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$15.5M Lares hotel planned based on PR coffee tradition

Baltasar Soto, project manager at Hotel Hacienda Lealtad in the mountains near Lares. (Credit: Larry Luxner)

Baltasar Soto, project manager at Hotel Hacienda Lealtad in the mountains near Lares. (Credit: Larry Luxner)

LARES — One of Puerto Rico’s most prominent coffee-growing families is pouring $15.5 million into a complex that includes Hotel Hacienda Lealtad — a five-star boutique mountain resort aimed at wealthy tourists with a passion for gourmet coffee.

The property, located off Highway 4131 near the town of Lares, will open sometime in December with 20 rooms, said project manager Baltasar Soto.

“A hacienda like this you won’t find anywhere else in Puerto Rico or the Caribbean,” said Soto, 59, whose younger brother Edwin is president of Café Lealtad, which grows and packages coffee for local consumption and export.

The hotel is an attempt to recreate the atmosphere of Lares as it was in the 1830s, when Puerto Rico — then a Spanish colony — was among the world’s premier coffee exporters. At the time, Hacienda Lealtad belonged to Miguel Marquéz y Enseñal of Spain and was the largest coffee plantation on the island, according to Baltasar Soto.

The property consists of six restored structures. It has two antique horse-drawn carriages on display, and features a museum with antique furniture and artifacts from Puerto Rico’s colonial past, ranging from a 19th-century washing machine to a domino set and musical instruments.

In some ways, Hotel Hacienda Lealtad will be similar to Hacienda Buena Vista — located north of Ponce — which was established in 1853 as a corn mill to feed area slaves. Nightly room rates have not been established, though Soto said his potential market is clearly tourists from the U.S. mainland and possibly Europe.

Accommodations will include a wine cellar, a restaurant serving local and international cuisine, and a heliport that will whisk guests from San Juan’s Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport to the mountain property in 23 minutes (the trip by car takes about two hours). The resort also features its own waterwheel and a nature park with trails, and already has its own Facebook page.

Soto said his hotel will employ 150 people, all of them bilingual. It’s part of the Hacienda Lealtad complex, which consists of some 1,000 acres planted with coffee. The company already has about 600,000 coffee trees and aims to have a million in the next few years. Its operation comprises the cultivation, processing, roasting and packaging of coffee, as well as sales.

Not counting Puerto Rico Coffee Roasters, Hacienda Lealtad represents the largest single coffee investment on the island. In addition to the hotel, Soto’s company runs two coffee nurseries — one with 500,000 baby seedlings and another with 200,000.

“Our medium-term plan is to supply coffee farmers with these plants and help provide financing to get their plantations running, so they’ll turn to us first,” said Aayron Aranda Suárez, a Colombian coffee consultant who is advising Hacienda Lealtad.

“We also want to create an alliance with coffee farmers that will bring to this company their coffee for processing,” he said. “We want to add value, and the farmers will get a small premium.”

Author Details
Tel Aviv-based journalist and photographer Larry Luxner has reported from more than 100 countries on behalf of the Miami Herald, the Washington Diplomat, the Journal of Commerce and other news outlets. From 1986 to 1995, he lived in San Juan, Puerto Rico, covering the manufacturing sector for Caribbean Business. Among other ventures, he launched a monthly newsletter, South America Report, and later published CubaNews for 12 years before relocating to Israel in January 2017. Larry is fluent in Spanish, Portuguese and Hebrew.


  1. Ivette Quinones August 29, 2016

    Lástima que el hotel sea solo para satisfacer la demanda del cliente extranjero.

    1. Francisco La Puerta April 20, 2017


  2. Carmen August 30, 2016

    I wonder where those 150 bilingual employees come from? Definitely, not from Lares. Anyway, If you need my services, I do am bilingual and some french as well. Good Luck!

  3. Jesus Perez August 31, 2016

    This sounds amazing. I live in Chicago and my family still lives in Lares. It about time that the island expand its tourist destination to the center of the island and not just the coasts. There are plenty of bilingual people in Lares and surrounding towns. Congratulations. And can’t wait to come and stay. So very excited!!!

  4. Francisco La Puerta April 20, 2017

    Sad that you want this only for wealthy tourist,in other words you don’t want people from Puerto Rico itself.

    1. Ron ball July 17, 2017

      You miss the point of targeted marketing to maximize the return on your investment. Has nothing to do with not wanting someone or some group to utilize your resort.

      1. Easy e July 17, 2017

        Exactly! When did people coming to Puerto Rico to spend their money become a bad thing? More Puerto Ricans should be thinking of ways to get tourists to leave the island with empty wallets.

  5. Alan Alemán July 17, 2017

    Esto no es solo para el extranjero, esto es para como en todos los lugares turísticos, el que tenga dinero lo disfruta sea quien sea y de donde sea, Money Talks and BS Walks, pero al menos va a emplear a 150 personas, que por lo menos es algo bueno, me da una pena que PR está pasando por esta crisis, pero lo que a mi ( y yo creo ) qué a muchos les gustaría saber es, en donde están los $70 o $123 billones, eso es lo que yo no veo a nadie preguntar, esa es una cantidad que tuvo que haber dejado rastro de cómo se usó ( o robo), menos cantidades dejan rastro, yo no sé cómo está nadie se a dado el en la cabeza y a dicho ” Coño que pasó aquí ” y encima de eso también mucho quieren la independencia??, lo que me gustaría saber, si es ahora, que tienen toda esta ayuda de EE UU, que van hacer cuando no la tengan?? A quien les van acudir?, a Venezuela?, miren como están ellos y eso que tienen toda clase de recursos, que recursos tiene PR??

  6. Yamil Hernandez Tartak July 17, 2017

    Good job!!! This is the future of Puerto Rico. We need people with vision, congratulations.

  7. BERTIE PADILLA July 17, 2017

    Good plans and vision but even the town residents left are going to enjoy. Many have to save the income of six months of labor to enjoy a day at HACIENDA LEALTAD. MAYBE A SIGN WILL BE POSTED AT THE ENTRANCE READING; ONLY RICH PEOPLE, MANDATARIES AND GOVERNMEMT LEADERS ARE ACCEPT.SO THOSE THAT HIDE THE STOLEN 123 MILLIONS CAN GET ACCESS FOR A WEEKEND. THIS IRONIC.

  8. Richard F Cruz July 17, 2017

    Im glad for this venture and hope to be a part of it.

  9. Tyler July 22, 2017

    This is great. We are moving to PR from Chicago and I’m pretty obsessed with coffee. This will definitely be a good weekend adventure, and a place to take our parents when they come visit.

  10. Nydia Esquilin September 24, 2017

    Wow, amazing….you find a family with vision, who is willing to plunk down MILLIONS in investment.Employment oportunities, trikle down posibilities for the fellow Larenos…and you TRASH them! How ignorant can you get? Shame on you….

  11. Luis R. Hernandez February 18, 2018

    I was happy to hear about the Hacienda Lealtad (Hacienda Marquez). Miguel Marquez is my 2nd Great-Grandfather and i would like to know more about him. I hopefully will try to make it to the Hacienda in the second week of March 2018.

  12. Lisa Evans June 12, 2018

    Is this place still around? My father was from Lares PR


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