Best Western International is steadily building its reputation in the Caribbean since the openings of the Best Western Premier Petion-Ville in Haiti and the Best Western Plus Condado Palm Inn and Suites in San Juan, Puerto Rico, earlier this year. That growth will continue when a Premier property opens in Gazcue, Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic in 2014. Other locations of interest include Aruba, Grand Cayman, and St. Maarten. The development is part of the company’s plans to strengthen its North American and Caribbean reach with nearly 120 properties to either be constructed or converted in 2013, many of which are expected to achieve Premier or Plus designations.
“When you have the Plus category, guests have different expectations,” said Condado Palm General Manger Miguel Rivas. “They don’t think it’s just a hotel next to the road where they stop one night and then keep traveling to other areas.”
A group of journalists recently had the opportunity to visit the San Juan and Petion-Ville hotels to see Best Western’s Caribbean growth firsthand. (Stay tuned for an interview with Best Western Premier Petion-Ville’s GM Ronald Maidens in an upcoming issue of Lodging magazine.)
The Condado Palm in San Juan was originally developed in the 1960s as two independent properties, one a hotel and the other a condominium. In the 1980s they were integrated as the Dutch Inn and Suites. Due to an ownership change and rebranding, the hotel operated as the Diamond Palace Hotel and Casino until it closed in 2010. Condado Palm LLC purchased the shuttered hotel in 2012 and invested $30 million to renovate and reposition the property as a Best Western Plus managed by International Hospitality Enterprises (IHE), a hotel and casino development and management company based in San Juan with a good reputation for rescuing old properties. IHE Founder Hugh Andrews and interior designer Jorge Rossello spearheaded the 10-month remodeling project. The team’s previous hotel overhauls in San Juan include the Condado Vanderbilt Hotel, Hotel El Convento, and La Concha Hotel. IHE’s portfolio also includes Courtyard by Marriott Isla Verde Beach Resort, Copamarina Beach Resort and Spa, and the DoubleTree by Hilton San Juan.