Black Meetings and Tourism

Jan / Feb 2015

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 15 of 40

sets them apart from the rest. The CONDADO PLAZA HILTON is a sparkling prop- erty that has something for everybody. Perched at the edge of Condado, tucked between Condado Lagoon and the Atlantic Ocean, the property offers a range of guest room and suite accommodations. Highlights include: WiFi, flatscreens and in-room movies. Ergonomic chairs with workstations to match. Deluxe bath amenities and mini- fridges. Some of the 290-sq. ft. and 390-sq. ft. rooms have ocean views and some get a view of the lagoon. There are floor-to-ceiling windows and private balconies. There are 509 guest room and 62 suites, San Juan's largest 24-hour casino, eight restaurants and lounges (Starbucks, Viaggi Grab-n-Go, Pikayo, Moon Bar, Eternal Bar, Eight Noodle Bar, Denny's, Café Caribe and Aqua Bar & Grill) and complimentary WiFi in guest rooms. Hotel highlights include poolside massage, bicycle rentals sauna room, steam room, one lighted tennis court, children activity center, tour desk, protected beach, 24-hour fitness center, water sports, one saltwater and three freshwater pools, two spa tubs with Jacuzzis and a water slide and more. Raul Bustamante is the managing director. Originally from Columbia, he has called Puerto Rico home for quite a while. According to Bustamate, about 80% of the hotel's visitors are from the U.S. They also get a number of visitors from Columbia and from Europe. Bustamante is quick to point out Puerto Rico's and his property's appeal. "Groups should come to Puerto Rico for many reasons, " says Bustamante. "You don't need a pass- port, plus the currency is the same. There are about 40-50 flights from the states, we have great food, plus English is spoken all over the island. Add to that a wonderful cultural experience." The Condado Plaza Hilton, the only hotel to have access to the lagoon, is only minutes from the Luis Munoz Marin International Airport and a mere 2.5 miles from Old San Juan. The Condado, which has been undergoing a restoration for about four years, is the first hotel in Puerto Rico to have a Denny's restaurant in its midst. It's only minutes from the Convention Center and only a 45-minute drive from the El Yunque Rain Forest. When it comes to culinary treats, the Condado has an ace B M & T ••• January/February 2015 ••• 15 Rico. There are colorful, historical buildings and old fortresses. The architecture and beautiful vistas of the sea are spectacular. If you'd like a tour guide to enhance your experi- ence, Noemi Cruz, secretary of the Tour Guide Association of Puerto Rico, is one of the best. or (787) 478-4823. Nestled within Old San Juan is a quaint and unique cheese making workshop called Casa Lila, owned by cheese maker Rosa Avalo Franceschi. Franceschi, the founder of Quesovaca Negra Inc., invites guests into her 300 year-old home for some wine and cheese, educates them on the history of making cheese through an informative video and then guides the visitors through cheese trivia as well as a cheese making session. Guests, who are able to design their own brands of cheese, are able to take their samples with them. It's truly hands on. Guests can season their own cheeses with whatever they want. The crash course workshop includes cutting the curds to separate the solids from the whey then drain- ing off the whey. After collecting all the curds into a strainer, you then let the whey drain out. While it's draining, which takes about 10-15 minutes, Rosa takes her guests on a tour of her home. The view from the bedroom and the upstairs deck is spectacular. The cheese-making workshops for tourists (English language) are available during the week. Days and times can vary depending on demand. It's a two-hour workshop that costs about $50 per person. Casa Lila is located at 422 Calle Norzagaray (the lilac purple building next to the corner) oceanfront, across the street from the ramp at Fort San Cristobal. For some great mufungo stop by VACA BRAVA where Chef Javier Aponte Machado is serving up some scrumptious dishes. On this day, Mufungo is being served as is pastelillo, alcapurria (cornbread) and sorullo. The restaurant is spacious, the wait staff is fast, friendly and courteous and there is a pleasant family atmosphere. They have fabulous mojitos! There are several day trips to take in San Juan. One in particular that is rather illuminating is the Bioluminescent Bay. This unique bay, a key tourist destination, contains up to 720,000 single-celled bio- luminescent dinoflagellates per gallon of water.These half-plant, half-animal organisms emit a flash of bluish light when agitated at night. The high concen- tration of these creatures (Pyrodimium bahamense) can create enough light to read a book. There are five Boluminescent Bays in the world and three of them are located in Puerto Rico. WHERE TO STAY In Puerto Rico, there are several Hilton Hotels, but they all have their own style and uniqueness that Condado Plaza Hilton Exterior

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Black Meetings and Tourism - Jan / Feb 2015