The largest and most upscale resort in
Ponce, Puerto Rico, is adding the finishing touches to renovations
and expansion that not only increase its room count but also give
the city more tourist activities.
To reflect the
changes, the property formerly known as the Hilton Ponce &
Casino altered its name a bit and is now called the Hilton Ponce
Golf & Casino Resort.
trying to change, said Betty Gonzalez, sales manager for tour and
travels at the hotel. Were always trying to find out what people
The hotel, which
opened in 1992, has been owned for the past three years by
Serralles Hotels, part of the local empire that produces and
distributes much of the rum sold in Puerto Rico.
Teeing off is a
key to the Hilton Ponces strategy to attract visitors. A 72-hole
golf course, the Costa Caribe Golf & Country Club, opened last
year, with $65 greens fees for hotel guests. The course has 17
man-made lakes and the 12th hole is on a peninsula.
The country club
features a new, 32,000-square-foot clubhouse, which includes Acqua
Pazza, an upscale Italian restaurant; a pro shop; locker rooms; a
cocktail lounge; and a swimming pool.
The golf club
also has 100 new residential villas.
Golf in this
region had been the missing link, said Gunther Mainka, general
manager of the Hilton Ponce. The fact that there is now a
championship golf course really is going to make a big difference
on the south coast.
In October 2004,
the hotel also opened 100 rooms in a new building, the Executive
Tower, adjacent to the existing hotel.
rooms are decorated with local photos and colorful, upscale decor.
Guests staying in these rooms can use the Executive Lounge, which
has a separate check-in area and serves complimentary continental
breakfast and hors doeuvres. It also provides free access to
computers with high-speed Internet.
The property also
completed a renovation of its casino, which now has the ticket-in,
ticket-out system that enables gamblers to use paper tickets,
rather than coins.
An updated lobby
bar, Los Balcones, has been added, replacing the former Mexican
Bar. By May, a new coffee shop will open for daytime
Even before the
additions, the hotel was a destination unto itself for the
Its casino is
open daily from 8 a.m. until 4 a.m. Theres a club with a dance
floor and live music, restaurants and theme nights. Saturday, for
example, is Noche Poncena (Ponce Night), with a traditional buffet
and show by local dance students.
Families can make
use of the hotels V.I.C. (Very Important Children) program, which
allows children under age 18 to stay for free in the room with an
adult. Children under age 5 receive all meals for free, and
children ages 5 to 12 receive breakfast free and 50% off all other
meals when accompanied by an adult. Guests with kids also receive
one free baby-sitting service of up to four hours with a minimum
The property has
16 meetings rooms with 17,000 square feet of exhibition space and a
business center with computers and two conference rooms.
Day trips are
available to tour the city of Ponce or to scuba and snorkel at Caja
de Muertos, a nearby island.
reporter Mark Chesnut, send e-mail [email protected].