Recovery is Underway
Things are looking up for the island after successfully hosting Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers and Caribbean Travel Marketplace in March.
From the rooftop of Puerto Rico Convention Center, you can’t frame a photo without catching a construction crane. Even before Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico relied heavily on its tourism and meetings industry—primarily business from the mainland.
As it attempts to rebuild old buildings and undo cosmetic damage to vibrant districts like Condado, a hearth for boutique hotels, restaurants and nightlife, Puerto Rico is hustling hard to become the premier destination it once was.
The numbers don’t look half bad to start.
The island saw a record-breaking level of visitors over the Easter/Passover holiday this year and plans to keep the momentum going with new developments like San Juan’s $89 million District Live! multiuse entertainment complex that broke ground in late 2016 and is set to open in fall 2019.
Major hotel groups like Hilton and Marriott have used the hurricane as an opportunity for multimillion-dollar renovations as many seek to reopen this fall or early 2019. Among the most anticipated openings is the famed El Conquistador Resort, A Waldorf Astoria Resort, which is offering highly discounted room nights and other incentives to book now.
With a massive rebuild taking its course, Puerto Rico needs to address the question at large: What about the next hurricane?
The short answer is there’s no way to tell. Puerto Rico is a gem in the Caribbean, an area that will always be at risk for devastating hurricanes.
“One day we’re a meeting facility and the next day we’re a world-class command center,” says Jorge Perez, general manager of Puerto Rico Convention Center. “It speaks to our flexibility.”
That attitude sums up much about how the island operates. Residents go about their daily lives with no chip on their shoulder and pride in being Puerto Rican.