by Lisa A. Grimaldi | March 01, 2014
Why Here?
The Caribbean is dotted with gorgeous island nations, each offering its own unique culture, stunning coastlines (such as Puerto Rico's Crashbox Beach, above) and venues perfect for hosting anything from an intimate incentive group to a large international convention.

Puerto Rico by Air
• Southwest Airlines has begun serving the island with three daily flights from Orlando and one from Tampa, Fla.

• Delta Airlines has initiated a daily nonstop flight between Chicago and San Juan.

• JetBlue now offers daily nonstop flights from Chicago's O'Hare International Airport to San Juan.
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Puerto Rico

Local Update
• The Puerto Rico Convention Bureau has undergone a number of changes in the past few months. Milton Segarra was named president and CEO; Joyce M. Martínez was appointed vice president, business development and sales; and the organization changed its name to Meet Puerto Rico. "We've been using 'Meet Puerto Rico' as part of our communication strategy, and it's time to fully embrace it as a brand," said Segarra about the decision to adopt the new moniker.

• The Condado Vanderbilt Hotel is being refurbished and will open its 450 guest rooms and 15,000 square feet of meeting space this fall. Already open to the public are four new restaurants and lounges.

• The landmark Normandie hotel in San Juan, closed for the past few years, is undergoing a $40 million renovation and is expected to open in late 2014. At press time, details on guest rooms and meeting space were unavailable.

• The 910-room Caribe Hilton has updated all guest rooms in the main building and renovated its meeting spaces, including the San Geronimo and San Cristobal ballrooms and the Gran Salon Los Rosales (Expo Center). Wi-Fi is now available in all guest rooms and public areas.

• The 570-room Condado Plaza Hilton has opened a new sports lounge. Recently completed renovations include updates of public spaces and the pool, and new computers have been installed in the business center.

• The 525-room San Juan Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino currently is renovating its guest rooms to create a more contemporary "residential feel." Upgrades include new 47-inch TVs as well as ergonomic desks and chairs.

• The 233-room Radisson Ambassador Plaza Hotel & Casino has launched a $1.5 million renovation of 33 suites. More work will continue in stages, to wrap up in 2015. In recent months, the hotel has updated its restaurant, suites tower and rooftop pool deck, and has added a fitness center.

• The Caribbean's first Hyatt House is under construction in San Juan. The $28.7 million property is expected to open late this year and will offer 126 guest rooms including studio, one- and two-bedroom suites, all with kitchens.

• Two new properties near the Puerto Rico Convention Center are in the planning stages: a 252-room Courtyard by Marriott and a yet-to-be-named hotel with another 200 guest rooms.

• Plans to link the Puerto Rico Convention Center district to Old San Juan are under way. The project calls for a park-like promenade along the San Juan harbor with seating areas, sculptures and an open-air restaurant.

• The 398-room InterContinental San Juan Resort & Casino is wrapping up a remodeling of its public areas, including the lobby and bar, as part of a $23 million renovation.

• The 260-room Courtyard by Marriott Isla Verde is finalizing an $11 million revamp. Guest rooms and the lobby have been updated. Other touches include a new main entrance, a resurfaced pool area and an oceanfront boardwalk.

• The Salt Gastrobar has opened at the 115-room Howard Johnson Hotel, Isla Verde. The property is about to begin a remodeling of its guest rooms, banquet hall and conference space.

• The 104-room Hyatt Place Manatí is scheduled to open this year with an 11,500-square-foot casino, flexible meeting space, a 24-hour fitness center, and free Wi-Fi and breakfast. Manatí, 40 miles west of San Juan, is headquarters to many multinational firms.

• Aerostar Airport Holdings took over operations at Luis Muñoz Marin International Airport last year through a public-private partnership initiative. Renovations are under way to upgrade the facility, which is the Caribbean's busiest airport.

Meeting Hotels: Properties in the landmark city of Old San Juan include the 240-room Sheraton Old San Juan Hotel and 68-room Hotel El Convento.

The convention center district has the 503-room Sheraton Puerto Rico Hotel & Casino. On the beach between Old San Juan and Condado is the 910-room Caribe Hilton. Condado offers the 570-room Conrad San Juan Condado Plaza, 525-room San Juan Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino and 248-room La Concha, a Renaissance Hotel.

For more detailed information, and to compare properties and send RFPs, visit

Convention Center: Puerto Rico Convention Center; exhibit space, 152,700 square feet; ballroom, 39,500 square feet; number of meeting rooms, 15; (800) 875-4765;

Airport Transit: Luis Muñoz Marin International Air­port, approximately seven miles from downtown San Juan. Transfer cost by taxi, $15-$20

Taxes: Room tax, 11% at casino hotels, 9% at noncasino hotels; sales tax, 5.5%; total tax on hotel rooms, 11% or 9%

Group Venue: Impress top performers with a private dinner at the exquisite La Perla restaurant. The beachfront San Juan landmark serves seafood dishes with Caribbean flair in a gorgeous setting. Parties of up to 130 are accommodated. (787) 977-3285;

Contact: Meet Puerto Rico, (800) 875-4765;