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How Hamilton, The Tonight Show, and the arts are helping Puerto Rico bring in tourists

The apps, books, movies, music, TV shows, and art are inspiring our some of the most creative people in business this month,Lin-Manuel Miranda and the cast of Hamilton say goodbye to the audience at the end of the performance during the closing night of Hamilton By Melissa Locker 6 minute.In January of this year, Lin-Manuel Miranda returned to Puerto Rico, where his parents grew up, and brought the entire stage production of Hamilton with him.
The idea was to use the Broadway smashas a fundraiser to help the island and its struggling arts scene to rebuild in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. To sweeten the deal, Miranda would return to the role he created, playing Alexander Hamilton for a three-week-long fundraiser in San Juan.The ploy worked: Hamilton fans jumped at the chance to see Miranda reprise the role and were willing to fork over up to $5,000 for tickets.It was all to help Puerto Ricos arts community, which had very little funding even before the hurricane.
In fact, Miranda was planning on doing the fundraiser even before the hurricane struck.The Mirandas wanted to invest in a key, key, key fundamental piece of the island, which is its arts and culture, says Kristin Ehrgood, the CEO and board chair of the Flamboyan Foundation, which worked with the Miranda family to launch the Flamboyan Arts Fund.Flamboyan Arts is a limited-term fund created to funnel Hamilton proceeds to support institutions, arts groups, and independent artists in Puerto Rico, particularly helping them rebuild after the devastation of Hurricane Maria. Early beneficiaries of the arts fund include, among others, thePuerto Rico Art Museum, puppet theater companyY No Habia Luz, and Andanza, a dance troupe.Recipients of the funds grants are selected by a board, which the Miranda family sits on.While some people may scoff that the arts are a poor investment, the arts can play an important role in building hope, restoring the heart and soul of the islands inhabitants, and, as it turns out, dramatically stimulating the economy.
Since day one, our administration has focused on promoting the growth of Puerto Ricos economy and identified tourism as one of the segments with the most potential for development, Puerto Rico governor Ricardo Rossell Nevares told Fast Company. Thats why one of his first acts as governor was to set up Puerto Ricos destination marketing organization, Discover Puerto Rico, which is tasked with drawing visitors to the Caribbean island.While the governments priorities shifted a bit in the immediate aftermath of the hurricane, as the island works to rebuild, tourism, particularly arts-fueled tourism, is playing a significant role. For proof that it works, look to the fact that Hamilton helped raise $14 million forthe arts fund, and brought visitors to the island who stayed at hotels, ate local food, and otherwise helped bring money to the island.
This is much, much bigger than the production onstage for three weeks, says Brad Dean, CEO of Discover Puerto Rico. We view this as a launching pad for the repositioning of the brand of Puerto Rico as a destination for the arts.We believe that the real strength of Puerto Rico as a tourism destination is in the rich vibrant culture.It was Discover Puerto Rico that told Marriottwhich owns several hotels across the islandthat Hamilton with Miranda at the helm was coming to the island.
We knew we wanted to get involved, said Diana Plazas, a Marriott International marketing executive for the Caribbean and Latin America. We wanted to make sure we were doing our part to support the island, doing our part to support the recovery, but also the community of the island.In addition to being a corporate sponsor, Marriott also provided hotel rooms for the shows cast and crew.Marriott hotels has guaranteed a minimum donation of $300,000 to the arts fund.To help them meet that donation goal, Marriott donated $1 for every room booked at some of its properties. Its not alone in wanting to be involved in Hamiltonsvisit to the island and the goodwill it invoked.
Other corporate sponsors like JetBlue, Banco Popular, Churchs Chicken, Airbnb, and Warner Bros. all donated funds of more than $200,000 to the Arts Fund.More work to be doneIts not just the money, though. While bringing Hamilton to Puerto Rico certainly raised plenty of that, it also drew attention the islands ongoing struggles.People are going to come to Puerto Rico because ofHamilton, and hopefully spend a lot of money here,Miranda toldthe New YorkTimesin an interview. But theyre also going to see blue tarps and theyre also going to see how much work there is to be done.Every show has felt like opening night, Donald Webber Jr. who played Aaron Burr during the Hamilton run in Puerto Rico, told Fast Company.A lot of it has to do with Lin being here, being back in this place where he spent just about every summer.Even though this crazy unbelievable thing happened that destroyed his town, he, just like the Puerto Rican people, persevered.He didnt let the hurricane define him. He came out stronger and better.
It is unbelievable to watch every night, seeing Lin actively fighting back those emotions to perform.Gracias, Puerto Rico.Siempre recordaremos esta experiencia.January 28, 2019 Open for business Mirandas bold decision to uproot his entire Broadway show and take it to the island already inspired other performers to follow suitspecifically, Jimmy Fallon, who was inspired by Miranda to bring The Tonight Show to the island to help boost tourism, and let viewers know about other ways to help in the rebuilding process.I gotta say, we had Lin-Manuel Miranda announce he was taking (Hamilton) to Puerto Rico, Fallon told NBC News. I was just inspired because thats so hard to do.I dont think people understand how hard it is to take a Broadway show outside of Broadway. They went to Puerto Rico in January to tape an episode and, of course, see Hamilton.
The resulting episode was a celebration of Puerto Rico, complete with Fallon and musicians Questlove and Bad Bunny leading a carnival parade through the streets of Old San Juan, chef Jose Andres taking Fallon on a tour of beachside food kiosks in Piones, and musicians Jose Feliciano and Ozuna singing En Mi Viejo San Juan at La Fortaleza.Its a love song about a Puerto Rican who has left the island but dreams about going home, explains Jennifer Long, a consulting producer for this episode of The Tonight Show, who grew up in San Juan.There is no song more special to Puerto Ricans and no song more appropriate for this moment in time.While the episode was fun to watch, it carried with it a very important message: Puerto Rico is open for business.
Without a doubt, the best thing we could hope forand I know this is so important to Jimmyis go visit! Puerto Rico is up and running for business and they want your business and, quite frankly, they need it.That echoes what Manuel Laboy, secretary of the Department of Economic Development and Commerce for Puerto Rico,told Fast Company a year ago:You want to help Puerto Rico? Go on vacation there.It remains true.While Hamilton has ended its run, the island has an ongoing rich cultural scene, spurred on by the influx of cash to the grantees of the Flamboyan Arts Fund.
Puerto Rico has the most beautiful beaches in the Caribbean and has unique cultural offerings such as museums, year-round cultural festivals, theater opportunities, musical concerts, and historic zones that appeal to all types of visitors, Governor Rossellsaid. We want the world to know that Puerto Rico is Open for Business, that as we recover and rebuild, our island stands as the most exciting place in the United States for people to come visit.(Disclosure: This story was reported in part from Puerto Rico; the writers travel and hotel costs were reimbursed by Marriott.)About the authorMelissa Locker is a writer and world renowned fish telepathist.

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Mixing Luxury and Budget Travel on the Same Trip

While my favorite way to maximize travel is through points and miles, my husband and I have come up with a few other tricks over the years to find.Our go-to technique for a vacation with the right mix of off-the-beaten path adventure mixed with pure luxury and true downtime is our high/low technique.Much like pairing an Ikea mirror with an Eames chair in your living room, mixing high-end travel with lower-cost experiences in the same trip can work well. It also has helped us tame our childrens unrealistic expectations around travel.
On a boat we rented for $15 in rural Vietnam High/Low in Practice.Our budget for accommodations during a recent weeklong vacation in Vietnam was an average of $350 per night. This was on the higher end, but it turned out to channel us toward hotels that we found didnt cater to families.Instead we chose to look for somewhere in the $75–$100 per night range for four nights followed by somewhere in the $500–750 range for the next three nights. We also tried to find a third or fourth night for free through select hotels in Amex’s Fine Hotels Resorts (FHR) program.FHR is available to holders of certain Amex cards, such as The Platinum Card® from American Express and The Business Platinum® Card from American Express. We loved exploring Hoi Ans food markets.

Tips for the Lower End:The key to the low end of the stay is to realize that while it may cost less, it isnt actually less enjoyable because it is culturally rich. During the low, we do lots of sightseeing and driving, eat at local restaurants or cook and keep costs relatively low by engaging in the local economy rather than staying insulated within a resort economy.Our family is able to see areas we wouldn’t normally get to enjoy if we were only sheltered at luxury hotels and resorts. It is also a great time to do purposeful travel.
Plus we often travel with our two young kids and want an Airbnb or family-run hotel for reasons beyond budget.Make sure youre using the best credit cards to book an Airbnb.We sometimes are able to book our low accommodations through Hotels.com/Venture and use my Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card for 10x the points on the room stay, then use it toward our 10th night free with Hotels.com, which is effectively a 20% return.You can also choose a lower-category points hotel for your stay.
A large welcome bonus, such as the one offered by the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card that earns you 100,000 points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening, could get you several nights at a Category 1–4 Marriott redemption.Tips for the Higher EndWhen we head over to the high end, we enter pure resort mode — we don’t have to worry about driving or where to go for lunch because everything is right there.
We often do not leave the grounds because we’ve already explored and just want to stay put. We like to book the luxury piece at the end of the stay and utilize early check-in and late check-out to really stretch the stay (FHR benefits and elite status are great for this).This can be a fantastic time to use a high-end redemption to bring down costs and use the savings for extras such as cooking classes or a spa experience.During a 10-day trip to Bali, for example, we spent five nights in a low-cost villa and then did a five-night redemption at The Ritz-Carlton, Bali (Category 6, from 50,000 Marriott points), taking full advantage of its incredible kids club and inexpensive babysitting.
Here are many different ways to stay with your family in Bali using points.Our one-bedroom villa at Four Season Resort The Nam Hai.Riding on the sleeper train between our high- and low-cost stays in Vietnam.Lower End: Rural VietnamIn Vietnam, our lower end stay was in the Bong Lai Valley at Phong Nha Farmstay for $85 per night, including breakfast.It was essentially a backpackers spot, but had a large family room next to the owner’s apartment. My older son became fast friends with the owner’s son, Howie, and talked about him for months afterward.Enjoying the cooler weather at Phong Nha Farmstay.In Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, we rented a private 14-seat boat for just for the four of us where I could easily breastfeed the baby; the privacy gave us the flexibility to turn back if our 2-year-old was scared of the caves.The three-hour cave gondola ride was $15, plus a $6.50 entrance fee for the national park.Rather than a scary experience, the ride turned out to be peaceful and done at the perfect pace for our family.Another day, we took advantage of the advertised free bikes at the farmstay.
The only family bike had a flat seat on the back. We used my sarong to tie my older son on the back, and my husband wore the baby on his front over the bumpy, muddy roads to the only local attraction called The Duck Stop.Using a hand-drawn map, we found the family-run spot, which offered a package of food and a visit to see their raft of ducks ($4, kids free). Suddenly, we were in borrowed sandals and feed was being thrown on our feet.The ducks chased us while trying to bite our feet with their bills as the owner screamed, “It’s like a massage!” We then greeted the resident water buffalo before heading back on our bikes. These are the types of peculiar travel experiences that I had while backpacking in my 20s and love having again with my family (my husband less so).

High: Four Seasons The Nam HaiAs much as I love reliving my backpacking days, entering the Four Seasons Nam Hai was extraordinary. We booked with a fourth night free, which brought the cost down from $750 per night to $660 per night for a one-bedroom, ocean-view villa with an included exquisite breakfast.Yes, that is pricey, but that is why we balance it out with more affordable accommodations. We also considered the Intercontinental Nha Trang, Vietnam using IHG Rewards Club points from the generous IHG®  Rewards Club Premier Card (bonus currently up to 120k points) and the fourth consecutive award night free for cardholders.
The magical thing about a luxury resort is that they pretty much know where you are at all times and can reach you. With the kids safely in childcare, we attended a Vietnamese cooking class arranged by the hotel that included a visit to the local market.
When we returned from the market with our fresh ingredients, the cooking assistant notified the babysitter to bring my youngest son to me at the cooking school via a golf cart because he needed to breastfeed.When the baby finished his lunch, his babysitter whisked him away again, which made me feel like a mother in “Downton Abbey.” We could not have dropped the fresh shrimp into hot sizzling oil with our tiny children in tow. The Cooking Academy was $115 each and included our fantastic five-course lunch of grilled calamari skewers, grouper in banana leaf and wok-fried prawns in tamarind sauce.To round off the experience, on our last night we went into the ever so photogenic Hoi An to see the lanterns lining the streets. We wandered the streets until our children melted down, and then hopped in a taxi back to the hotel and into bed.
When packing the next morning, we realized that my DSLR camera was gone and must have been left in the taxi. Normally, that might been adios to the camera, but the hotel quickly pulled the license plates off the security camera of us arriving the night before, located the driver and had my camera back in my hands by our 11am departure.That could have been a sour note to end the vacation. Instead we were happy to be staying somewhere where we were just taken care of — our problem suddenly became their problem.We enjoyed the bountiful breakfast buffet rather than scrambling to track down the camera and avoided the sadness of losing all the photos from our trip in Asia with the kids, including those in this story. It was also a reminder to make sure I know what insurance protections my credit cards have.

Bottom Line:The adage goes that a vacation with kids is just a trip and never a vacation. After enjoying sightseeing and adventure time, end your family trip at a luxury resort with safe, reliable on-site childcare so you have time to truly unwind and maybe even have a date before returning home.Using this high/low method, you can average out the costs either with points or cash while enjoying both secluded luxury and local culture.Have you ever tried a high/low vacation? How does your family balance different interests during travel?Know before you go.News and deals straight to your inbox every day.The Business Platinum® Card from American ExpressAside from the 75,000 points welcome bonus, Amex recently made huge improvements to the Business Platinum Card, including the fact that you will now earn 50% more points on purchases of $5,000 or more, earn 5x on flights and eligible hotels at Amextravel.com and cardholders will receive a $200 airline fee credit each year.

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