Next1 of 6EXPECT THE UNEXPECTEDWhat surprises many

first_imgNext1 of 6EXPECT THE UNEXPECTEDWhat surprises many elite visitors is both Puerto Rico’s history as a luxury playground for the super rich and the diversity of the island’s tourism offerings today.In the last century it was names like Vanderbilt and Rockefeller who graced the island; that generation of elite liked it so much they built grand resorts, then came so frequently they became major investors. After World War II Puerto Rico transitioned from agricultural hub to a manufacturing center. The island is about the size of Connecticut, and if it were an independent country, it would rank 84th in the world in GDP, with nearly four million people.In the last century it was names like Vanderbilt and Rockefeller who graced the islandWhile San Juan held its position as a Caribbean airline hub and regional business capital, in the past 30 years luxury resorts aged and either closed or slipped down a few notches. The island’s traditional market of wealthy Northeasterners found newer and sexier resort destinations from Los Cabos and Riviera Maya to Turks & Caicos, Dubai, Maldives, Tahiti and even luxury tent camps in Thailand as ultra-long-haul planes like the 747-400, Bombardier Global Express, Gulfstream G550, Boeing and Airbus Business Jets made traveling the world a one-stop proposition instead of the milk runs of old. For example, today there are more daily nonstop first- and business-class seats from New York to Hong Kong than to San Juan.That said, friendly government policies designed to boost tourism investment, and the interest of global luxury brands to expand their footprint, is combining with Puerto Rico’s natural assets to create a perfect storm of opportunity. Diverse visitor activities from soft adventure (think the world’s highest zip line, trekking through rain forests, horseback riding, sport fishing, kite surfing, diving, three bioluminescent bays) to world-famous Michelin-star chefs, haute local cuisine (with such kitchen luminaries as Roberto Trevino, Juan Cuevas, Mario Pagan, José Enrique, Dayn Smith, Fernando Parrillo, Federico Figueroa and Jose Carles), electric nightlife, over 20 championship golf courses, world-class beaches, a state-of-the-art convention center, high culture that includes the Puerto Rico Symphony Orchestra, a rising crowd of local artists, an 18,000-seat events center that draws acts from Lady Gaga to Elton John and its position as a US territory has Puerto Rico well on its way to holding an important place in world tourism.Next1 of 6last_img read more