A hotel building boom is underway in Cuenca and current hotel and hostal owners are questioning the need for more rooms.
Daniel Hernández, president of the Azuay Hoteliers Association, questions the need for more hotels. “We have a 50% to 60% occupancy rate for existing hotels. Where is the demand?” he asks. “There should have been a feasibility study before we started adding to the market.” According to Hernández, there are about 180 hotels and hostals in Cuenca and Azuay Province.
Owners and mangers of the new projects say, however, that the current hotels do not meet the demand of a growing city of 500,000. “Most of the existing hotels are small and almost all of them are located in El Centro,” says Alex Martinez, a Quito business advisor who is working with a Cuenca group considering building a forth hotel. “These hotels are cute and charming, what you would call boutique hotels, but they have limited facilities for meetings and their services are limited. There is a strong need for more up-scale facilities outside the historic district that can accommodate larger conferences and business meetings.”
Martinez says that the only hotel in Cuenca that can currently handle larger business groups is the Oro Verde on Av. Lasso.
One of the hotels under construction, Zahir 360, is hoping to fill the needs Martinez talks about. Owners Juan Carlos Quito and Daniela Cando who recently returned to Cuenca after living in the U.S. and Canada for 12 years, say the Cuenca hotel market is ready for a change. “Ours will be a fully modern hotel with 45 rooms and suites. In addition, there will be a gym, ballroom and outdoor café,” says Quito. “It will have the amenities we were used to in the U.S.”
Adjacent to Zahir 360, Iván Palacios and Clara Ledesma’s seven-story Hotel Rione is within months of completion. The Rione will have 30 rooms and suites and include an up-scale restaurant. Ledsesma says she and are her husband want to change the concept of Cuenca hotels but, at the same time, “keep the style and character of the city.” She adds: “Visitors to Cuenca need more lodging options, and we are providing that.”
A third hotel, still on the drawing board, will be the largest of all. To be called the Mall del Rio Sheraton, the 10-story 110-room hotel is being built by the Eljuri family and will include meeting facilities and restaurants. A spokesman for the Eljuris said that the project should receive final approval soon and that construction will take about 18 months.
A renovation project, scheduled to begin in April, will create another hotel, this one in the historic district. The five-story hotel on Simon Bolivar will be operated by the University of Cuenca hospitality program. It will have 38 rooms.
Photo caption: Zahir 360, near the football stadium, is one of three new hotels under construction in Cuenca; Before and after views for a new hotel in the historic district to be operated by the University of Cuenca hospitality program. Renovation begins next year.