Puerto Rico Is Perking Up

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Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico Convention Center

It’s been more than a year since the Puerto Rico Destination Marketing Organization (DMO) was created to merge the island’s leisure and MICE marketing operations.

And now the new DMO’s leadership team is taking shape. Former head of the Myrtle Beach SC Chamber of Commerce Brad Dean was appointed CEO of the new DMO this March and this past April, Meet Puerto Rico’s acting president and CFO Alma Pedrosa was tapped to be the DMO’s CFO starting this July. “Now we will have one voice, one message for the tourism industry,” Pedrosa said. Leah Chandler, who has been the Branson Convention & Visitors Bureau’s chief marketing officer for the past five years, will join the Puerto Rico DMO in mid-May in the same capacity.

The new DMO team will have plenty to promote as a reinvigorated Puerto Rico unveils a slew of reimagined and varied accommodations, a brand-new mega entertainment venue, and a vibrant food and wine scene offering both homey and haute cuisine.

The following is a roundup of the island’s latest and most anticipated debuts.

Discover Live!

The multifaceted entertainment zone being built across from the breathtaking Puerto Rico Convention Center is one of the commonwealth’s most ambitious projects. Construction is well underway and promises to be a hub of performance, dining, and stunning technology. Attractions will include a rum micro distillery, cinemas and broadcast studio, restaurants and bars, a day/night club, a 172-room Marriott lifestyle hotel, and an urban zipline that soars over the entire complex. District Live! is set to open in Fall 2019.

La Concha Renaissance Resort

“There are so many things that make us different,” said La Concha group sales manager Xavier Pernas. He was referring to renovation work that began in May (30-40 rooms every two weeks, three floors at a time). Improvements include soundproofing for all Ocean Tower rooms, a new color scheme and decor, and a lobby coffee bar serving locally grown java. La Concha’s iconic, shell-shaped five-star restaurant will remain a draw; it first gained fame as a ’50s nightclub. La Concha’s price point will not change and the hotel will remain open during construction, which is scheduled for completion in Q1 of 2019.

Serafina Beach Hotel

Billed as a lifestyle hotel, as of this March the Serafina is the new kid on the block in San Juan’s trendy Condado district. The vibe around the hotel’s infinity pool, bar, and beach area shouts “young and hip” while inside the lobby and the hotel’s 96 guest rooms strike a more laid back tone with sleek, modern design and shades of sea foam, gray, and white. Tip: The coffee at Serafina’s aMare restaurant is fantastic.

Hotel Revamps

Additional hotel redesigns include a new lobby-lounge overlooking the pool at the Ritz-Carlton San Juan plus a complete renovation of its 416 rooms, casino, and two restaurants by April, 2019. At the Melia Coco Beach, all 486 junior suites will get makeovers to include private balconies and marble floors. “It’s going to be amazing,” said Lus Perez, associate director of sales and marketing, who says the hotel will reopen this December. Tip: The Ritz ballroom overlooks the ocean.

Attendee Givebacks

During the last year, storms destroyed more than 80 percent of Puerto Rico’s coffee trees. Hacienda Munoz coffee plantation in San Lorenzo, about an hour from San Juan was not exempted. Today the specialty coffee grower is on the rise welcoming visitors to dine and explore the sprawling plantation. For groups that take time to give back, Casa Munoz  provides the opportunity to bond and restore the environment. Instead of U-pick, the experience is U-plant, a big step in replacing coffee trees lost in the storm.

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