With a billion dollars in hotel development and renovation and a new convention center marking its first anniversary, Puerto Rico has reached a new level for meetings. “It’s offshore and it’s easy,” says Ramon Sanchez, executive vice president and COO, Puerto Rico Convention Bureau. There’s no passport requirement, no language barrier, the same currency, and the same standards for health and security.

The big news for meeting groups includes the new 240-room Renaissance La Concha Hotel & Casino, which has 15,000 square feet of meeting space; the 300-room luxury Condado Vanderbilt Hotel, which will open late next year with 20,000 square feet of meeting space and two oceanfront pools; a 350-room ME by Melia, the new luxury brand owned by Sol Melia Hotels & Resorts, just breaking ground in Old San Juan; and a 500-room hotel that will open in 2009 under the Sheraton flag, which will be the headquarters hotel for the Puerto Rico Convention Center. Also notable is the new $34 million meeting complex at El Conquistador, the cornerstone of a $100 million enhancement of the classic Puerto Rican resort. The project includes 100,000 square feet of meeting space, with the 21,000-square-foot Atlantic Ballroom and refurbished Grand Caribbean Ballroom at more than 19,500 square feet.