The Radisson Ambassador Plaza Hotel & Casino San Juan will be closing its doors April 29, citing failed attempts to sell the property during the past year.
The closing will leave 200 people jobless, who will nevertheless continue to receive their salaries through June 28.
In a statement, hotel officials said for the past year, the property had been operated under the control of a bank, which provided financing as it sought a buyer for the hotel. However, last month, the bank sold its participation to a third party, which refused to continue financing the hotel’s operations, forcing the closing.
The hotel had been facing financial hardship for the better part of the past decade. Still, in 2013, it announced the start of a remodeling project of its suites and corridors. The project was slated for completion this year.
The Radisson Ambassador Plaza Hotel & Casino is a full-service hotel and casino on Ashford Avenue housing 233 rooms, including 87 two-room suites. The casino spans 14,000 square feet on the ground floor.
The announcement drew immediate reaction from the Puerto Rico Hotel and Tourism Association, which called the decision “unfortunate.”
“It’s unfortunate for the industry that hotels and casinos in Puerto Rico continue closing,” said PRHTA Chairman Miguel Vega. “This is proof of how unhealthy these operations are, given that among other factors, they’re constantly threatened by the proliferation of illegal slot machines and the high costs of doing business.”
“We cannot lose sight of the fact that hotels with casinos generate 80 percent of the Puerto Rico Tourism Company’s budget for the promotion and marketing of the destination, and more than $70 million to operate the University of Puerto Rico. It’s simple, a formula where the government the biggest beneficiary.”
The trade group has raised its concerns of the “fragility” of the industry, blaming casino closings on the government’s inaction. In recent years, the casinos at the Embassy Suites in Dorado, the El Conquistador Hotel in Fajardo, the Gran Meliá Resort in Río Grande, the Diamond Palace Hotel and the hotel at the Luis Muñoz Marín Airport all closed.
Meanwhile, the heads of the Puerto Rico Economic Development and Commerce and the Tourism Co. said Monday they will offer their support to the soon-to-be unemployed workers.
The Economic Development and Commerce’s Workforce Development Program has activated its Rapid Response Unit to provide counseling and information about employment opportunities for workers.
Tourism Co. Executive Director Ingrid Rivera, said the agency is also evaluating whether those employees can be relocated to nearby hotels and casinos.
“We regret the announced closure of operations of the Ambassador. However, we are working with Economic Development and Commerce and the Workforce Development Program to seek employment opportunities and the possible relocation of these employees in other area hotels or other sectors of the tourism industry,” she said.
“In turn, we are communicating with the different general managers of these hotels and casinos to ask for their support and to identify employment opportunities,” she said.
“The Radisson Ambassador has an excellent location and we believe it may be an attractive investment opportunity for our tourism industry,” Rivera said.