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PR Convention Centre gets "urban resort"

Convention-goers in Puerto Rico will have the option to stay at an “urban resort” next door to all their meetings. After work, they will be able to stroll down the street to shows, restaurants and shops near lagoons and tropical gardens.
That is the vision for the Puerto Rico Convention Center headquarter hotel. Last month, government officials announced the selection of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, under its Sheraton banner, to enter negotiations to operate the flagship property. Construction of the US$175-million facility is set to start early next year, with a projected opening in 2007.

Conceived as an “urban resort,” the hotel will have a minimum of 500 rooms. On the first floor, the contemporary design calls for a large, open lobby; casino, and entertainment complex with music hall for live performances. Also included in the plan are two ballrooms, banquet and meeting rooms, spa, restaurants, shops and parking space. On the fourth floor, the design features a rooftop pool with cabanas, tropical gardens and views of Old San Juan and the harbor. Described as a “beach without sand,” the area is designed to bring the Caribbean into the Convention Center District for conventioneers.

“The Puerto Rico Convention Center anchor hotel will combine much of what makes San Juan unique as a meeting destination: sophisticated nightlife, fine cuisine, history, and advanced infrastructure with a Caribbean flair,” says Ana Maria Viscasillas, acting executive director, Puerto Rico Convention Bureau, marketing and sales agent for the new Convention Center. “The hotel is a great complement to our state-of-the-art Convention Center opening in late 2005.”

Garfield Traub Development LLC of Texas and Interlink Group of Puerto Rico were tapped last month to begin negotiations to develop the hotel.  They were selected from a field of five international development teams and hotel companies. Other key members of the development team include award-winning, Texas-based architectural firm RTKL International, Ltd., and Ray Architects and UBS Financial Services, Inc., both of Puerto Rico.