When Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico on September 20, 2017, island residents knew the impact would be profound. Few of them probably imagined, however, that the island’s agricultural and tourism industries would be shaken to the core.
With crops wiped out and hotels battered — and Puerto Rico’s power grid devastated — experts estimated that it could take as long as a year for the island to begin recovering from its losses.
More than six months later, it’s true that much of the island is still struggling. Power remains out in many parts of the island, especially rural areas, and people are working to rebuild their homes and their livelihoods. But in San Juan, Puerto Rico’s capital, utilities have been restored and evidence of the hurricane’s damage is less visible.
Residents of San Juan understand that their responsibility to help uplift the rest of the island is enormous. And one of the best ways to do so, they say, is by welcoming travelers back to the island and reminding them about all the reasons why Puerto Rico is such a wonderful destination.
One of those reasons, says Gerald Morales of the Puerto Rico Hotel and Tourism Association, is the island’s culinary traditions, which he considers the most exciting in the Caribbean. That’s why the organizers of the annual Saborea Food Festival decided to go forward with the event this year, despite logistical complications caused by Hurricane Maria.
“We understood all the challenges Puerto Rico was going through after the hurricane,” Morales says, “but for us it was very important to make sure we keep promoting Puerto Rico, and Saborea is the perfect platform. Saborea offers foodies the best gastronomy of the Caribbean with trendy social events.”
In a way, it would have been inconceivable to have skipped Saborea 2018, since this year is the food festival’s 10th anniversary. The impact of the hurricane seemed to motivate the festival’s participating chefs and food celebrities, both from the island and abroad, more than ever.
“Our local chefs are working really hard to keep this important sector up and running and competitive,” Morales says. “We want to invite everybody to come join us to celebrate the joy of life and the joy of food.”
The renewed motivation and passion on the part of festival organizers and participants is evident in some of the new features that will be introduced at Saborea 2018. One is a change of venue: This year’s festival will take place at the popular Balneario de Carolina, one of Puerto Rico’s blue flag beaches.
Morales says that festival-goers can expect a powerhouse line-up of chefs and a roster of events that will satisfy everyone, whether you want to deck yourself out in cocktail hour finery or sink your toes into the sand.
Want to book a trip? It’s not too late! Tickets are available now for all events, and host hotels, including San Juan Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino in the popular Condado neighborhood and Sheraton Puerto Rico Hotel & Casino in Miramar, are open for business and taking reservations. “We’re ready to show you the best that Puerto Rico has to offer,” Morales says.
Thinking about extending your vacation to explore more of the island? Check out all of our properties around Puerto Rico.