Mall del Rio expands with new commercial and parking facilities; new Sheraton hotel, adjacent to the mall, sparks controversy

Jan 29, 2015 | 5 comments

Cuenca’s Mall del Rio is getting bigger.

New construction includes an 11-story Sheraton hotel that will be the city’s largest, as well as additional commercial and parking area.

According to mall manager Juan Cordero, work on the new commercial space as well as 100 underground parking spaces will be completed by March. Many of the new commercial units have been leased to banks, he said.

Workers at the Sheraton hotel construction site at Mall del Rio.

Workers at the Sheraton hotel construction site at Mall del Rio.

In addition, the mall is upgrading its infrastructure, replacing escalators and elevators and renovating dozens of existing commercial spaces.

Owners of the new Sheraton, adjacent to the mall, say the hotel will be classed as a four- or five-star facility. The 11-story, 37,000 square foot hotel will have 120 rooms and include conference facilities on the lower floors. It joins the Oro Verde Hotel on Av. Ordoñez Lasso in being able to accommodate groups of up to 500 for conferences and special events.

The Sheraton, scheduled to open in early 2016, is part of the GHL Hotels international chain and is being built by Grupo Gerardo Ortiz, owners of Mall del Rio.

The Sheraton has angered other hotel owners, who say that the Cuenca has more than enough hotel rooms already.

Juan Pablo Vanegas, president of the Hotel Association of Azuay, says that the city’s hotel owners are hurting financially from an overload of rooms. “Even though tourism is growing, the growth in the number of rooms available is growing even more rapidly,” he says. “Cuenca is over-saturated with hotels.”

Sheraton official respond that there is a deficiency of high-end accommodations outside of the historic district and that the city needs additional conference and seminar facilities.

Photo credit: El Mercurio

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