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Indiana, United States
Debt free empty nesters...ready to stretch our wings. Life is good and we plan on making it even better. This blog is mostly about our trips to Vieques Puerto Rico, with a few odds and ends thrown in about our life after the mortgage.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Paradise Lost.....

Well not yet..but it sounds like it might be coming. Vieques might yet end up another victim of the "carpetbaggers". It saddens me to think that this wonderful island with all it's idiosyncrasies will be dumbed down for the masses, replete with casinos and terraced swimming pools. A Caribbean Disneyland...it's enough to make you vomit.

No need to sugar-coat it huh? Should this come to pass our love affair with Vieques will more than likely end.

Anyway....here's the article I ran across this eve:

3 new hotels, 1st casino in pipeline for Vieques
Written by mkantrow  //  June 13, 2011


Three new hotels — including the first to incorporate a casino — are in the works for the island municipality of Vieques, representing a total investment of $55.1 million and the possibility of adding some 200 new rooms, News is my Business has learned.


José Juan Terrasa, the Tourism Company’s director of development and planning, confirmed that the Vista Linda Casitas, the Island Grove and the Le Grand Cofi Paradise — with associated investments of $600,000, $16.5 million and $38 million, respectively — have secured construction permits and are working on financing.

The biggest of the three proposed hotels, the $38 million, 150-room Le Grand Cofi Paradise, would be located on a five-acre plot on the island’s Florida sector, and would include the casino. Once operational, the hotel would be the island’s second-largest property behind the W Resort and would create 150 jobs, Tourism Company data shows.

“That hotel already has the approval from the Planning Board and it is now before the consideration of the Tourism Company’s gaming division, which needs to approve the casino,” Terrasa said. “The Tourism Company is open to having a hotel with a casino in Vieques, although it’s not what we would prefer.”

This is so because the development plans for Vieques call for including eco-friendly elements to preserve the pristine conditions of most of the island’s natural resources, including white-sand beaches and dry forests.

“Visitor activity in Vieques has been focused on ecotourism and nature tourism, and what the Tourism Company wants to achieve is the approval of hotels that offer superior service while taking advantage of the island’s natural resources,” he said.

The two other properties, while not identified as “eco-friendly,” also promise to generate economic activity for the island municipality that as of March had an unemployment rate of 16.4 percent.

The proposed $16.5 million Island Grove project is a condo-hotel complex planned for a 12-acre parcel at the Puerto Real sector, that calls for developing 18 buildings comprising 50 rooms. Ten of those buildings would be residential villas, while the rest would be dedicated to a restaurant and lounge, administrative offices, and other services. A pool and parking facilities are also part of the blueprint, according to Tourism Company data.

Rounding out the trio of proposed projects, and the one likely to be erected first, is the Vista Linda Casitas property. The 12-room hotel to be located at Vieques’ Pilón sector also includes several terraces, a pool and parking.

“That facility has already been approved by the Permits and Regulations Administration and is awating to secure financing, which could come through the Economic Development Bank,” said Terrasa.

Priming Vieques for cruise ships

The Tourism Company, in conjunction with the Economic Development and Commerce Department, are working on an economic development plan for Puerto Rico’s two island municipalities, Vieques and Culebra, begun in 2004.
“Just as it was under the previous administration, this one is also foreseeing that the economic development of both islands should be sustainable and preferably, eco-friendly,” said Terrasa. “That doesn’t mean that every development must necessarily fit into that definition of ecotourism, but they should all incorporate sustainable trends.”

Along with approving new hotel facilities, the central government agencies are working with Vieques authorities to develop the necessary infrastructure to welcome and provide service to a greater volume of tourists. That includes establishing taxi and tourist guide facilities at several key points over the next year.

“One of the initiatives that we’re exploring is the possibility of attracting small cruise ships to Vieques, and for that we have identified the Mosquito Pier as the site where ships carrying 200 to 300 passengers could anchor,” he said. “It would require a relatively low investment to get that facility ready for that.”

Vieques and Culebra are part of the administration’s so-called ‘green triangle,” which spans Puerto Rico’s east coast. The conservation project includes several natural gems in Fajardo, Humacao and Ceiba.

Here's a link to the article

:-)

5 comments:

  1. I see that we are either reading the same message boards or you've quickly found my Trip Advisor post from earlier today.

    I am anxious to hear the local tourism experts weigh in on this one. I also find it interesting that this article is dated by more than a few months, but in all my research today is the first I've heard of this. I hope it remains a slow moving project that eventually will languish.

    Regardless, we are in the same boat. If the island becomes a draw for cruisers and casino goers we will likely not pursue repeated trips.

    I'll continue reading to see what surfaces with this. Thanks for the blog.

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  2. Hi Brandi. I also found the article on the message board
    http://www.isla-vieques.com/forum/list.php?f=2

    I haven't had a chance yet to do more research on this. I would have expected to have found mention of it on Vieques events, but have yet to find anything. Everything Lorrie and I like about the island will vanish if this is indeed the course that the Viequese tourist board is now forging.

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  3. My guess is that it won't come to pass, but if it does, it will be a long, long time from now. The island has little to no capacity for cruise ships (I know there have been some small ones that spend a night off the cayos in Esperanza; but mainly for bio-bay tours.) Witness other island projects that fail to fully materialize: the ferry port at mosquito pier, the sports complex near Garcia Gate; the tomato farm; heck even the W is the third branding of that property in 8 years, and I'm not sure if they are doing too well (their opening was delayed for close to a year - no staff). The ferry system is a mess, there is no gas, no rental cars etc. etc. etc.
    Things move very slowly, if at all, in Vieques. So continue to enjoy the island as much as you obviously do; it will probably remain as is for some time to come.

    David

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  4. Sports complex...tomato farm? Ha...great info David. I wonder if that sports complex is the big concrete structure Lorrie and I saw to the North of the Garcia gate?

    Anyway...thank you for putting it all in perspective, helps.

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  5. Yep, the sports complex is just north of the camp gate. They were going to have lights blazing all night, ruining the bio-bay experience and perhaps harming the ecology of the bay. The tomato farm is right across the street; hydroponic I think, and operated in all the large greenhouses you see along the main road. We have been going to the island for 9 years now, own a little patch of land (we hope to build a little something) and not a whole lot has changed in the time since the Navy left.

    The Vieques master plan (locally developed) calls for small sustainable eco-hotels, ?paradors? & B&B's. I can't remember where I saw parts of the plan, but if I can find it again, I'll post a link.

    I too love Vieques for the same reasons you do, so I would be pretty upset if the change that will inevitably occur changed the character of the island, the islands' residents and the type of visitor attracted to the island.

    Thanks for the blog - I've enjoyed it.

    David

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