(GFR Media)

Nearly two years after Hurricane María caused multimillion-dollar damage to El Conquistador Resort, in Fajardo, the local company Royal Blue Hospitality (RBH) bought the island´s largest hotel, confirmed Carla Campos, executive director of the Tourism Company of Puerto Rico (CTPR).

Campos said RBH, which belongs to Puerto Rican company F&R Construction, became the owner of the hotel and all its facilities on July 17, when it completed an agreement with U.S. investment firm Blackstone, owner of El Conquistador under the Hilton Hotels Corp. since 2005 and was looking for a buyer since the hurricane struck the island and caused serious damage to the resort.

The exact amount of the sale is still unknown, but it is estimated that RBH paid Blackstone tens of millions of dollars for El Conquistador, which had been on sale since at least October 2018, according to the head of CTPR.

Royal Blue Hospitality, although it is not on the Internet, is registered with the State Department under the name of Ángel Fullana Olivencia, chief executive of the local construction company F&R Construction Group.

El Nuevo Día sought an interview with Fullana Olivencia about his first investment in the island's hotel industry, but he was not available.

According to Campos, RBH pledged to fully reopen all the famous hotel facilities on or before the end of 2020, but before that, they will have to raise some $175 million to renovate the hotel, find a new manager and secure the endorsement of another large hotel chain since El Conquistador will soon stop carrying the Hilton flag.

"Since F&R Construction is a Puerto Rican company with large construction capacity and a large inventory of materials and vast knowledge of the island´s permitting process, it is well-positioned to carry out a successful renovation, which was one of the conditions we presented to the former owners," Campos said.

With 750 rooms, a water park, a golf course, multiple restaurants and bars, tennis courts and more than 200,000 square feet of space for events, El Conquistador consistently employed between 800 and 1,000 people, making it one of the island's leading tourist attractions before ceasing most operations after the 2017 hurricane season.

Since then, it has only been operating about 230 rooms and some amenities, with less than one-third of its original staff.

CTPR also said that the new owner will continue to operate the hotel and employ about 380 people, while completing construction works, so visitors should make their reservations considering that many of the facilities at El Conquistador will not be available during their stay.

In the coming months, RBH will decide which hotel flag they will carry and, therefore, the standards to follow, before seeking local and foreign investment for the hotel renovation, Campos added. 

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