TBLTourism and its partners will develop a social enterprise hotel in the Municipality of Loiza with the mission of harnessing the power of tourism for positive social, environmental, and economic impact. This hotel will create one of the first lodging offerings in Loiza, establish a formalized meeting space for the community, and develop a tourism curriculum and hands-on training for Interamericana University students. The hotel will consist of 32 eco-cabanas and will create 155 temporary development jobs, 25 permanent hotel jobs, and 20 internship opportunities. All profits from the hotel will be directed to the TBL Foundation, an implementing and grant making organization focused on economic development, education and the environment in Loiza and throughout Puerto Rico.
The Municipality has contributed 18 acres of land known as Finca Renacer. TBL commits to secure funding, design and construct the buildings, develop a pre-opening project plan, and launch the hospitality workforce program by January 2021. With the support of McConnell Valdes Consulting, TBL will formalize the land trust and secure funding through loans, grants, tourism tax credits, and sponsor equity. TBL will partner with Marvel Architecture to complete the design, secure permits, and construct the buildings using innovative sustainable development practices. All resources will be purchased responsibly and prioritize local suppliers. TBL will work with Interamericana University to develop and deliver a program that will be integrated into its undergraduate and graduate tourism degrees. The program will offer 20 internship opportunities to students that will complement the classroom curriculum. In addition, TBL will reserve 10 of the 25 permanent positions for first year graduates. TBL will also design the hotel to include green technology; co-working, retreat and farming spaces; as well as space to convene over 100 residents or more for outdoor events.
Key milestones until completion of Commitment:
1) Formalize Governance of Trust and Non-Profit Foundation
2) Secure grants for initial soft costs
3) Conduct project due diligence: land, environmental assessment, feasibility study
1) Secure project funding stack of grants, debt and sponsor equity
2) Finalize design and permit process
3) Formalize student work training program with Interamericana University
2020 All Year
1) Project construction
2) Procurement of FF&E and operational needs
3) Pre-opening handover process, marketing launch, recruiting, training, community integration
1) Open hotel operations, educational programs, guest experience
2) Begin TBL Foundation programs
3) Hotel asset remains mission-based in perpetuity
The municipality of Loiza is located just outside of San Juan on the northeast coast of Puerto Rico and is home to 30,000 residents. The area is the heart of Puerto Rico’s Afro-Caribbean community and is the birth place of prominent Puerto Rican music and dance such as Bomba and Plena; however, the area has faced significant socio-economic challenges. According to the US Census 2017 American Community Survey, approximately 51.7% of Loiza’s residents live below the poverty line. Although the neighboring municipality of San Juan has seen continuous economic development and success both before and after Hurricane Maria, Loiza remains relatively underdeveloped. As a result, there are few employment opportunities. Furthermore, although the culture of Loiza is strong and the communities are tight knit there are limited social programs, investment by foundations and non-profits, dedicated education offerings, or formal community meeting spaces.
With Puerto Rico being listed as the NY Times “Number One Place to Visit in 2019” and boasting record visitor numbers in 2018 with steady increases in 2019, there are new opportunities for tourism development on the island. In addition, global tourism trends show a strong visitor preference for environmentally focused, sustainable, and locally immersed tourism offerings. Loiza sits in close proximity to San Juan and enjoys beach and river access. To date, Loiza has few hospitality offerings and there is a unique and much needed opportunity for tourism development. A local hotel would not only allow visitors to experience the amazing nature and culture that Loiza has to offer, but it would also drive economic development, create jobs, provide the community a formalized convening space, and enable local hospitality students to gain hands on work experience locally.
TBL is seeking funding sources particularly from foundations, development funds, grants, and blended impact investors. TBL is also seeking media partners for content creation and distribution of the hotel’s story. Lastly, TBL hopes to engage partners in sustainable development methods and materials, and responsible supply chain for hotel goods and services, including food sourcing.
This is a scalable and replicable social business model for aligned investors, developers, and operators in new markets within Puerto Rico, regionally, and internationally.