San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Granada Lays Road for New Tourism Growth

Granada’s tourism sector is bracing for the end of the low season but has high hopes for the upcoming high season as the municipality puts the finishing touches on the highly anticipated expansion of Calle Calzada, the heart of this colonial town’s nightlife.

Calle La Calzada businesses are sighing with relief as the long delayed Calzada construction, funded with Spanish aid, comes to an end. The Granada municipality plans to officially inaugurate the street in December so it won’t be confused as a political campaign stunt before the upcoming November elections.

“It has been torture,” said Miguel Olmos, the Spanish owner of Macondo bar, where the street has been a dusty construction site for more than a year.

Now that the road is nearly complete, Olmos says his business is seeing a light spike in customers who come to enjoy Spanish dishes like tortilla española in the comfort of a rocking chair and a light lakeside breeze.

As a global financial crisis crunches the United States, tourism businesses here are also hoping that a perceived boost in European visitors will help to make up for an expected drop in U.S. visitors, who normally make up the majority of foreign tourists.

Karla Gonzalez, sales manager of the elegant colonial-style Hotel Alhambra on Granada’s Central Park, says the hotel has maintained a decent 60 percent occupation rate in September despite a low season slump and the U.S. financial crisis.

“It’s pretty good for the low season,” she said. She attributed the turnout to an increase in European visitors booking hotels through tour operators.

At the far eastern end of the Calzada, tourism businesses have been taking advantage of the street construction project to do some renovations of their own. The cavernous Hotel Granada is in the process of renovating and expanding much of the antique hotel to make it one of the largest convention spots in Granada.

And across the street, the hotel formerly known as Hospedaje Italiano is receiving a facelift under new ownership, according to administrator Carlos Martinez. Texas investors are remodeling rooms, putting in a new bar and perhaps will have put in a second floor by the time the new hotel, to be called Hotel Calzada, opens in December.

“We know that the economic crisis at the world level is affecting us. But we hope the investors and tourists keep coming,” he said, adding that public investments like the reconstruction of Calle Calzada are the type of projects that will offset any potential tourism slump.


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