As part of ‘$120 million transaction,’ work begins on Hyatt Regency Coco Beach Resort in Puerto Rico

(Courtesy)

10‑year plan considered to have 6 hotels on Coco Beach peninsula

SAN JUAN — While in New York on Tuesday, Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló announced that the former Gran Meliá Puerto Rico Hotel was acquired by Monarch Alternative Capital, in partnership with Royal Palm Cos. and Aimbridge Hospitality, which will re-launch the hotel as the Hyatt Regency Coco Beach Resort.

The hotel will be situated on a 1,000-acre peninsula within a private development known as Coco Beach on the northeast coast of Puerto Rico that includes a 36-hole championship golf course. It will include some 37,000 square feet of meeting and event space, a club lounge and restaurants.

The governor also announced that the developers are considering a 10‑year master plan that will locate six hotels on the Coco Beach peninsula. Three of these six hotels are expected to open by 2022.

“It is with great enthusiasm that we share this information in the most important forum of hotel investment. Transactions like these that are taking place today validate that our commitment to tourism is a wise one and that there is a positive environment for investment,” Rosselló said while at the NYU International Hospitality Industry Investment Conference.

The governor stressed that “the Government of Puerto Rico is open for business. We have managed to streamline processes for granting tax benefits and granting permits, which demonstrates that this administration sustains a war against bureaucracy, so that the private sector can have better investment opportunities.”

The Hyatt Regency Coco Beach Resort will have five new dining options and is estimated to create more than 200 new jobs. The average hotel-night rate is expected to be around $300.

During his presentation, Rosselló unveiled images and plans of how the property is expected to look.

The Coco Beach Resort is part of a $120 million transaction that was made possible through an agreement with the Puerto Rico Tourism Co. (PRTC), “in which tax credits were granted in accordance with the benefits available under Act 74,” according to a release by the governor’s office, La Fortaleza.

The governor gave details about the transaction in a panel moderated by Arthur Adler, president of Americas, Hotels and Hospitality Group, JLL Hotels & Hospitality. Tyler Morse, chief executive officer and managing partner of MCR, also participated and spoke about the newly opened TWA Hotel at John F. Kennedy Airport.

The PRTC has been working on this transaction together with the group of investors for several months, La Fortaleza said, adding that after Hurricane Maria struck the island in 2017, “Monarch Alternative Capital, a company that had interests in the peninsula already, saw the opportunity to acquire the former Gran Meliá Hotel with 486 rooms, 135 one-bedroom units, and an additional 14 acres of land.”

To proceed with the transaction, Monarch carried out a joint venture with Royal Palm Companies and Aimbridge Hospitality.

“We have been working during the past months so that this transaction, that enables the reopening of the hotel, is achieved in the short term and to direct the development of the long-term master plan, which will add to the hotel inventory some 2,500 rooms, with a projection of 1,500 new jobs. This will result in a total investment of around $1.5 billion when the six hotels materialize,” the executive director of the PRTC, Carla Campos, said.

During the hospitality conference, the Puerto Rican representatives touted the island’s tax benefits and “the competitive advantage of being an almost entirely eligible territory” in terms of Opportunity Zone benfits.”

“There remain several opportunities for developers, investors, lenders and brands to get involved with Coco Beach,” La Fortaleza’s release reads. “Those interested in learning more should reach out to the Puerto Rico Tourism Company to hear about the level of governmental support available for this project.”

“I want you to envision Puerto Rico as a blank canvas,” Rosselló was quoted by Meetings & Conventions as telling the media.

“We will harden our infrastructure and make sure we have a better, stronger energy grid,” adding, “We have established some of the most competitive incentives, with tourism tax credits that now range from 30 to 40 percent, whereas in the past it was only 10 percent.”

“We see the opportunity to double the impact of tourism on our island. Our goal is to double our inventory to 30,000 rooms on the island,” he said.

The new hotel is expected to open in July as a Hyatt affiliated hotel and then become Hyatt Regency Coco Beach Resort after an extensive renovation is completed this fall, Hyatt Hotels Corp. said in its news release.

The 486-room hotel with 93 upgraded suites with in-room whirlpool tubs and kitchenettes will be managed by Aimbridge Hospitality and “will be the brand’s only full-service property in Puerto Rico.” The hotel will operate as The Resort at Coco Beach, a Hyatt affiliated hotel until the renovation is completed.

In Puerto Rico, Hyatt already has the Hyatt House San Juan, Hyatt Place Manatí, Hyatt Place San Juan Bayamón and Hyatt Place San Juan City Center.                 

“The expansive redevelopment of this premiere beachfront property is a testament to the confidence among owners and developers in the destination of Puerto Rico and the Hyatt brand,” said Camilo Bolaños, vice president of development and real estate – Latin America and Caribbean, Hyatt.




Hyatt Restructures Management Team in Puerto Rico

SAN JUAN—Hyatt in Puerto Rico announced Wednesday a restructuring of its local leadership team, in an effort aimed at leveraging the skillset and expertise of current personnel.

Leo Gallardo

Leo Gallardo, new general manager at Hyatt Place San Juan/City Center (Photo: Hyatt)

Leo Gallardo assumes the general manager position at Hyatt Place San Juan/City Center, after having served as General Manager at Hyatt Place Manatí. The position he leaves open will be filled by María Rouco, the new general manager of Hyatt Place Manatí. She had previously been the assistant general manager of the Hyatt Place Bayamón. Meanwhile, Anna Rosario takes on the role of assistant general manager at Hyatt Place Bayamón.

Francisco Mariani, area general manager of the hotel chain on the Island, noted that “the Hyatt brand has enjoyed rapid growth in Puerto Rico since returning to the market in 2013. To build on this, we have continually challenged managers to prove themselves in current roles and proactively train them for future positions within our hotel portfolio.”

Mariani added that the appointments come at a time when tourism in Puerto Rico, both local and foreign, is experiencing a slight increase, buoyed by a public policy that has identified tourism as an important path to the island’s socioeconomic recovery.

maria-rouco

María Rouco, new general manager of Hyatt Place Manatí (Photo: Hyatt)

Gallardo, a veteran hotel industry professional, boasts 16 years of experience that began at the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress in Orlando in 2000. He took on several roles over the next decade, highlighted by his enthusiasm and leadership skills. In 2010 he returned to Puerto Rico, along with his family, to take on the role of executive housekeeper at the Hyatt Residence Club Hacienda del Mar at Dorado.

Rouco began her career at Hyatt Cerromar as assistant recreation director in 1999. In October 2013 Maria was promoted to assistant general manager, inaugurating the Hyatt Place Bayamon. Her track record includes driving guest satisfaction scores and delivering profitability through efficient and consistent best practices. Maria was named Manager of the Year in 2015.

Rosario also began her career at Hyatt Cerromar, in 2001. She joined Hyatt Place Bayamon in 2013 and was named Employee of the Year in 2015, receiving the most votes from her peers.

 




Hotels in 10 States and DC May Have Been Hit by Hackers

FILE - This Feb. 1, 2010, file photo, shows The Westin Philadelphia hotel in Philadelphia. Hyatt, Sheraton, Marriott and Westin hotels in 10 states and the District of Columbia may have been targeted by hackers for months. Hotel operator HEI Hotels & Resorts, said Monday, Aug. 15, 2016, that malware put into place in at least 20 locations may have collected names, card account numbers, card expiration dates and verification codes. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

The Westin Philadelphia hotel in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

NEW YORK – Hyatt, Sheraton, Marriott and Westin hotels in 10 states and the District of Columbia may have been targeted by hackers for months.

According to the hotel operator HEI Hotels & Resorts, malware put into place in at least 20 locations may have collected names, card account numbers, card expiration dates and verification codes.

Data from customers may have been collected from early December, through late June. At some properties, HEI said, data collection may have begun as early as March 2015 at hotel locations where people bought food or drinks.

HEI said in a company release that “We are treating this matter as a top priority, and took steps to address and contain this incident promptly after it was discovered.”

HEI said that once it found out about the problem it transitioned payment card processing to a stand-alone system that’s completely separate from the rest of its network. It disabled the malware and is in the process of reconfiguring various components of its network and payment systems to make them more secure.

The company said it’s continuing to cooperate with the law enforcement investigation and coordinating with banks and payment card companies.

Anyone who used a card at HEI hotels in the given time frame should review their account statements and look for discrepancies or unusual activity, both over the past several months and going forward, the company said. Customers who notice anything out of place should contact their credit or debit card issuer.

Customers may also visit www.heihotels.com/notice for additional information about the incident.

The company says the breach has been contained and customers can safely use cards at all of its properties.




Hotels Woo Guests to Book Directly Online with Discounts

NEW YORK – Hotels are getting more aggressive in their fight to get travelers to book reservations directly with them instead of through online travel agencies such as Expedia and Priceline.

Hyatt Hotels Corp. on Monday became the latest chain to offer guests a discount for booking a room directly on its own website. Members of its Gold Passport loyalty program can save up to 10 percent at hotels in the U.S., Canada and Australia.

The move follows similar campaigns by Hilton Worldwide, Marriott International and Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide.

Hotel companies have a tortured relationship with online travel booking sites. They rely on the sites to bring travelers to their properties and fill rooms. But companies like Expedia and Priceline charge commissions of 15 percent or higher. The hotel chains would rather keep that money themselves.

“It costs them less and it gives them a better chance to create a business relationship,” said Henry Harteveldt, of travel consultancy Atmosphere Research Group. “They get our email information and a chance to win our ongoing preference.”

Harteveldt noted that fewer than one in four hotel guests belong to a loyalty program.

Expedia said online travel agencies help travelers discover new hotels and offer efficiency.

“The vast majority of travelers coming through our sites are new, brand-agnostic and incremental to the chain’s existing loyal customers,” said Cyril Ranque, president of lodging partner services for the Expedia Group. “To ask a consumer to search multiple sites for the best price sets the industry back 20 years.”

As chains bring hundreds of independent hotels into their booking systems, they are trying to prove their own worth and justify their own management or franchise fees. Part of that process means trying to retrain guests to do less price comparison. The idea is that one hotel company’s website should be your only stop when looking for a room, whether in a boxy convention property or a boutique hotel.

Hilton launched a marketing campaign in February called “Stop Clicking Around” promoting its own discount for loyalty members – also up to 10 percent – as well as free Wi-Fi. Starwood offers the same discounts. (Hyatt offers free Wi-Fi to all guests worldwide, regardless of how they book.)

In this Wednesday, March 23, 2016, photo, floor projection flowers and a waterfall greet guests at the Marriott Hotel  in Richmond, Va. Hotels are getting more aggressive in their fight to get travelers to book reservations directly with them instead of through online travel agencies such as Expedia and Priceline. When Marriott launched its member-only rates in March, its global marketing officer, Karin Timpone, said the rates were to reward loyalty. “We also want to help dispel the myth that other travel websites offer better rates for our hotels. The simple fact is that you will find the lowest rates across our portfolio when you join Marriott Rewards and book direct,” Timpone said. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

The Marriott Hotel in Richmond, Va. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

Travelers should note that sometimes a discount for being a senior or AAA member is greater than the hotel’s member rate. But not always.

When Marriott launched its member-only rates in March, its global marketing officer, Karin Timpone, said the rates were to reward loyalty.

“We also want to help dispel the myth that other travel websites offer better rates for our hotels. The simple fact is that you will find the lowest rates across our portfolio when you join Marriott Rewards and book direct,” Timpone said at the time.

At the time of its campaign launch, Hilton’s chief marketing officer, Geraldine Calpin, provided a similar explanation: “Our customers don’t need to worry about sorting through a dizzying array of websites, enduring hundreds of clicks and wasting hours of time.”

The Associated Press




Hyatt Place San Juan/City Center Celebrates Official Opening

SAN JUAN – Hyatt Hotels Corp., PRISA Group and McConnell Valdés Consulting Inc. announced Monday the official opening of Puerto Rico’s fourth Hyatt-branded hotel, the $29 million Hyatt Place San Juan/City Center next to the Puerto Rico Convention Center in San Juan.

The 149-room hotel debuts after the opening of three Hyatt branded properties in Puerto Rico in the last two years: Hyatt Place San Juan/Bayamón, Hyatt Place Manatí and Hyatt House San Juan.

Main-Photo-Hyatt-Place-San-JuanThe hotel features the Hyatt Place brand’s design, casual atmosphere and amenities, such as free Wi-Fi and 24-hour food offerings, and a resort-style swimming pool and water feature for children as well as a digital artwork display on the building’s exterior by local artist Annette Vaccaro. The art installation along the hotel’s façade is the fourth collaboration of its kind between PRISA Group and Vaccaro.

“Hyatt Place San Juan/City Center opens in the midst of an historic moment in which the Puerto Rican tourism industry is experiencing a revival, seeing an increase in visitors, hotel reservations and rates in the last five years,” said Federico Stubbe Jr., president of PRISA Group.

Hyatt Place San Juan/City Center is under the leadership of General Manager Gisela Rivera, who will oversee the hotel’s 60 associates. Francisco Mariani will oversee the four Hyatt-branded hotels on the island with the support of Area Sales Director Laura Soto-Reyes. “As the leisure and business travel industry in San Juan and Puerto Rico as a whole continues to grow, we are excited to add to the momentum by welcoming the third Hyatt Place and fourth Hyatt-branded hotel to the local market,” Mariani said in the published announcement.

Hyatt Place has more than 235 locations in the United States, Armenia, Chile, China, Costa Rica, Honduras, India, Mexico, Morocco, Nicaragua, Panama, Puerto Rico, The Netherlands, and United Arab Emirates.




Hyatt Place Hotel Opens in Convention Center District

SAN JUAN – The Hyatt Place, the latest hotel developed in the grounds of the Puerto Rico Convention Center District in San Juan’s Miramar sector, opened its doors Monday.

The project, co-developed by PRISA Group, adds 149 rooms to the Convention Center District’s hospitality offering and, alongside the Sheraton Convention Center and Hyatt House hotels, brings the area’s total to 652 rooms.

Gov. Alejandro García Padilla was on hand at the inauguration. About $29.6 million, $5.9 million of which came from the Puerto Rico government, went into the development. The project also generated 596 direct and indirect jobs in its construction and operational phase, the governor said.

“This new hotel is a prime example of the advances this administration has made in tourism,” García Padilla added, highlighting recent industry milestones such as 8 million air passengers going through the island’s main airport and 1.5 million tourists arriving by cruise ship in 2015, a 30% increase compared with 2014.

“Despite the crisis and the millions of dollars in negative campaigns that bondholders are waging against Puerto Rico, we are witnessing an expansion that has become a part of the great things our people continue to achieve, in spite of what others are trying to project on the international stage,” García Padilla said.




Hyatt says 250 Hotels had Malware Last Year

NEW YORK – Hyatt says it found malicious software in about 250 of its hotels that may have taken customers’ credit- and debit-card numbers and other information.

It’s the first time the hotel operator listed the hotels affected since it first announced it found malware at its hotels in December.

A Hyatt spokeswoman says the hotel chain does not know at this time how many customers were affected.

Hyatt Hotels Corp. says the malware was present between July and December at payment-processing systems at its restaurants, spas, front desks and other areas.

The malware was found at many of its brands, including the Park Hyatt, Hyatt Regency and Andaz. About 100 of the hotels affected were in the U.S., the rest were abroad in cities including London, Paris and Shanghai.

The Chicago company has about 630 properties.

By The Associated Press

Online:

List of affected hotels: http://www.hyatt.com/protectingourcustomers/hotellist/




Hyatt Warns of Malware on its Payment-Processing System

SAN FRANCISCO – Hyatt Hotels Corp. says it found malicious software on the computer system that processes customer payments, raising the possibility that hackers may have obtained credit card numbers or other sensitive information.

The resort chain is advising customers to review their payment card statements, although it has not said if any customer data was stolen. Hyatt spokeswoman Stephanie Sheppard said in an email that the malware was discovered Nov. 30, but she didn’t say why the company waited three weeks to report the discovery on Wednesday.

Hyatt is the latest of several major hotel chains to report this year that hackers had attacked their computers. The Hilton, Starwood, Mandarin Oriental and Trump Collection chains have previously acknowledged finding malware in their payment systems. While some of the companies have not disclosed details, Starwood acknowledged last month that the malware enabled “unauthorized parties to access payment card data” for some of its customers.

At the Hyatt chain, Sheppard told The Associated Press, “the investigation is ongoing, and we’ll have more information once it is complete.”

Hyatt also said it has hired outside experts to help investigate the malware, and has taken steps to increase security on its computer systems.

The Chicago-based company owns, manages or franchises a portfolio of 627 properties in 52 countries. Sheppard said the malware was found on computers that process payments for the 318 hotels that Hyatt manages.

Hyatt is promising to provide updates on its website, at www.hyatt.com/protectingourcustomers.

By The Associated Press