Puerto Rico isn’t part of Colorado Meetings + Events’ usual coverage area but shares traits like mountains, water, friendly residents and a spirit of determination. That’s great, but why mention a Caribbean island in our pages? Because the meetings and events industry across the globe continues to amaze me with its commitment to support each other, and it’s important to share the news that Puerto Rico is welcoming groups again and is in terrific shape to do so.
I was curious about how the island was recovering and was invited to see for myself in 2019, along with two other journalists and approximately 15 meeting planners and clients who were looking at venues, lodging properties and experiences for groups. Discover Puerto Rico and several destination management companies and hotels put together an ambitious itinerary in San Juan that had us dining on the beach and within the walls of San Cristobal Fort, taking a cobblestone tour of Old San Juan with surprises along the way, and a piña colada mixology class and salsa dancing lesson at Mall of San Juan.
Visiting properties that feature meeting and event space and were in various stages of renovation (totally finished, about to start and nearly completed) was a highlight. The hotels were incredibly creative in providing innovative welcomes, inspired food and beverage, and meaningful tours by staff. We stayed at the classy El San Juan Hotel and enjoyed time at Dorado Beach, A Ritz-Carlton Reserve; Caribe Hilton Hotel; Condado Vanderbilt Hotel; St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort; and Wyndham Grand Rio Mar Resort.
Puerto Rico Convention Center wasn’t on the schedule, but this venue with a sleek, modern design and 600,000 square feet of total space, is the largest meeting facility in the city and one of the greenest with a 20,000-panel solar array and numerous other initiatives focused on sustainability. PRCC is the anchor of a fast-growing Convention Center District with hotels, restaurants and the forthcoming District San Juan complex, located just across the street. At District San Juan, there will be more than 140,000 square feet of meeting space, and attendees will be able to sip rum at a micro-distillery, dine and dance the night away to live music at an outdoor stage.
One big bonus of Puerto Rico meetings is that American citizens don't require a passport to enter the bilingual island, where the U.S. dollar is the currency. Plus, there are all sorts of fun activities in San Juan like relaxing on the beach, exploring El Yunque National Rainforest and playing golf. Golfers in the group who want to experience where the pros play, The Resort at Coco Beach, a Hyatt affiliated hotel with two 18-hole courses, is a top pick. A sampling of other ocean view golf resorts near San Juan includes TPC Dorado Beach, Royal Isabela, St. Regis Bahia Beach, Palmas Athletic Club, Costa Caribe Golf & Country Club, and Wyndham Grand Rio Mar Golf and Beach Resort.
Puerto Rico also satisfies food and beverage aficionados. From Puerto Rican Street Food Tours to multi-course meals at five-star restaurants, everyone can find their culinary sweet spot. San Juan is the birthplace of the piña colada, and the island's Bacardí factory is a popular stop for tropical libations as well as history and tasting tours and mixology classes. Located just across the bay from Old San Juan, there also is a Bottle Your Own Bacardí experience.
This is just a sampling of the many options for groups in Puerto Rico!
Discover Puerto Rico