Prevue March/April 2016 - (Page 81)
Caribbean style and authentic cuisine add local flavor to meetings
[ON LOCATION] STEVE GRASSO
irst impressions count, and as soon as you arrive at the
El Conquistador, a Waldorf Astoria Resort and Spa,
you know you're in a luxury space. A blue tile and terra
cotta fountain accents a pretty courtyard, which opens
to a view of four sprawling swimming pools. Intriguing ironwork
sculptures and Mediterranean-style pillars add atmosphere, leading
the eye towards the ocean.
Our introduction to Puerto Rico began with a 'wines around
the world' seminar led by the resort's expert sommelier and
crash course on mofongo, the island's national dish, at Chop's
Steakhouse. The dish was later brought out to accompany port
wine-braised short ribs paired with Caribbean lobster tail. A warm
chocolate brownie served in a cast iron skillet with salted caramel
popcorn and dulce de leche ice cream proved a hit for dessert.
We later explored the resort's considerable meetings space,
which includes two 20,000 sf ballrooms, 16 separate breakout
areas, and impressive outdoor event space that makes full use of
the natural surroundings. The resort recently launched the 'El Con
360' app, which helps planners remotely visualize how their events
will unfold in these spaces by viewing 360-degree virtual tours of
the whole property.
Following a ferry ride to Palomino Island, a 100-acre stretch of
private beach owned by the resort that can be hired for events, we
experienced island activities including snorkeling, paddleboarding
and kayaking. Lunch at Iguana's Cafe, named after the giant lizards
that freely roam the grounds, was a whole red snapper with rice and
tostones served in a traditional pilon by the resort's event catering
team. The island excursion ended with a team challenge where our
group competed to build a raft that would float in the sea.
Dermont Connolly, managing director of El Conquistador Resort
& Las Casitas Village, says VIP breakfast receptions on Palomino
Island are also a possibility, adding, "The tropical island paradise can
accommodate up to 1,500 guests and is perfect for lavish banquets,
business conventions, grand conferences and gala events."
The second part of our visit took us to San Juan, and the Condado
Plaza Hilton. Built in the 1960s, the interiors have been refurbished
with a nod to its history. The mid-century modern influence is
evident throughout with an urban elegance that makes you feel like
you're on-location in a Bond movie.
The resort is Puerto Rico's only hotel overlooking both the
Atlantic Ocean and Condado Lagoon. The location is alive with
shops, restaurants and nightlife, and only minutes away from the
Puerto Rico Convention Center and the historic cobbled streets
of Old San Juan, the second oldest colonial city in the Americas.
Meeting space is plentiful, with 41,000 sf of flexible options, and
outdoor events benefit from panoramic ocean views and the
atmospheric backdrop of a small colonial era fortification.
Cocktails at the Moon Bar were followed by a private dinner
prepared by Executive Chef Maria Germania, which included Puerto
Rican fish cake, mojito sorbet, and fillet steak with giant shrimp. Other
dining options include Picayo, offering Puerto Rican fusion cuisine, and
the Eight Noodle Bar, offering a contemporary Asian menu.
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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Prevue March/April 2016
Planner’s Pick: Seattle
Fresh Meets: Caribbean Cool
Bureau Buzz: Kansas City
Good Business: Raising the Green Bar
Sea Shores: Celebrity Cruises
A look at inspiring incentive experiences.
MEETING TAKEAWAYS On-site corporate gift experiences gain momentum
GAMING DESTINATIONS Gaming resort incentives are becoming as exciting as their settings
CALIFORNIA DREAMING Delivering creative group experiences
3 US CITIES REIMAGINE MEDICAL MEETINGS Immersive wellness programs make their way into the mix
On Location: SBM Monte Carlo
WELLNESS, SOUTHERN STYLE Southern backdrops rejuvenate groups
SECRETS AKUMAL [ON LOCATION] Luxury & immersive experiences make for a successful 2016 Leadership Summit
On Location: Australia
On Location: Bermuda
Checkout: Azamara Club Cruises
On Location: Puerto Rico
Prevue March/April 2016