There is a palpable vibe in Puerto Rico known as boricua. Not only is it a name that honors the island’s heritage, but it’s a way of life, a state of mind, a rhythm and flavor that is distinctly Puerto Rico. From the island’s beaches to its forests, delectable dining options, and rich and vibrant culture and history, boricua abounds, and it’s sure to take hold of you, too. With all the island has to offer, meeting and their attendees will agree that Puerto Rico is numero uno.
Why Puerto Rico?
Warm weather year-round with an average temperature of 85°F
Direct flights from nearly 20 major U.S. cities
An international experience close to the U.S.
No passport required for U.S. residents
The island’s gastronomy has been showcased at the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen, Colorado.
“Puerto Rico Sunshine” was a new color introduced in 2022 by Discover Puerto Rico and the Pantone Color Institute. The color is based on research by a Puerto Rican physicist and professor.
The destination closed its 2022-23 fiscal year with record numbers in the MICE sector: 16% higher than fiscal year 2021-22, and 57% higher than fiscal year 2018-19.
There are plenty of options when it comes to things to see and do in Puerto Rico, as well as places to grab a bite to eat or host a power lunch or dinner. Here, look at a few spots to pique your interest
Old San Juan
One of the oldest cities in the Caribbean, the walled city of Old San Juan just celebrated the 500th year of its founding and is a must-see when in Puerto Rico. It’s here that centuries-old military forts known as castillo, churches, and cathedrals blend with pastel-colored colonial architecture, cobblestone streets, and ocean views from every angle. A walking tour will showcase all the top sites to see.
Puerto Rico is known as the “Rum Capital of the World,” and no visit to the island is complete without a visit to a distillery or two. The Puerto Rico Rum Journey App will guide you to the island’s seven distilleries, where you can sample their rums and even take mixology classes. Be sure to taste a piña colada while on island; it’s here that the frozen drink was first poured.
El Yunque National Forest
The only rainforest in the U.S. National Forest System is right here in Puerto Rico: El Yunque National Forest. Thought to be named from the Taínowordyuke, or“white earth,” because of the clouds that descend upon the forest’s highest peaks, the average rainfall within the forest averages 120 inches per year, accounting for its lush, verdant landscape. Hiking, ziplining, chasing waterfalls, and learning about the 240 plant species endemic to Puerto Rico are all ways to enjoy the rainforest.
Take your group on a food tour in Puerto Rico, and one thing is for certain: you won’t go hungry. From local dishes like mofongo (deep-fried green plantains), tostones (double deep-fried plantain wheels) andlechón(slowly spit-roasted pork with juicy meat and crispy skin), you’ll discover the flavors of the island. And there are dishes highlighting Afro-Caribbean, Central American and European tastes and traditions. Eating in Puerto Rico means embracing the island’s Boricua.
For all that Puerto Rico has to offer on dry land, there’s so much more that awaits just off its beaches. Your group will enjoy a catamaran cruise any time of day, enjoying the warm Caribbean breezes and diving below the water’s surface to discover marine life like tropical fish, and maybe even sea turtles and manta rays. For a more relaxing experience, opt for a sunset sail.
Feel the beat of the Caribbean island with salsa lessons, whether onsite or in one of the local clubs. Once everyone has learned the dance’s signature forward-back-ward steps, they’ll be ready to show off their new moves as a live band plays clas-sic salsa songs like “Sin Salsa No Hay Paraiso” (“Without Salsa, There Is No Para-dise”) and “Me Liberé” (“I Broke Free”).
EAT + DRINK
The farm-to-table menu at Vianda features local ingredients and products, and the way those ingredients are prepared caught the eye of the James Beard Foundation: Vianda was named one of the 20 Best New Restaurants in America when it opened in 2018, and Chef-Owner Francis Guzman was nominated Best Chef: South in 2022. Chicken, pork, and fish entrees are available, as are vegetable-forward dishes like Raíces Locales: roasted root vegetables served with puffed quinoa and a horseradish vinaigrette
Cocina al Fondo
James Beard nominated Chef Natalia Vallejo is “inspired and nurtured by art, na-ture and those who consciously work the land” when she creates her dishes at Cocina al Fondo. Everything is rooted in the traditions, flavors, and history of the island, yet presented in fresh, elevated, and seasonally-inspired ways. The restaurant’s atmosphere is relaxed, set in a renovated house with backyard space to be enjoyed.
Named The Best Bar in the Caribbean 2023 and one of The World’s 50 Best Bars for six years running, not to mention a James Beard nominee, La Factoría is, in fact, made up of six bars accessible in an unmarked location full of secret passages.This same space was once known as Café Hijos de Borinquen, where revolutionaries and artists of the ’50s and ’60s used to meet. Today, friends gather to enjoy expertly crafted cocktails, bubbles, and wine.
Just as Puerto Rico has something for every meeting planner and attendee, so does ALHI. Whether it’s the Condado Vanderbilt Hotel or the Royal Sonesta San Juan, both oceanfront and intent on exceeding expectations, there truly is a space for everyone on the Island of Enchantment.
Condado Vanderbilt Hotel
Just three miles from the Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport in San Juan is the Condado Vanderbilt Hotel, an oceanfront urban luxury resort built in 1919. Though an historic space, modern conveniences are at the ready, as is the hotel's11,000 square feet of outdoor, oceanfront event spaceand317 guest rooms, including 100 spacious suites. Mix up your meetings with group classes designed to be fun and at the same time relax your attendees’ minds so that they can refocus and reduce stress. Choose from beginner yoga, Latin dance aerobics,or a morning walk with meditation.
Royal Sonesta San Juan
The newly-renovated Royal Sonesta San Juan is just two miles from the airport, yet seemingly worlds away. Fifteen flexible indoor and outdoor event spaces en-compassing more than 24,000 square feet can be arranged to meet any meeting planner’s needs, from intimate board meetings to gatherings of up to 600 guests. After work is finished for the day, your guests will enjoy retreating to their bright and elegant accommodations or soaking up the Puerto Rican sun on palm-fringed Isla Verde Beach.
For more activities and ideas, ask your ALHI GSO about working with Hosts Global Destination Services.