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The Proud Legacy of Hotel Villa Cofresí

Four siblings share a life dedicated to the hospitality industry 

April 20, 2024 - 11:00 PM

The emblematic hotel in the west of the island began in 1968 with 12 rooms. (XAVIER GARCIA)

Lee la historia en español aquí.

Rincón.- Sandra Yolanda Caro Caro grew up in a place where others vacation and rest. Her life is linked to Hotel Villa Cofresí, built by her parents in the 1960s with the purpose of housing surfers who would compete in world tournaments.

There she did her schoolwork, worked the front desk and, every weekend, she would play with new friends that would come from all over the world to get to know Rincón, the town where she grew up.

However, at dinnertime, she would join her four brothers to taste the dishes prepared by their mother who, despite having a restaurant, preferred cooking to preserve the atmosphere in her household. Her house, though, was a hotel lobby.

More than half a century has passed since then, and almost all of Rubén and Ritín’s children are still in that same space that was once their home. They now run the family business.

The second generation of Hotel Villa Cofresí is led by Sandra Yolanda, who works as the general manager.

Sandra Yolanda Caro, general manager of Hotel Villa Cofresí.
Sandra Yolanda Caro, general manager of Hotel Villa Cofresí. (XAVIER GARCIA)

“My parents bought this place in 1965. It used to be a very humble restaurant, but it served the best beef cuts, shrimp, and fish in western Puerto Rico, according to the servicemen who lived at the Ramey base in Aguadilla and came down to Rincón to eat,” recalled Sandra, 57.

The hotel started out in 1968 with 12 rooms, but according to Sandra Yolanda, it was such a success that her parents decided to add new spaces.

“Today we have 121 rooms of different categories and all the facilities of a complete hotel, right on Rincón’s beach. We also have a swimming pool, a games room for children, a gift shop, and a banquet hall where we do all kinds of activities,” said Caro, who has a master’s degree in Human Resources Management from the University of Puerto Rico in Mayagüez.

“Likewise, we have the restaurant ‘La Ana de Cofresí’, which specializes in fresh seafood, Angus beef, Puerto Rican food, and El Bohío, which is steps away from the beach, where we serve fast food and drinks, as well as the famous ‘coco pirata,’ which has been our house drink since 1965. It’s a cocktail served in a fresh coconut,” she explained.

As it stands, the Caro Caro siblings are responsible for continuing the work that their parents started.

“It’s a very moving story because we’re four siblings working in our parents’ hotel; Rubén lives in the United States. I am the general manager, Fernando works in finance and physical plant; Rita works with acquisitions and operations, and David is the night manager. “We all went to college and studied different things,” she said.

When answering what day-to-day life is like working with her siblings, Sandra Yolanda assured that “we complement each other and we work together very well.”

“We were raised in a working family that taught us values, and even though we were raised in a hotel lobby, we lived here our entire lives, on the second floor. My mother was the administrator for many years, but she taught us what family is. She cooked daily; we always had that family warmth, even while living in a hotel,” she confessed.

Likewise, she highlighted that, when disagreements arise, their mother, who is now 83 years old, makes the final decision.

“Every Tuesday at 10:00 am, we (the board of directors) meet with my mother at her house. We talk, and we might not all be 100% on board with something, but if we can’t reach an agreement, we vote. When we disagree, Mami comes in and she listens to us, she serves as a mediator, and she has the final word,” she confessed.

“No matter how many college degrees one might have, there’s things that only experience teaches, and that’s something we’re clear about. We finish with a delicious lunch cooked by her and, if we had any disagreements during the meeting, we just leave them behind because we’re siblings and we love each other,” she explained.

On the other hand, she mentioned that the hotel’s operation generates around a hundred jobs, making it the second largest employer in the town, after the city itself.

Likewise, she foresees the continuity of the hotel’s family ownership alluding to her daughters, Kassandra and Alana, who are preparing to take the reins of the renowned hotel in the future.

“It’s nice, because our family is 100% Puerto Rican and rincoeña; we were one of the first businesses in Rincón in the tourism industry. If God allows it, we will continue for many more years, with our children as the third generation,” she concluded.

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