Puerto Rico's new Paradisus is already a 'leader'

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NEW YORK -- The Paradisus Puerto Rico Beach & Golf Resort, a five-star inclusive, hasn't even opened yet, but it has won approval for membership in the Leading Hotels of the World marketing organization.

It is the eighth Sol Melia property to be accepted by Leading Hotels and the second Paradisus luxury all-inclusive. The first was the Paradisus Playa Conchal in Costa Rica.

The Puerto Rican resort, about 35 minutes east of Luis Munoz Marin airport in San Juan, was to have opened this month. However, due to heavy rains in late November, which made continued construction hazardous and sometimes impossible, the property now will open in February.

The all-suite resort, touted as Puerto Rico's first all-inclusive, comprises 20 two-story bungalows -- none higher than the palm trees, it is said. The 500 suites vary from 540 to 1,200 square feet.

The property sits on a 1,000-acre peninsula in Rio Grande, on the northeast coast of Puerto Rico. Eventually, a Fairmont hotel is to be built on the peninsula, as well.

Emanuel Schreibmaier, vice president of sales and marketing for Sol Melia, based in Miami, said the company plans to promote aggressively to the U.S. market. Already, he said, the resort participated with the Puerto Rico Tourism Co. in a sales blitz to about 350 agencies in the Boston area.

The property will be included in packages offered by Apple Vacations, Gogo Worldwide Vacations, Travel Impressions and some Mark Travel brands, he said.

Efforts targeting U.S. agents and clients will complement European sales tactics. Schreibmaier said several Spanish tour operators and TUI in Germany will package the Puerto Rican property, as well.

Advance bookings look good, he said, referring specifically to February and March, and groups are lined up for May and June.

Looking well ahead, Schreibmaier said the property has $35 million on the books in groups, incentives and meetings through 2006.

As with all Paradisus-branded facilities, the Puerto Rican resort has its own convention center, a 29,000-square-foot site.

When asked to name key competitors to the new property, Schreibmaier would admit to none.

He said the Paradisus is an all-inclusive in the five-star category and part of a brand that also, uniquely, always includes a convention center and always includes, within the main product, the Royal Service subproduct.

Paradisus Puerto Rico has 96 Royal Service suites, which provide a private swimming pool (48 with Jacuzzis), valet assistance, 24-hour concierge and housekeeping services.

The property promises Royal Service guests attention to details like these: Guests can choose from 12 types of pillows, "and we are considering offering a choice of five scents" for the rooms, Schreibmaier added. The Royal product carries a premium of about 25% over the base room rates and "travel agents love it."

Schreibmaier said he could not yet point to the next likely spot in the Caribbean for a Paradisus, but "Paradisus will mushroom in the next couple of years. These are properties that provide a high return on investment," he said.

You can reach the journalist who wrote this article at [email protected].

Book it! Paradisus rates
• Rack rates at the new Paradisus Puerto Rico Beach & Golf Resort are $800 per room, per night, double, and $450, single, from opening day in February through April.
• A special opening rate from March 1 through April 11 is $519 per room, per night, double, and $336, single. From April 12, the rates are $452 and $288, respectively.
• Significant savings apply on packages available through participating tour operators.
• Information and details are available at (800) 33-MELIA.

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