Meagan Drillinger
Meagan Drillinger

The announcement of the reopening of Puerto Rico's landmark El San Juan Hotel is a signal to the travel industry that Puerto Rico is well on its way to being back and ready for business.

The 388-room property said last month that it would reopen Dec. 14, after being closed for more than a year following Hurricane Maria. It's been an icon of tourism in San Juan, and Puerto Rico as a whole, and its reopening is a good omen of things to come.

"With Maria's one-year anniversary behind us, Puerto Rico is eager to welcome visitors back to the island," said Brad Dean, CEO of Discover Puerto Rico. "In the past year, Puerto Rico has made incredible strides, and it is now, more than ever, ready to welcome visitors."

According to Discover Puerto Rico, 135 of 145 hotels are open on the island, and an average of 110 flights on 28 airlines are in and out of Luis Munoz Marin International Airport daily. For the 2018-2019 season, the island expects to see more than 1.7 million cruise passengers.

"There's a palpable trend in restoring the island's innate beauty and wonderful architecture, with special attention to detail in blending Puerto Rico's rich history with the contemporary style that today's discerning traveler expects," said Martin Smith, the new managing director of El San Juan Hotel. 

In that vein, Dean said that a five-acre hospitality and entertainment district built by Island Hospitality Partners and the Puerto Rico Convention Center District Authority would open next year. The area will be dubbed District San Juan and is expected to be a vibrant and modern event space, which illustrates the contrast between the old Puerto Rico and the new. The plaza will include restaurants, ziplines, eight movie theaters, a day/night disco and an event space for more than 6,000 people.

Another nod to the future of San Juan tourism will be the opening of boutique hotel O:LV Fifty Five in December. This will be the sister hotel to the O:live Boutique Hotel. O:LV Fifty Five is a new-build city tower, with a heavy focus on a retro, sleek design. The all-suite hotel has six room categories, ranging from the 320-square-foot Design Suite to the Infinity Suite Beyond Balcony, which has a lounge area on the balcony with views over the Natural Reserve Lagoon.

Discover Puerto Rico recently launched a campaign that encourages media and visitors to #CoverTheProgress.

There is also a new marketing effort between New York and Puerto Rico. "As New Yorkers have long been visiting Puerto Rico and vice versa, for the first time there is now a formal marketing effort to boost tourism between the two destinations," said Smith. The partnership will include an exchange of marketing and advertising assets valued at more than $300,000 over a three-month period. This rolls out Nov. 19 and is aimed at the meetings and business market as well as individual leisure travelers. 

Hotels still to reopen are the St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort and Candelero Beach Resort at Palmas Del Mar, which will open in December, as well as the Caribe Hilton, the Ritz-Carlton San Juan and Melia Coco Beach, all reopening in early 2019. 

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