Billionaire investor John Paulson, who flirted for years with the idea of moving to Puerto Rico, is seeking two San Juan hotels he bought for $260 million in 2014 — and may be able to get double what he spent.
Paulson hired JLL to market San Juan’s Condado Vanderbilt Hotel and La Concha Renaissance San Juan Resort, according to the Wall Street Journal. Hotel owners and brokers say the two properties could together fetch upwards of $500 million.
Puerto Rico’s tourism and hospitality was hit hard by the pandemic. As of August, more than a third the massive upscale Mall of San Juan, intended to be a symbol of the territory’s economic recovery, sat empty and anchor retailer Nordstrom was on its way out.
Hotel occupancy has now largely recovered to 2019 levels. Occupancy in the first 10 months of 2021 was 63.2 percent, almost twice the percentage last year and below that period in 2019.
Revenue per available room, a key indicator of hotel performance, rose to $152 this year, more than twice last year and above the $137 of 2019, according to STR.
Puerto Rico was struggling economically even before the pandemic. Hurricanes Maria and Irma in 2017 devastated the island amid fiscal and political wose. Hotel owners and investors hope the post-pandemic boom could help reverse those fortunes.
The emergence of the Omicron variant of Covid-19 doesn’t appear to be having a major impact on demand.
“We got some cancellations but they were made up by other bookings,” said Luis Mendez, director of sales and marketing for El Conquistador Resort, whose hotel remains nearly sold out through the New Year holiday.
The U.S. leisure and hospitality market still has some way to go before it returns to pre-pandemic levels. As of November, the industry employed 1.3 million people, or 7.9 percent fewer than it did in February 2020.
[WSJ] — Dennis Lynch