Want a really big space?
Opened in 2001, the Dr. Pedro Rosselló González Puerto Rico Convention Center in San Juan is the largest facility of its type in the Caribbean, not to mention one of the most visually compelling. The building’s dynamic architecture includes a wave-like roof and a 13-story “glass curtain” looking out across to the Atlantic, providing picturesque views of the city’s natural beauty. The center features a 152,700-sq. ft. exhibition hall, a 39,500-sq. ft. ballroom and 36,200 square feet of meeting space in 15 flexible rooms, with 28 breakout rooms. The state-of-the-art facility includes programmable lighting controls, broadband and wireless Internet connectivity, video-conferencing and satellite-linking capabilities and stands tall as the most technologically advanced facility in the Caribbean and Latin America.
Want a business-focused hotel?
Earning Meetings & Conventions’ 2010 Gold Tee Award, the El Conquistador Resort’s Grand Atlantic Conference Center features two conference areas, two ballrooms and 16 breakout rooms. That’s more than 100,000 square feet of meeting space, not to mention golf courses ranked among Puerto Rico’s best. Far removed from the busy bustle of San Juan is the Wyndham Rio Mar Grand Beach Resort & Spa’s 48,000-sq. ft. Oceanfront Conference Center. It has one of the Caribbean’s largest ballrooms, as well as outdoor function space and can accommodate banquets for up to 1,800. The Gran Meliá resort’s RedGlove Meetings Team features event planners CMP-certified by the Convention Industry Council. The hotel’s 27,000-plus square feet of space includes 13 breakout meeting/banquet rooms. The 12,000-sq. ft. Puerto Rico Grand Ballroom has space for 1,050 people; the 9,600-sq. ft. El Yunque Junior Ballroom can hold 500.
Want to meet in the great outdoors?
For large gatherings in a natural setting, try the 1,800-person capacity Arsenal La Puntilla, a former Spanish naval station overlooking the San Juan Bay that has become popular for big outdoor banquets. The Casa Blanca Gardens were originally built for Ponce de León, the first governor of Puerto Rico. Now this beautiful home is a museum of 16th- and 17th-century family life, including a re-creation of a Taino Indian village. Its large garden and salon make a perfect setting for late afternoon cocktail parties (capacity: 300). La Arcada is a patio with a capacity of 500, frequently used for festive banquets and live cultural performances. It’s set along La Princesa Promenade, a pastoral walkway lined with trees and benches that ultimately leads to a fantastic water fountain.
Want your immerse yourself in culture?
The Asilo de Beneficencia, built in the 1840s as a hospital and home for the disabled, aged and indigent, is now headquarters for the Institute of Puerto Rican Culture. The building has numerous art galleries, and two ample courtyards (capacity: 250-700) rich with colonial era charm. The Cuartel de Ballajá is another repurposed gem. Once the barracks for Spanish troops and their families, the 1863 building is now home to the Museum of the Americas, which features ancient archaeological finds and exhibits on indigenous arts and crafts. Receptions in the courtyard can hold up to 2,000 people. For smaller gatherings, the Museo de Arte e Historia has emerged as a cultural center for Puerto Rico’s fine arts aficionados, with a courtyard capacity of 600.
Want to go historical?
Named a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1983, Old San Juan’s narrow cobblestone streets, well-preserved forts, and colonial-style stone and brick buildings date to the 16th and 17th century. The Dominican Convent, one of San Juan’s oldest historical landmarks, originally served as a barrack for Spanish soldiers during the Spanish-American War, and was later used as headquarters by the U.S. Antilles Command. Now, a vast interior patio (capacity: 700-1,000) makes the converted convent a prominent venue for dinners and cocktail receptions. The Old Casino is one of Old San Juan’s most lavish buildings, with a capacity of 500. This lavish architectural wonder boasts an opulent white-marble ballroom with an enormous chandelier that sets an elegant mood for meetings, receptions and social functions.
Want to see the sights?
The San Juan National Historic Site, one of only 12 national park areas in the United States considered a World Heritage Site, encompasses four elements. Fort San Felipe del Morro was built in the 16th century and designed to protect the entrance to San Juan Bay. Fort San Cristóbal, the largest Spanish fort in the New World, was built in the 1700s to protect San Juan from land-based assaults. Visitors can explore an extensive tunnel system, see exhibits of military clothing and mortar shells, and get amazing views of the city from Cavalier San Miguel. Fort San Juan de la Cruz, also known as El Cañuelo, sits across the bay from El Morro, where it created strategic crossfire against invading ships. Its exterior offers fantastic views of Boca Vieja Cove and San Juan Bay. The site’s most striking element is the Historic Wall built to protect Old San Juan, three-fourths of which remains standing.
Want group dining?
Laurel Kitchen Art Bar — chef Mario Pagan’s restaurant at the Museum of Art of Puerto Rico — offers an elegant take on “Nuevo Caribe Cuisine.” In addition to its 65-seat dining room, the restaurant features a 25-seat private dining room and an impressive wine cellar. If you’re looking for fresh seafood, San Juan’s Atlantica Spanish tavern offers an array of tasty options, but they’re best known for their paella. The restaurant’s dining room can accommodate up to 127 people for special meetings and private events. For more intimate gatherings, try Rosalía International Cuisine & Tapas in Punta Las Marias. Their VIP Room seats 45.