in the hospitality industry,” Segarra
said. “That includes investment in new
hotels and infrastructure.”
Segarra referred to the $750 million
worth of investment ($500 million
already invested, $250 million incom-
ing) in the island’s largest airport, Luis
Munoz Marin International Airport,
as one major development. He also
mentioned that the island is making a
$200 million investment in enhancing
the San Juan Bay piers.
The 387-room El San Juan Hotel &
Casino closed in August to complete a
$60 million property-wide renovation
that includes meeting space, and it is
expected to reopen in the first quarter of 2017. The 240-room Sheraton
Old San Juan Hotel at press time was
finalizing renovations to its guest
rooms and meeting space, and the San
Juan Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino
recently debuted its new 1,094-square-
foot vice presidential suite and a
581-square-foot executive suite.
Two major luxury hotel brands are
also in the process of developing properties in Puerto Rico, including a Four
Seasons on the east coast of the island
in Fajardo and a JW Marriott west of
San Juan in Dorado. The island’s two
Ritz-Carlton properties in San Juan and
along Dorado Beach remain popular
higher-end group options.
Another major announcement for
the convention market in Puerto Rico
is the reveal that AEG and PRISA Group
have entered into a contract for AEG Facilities to undertake the management and
operation of a new 6,000-seat concert and
entertainment venue called The Pavilion,
which will be the anchor of District Live!, a
five-acre hospitality and entertainment district in San Juan set to open in early 2019.
The District Live! entertainment complex
is being constructed in San Juan’s Conven-
tion Center District, adjacent to the Puerto
Rico Convention Center. AEG was also
behind the L.A. Live project in Los Angeles.
While 2016 has been a difficult year for
Puerto Rico, the Caribbean island has
shown it has the resilience and determination to continue to grow.
“Please allow us to prove our case on
why it’s a good time to come to Puerto
Rico,” Segarra said. “News will continue
to develop. Safety is on everyone’s radar,
financial situations will take time to get
to the point where we want them to be,
and Zika is something that is cyclical.
Don’t jump to conclusions. Let us be part
of the conversation and prove our case,
and once you have all the details, then
make the call.”
And here’s a bonus for planners look-
ing to book a meeting on the island in
2017 and beyond; Segarra said that the
ability and the willingness to provide
better rates or price points for groups is
on the table.
PUER TO RICO CONVENTION CENTER
What does your job at
ProEvents is the meet-
ing planning division of
We’re a third-party plan-
ning company that works
with corporate meetings,
events and incentive
travel for many clients.
I’m in charge of a team
of planners and we are
responsible for everything
from going out and getting
the sale to creating the
proposal and handling
all the logistics behind
creating and executing a
You brought a group to
Puerto Rico in March
2016. Could you share
My group was an associ-
ation within the building
industry. It was their
annual meeting, and there
was a little bit of meeting
involved, but more of it was
fun. They weren’t required
to go. Attendees chose to
go. The event in Puerto
Rico was well-attended;
everybody that was eligible
did attend. Our home
base was the St. Regis
Bahia Beach Resort in Rio
Grande, to the north of El
Yunque National Forest.
The Zika virus was
starting to make headlines in the U.S. around
this time as it spread
through Brazil and
much of the Caribbean.
Did you have any hesitation in bringing your
group to Puerto Rico?
None at all. I did have one
gentleman who was bringing his son and daughter-in-law and he mentioned
he was a little concerned.
I sent him to the CDC
website; we talked about
the precautions he should
take and ultimately he
decided to bring them. We
held an off-site at Hacienda
Siesta Alegre at the base of
El Yunque—the place I was
most concerned about—so
I arrived two hours early to
scope things out. It was an
open-air event and there
were no bugs whatsoever.
The higher-end resorts spray
for mosquitoes regularly and
that was also the case with
Hacienda Siesta Alegre. I
received zero complaints.
Would you bring a
group to Puerto Rico
I wouldn’t hesitate to bring
a group back there. Puerto
Rico really has it all.
They have some fantastic
restaurants in Old San
Juan and the Condado
Beach area. The off-site
dinner at Hacienda Siesta
Alegre featured local entertainment, salsa dancers
and a rum sommelier. The
evening was a huge hit!
The people in Puerto Rico
are warm and friendly and
they embrace visitors and
have a can-do attitude.
Dianne Heffernan, CTC, CMP
Director of Meetings & Incentives
ProEvents, New York
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