Parador Owners Association: Beaches, rivers open. With some restrictions, but open
By John McPhaul
The Puerto Rico Parador (Small Inn) Owners and Tourism Association announced Sunday that based on the latest COVID-19-related executive order (EO 2020-80), the beaches and rivers of the island are open for the use and enjoyment of the public, with some restricted uses, to minimize mass gatherings of people and reduce the risk of spreading the virus.
“We definitely support the guidelines and the priority assigned by the honorable governor [Wanda Vázquez Garced] to the health of our people, and although there is no scientific basis to support some of the new guidelines, we have made the necessary adjustments in our inns and restaurants to be in full compliance,” said Association President Jesús Ramos, owner of Parador Villas Sotomayor in Adjuntas. “However, we make this clarification because it has been incorrectly disseminated that ‘our beaches are closed. …’ We are causing irreparable damage to thousands of businesses and the more than 80,000 employees in the tourism sector, the most affected by the pandemic.”
“Our rivers and beaches are a key part of our tourist and recreational offer, for which we thank the honorable Governor and the secretary of the Recreation and Sports Department [DRD by its Spanish initials] for the clarifications that have been made after the announcements of the executive order,” added Tomás Ramírez, co-owner of Combate Beach Resort and a past president of the Association.
According to the Administrative Bulletin 2020-080 and DRD memo 2020-12, the use of island beaches is allowed for individual activities or sports such as running, walking, surfing, sailing, rowing, diving, volleyball or beach tennis, among others. In addition, activities such as open water swimming, kayaking and paddle boarding are permitted. On the other hand, camping on the shore, or taking tents, umbrellas, coolers, or chairs to park or sunbathe is not allowed under the order.
Meanwhile, sports training in groups of up to six people is authorized, provided that participants follow the rules and regulations of physical distancing and the use of masks, as prescribed by the DRD.
Xavier A. Ramírez, general manager of the Combate Beach Resort in Cabo Rojo, said the new restrictions do not represent a significant change for his guests, since the resort is only 100 meters from the beach and guests usually alternate between using the beach and the pool several times a day.
“We have made additional adjustments to our facilities to ensure maximum enjoyment for our visitors in a welcoming, safe and healthy environment,” Ramírez said. “In particular, our guests can enjoy over 30 recreational activities, including the use of the beach, as stipulated, sunbathing, relaxing and bathing in the pool in two shifts of two hours each; people can rent kayaks, paddleboards and bicycles, and play sand volleyball at our facilities. In addition, they can enjoy the art of photography, bird watching, and other recreational activities on the 1,960 acres of the Cabo Rojo Wildlife Refuge. Other paradors in the Porta del Sol Region, such as Boquemar, El Faro, and Guánica 1929, provide very similar activities.”
Ramos said something similar regarding Adjuntas, the “city of the Sleeping Giant.”
“Recent rains have beautified the two rivers that run through our 79-acre property and the new temperatures invite a family getaway in the Christmas spirit,” he said.
“Everything is working with the necessary health and safety measures,” the Parador Villas Sotomayor owner said. “Our guests can enjoy over 15 recreational activities, including the use of the rivers, as agreed; sunbathing and bathing in the two pools, playing basketball and sand volleyball with your family group, cycling, and riding one of our horses. In addition, they can visit the Don Jun farm where we have several animals and we produce over 70 agricultural products that we serve in our two restaurants.”
There are 13 small inns (paradors) certified by the Puerto Rico Tourism Company and each one has an offer for any taste and budget, the Association noted.