Why Puerto Rico Tourism Is Getting Hot

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After a tumultuous 2016, Puerto Rico tourism is on the upswing, having emerged from last year’s struggles stronger than ever, from a thriving eco-tourism product to continued new airlift growth. To learn more about why the island is getting hot, Caribbean Journal caught up with Jose Rodriguez, general manager at the Royal Isabela, a Destination Hotel resort in the northwestern corner of Puerto Rico.

Why are you bullish about tourism in Puerto Rico?

Being a native born in Puerto Rico, I grew up seeing the Tourism Industry develop with new property openings, as well as landmark hotels changing brands to bring a more diverse hospitality experience to the island, providing the market with more options for travelers. Since 2000, smaller gem properties (midsize hotels) began offering the Boutique Caribbean experience. Today, Royal Isabela continues to increasingly attract travelers as a unique luxury 20 Casita boutique resort with stunning landscape, views and a spectacular, challenging and breathtaking Golf Course. We are optimistic that the tourism economic growth will continue to rise in Puerto Rico.

What makes the Puerto Rico experience different?

  • The people. The locals who live here are proud of their culture and excited to share the land and the experiences with tourists. You are greeted with hospitality and warmth.
  • Nature. For an island that’s 100 x 35 miles long, each region is packed with wildlife experiences that will make you feel like you’re on a different continent.
  • Accessibility: For travelers who don’t have passports but still want to have an exotic experience, Puerto Rico is the optimum choice. With direct flights from major airports in key feeder markets such as New York, Atlanta and Miami, it’s an ideal destination.

Why is Puerto Rico especially attractive for eco-tourists?

Puerto Rico is a destination full of nature, lush vegetation and wildlife, and often referred to as the eden for the nature lover. From the El Yunque National Forest and the Camuy caves, to the Taino Indian history in Jayuya, and the Bioluminescent bays of La Parguera, Puerto Rico is a playground for the eco-tourist.

The Links golf course at Royal Isabela.

Puerto Rico was the first destination in the Caribbean to develop its own certification program. That, coupled with the easy flight from most of North America that don’t require travelers to have a passport, is incentive enough for most travelers with adventurous inclinations. In particular, the heart of Royal Isabela’s conservation efforts are with the El Pastillo Conservation Trust, which is charged with preserving the unique ecosystems found along El Pastillo Beach, adjacent land and the surrounding cliffs. The Trust’s four initiatives are to protect wildlife, conserve native flora and fauna, restore areas impacted by human activity and involve the public in the importance of ecology. Royal Isabela continues to be a leader in sustainability, most prevalent in our golf course maintenance practices.

Why is Puerto Rico tourism hot right now?

Puerto Rico, besides its attractive climate year-round, is a destination that is accessible to all markets; whether you’re looking for high-end luxury accommodations nestled in the heart of the island such as Royal Isabela, or a beachfront within a city hotel; Puerto Rico offers a plethora of diversity, culture, warm friendly people and most of all, an authentic Spanish caribbean experience.

Who are the people traveling to Puerto Rico?

Puerto Rico is attractive not only to the family traveler, but also to couples searching for adventure, romance and even to tie the knot – so destination weddings are becoming more popular in Puerto Rico.

Talk about Royal Isabela. Why visit?

Royal Isabela is unbelievably unique and stunning…. Its location is 1 hr 30 minutes from San Juan Airport and only 45 minutes from Aguadilla airport (our secondary airport) – well worth the drive…

  • Exclusivity: Our 20 luxury Casitas make the vacation feel intimate and exclusive…each Casita is nestled within lush gardens and surrounded by the sounds of nature – you can also hear the ocean breaking on a quiet night full of stars…
  • Experiences: Our golf course has been compared to some of the most renowned courses in the world including links in Scotland.
  • Location: Royal Isabela is near several sight-seeing locations such as the Camuy Caves, surfing beaches, historical sites and accessible to nature tours, ziplining, horseback riding, scuba diving and more.

What’s the one can’t miss experience at Royal Isabela?

One of our signature touch points at Royal Isabela is Destination Taste, the ability to provide guests with authentic culinary experiences. One of the highlights for guests at Royal Isabela is the immersive cooking class with Chef Jose Carles Fabregas. The experience begins by foraging in the farms and sourcing produce, such as local guavana, yuka and malanga, to be cooked alongside Chef Carles later that day. The class not only invites guests to feel more intimately connected to the land, but also provides an educational experience as the Chef describes the different crops and how the climate and culture affects the produce. Chef’s background is unique; he started as a caddy on The Links at Royal Isabela before transitioning to his current role in the kitchen, so his understanding of the land and sustainability is unparalleled.

To book a stay at Royal Isabela, click here.

— CJ

 

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