Several new hotels were under development as this book went to press. A historic building right on Las Delicias Plaza is being transformed into the 70-unit Ponce Plaza Hotel. It was slated to open in summer 2008 but is behind schedule.
Meanwhile, the former Intercontinental Ponce, which closed in 1985, is being developed as the Magna Vista Resort. In addition to 120 rooms, two restaurants, tennis courts, and a pool, plans include a casino and convention center. It will reportedly open in 2009, but construction projects in Puerto Rico often lag behind projections.
If you’re looking for cheap accommodations in Puerto Rico , Ponce  is the place to go. There are several in historic buildings around Plaza de Las Delicias , although attempts to modernize them on a budget have rendered them all into hodgepodges of old and new.
Hotel Melia (75 Calle Cristina at Plaza de Las Delicias, 787/842-0260 or 800/44-UTELL—800/448-8355, fax 787/841 3602, melia [at] coqui [dot] net, www.hotelmeliapr.com , $95 s, $115 d, $130 for rooms with balconies and refrigerators, plus 9 percent tax, includes a modest continental breakfast) was established in 1900 as a world-class European-style hotel. Thankfully, the outdated circa-1970s rehab of the lobby has been banished, replaced with tasteful dark wood paneling, attractive ceiling detail, and all-new furnishings. The renovated rooms have the budget-corporate look of a business traveler’s motel, but this hotel still retains a hint of the elegance that distinguished it in its glory days. Rooms come with air-conditioning, phones, satellite TV, Wi-Fi, and bathtubs (a rarity!). There are also a pool, a business center with two computers and free Internet access, laundry service, and room service. Hotel Melia is home to Mark’s , one of Ponce ’s finest restaurants.
Hotel Fox Delicias (6963 Calle Isabel on Plaza de Las Delicias, 787/290-5050, fax 787/259-6413, www.hotelfoxdelicias.com , $75–86 s, $114 d, $125–135 suite, plus tax) is a bit of an oddity, but it offers the best bang for the buck if you don’t mind the sterility of the place. The hotel is in what was once a lovely art deco theater. Although the exterior has been carefully restored and maintained, the interior has undergone a total redo. Before it was a hotel it was a shopping mall, and the first level retains that look—complete with escalators that carry guests to their rooms on the second floor. Upstairs are 30 clean, windowless, corporate-style rooms with air-conditioning, cable TV, telephones, room service, and excellent mattresses. There are a couple of two-bedroom units available.
Hotel Belgica (122 Calle Villa, 1 block off Plaza de Las Delicias, 787/844-3255, hotelbelgica [at] yahoo [dot] com, www.hotelbelgica.com , $65 s, $85 d) has been a continuously operating hotel since its construction in 1872. The 20 very clean, simple rooms all have air-conditioning, satellite TV, and no telephones. Some rooms have shared balconies for no additional cost. Rooms have been recently furnished with pleasant Pier 1–style furnishings featuring brown basket weave and wrought-iron furniture. Rooms without windows have large mirrors tricked up with shutters and flower boxes to create a window effect, and all the bathrooms are modern. The hallways feature lovely patterned stone tile floors, while linoleum covers the floors in the rooms. There is no restaurant or bar on-site. If they’re available, ask for rooms 9 or 10—they’re the nicest of the bunch.