Prevue July/August 2013 - (Page 48)

Puerto Rico Trio: CONRAD, CARIBE HILTON & EL SAN JUAN Three hotels. One tropical island. Infinite convenience & ROI. [ON LOCATION] GREG OATES It’s about a 10-minute drive from Puerto Rico’s Luis Munoz International Airport to the beachfront El San Juan Resort & Casino. You’re welcomed with passionfruit pina coladas in one of the Caribbean’s most elegant lobbies, draped in carved mahogany panels that would be impossible to replicate today. Then it’s a quick change of clothes in the suite before walking out your patio and into the beachfront pool. That all took place under three hours after takeoff in Miami. Four, if you’re flying from New York. Puerto Rico has always been one of the easiest and most convenient Caribbean destinations for large groups due to many factors. The volume of lift, affordable hotels, its U.S. status and amazing scenery/activities cover all the bases. Three waterfront resorts double up on the ROI, catering to three different styles of groups within a 5- to 15-minute drive of the Puerto Rico Convention Center. The 386-room El San Juan has always been the most popular, lifestyle-oriented large hotel in Puerto Rico, with a youthful swagger and large local following. Nat King Cole played at the tiered Club Tropicoro theater just off the beautiful Art Moderne lobby. Tonight during our visit, there’s a Flamenco show for 280 pax in rounds. “The hotel was designed to copy the elegance of Havana as it fell,” explains GM Olivier Maumaire, pointing out the original marble floors imported from Italy. A few steps away, a new outlet of Miami’s hippest steakhouse, Meat Market, opens in July. Next to that, the new El Chico Bar was designed for private events for 200. And just across the hall, Brava is undeniably the busiest nightclub on the island. So basically, if your attendees don’t have scheduled events in the evening, you won’t have to worry about them being bored. “And with nine restaurants, you can do a whole program without leaving the hotel,” adds Maumaire. Total meeting space is 35,000 sf, including an 11,000-sf ballroom. We dined at KOCO operated by the stellar OOF! Restaurants group. The luxury Latin vibe was enhanced with a 5-piece Latin jazz band while our group of 10 shared appetizers like smoked corn chowder with smoked paprika. The beef tenderloin in a forestiere sauce with coconut curry shrimp epitomizes today’s progressive Puerto Rican cuisine. On the roof, the funky Route 66-themed Brother Jimmy’s BBQ restaurant is a load of fun with down-home comfort food and fixin’s, a mechanical bull, and the best open-air view in Puerto Rico. Planners can book the space for 250 seated. We’re also fond of the Yamato teppanyaki restaurant with three 10-pax tables that can be privatized with full A/V capabilities. A second private room hosts 24 people. We attended two other unique F&B events. Everyone gathered under the massive banyan tree on-property for a lovely al fresco lunch. Then we rented out one of the three pool cabanas for a private margarita mixology class. That was a great day and it’s an easy way to pamper your group. The large Garden Lanai beach suites were redesigned this year with a classic contemporary vibe. The 300 rooms in the main tower will all be revamped by the end of summer. Maumaire says, “Although, no one spends much time in their room here because there’s so much to do day and night; there’s so much energy everywhere.” 48 | prevue magazine 35-50_CARIBBEAN.indd 48 7/3/13 11:53 AM

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Prevue July/August 2013

Planner's Pick: New Zealand
Fresh Meets: Autograph Collection
Bureau Buzz: Monterey County
Good Business: South Africa
sea Shores: Small Ship cruising
The Local Kitchen
Special Section: Caribbean
Dominican Republic
On Location: Hilton/LXR, Puerto Rico
On Location: The Broadmoor
The South, Florida & Las Vegas
On Location: Starwood Resorts, San Diego
On Location: Travaasa Austin
On Location: Moon Palace Cancun
On Location: IRF Cancun
Check Out: Hard Rock Hotel Punta Cana

Prevue July/August 2013