New Hilton hotel opens west of downtown San José; group also will renovate Grand Hotel Costa Rica

June 18, 2015

A new hotel from the Hilton Garden Inn franchise on Wednesday officially opened across the street from La Sabana Park, west of downtown San José.

The 115-room hotel occupies the top seven floors of La Sabana Business Center, a 20-store tower that also hosts offices, restaurants and other businesses.

General Manager Sandor Tupi said the hotel began operating in mid-May with a $40 million investment by Desarrolladora Parque La Sabana S.A., a business group formed by investors from Costa Rica, Panama and Colombia.

“The group signed a Hilton Worldwide franchise to operate a hotel under its Garden Inn franchise brand,” Tupi said.

Another business group currently operates a Hilton Garden Inn in Liberia, Guanacaste, and the groups are holding negotiations to offer hosting packages at both hotels, said Marketing and Sales Manager Ludwing Díaz.

The new hotel targets both business and leisure customers. It also aims at attracting executive and other business customers as well as frequent leisure travelers. “These are customers who are already familiar with our hotels, and [our] quality service at a reasonable price,” Díaz said.

Hilton will compete against other hotels in the surroundings of La Sabana Park including the Crowne Plaza San José Corobicí, Tryp San José Sabana, Park Inn By Radisson San José and Barceló San José Palacio.

Renovation of iconic Hotel Costa Rica

The same investor group last year acquired the Gran Hotel Costa Rica and on Wednesday confirmed the hotel will undergo renovation in coming months.

Díaz told The Tico Times that in the past year and a half the group has undertaken studies of the terrain and of the building’s architectural structure.

They also are consulting with the Culture Ministry’s Heritage Conservation Center, as the nearly 85-year-old hotel was declared a Historical and Architectural Heritage building in 2005.

“We still are in the planning stage of the project, as any renovation must be carefully planned in order to comply with all regulations from the hotel’s historical status,” Díaz said.

The Gran Hotel Costa Rica was inaugurated in October 1930, with U.S. architect Victor Lorenz in charge of the project.

The hotel’s suites hosted several important visitors including U.S. presidents John F. Kennedy, Harry Truman and Jimmy Carter, Hollywood actor John Wayne, Mexican comedian Mario “Cantinflas” Moreno, Panamanian boxing champion Roberto “Mano de Piedra” Durán and Brazil’s biggest football star, Pelé.

Grand Hotel Costa Rica
A Tico Times archive photo from the early 1980s shows tourists at the Grand Hotel Costa Rica, across from another landmark of San José, the National Theater. María Esquivel & Katherine Lambert/The Tico Times
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