Westin Rio Mar constructing a 'resort within a resort' in Puerto Rico

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RIO GRANDE, Puerto Rico -- Reinhard Werthner is as much a part of the Westin Rio Mar Beach Resort here as the property's fixtures, art and furnishings.

In fact, his arrival at the resort predated its opening by two years.

As vice president and managing director, Werthner was on site during the entire construction process of the 694-room resort, which opened three-and-a-half years ago.

Once again, he's donned his hard hat. This time it's to monitor the daily progress of the Ocean Villas, a beachfront complex composed of 58 one-, two- and three-bedroom units.

The complex is situated between the 16th hole of the resort's 18-hole Ocean Course, designed by Tom and George Fazio, and the main resort.

The opening date is scheduled for Oct. 1.

Each villa ranges in size from 860 square feet to 2,250 square feet.

"This is a resort within a resort," Werthner said. "It came about because our repeat guests have requested this type of accommodations and service."

He also pointed out that "a destination such as Puerto Rico and a resort such as the Westin can never have enough beachfront units."

Apparently not. The five three-bedroom Ocean Villas' units already are booked for the Christmas period, and bookings are strong for the 21 one-bedroom units and the 32 two-bedroom villas.

These villas promise a lot more than just an oceanfront location.

For example, the fully equipped kitchens in each unit will contain -- besides the standard appliances -- a toaster, service for eight, plenty of pots and pans, granite countertops, an electric range with an oven, a coffeemaker, a microwave and microwavable bags of popcorn.

Other amenities will include a stereo system with a CD or DVD player, VCR and a 27-inch remote-controlled color television with cable in the living area and in each bedroom.

Each villa has a balcony overlooking the golf course, ceiling fans, a clock radio and CD player in each bedroom, double sinks and aromatherapy items in the master bath and two-line telephones in the living area and all bedrooms.

Werthner is very excited about the bedrooms, and not just the "CDs that imitate rain forest sounds, like the tree frogs."

Westin's new king-size Heavenly Bed -- the signature item in each villa bedroom -- is all-white, multilayered and down-covered with a pillowtop mattress set, three sheets, a down blanket, a comforter, a white duvet and five pillows.

"This is 11 layers of bed," Werthner said. "This is quite a bed."

That's not all these deluxe units boast. Service is the heart of the matter here -- delivering it and maintaining it.

Because of that, "we want to control everything," Werthner said.

Westin formed its own transportation company for the villas with a fleet of eight shuttle vehicles, two Town Cars and a luxury van to transport guests to and from the airport and other locales on the island.

The Ocean Villas will offer full concierge services. Staff will be available by e-mail, fax and telephone before guests arrive to discuss their needs and requirements and "establish a vacation itinerary," Werthner said.

A Family Accessories kit will be available, if needed, with items such as cribs, diapers and formula already on hand.

Werthner is even forming a Mommies Advisory Board "so we can learn from parents who travel with little kids exactly what they need."

Villa guests will get priority reserved tee times on the golf courses.

The full resort employs a staff of 1,200 overseeing 694 guest rooms (not counting the 58 soon-to-open villas) on 500 acres with 12 restaurants, lounges and entertainment venues, meetings facilities, shops, a casino, two championship golf courses, a one-mile beach, 13 tennis courts, a spa and fitness center, four free-form pools, a Jacuzzi, water sports and the Club Iguana supervised children's program.

Nightly villa rates, depending on the season of the year, range from $475 to $1,175 for one-bedroom units up to a range of $875 to $2,075 for three-bedroom villas.

Children under age 18 stay free when sharing a villa with a parent.

The Ocean Villas at the Westin Rio Mar Beach Resort
Phone: (800) 4-RIO-MAR
Web: www.theoceanvillas.com
CRS: All major systems

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