Puerto Rico's room count to grow 15% in 2003

By Gay Nagle Myers

FREEPORT, Bahamas -- Jose M. Suarez, deputy executive director of the Puerto Rico Tourism Co., said 21 new hotel projects currently are under way in Puerto Rico.

Suarez, speaking at the Caribbean Tourism Organization's Caribbean Tourism Conference (CTC-25) here, said the projects represent an investment of $560 million and will add 2,261 rooms (15% of the total inventory) by the end of 2003.

New projects include the 314-room Inter-Continental Cayo Largo Resort, set to open in December (phase two of the same resort, a 70-villa complex, is to open late next year); the 112-room Rincon of the Seas-Grand Caribbean Hotel, to debut in November; and the 225-room Marriott Courtyard Isla Verde, opening in December on the site of the former Holiday Inn Crowne Plaza, damaged by hurricane Georges in 1998.

Suarez said an additional 56 hotel projects -- representing 8,600 rooms -- are in the planning stages, for a total investment of $2.2 billion in completed and planned hotel projects.

The Puerto Rico Convention Center, due to open in the spring of 2005, is in its first phase of construction now.

SuperHost, a new tourism hospitality program to "train and educate service industry personnel throughout Puerto Rico," according to Suarez, is expected to begin training the first phase of 12 personnel in Culebra in November. Training also will take place in Rincon and Mayaguez on Puerto Rico's west coast.

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