The top-tier planners who participated in the 2007 Meet the Greens Invitational Golf Classic and Marketplace, June 3 to 6, may have had golf on their minds, but they soon found just as much excitement off the fairway as they did on it. The headquarters hotel for the event, the 600-room Rio Mar Beach Golf Resort & Spa, had just been rebranded from Westin to Wyndham, and is slated to undergo a $36 million redevelopment that will include a complete overhaul of its casino, as well as an upgrade of the resort's 18-hole golf courses, designed by Tom and George Fazio and Greg Norman, and lobby and guest room enhancements. In addition to providing some incredibly succulent lobster during a cookout at its El Coquí outdoor restaurant the first evening, and a golf shotgun event at its Ocean Course the next day, the Rio Mar also hosted the Meet the Greens Marketplaceand the closing dinner and awards ceremony.
Day one of the event dawned bright as participants cruised to the nearby El Conquistador Resort & Golden Door Spa for breakfast and golf. Nongolfers enjoyed a day of luxurious lounging at the resort's exclusive Palamino Island and treatments at the Golden Door Spa — and, of course, a tour of the resort's impressive new conference center. It includes the Caribbean's largest hotel ballroom, the 22,650-square-foot Grand Atlantic Ballroom, which can be divided into three sections. It also features up to 16 additional breakout rooms ranging from 815 to 1,619 square feet, and an outdoor terrace for more event space. One much-commented-on feature of the new center is a gorgeous mosaic waterfall; with the center's wave-shaped accents, it brings a Caribbean ambience to a conference setting.
While only a few intrepid souls partook of it, one unique offering, just minutes from the Wyndham Rio Mar, was the chance to ride a four-wheeler through a forest track with tremendous views of El Yunque, the Puerto Rican rain forest, topped off with a refreshing dip in a nearby river. The all-terrain vehicle trek is just one of the rain forest adventures offered by the Hacienda Carabalí; others include mountain-bike adventures and trail rides on Puerto Rico's graceful Paso Fino horses. For planners whose attendees have somewhat adventuresome tastes, tours can be arranged through the Rio Mar.
Another interesting off-site attraction is El Portal del Yunque, where participants enjoyed an evening reception outside the nature center surrounded by outdoor exhibits explaining some of the local flora and fauna. Other excellent off-site venues include the Coco Rio and the Revealing Rainforest, two magnificent outdoor facilities forand special events. The Gran Meliá Puerto Rico, which recently rebranded from the hotel chain's all-inclusive Paradisus label, hosted the group one evening, providing a feast for the senses, from martinis that glowed blue to sushi on ice and a post-dinner show that included a fire-eater and dancers, arranged by Entertainment Concepts. Throughout the event, Dragonfly Adventures /Wizard Studios provided impressive décor and impeccable transportation. Other well-known DMCs that have participated in this and past events include Travel Services and GSI.
The event was hosted by the Puerto Rico Convention Bureau, the Wyndham Rio Mar, and El Conquistador Resort & Golden Door Spa, and was co-sponsored by The Meetings Group, Penton Media, publisher of Financial & Insurance Meetings magazine.
Puerto Rico Convention Bureau
Rio Mar Beach Resort & Spa
El Conquistador Resort & Golden Door Spa
Gran Meliá Puerto Rico
Dragonfly Adventures/Wizard Studios
PSAV Presentation Services