San Juan combines the spicy flavor of Latin America with the ease of being on American soil. No passport is required to this U.S. Territory, English is widely spoken, familiar names like Walmart are on hand, and the business community is used to running at the pace of Mainland U.S. business. But this sophisticated metropolitan area with a bustling financial and commercial sector also overflows with the exotic and fascinating, from sizzling nightclubs and casinos, to the quaint cobblestone streets of Old San Juan, which are lined with Colonial buildings housing contemporary art galleries, distinctive shops, and chic restaurants known for their innovative take on traditional Puerto Rican and Caribbean cuisine. And most San Juan event venues share close proximity to the airport, convention facilities, and accommodations.
Luis Munoz Marin International Airport is 10 miles southeast of San Juan, about a 15-minute taxi ride from the Puerto Rico Convention Center Pedro Rossello and most of the city’s meeting hotels. The airport serves 2,000 weekly non-stop and direct flights from the Mainland U.S., Canada, Latin America, Europe, and the Caribbean.
Chief among meeting venues in San Juan is Puerto Rico Convention Center Pedro Rossello, the largest and most technologically advanced facility of its type in the Caribbean. The facility offers a 152,700-square-foot exhibition hall, a 39,500-square-foot ballroom, and 37,587 square feet of meeting space in 15 flexible rooms (totaling 28 breakout rooms).
Hotel venues in San Juan include the convention center’s headquarters hotel, the 503-room Sheraton Puerto Rico Hotel & Casino, which offers 40,000 square feet of state-of-the-art flexible meeting space in a conference center setting. Other hotels within one mile of the convention center include prime large-meetings properties, such as the 910-room Caribe Hilton and the 570-room Condado Plaza Hilton, along with more intimate hotels like the 135-room Courtyard by Marriott Miramar, the 50-room Miramar Hotel, and the 14-unit Ciqala Luxury Suites.
When it comes to special event venues, San Juan has an impressive menu of historic settings. There are expansive locations for 1,000 to 2,000 people, such as the interior patio of the Dominican Convent and La Puntilla Arsenal, a former Spanish naval station overlooking San Juan Bay. There is also a good selection of historic venues for groups of several hundred, such as the Casa Blanca Garden, built for Ponce De Leon; the 19th-century Tapia Theater; and The Old Casino, Old San Juan’s most lavish building and the official government reception center, which features a white marble ballroom that can host a reception of up to 400. San Juan’s newest special event site is Antiguo Casino, a beautifully restored historic mansion in Old San Juan.
San Juan’s mix of classic cuisines from around the globe and creative local fusion fare make for high-quality memorable meals for delegates. For great local food in an historic setting, head to Old San Juan’s Cafe La Princesa or Patio del Nispero. Casa Lola’s menu is based on Criollo cuisine, the flavors of the abuelos (grandparents) presented in a creative modern way, while LAUREL showcases Nuevo Caribe Cuisine, emphasizing the plethora of local fresh ingredients that are available on the island year-round.
Distinct group activities are readily available to San Juan meetings, from guided tours in the old town, to tours of the famous Bacardi Rum Factory, and activities at Hacienda Campo Rico, a former plantation home a 10-minute drive from San Juan that now offers eco-tours on ATVs, horseback riding, and zip-lining, along with an elegant hacienda for parties.
The future is bright for meetings as the convention center is part of a multi-use waterfront development that, upon completion, will offer delegates a selection of restaurants, shops, and entertainment venues in a distinct tourist zone for business gatherings and events. Another revitalization project under way is linking the Puerto Rico Convention Center District to Old San Juan. Bahia Urbana is transforming 21 blocks of abandoned warehouses and docks along San Antonio Canal into a mixed-use residential, dining, shopping, and hotel district with bayside parks and attractions.