The Puerto Rico Convention Bureau, supported by MeetingsNet magazines and media, hosted the 7th Annual Meet the Greens Golf Invitational and Marketplace at the Wyndham Rio Mar Beach Resort and Golf Club, December 4-7, 2008. Twenty-five meeting professionals from all sectors of our industry, including meeting managers from site selection companies, associations, and incentive companies, took part in the event.

We enjoyed a lovely kick-off evening at the Gran Meliá Puerto Rico, always a favorite with its sprawling beachside layout, plenty of meeting space, and an elegant yet relaxed atmosphere. Cocktails, dinner, and even a conga line got the program off to a great start. Our Meet the Greens golf event took place on Friday under the direction of the staff at the Rio Mar Country Club on the Greg Norman-designed River course. The nongolfers in the group either enjoyed the fabulous Rio Mar Spa or toured El Yunque Rain Forest. Lunch and marketplace appointments followed, making for a great afternoon of networking.

We ended our day with a full evening of festivities. The group made a stop at Coco Rio, a rain forest venue ideally suited to group functions, owned and managed by Dragon Fly Adventures. Next we enjoyed a fantastic lunch at El Conquistador Resort and Golden Door Spa, where a $120 million renovation has created 100,000 square feet of convention and meeting space — the largest hotel-based convention center in the Caribbean. All guest rooms have been renovated as well, offering stunning views of the ocean or Arthur Hills Golf Course.

The next day everyone hit the road to San Juan, selecting one of three site inspection itineraries: the Isla Verde section (InterContinental and El San Juan), Condado section (LaConcha and Condado Plaza), or the new Convention District (see sidebar, left). Development, renewal, and infrastructure improvement are the ongoing themes in San Juan. If you have not been to Puerto Rico in awhile, it is definitely time to go back.

We convened at the newly renovated Caribe Hilton, where a $15 million infusion into guest rooms and meeting space has made this urban resort a perfect downtown meetings property, with close proximity to the new PRCC. We enjoyed our farewell gala dinner at our host property, Wyndham Rio Mar. An elegant, edgy theme was created by in-house destination management company Dragon Fly.

PRCC District

Puerto Rico's ambitious project, the Puerto Rico Convention Center District, is located in the San Juan Peninsula on what was once the U.S. Naval Base, Isla Grande, near Condado and Old San Juan. On 113 acres of prime real estate, the PRCC District will include the 500-room Sheraton Puerto Rico — scheduled to open in November 2009 — and shops and restaurants.

The gleaming new Puerto Rico Convention Center lobby is flooded in natural light, reflecting the beautiful azure colors of the seaside location. With 580,000 square feet of convention and meeting space, the center is the largest in the Caribbean and Latin America and the most technologically advanced. It can accommodate groups of up to 10,000.

Next door to the PRCC and facing the bay, the Sheraton Puerto Rico Convention Center Hotel and Casino will offer 40,000 square feet of meeting space, a spa, outdoor pools, a world-class casino, and shopping.