After almost four years of being inoperative due to the ravages caused by hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017, the luxurious El Conquistador Resort in Fajardo, Puerto Rico, partially restarted its operations today.
The hotel is projected to be fully operational by 2022 after an estimated total investment of $225 million and the creation of 1,000 direct jobs.
Fajardo Mayor José Aníbal Meléndez told THE WEEKLY JOURNAL that the reopening represents a relief for the economic sector in the eastern part of the island. .
"[I am] super happy and excited because it represents an economic and direct impact both on the municipal coffers by the different businesses that are within the hotel, but indirectly because it improves the entire economy of the area," the mayor affirmed.
"Supermarkets sell more, restaurants sell more, gas stops, in short... it is like an environment that is generated through the reopening of the El Conquistador hotel, which is of great benefit to Fajardo and the entire eastern area, not including that it is the livelihood of what I would dare say are thousands of families, mainly from Fajardo," he added.
Meléndez stated that the opening of the first phase of the hotel will also have an immediate multiplier effect on businesses related to the tourism sector, such as companies that offer excursions, restaurants and 'marinas,' which he understands will continue to grow as the number of available rooms increases.
The mayor also indicated that the city council referred a total of 232 employees to the hotel. Moreover, he pointed out that the recruitment has been difficult and although he admitted not knowing the reasons, he understands that it may respond to the fact that there were many people receiving the money from the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program.
First Phase in Motion
In the first phase, El Conquistador will have 230 of its 750 rooms available; the Coquí Water Park —with free entry for hotel guests during the summer months—, the Brisas Courtyard Café, Café Bella Vista, Splash Bar, Oasis, El Cafecito, and The Hills Grill restaurants, plus more than 100,000 square feet of meeting room space.
It also includes that parking lot, which is free for hotel guests.
Prior to its closure, many of the rooms in El Conquistador were used by trade associations, political parties, and the Financial Oversight and Management Board of Puerto Rico to hold conventions, meetings, and other activities that used to attract large numbers of people.
The organizations included the Manufacturers Association, the Puerto Rico Chamber of Food Marketing, Industry & Distribution (MIDA by its Spanish acronym), and the United Retailers Center (CUD, Spanish acronym), among others.
Sandra Fernández, PR for the hotel, said that there are currently 500 employees and that, once the hotel is fully open, there will be roughly 1,000 workers.
"We are ready. This is a soft opening with the first 230 rooms and all of those rooms have seaside view. It is a process that continues in remodeling until we reach a total of 750 rooms," Fernández stated.