With more than 1.3 million square feet of meeting space and over 14,000 guest rooms throughout the Island, a world-class convention center and an increasing range of accommodation options, Puerto Rico continues its emergence as one of the most sought-after meeting destinations offering delegates a distinctive and memorable experience.
With recent additions to air service, renovated hotel and resort properties, the opening of new properties and others slated to open in coming months -- as well as new booking incentives for groups, Puerto Rico is an attractive option for meeting and convention groups.
“Puerto Rico continues to influence meeting planners and groups with its impressive range and level of first-class hotel and resort offerings, amenities and attractions,” stated Neil J. Mullanaphy, CHME, acting president & CEO, Puerto Rico Convention Bureau.
Following is a brief overview of the latest hotel openings, renovations and upgrades and details on air service to Puerto Rico:
HOTEL & RESORT OPENINGS:
• In February 2013, the 154-room Best Western Plus Condado Palm Inn & Suites opened following a $29 million renovation and reflagging. The property features a fresh, bright and tropical ambience with 36 one-bedroom suites with kitchenettes; a business center; pool and fitness center; rooftop restaurant and mini-market. In addition, guests enjoy complimentary breakfast and Wi-Fi in all public areas and guestrooms.
• Dorado Beach, A Ritz-Carlton Reserve opened in mid-December 2012 in the former setting of the renowned Laurance Rockefeller property in Dorado Beach. The 114-room ultra-luxury property offers a 4,558 sq. ft. meeting room, Board Room and several private dining areas including Su Casa, a colonial-style hacienda featuring a four-bedroom villa for weddings and private events. The property is also home of a five-acre Spa Botánico and the Jean-Michel Cousteau Ocean Future Society Ambassadors of the Environment program, which incorporates eco-education with land/sea adventure through group activities such as snorkeling, kayaking, hiking and touring an ancient Taino archaeological site on the hotel’s property.
• Last fall, the Condado Vanderbilt Hotel opened for cocktails, dining and events within the hotel’s Vanderbilt Court, Vino Veritas Wine Bar, Avos Cigar Lounge, Marabar Lounge and Terrace, 19 Nineteen restaurant. Approximately 15,000 sq. ft. of meeting and function space is also now available for groups meetings and events, including a ballroom with ocean views. The first 90 rooms located within the original building are scheduled to open in Spring 2013, with the hotel’s 232-room towers to open later this year.
• Construction is underway for the 2014 opening of The Hyatt Place Manati. The 104-room property will offer flexible meeting space; complimentary Wi-Fi; a social area with a coffeehouse vibe and an e-room with complimentary computer access, printing and free Wi-Fi throughout. In addition, the property will feature a 24-hour fitness center; outdoor swimming pool; casino; complimentary daily breakfast; food and beverage market; and in-hotel dining including a café.
HOTEL & RESORT UPGRADES & RENOVATIONS:
• As part of its ten year anniversary, the 260-room Courtyard by Marriott Isla Verde is undergoing an $11 million renovation. Guest rooms are being updated along and the lobby is being remodeled to create a more open concept. A new main entrance, resurfacing of the pool area and the construction of an oceanfront boardwalk are also planned. Renovations will begin in April 2013 for completion late this year.
• The El Conquistador Resort, A Waldorf Astoria Resort recently launched a new meeting planning tool app for the iPad. Available through iTunes, the “El Con 360” app allows users to experience the resort virtually and plan their agenda and submit an RFP. In addition, the property is now offering groups a selection of wellness-retreat options through the Waldorf Astoria Spa. Activities include meditation hikes through the El Yunque rainforest, paddleboard yoga at the property’s private Palomino Island and more.
• San Juan’s Verdanza Hotel has launched the Muse Room, an unconventional meeting space designed to foster innovation in corporate management. Conceived as a playroom for professionals holding retreats and strategic planning sessions, surfaces of the walls and conference table are designed for people to doodle, draw and put their ideas in writing. In addition to couches for lounging, ottomans also decorate the room for attendees to kick back as they would in their own living room with friends. In addition to sound and visual capabilities, a menu of options for groups using the room include from shiatsu massages, videogames, fruit smoothies and sushi.
• The Ritz-Carlton, San Juan recently unveiled its renovated Spa and Fitness Center. The Jeffrey Beers’ design incorporates a contemporary approach with soft color tones, sleek details and shell mosaics in the reception area, as well as sweeping contemporary chandeliers made from crystal and polished metal. Eleven treatment rooms offer the most advanced skin, body therapies and salon services, while a redesigned manicure and pedicure bar includes vibrant mirrors and lighting divided by soft drapery panels for additional privacy. Complementing the renovated Spa is a revamped state-of-the-art Fitness Center, offering an expanded space, classes, personal training and new equipment.
• As part of its 20th Anniversary celebration, the Hilton Ponce Golf & Casino Resort has completed a multi-million dollar renovation. Guest rooms have been updated with LCD televisions, wireless high-speed Internet and a contemporary décor with local “Ponceno” accents. In addition to lobby, restaurant and recreational area renovations, the conference center has been improved with the incorporation of the Hilton Meetings standard to provide comfortable armchairs, set-up flexibility, wireless high-speed Internet access and a refreshment center.
• The 80-room San Juan Water Beach Club Hotel has completed a $2.5 million renovation that includes new pillow-top mattresses, linens and towels, safes for personal items, Puerto Rican coffee, flat-screen TVs, iHome docking stations and Wi-Fi connectivity. The hotel’s function rooms also have a new look that provide intimate settings, including indoor and outdoor ocean-view venues for board meetings, corporate training sessions and other special events. The San Juan Water Beach Club Hotel is now part of Aimbridge Hospitality, which operates 68 properties across 12 brands in the US and Caribbean.
• The St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort & Golf Club in Río Grande recently invested $300,000 for golf carts with GPS (global positioning system) and Wi-Fi technology for use on the property’s 18-hole Robert Trent Jones Jr. course. The new technology uses computer tablets to provide golfers with a digital map of the course, course details such as distance from the tee to the green, par, handicap rating and distances necessary to clear sand traps and other hazards.
• The Sheraton Old San Juan is investing $4 million in upgrades, which includes renovations to all 240 guestrooms and suites. In addition to the renovations scheduled for completion in October, the property has completed an upgrade to the property’s complimentary WiFi services, and has recently completed upgrades to the hotel’s central air-conditioning system.
• CIQALA Luxury Home Suites which offers luxurious suites for long-stay guests is now offering a new category of rooms, Studio Luxury Suites. Room in this category feature a king size bed, living room with a Queen size sleeper-sofa, fully-equipped kitchen, LCT televisions and bathroom with Jacuzzi tub. In addition, daily full breakfast and cocktail hour are complimentary to guests.
NEW AIR SERVICE:
Puerto Rico continues to serve as the Caribbean region’s leader in airlift with 1,646 weekly non-stop and direct flights from the Mainland U.S., Canada, Latin America, Europe and the Caribbean. Recent announcements about increased air service include:
• Southwest Airlines begins serving Puerto Rico in April with three daily flights from Orlando and one daily flight from Tampa, taking over routes formerly served by AirTran. AirTran will continue to serve Puerto Rico from Baltimore, Atlanta and Ft. Lauderdale.• JetBlue is initiating new flights from Chicago to San Juan. The daily non-stop flights will begin on November 20, 2013 between San Juan’s LMM International Airport and Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport. JetBlue offers 14 nonstop service destinations from San Juan, including, ten Boston, Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood, Hartford, Jacksonville, New York (JFK), Newark, Orlando, Tampa, Washington D.C. (Reagan National) and West Palm Beach as well as Caribbean destinations Santo Domingo, St. Maarten, St. Thomas, and St. Croix.