Puerto Rico is brimming with news: The construction of the new Puerto Rico Convention Center is on schedule and on budget, and will open in September 2005. It has spurred more than the development of a 113-acre convention center district, adjacent to Old San Juan: More than 3,000 new hotel rooms will be under construction over the next two years throughout the island, bringing the island’s total to 15,000 rooms. Ana Maria Viscasillas, appointed the Puerto Rico Convention Bureau’s president and CEO this past summer, and Rick Hud, the new vice president of global sales, updated journalists at a recent luncheon in New York.

The Puerto Rico Convention Center is now 70 percent complete and will be the largest convention center in the Caribbean when it opens. Located on the site of the former U.S. Naval and Coast Guard base in San Juan Isla Grande, the Center is convenient to Old San Juan, the airport, and the Condado hotels. Some 152,700 square feet of exhibition space will be complemented by a ballroom, divisible into two, which can accommodate 4,388 delegates theater-style or 3,290 for a banquet. In addition, 12 meeting rooms will be able to be divided into 25 rooms to accommodate from 80 to 500 delegates. The convention center hotel, a Sheraton with more than500 guest rooms, is scheduled to open in 2007.

Come January, San Juan will be part of Best Cities.net, a global alliance of bureaus that represent the "highest standards of service in the meetings and convention industry." San Juan and Singapore will be the two newest members of the consortium, whose members include Boston, Cape Town, Copenhagen, Dubai, Edinburgh, Melbourne, Australia, and Vancouver, British Columbia. Viscasillas said, "In joining the prestigious BestCities.net alliance, we are placing San Juan on a world stage and are able to further market our capital city as an international meetings destination." For more information, visit www.bestcities.net.

San Juan’s Luis Muñoz Marin International Airport is undergoing a $219 million renovation that includes construction of a new terminal and extension and reconstruction of landing strips to accommodate increased traffic. The airport is scheduled for completion in late 2005 to coincide with the opening of the convention center.

New hotel properties include the Best Western San Juan Airport Hotel, opened July 2004; Four Points Sheraton Hotel Caguas, opened in October 2004; the Holiday Inn San Juan, opened November 2004; and Four Points Sheraton Candelero Hotel, opening in December. Both the Condado Vanderbilt Hotel and the La Concha Hotel in the Condado area are scheduled to open in mid-2005. The island’s first all-inclusive property, the 490-room Paradisus Puerto Rico Beach and Golf Resort, opened earlier this year.

Many of Puerto Rico’s properties are expanding and renovating, or have completed recent projects. The Ponce Hilton inaugurated a 100-room Executive Tower. The Costa Caribe Resort added a 27-hole championship golf course. And the Caribe Hilton is building the Paseo Caribe, a two-phase development that will add 432 villas to the property, making it the Island’s largest hotel with a total of 910 rooms by end of 2005. Las Casitas Village, adjacent to the Wyndham El Conquistador Resort & Golden Door Spa, is adding 67 villas.Renovations and upgrades were recently completed at the Embassy Suites San Juan Hotel & Casino, the InterContinental Resort and Casino, and the Wyndham Condado Plaza Hotel and Casino. The Wyndham Old San Juan recently completed a $7 million upgrade and was rebranded the Sheraton Old San Juan on November 11. The Ritz-Carlton, the Wyndham Condado Plaza Hotel and Casino, and the San Juan Marriott Hotel and Stellaris Casino have all begun upgrade and renovation projects.