Puerto Rico's Tourism Comeback

By Carlo Versano

Nearly a year after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, the island is primed for a tourism comeback, said Mark Ellwood, a contributing editor for Condé Nast Traveler.

"I think it's reassuringly much better, especially in San Juan," Ellwood said Tuesday in an interview on Cheddar. "It's about 90 percent there."

The island's marketing agency just announced a tourism campaign, #CoverTheProgress, which highlights the rebuilding efforts in the 11 months since the storm killed as many as 1,400.

Ellwood, who just returned from a trip to the island, urged potential travelers to consider a vacation in Puerto Rico for altruistic reasons.

"Our money is one of the ways we can help," he said.

But it's not just an act of service. Many of the high-end hotels are either fully or partially back up and running, and daily average room and occupancy rates are climbing, according to a report published Tuesday in the Wall Street Journal.

The island of Vieques, off Puerto Rico's eastern seaboard, is particularly enchanting, Ellwood said. He added the Hix Island House on the island is one of his favorite hotels in the world, and prices start at a reasonable $115 per night.

Prices throughout the territory will be lower through hurricane season. For flexible travelers who spring for travel insurance, there are great bargains to be had.

"I know travel insurance sounds crazy, but it's crazy until you need it," Ellwood said.

The month of September is what's known in the industry as "shoulder season," when travelers can get the best of both worlds: off-season prices and on-season weather.

Ellwood's shoulder-season choices:

-The British countryside, which has lovely weather, pretty foliage and a wine region "as good as Champagne" in Sussex. -French Polynesia, a "bucket list" destination where deals can be found outside Bora Bora and Tahiti. On the smaller islands, no-frills guest houses can go for $200-250 per night, according to Ellwood.

But when you're waking up on some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, does it really matter if there's no room service?

For full interview click here.

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