array of venues for special events or theme
parties. Whether a lavish reception or an
outdoor garden party, Puerto Rico’s venues
offer meeting attendees an unforgettable
experience of the island.”
One spot, on the highest point of Old San
Juan, Puerto Rico, is The Gallery Inn owned
by artist Jan D’Esopo. Purchased with her
husband in the ‘60s, the couple took this
23,000-square-foot, 18th century Spanish
colonial mansion and converted it into a
gallery, studio and boutique hotel.
Guests are treated to cocktail parties
in the gallery among D’Esopo’s own
watercolors and sculptures. The space is
ideal for groups of up to 80 with sit-down
dinners for up to 30. Attendees can also
wander throughout the Orchid Garden
and explore the inn, where it’s not uncommon to encounter an impromptu chamber
Tours of Santo Domingo, the capital of
the Dominican Republic, are popular for
meeting groups, said Ramon Rijo, regional
managing director, IVI DMC2.
A visit to the Diego Colon Viceroy Palace,
built in 1510 and the epicenter of Spanish
governance for 60 years, is a must, Rijo
said. But to really get immersed in the
culture and traditions of the island, Rijo
advises excursions to the countryside.
“Here you will discover another beautiful
part of the island aboard a safari truck, visiting the Dominican countryside, looping
through mountains and rivers covered with
luxuriant jungle vegetation,” he said.
According to Rijo, groups can learn
about the agricultural life of the locals,
including plantations of sugar cane, cocoa,
coffee, bananas and other vegetables that
make up the staples of local people.
“They will also visit a traditional home
and enjoy a succulent Creole lunch, where
most of the dishes are made from agricultural products harvested by the inhabitants
of the area,” Rijo said.
Once the British captured Jamaica in 1655,
they transformed it into one vast sugar
plantation, bringing together a grand blend
of ethnicities that have graced their shores
over the centuries, said Myrtle V. Dwyer,
director of sales & marketing, Glamour
Luxury Destination Concierge, one of the
leading DMCs in Jamaica.
“Our motto ‘Out of many, one people’
aptly describes the make-up of our populace from descendants of colonists, slaves,
indentured laborers from India and China,
pirates, merchants from the Middle East
or Taino Indians who inhabited Jamaica
long before the Europeans arrived. This
mingling of cultures has made Jamaica a
rich repository for the arts and historical
venues,” she said.
One of the great plantation houses,
believed to be haunted, is the Rose Hall
Great House in Montego Bay. Besides daily
tours, it’s also an exciting outdoor venue
“The imposing Rose Hall, where the
‘White Witch’ Annie Palmer once reigned,
is a truly spectacular backdrop for various
events,” Dwyer said.
“Rose Hall provides one of the most
powerful, yet haunting, displays of this
country’s rich history,” she added. “Events
of varying sizes and tastes are spread across
beautifully landscaped lawns fringed by
beautiful tropical flowers.”
Aruba’s Arikok National Park comprises
almost 20 percent of the island. Rugged
terrain and desert-like hills are filled with
tall cacti and protected flora and fauna
on a beautiful stretch of coastline. There
are also unique geological, cultural and
Aruba is also home to the Ayo Rock
Formations, monolithic rock boulders the
Arawak people used to help monitor for
incoming thunderstorms, and they also
carved petroglyphs, which can still be
“We’ve used the Arikok National Park
ESTATE WHIM MUSEUM, ST. CROIX
Properties throughout Cancun and the Caribbean offer groups cultural experiences on-site. Atlantis, Paradise Island ( www.atlantisbaha
mas.com) this spring launched “Discover Junkanoo,”
an outlet for guests to learn and celebrate Bahamian
heritage. After guests enjoy an authentic Bahamian
meal, they take a Junkanoo dance lesson and create
colorful costumes to express themselves through design. The Junkanoo Bahamian Fest
& Feast is designed to allow groups to truly immerse themselves in the music, spirit and
cuisine of The Bahamas.
UNICO 20˚ 87˚ Hotel Riviera Maya ( www.unicohotelrivieramaya.com) creates a culturally
immersive experience through its artwork. The hotel pairs with Tasting Art, an art gallery in
Mexico City that curates the artwork throughout the hotel. Artists must be Mexican or have
a connection to the country. The property also offers pop-up programming that includes
demonstrations from musicians and painters, mescal tastings and a cocktail hour by the
The Sheraton Puerto Rico Hotel & Casino ( www.sheratonpuertoricohotelcasino.com)
recently launched salsa dancing classes for groups to learn the art of Latin dance and
become expert salseros. The property also brings together a variety of indigenous ingredients
and spirits in its Chef Cook Offs, where groups interact with the property’s culinary team to
compete to create the best dishes. Local vendors offer crafts from artisanal shops in Old San
Juan for sale during breaks.
The recently renovated Westin Grand Cayman Seven Mile Beach Resort & Spa (www.
westingrandcayman.com) offers excursions to numerous highlights of the Cayman Islands,
including Stingray City, where guests can swim along and hand-feed swarms of stingrays;
tours to the Pirates Caves, underground caves where pirates once hid their treasures; and
the capital, George Town, where groups can visit Fort George—constructed in 1790 to defend against the French and Spanish—and the Cayman Islands National Museum.
At the Hilton Aruba Caribbean Resort & Casino ( www3.hilton.com) guests can enjoy a
blast from the resort’s past, viewing the extensive selection of historic vintage photos of the
hotel and Aruba on display throughout the resort. Built in 1959, the Hilton is the first and
oldest high-rise hotel on the Dutch-Caribbean island.
At the Hyatt Zilara Rose Hall ( https://rosehall.zilara.hyatt.com) in Jamaica, the Kingston
Beatz Beach Party was created to provide guests the ability to experience the Jamaican
culture without having to leave the comfort of the resort. The evening includes authentic
cuisine, traditional Jamaican dance and fire-breathers.
DISCOVER JUNKANOO, ATLANTIS,