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Best Western Focuses on Caribbean Expansion

Since the hotel has opened, other businesses in the area like restaurants and convenience stores are reporting a boost in sales thanks to guests. For instance, Rivas said Walgreens noticed a 9 percent increase in products sold.

While in Puerto Rico, we also had the chance to visit IHE’s 58-room luxury boutique hotel El Convento, located across the street from San Juan Cathedral in Old San Juan. Originally a Carmelite convent from 1651 until 1903, the structure had many “colorful” uses until Robert Frederic Woolworth converted it to a hotel in 1962. Ten years later, the government took over the property and it languished as a mid-market hostel. IHE undertook a meticulous renovation of El Convento’s Spanish Colonial architecture and design in the 1990s and 2000s to restore its Old World charm. Now it’s consistently rated the number 1 San Juan hotel on TripAdvisor.

We also stopped by the opulent, oceanfront Condado Vanderbilt, which opened as the island’s first international hotel in 1919 and was a memorable destination for heads of state and celebrities. Architecture firm Warren and Wetmore, creators of New York’s Grand Central Station and the New York Biltmore Hotel, designed the original 93-room structure. The property was shut down in 1997, and just reopened last year after an extensive renovation by Marvel Marchand Architects and Rosselló Interior Design. In addition to the original hotel structure, two 11-story suite towers were added, boosting the number of accommodations to 305. They aren’t putting heads in beds yet, however—only the public and event spaces are open to the public so far.

Meanwhile the Condado Palm has earned a spot on TripAdvisor’s top 10 list of San Juan hotels, joining IHE sister properties El Convento, DoubleTree by Hilton, and La Concha. Talk about healthy sibling rivalries.

More to come on the Haiti trip in an upcoming issue of Lodging.

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