Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. (NYSE: HOT) is gearing up for the November opening of The St. Regis Bahia Beach, Puerto Rico, the island’s first luxury project since 1997. Underscoring the recovery in luxury hospitality, the $172 million resort is nearly sold out for the December holidays. This month, Starwood President and CEO Frits van Paasschen met with Puerto Rico Governor Luis Fortuño, as well as owners and developers, to discuss future Starwood development in this key Caribbean market.
The highly anticipated St. Regis comes on the heels of two other key Starwood hotel openings in Puerto Rico: W Vieques, the first W Retreat & Spa in North America, and Sheraton Puerto Rico Convention Center Hotel & Casino - the first new full-service hotel and casino built in San Juan in more than a decade. The Sheraton Puerto Rico Convention Center Hotel & Casino is also scheduled to become the first LEED Certified hotel in the Caribbean. The addition of these three new hotels has doubled Starwood’s portfolio in Puerto Rico in just one year.
“Starwood has made a significant impact in Puerto Rico, helping to drive even more tourism and group travel to this easily accessible Caribbean island,” said Frits van Paasschen, President and CEO of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. “The enthusiastic response to our first W and second Sheraton in Puerto Rico has paved the way for the successful launch of The St. Regis Bahia Beach, Puerto Rico, which will satisfy pent-up demand for luxury lodging on the island. Looking ahead, we are very bullish about the growth prospects for all of our brands in Puerto Rico and across the Caribbean.”
The St. Regis Bahia Beach features 139 luxurious guest rooms and suites, 26 estate home residences, an 18-hole golf course designed by Robert Trent Jones, Jr., RemèdeSM Spa, oceanfront swimming pools, and Fern, a new restaurant by renowned Chef Jean-Georges. Offering two miles of sandy beach and views of the El Yunque National Rainforest, the newly constructed hotel occupies a prime location within a community committed to environmental preservation and sustainable development. The St. Regis Bahia Beach is designated as a Certified Gold Audubon International Signature Sanctuary.
Eco-tourism is playing an increasingly important role in Puerto Rico, which attracts more U.S. tourists than any other Caribbean destination. Americans can visit without needing a passport, and many major U.S. airports offer frequent direct flights. Overall tourist traffic increased 10% to Puerto Rico in the first six months of 2010, according to industry sources.
“The tourism recovery is well underway in Puerto Rico, where we now provide a range of lodging options and a terrific outlet for SPG members to redeem points on a convenient Caribbean getaway,” said Denise Coll, President, North America for Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. “We are delighted to have grown so rapidly in this dynamic market, which has consistently earned high marks for its ease of access, strong infrastructure and dynamic mix of cultures.”