A recent ad campaign from the Puerto Rico Convention Bureau asks, “Is Puerto Rico a smart business destination or a fun place to meet?” The answer is “yes” to both. Of course, Puerto Rico has long been a fun and beautiful destination for leisure travelers. But over the past decade, this lush Caribbean island — an American territory, which means no passports are required for U.S. citizens—has made great strides in transforming itself into a cutting-edge meeting destination. Island capital San Juan, founded nearly 500 years ago by Spanish conquistadors, is the only Caribbean member of the BestCities Global Alliance, a convention-bureau alliance of eight member cities. San Juan’s 580,000-square- foot Puerto Rico Convention Center (www.prconvention.com), opened in 2005, is the gleaming centerpiece of a growing 113-acre Convention Center District, with hotels, shopping, entertainment, a casino, and more. Island-wide, Puerto Rico has nearly 14,000 guest rooms, at properties that run the gamut from breezy beachfront resorts to buttoned-up business hotels. Here are five top picks.
El Conquistador Resort
WITH 750 RENOVATED GUEST rooms and the new, $42-million Grand Atlantic Conference Center, the El Conquistador Resort,AWal- dorf Astoria Resort, offers 100,000- plus square feet of space—more per available guest room than any other resort in the Caribbean. Out-
door and poolside areas, the seaside CoquiWater Park, and the private Palomino Island also host group functions. Amenities and activities include the Golden Door Spa, a golf course, a casino, water sports, horseback riding, and numerous dining options. Las Casitas Village, an intimate resort, offers a higher level of attention and privacy. FOR MORE INFORMATION: (787) 863-6565; ElConGroupLeads@LuxuryResorts.com; www.elconresort.com
El San Juan Hotel & Casino
THE EL SAN JUAN HOTEL& CASINO, AWaldorf Astoria Hotel, exceeds planners’ expectations. Located in San Juan’s Isla Verde District, the 386-room property recently com- pleted a multimillion-dollar renova- tion. Featuring 35,000 square feet of event space with high-speed
Internet access, El San Juan Hotel & Casino has a magnificent ballroom, 14 meeting rooms, and exec- utive boardrooms ideal for smaller receptions and business meetings. Outdoor spaces include the Banyan Tree, Panorama, and Encanto, offering views of mountain slopes and the turquoise surf of the Atlantic. The Encanto Beach Club is the hotel’s newest, most unique setting for outdoor events. FOR MORE INFORMATION: (888) 543-1214; www.elsanjuanhotel.com