Whether looking for history, culinary offerings, natural splendor, or logistic simplicity, Puerto Rico has meeting groups covered.
"Puerto Rico offers meeting planners two ways to achieve success: checking off necessities for a successful meeting as well as checking off items on the bucket lists of their traveling attendees," says Milton Segarra, president and CEO of Meet Puerto Rico. The tropical island has added 10 new airlines flying to eight new locations, and now offers 15,000 available rooms with another roughly 4,000 rooms in the final stages of development.
Groups looking to immerse themselves in Puerto Rico's natural riches can pay a visit to Wyndham Grand Rio Mar Beach Resort & Spa. Located at the foothills of El Yunque National Rainforest (the only rainforest in the U.S.), it's less than a half hour from the San Juan airport but feels a world away from the city, with an oceanfront conference center and a pair of golf courses interspersed with villas.
While the property offers views of both the rainforest and ocean, even groups staying indoors can incorporate Puerto Rico's landscape into their meetings, with the Wyndham Grand's recently rejuvenated conference center. It incorporates bold colors and oversized graphics inspired by the surrounding landscape, including lush foliage, waterfalls, and rivers.
The property has recently reorganized, with 200 of its 600 rooms being converted into a Margaritaville Vacation Club. That's good news for groups, according to Willie Chin, the property's director of sales and marketing.
"That means there are now 400 rooms tied in to the same 48,000 square feet of meeting space," says Chin (in addition to its almost 21,000-square-foot ballroom, there are 24 meeting rooms as well as spacious pre-function areas). "Proportionally, groups have more meeting space."
For those seeking to keep one foot in the city, and one foot in the sand, the San Juan Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino, on Condado Beach, offers what General Manager Jose Gonzalez calls "an urban resort experience" with palm trees, sundecks, and two swimming pools. "You are in San Juan, but on the beach as well."
The 527-room property just completed a major renovation of two new penthouse suites, ideal for both small meetings or incentives: The 581-square-foot Executive Suite, with large balcony, king bedroom, living area, and dining area; and the 1,094-square-foot Vice Presidential Suite, with a wraparound balcony, bar, dining area, and two double beds. The property also offers energizing group activities, including salsa dance lessons, yoga classes, and mojito making. The San Juan Marriott also recently added a Gelato & Co. outpost and, for more adventurous foodies, there is a whole-pig roasting (or lechon) experience.
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This article appears in the May 2016 issue of Successful Meetings.