritz-Carlton Reserve name.
- In July, the Tourism Co. designated a 16-town cluster straddling Puerto Rico’s central mountain region from Lares to Cidra as the new “Porta Cordillera” tourism region, which joined five other areas where municipalities have banded together to develop travel and leisure-related economic activity.
- In August, construction of the $38 million Hyatt Place in Manatí got underway and developers and government officials gathered to offer details about the property that will cater mostly to the pharmaceutical and manufacturing plants in the area.
- In September, Eagle Hospitality Properties Trust, which owns 13 premium-branded hotels including the 299-room Embassy Suites San Juan Hotel & Casino in Isla Verde, announced it had reached an agreement with its secured lender that allows it to sell its portfolio and repay its secured debt at a discount.
- In October, Royal Isabela — the $100 million golf community and private membership club perched on dramatic bluffs at the northwest edge of Puerto Rico — was officially inaugurated with government and private sector executives on hand for the ceremony.
- Later that month, Hyatt Hotels Corporation and Island Hospitality Partners, LLC, a joint venture of PRISA Group and McConnell Valdes Consulting, announced the start of construction of the new Hyatt HouseSan Juan, which is expected to open in fall 2014.
- Also in October, International Hospitality Enterprises and government officials marked the inauguration of the first phase of the Condado Vanderbilt hotel.
- Capping off the year, first Ritz-Carlton Reserve property in the Americas officially opened for guests in December in Dorado, bringing back to life the former Dorado Beach hotel five years after it was shuttered.
- As the government scouted for a private company to operate the Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport in Carolina, it moved forward with some $40 million in improvement projects, officials announced in January.
- Less than a year after setting sail between Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, America Cruise Ferries announced in February its plans to expand its ferry service to St. Maarten, Guadalupe and Martinica starting in 2013.
- In March, JetBlue Airways filed with the U.S. Department of Transportation a “capital-to-capital” application for permission to launch new nonstop service from Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport to San Juan, a route that had been unattended for quite some time. The carrier got the go-ahead to launch the route in May.
- In April, nearly 40 commercial customers who opted out of the $52.2 million settlement that maritime cargo companies Sea Star and Crowley reached with the U.S. government in 2011 filed a new class-action suit against the carriers at the U.S. District Court in South Carolina.
- In June, during a ribbon-cutting ceremony to officially inaugurate JetBlue Airways’ new home at Terminal A in Carolina’s Luis Muñoz Marin International Airport, the airline’s President, Dave Barger and Gov. Luis Fortuño, announced that San Juan had become the sixth focus city in JetBlue’s 71-city network.
- In July, The two finalists in the running to take over the operations of the Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport in Carolina for the next 40 years, Mexico’s Aerostar Airport Holdings and Spain’s Grupo Aeropuertos Avance, submitted their final proposals to the government. Exactly one week after receiving proposals Gov. Luis Fortuño announced the government had chosen Aerostar for the job. The lease was signed later that month.
- In September, the Federal Aviation Administration held a public hearing on the proposed airport P3, drawing significant participation from representatives from the public, private and labor sectors as well as online comments from people expressing their thoughts on the historic transaction.
- In November, Southwest Airlines announced the start of new service between the Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport in Carolina to Orlando and Tampa Bay, Florida starting April 2013.
- Bookings to Puerto Rico made on the more than 100 Expedia and Hotels.com sites worldwide grew by 28 percent in the first six months of 2012, compared to the same period last year, the online travel company said in late November.