There’s still time to qualify for Dream Destination Conference’s trip to Puerto Rico, June 10-16, 2016. If you need a little more motivation to earn your spot, here are five (5) reasons you don’t want to miss this trip of a lifetime.
- Two Amazing Properties. You’ll stay in two of the island’s most luxurious and exclusive properties. Elite trip qualifiers will spend two nights at the Condado Vanderbilt Hotel, recently restored to its 1919 glory. Main trip winners will enjoy the beauty and comfortable elegance of the exclusive St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort. For the first time ever, First Financial Security, Inc. has bought out an entire hotel property. June 12-16, the St. Regis will be an FFS-only resort, making this year’s DDC all the more special.
- The Beaches. The point of traveling to tropical island destination is soaking up the sun and playing in the surf. With its more than 270 miles of shoreline and several offshore islands, Puerto Rico offers you both. Whether it’s sunbathing, swimming, snorkeling or sailing, Puerto Rico’s nearly 300 beaches deliver.
- The St. Regis offers two miles of pristine beaches, perfect for relaxing in a beach-front cabana with a good book, or trying out paddle boarding. The resort’s on-site Aquatics Center can hook you up with equipment and/or lessons needed for a variety of water sports, such as kayaking, sailing, fishing, and paddle boarding.
- Elite qualifiers staying at the Condado Vanderbilt Hotel can enjoy one of the favorite beaches of the sanjuaneros, the name for citizens of the capital city who flock here on weekends.
- El Yunque – Puerto Rico’s tropical rain forest. A lush, verdant blanket covers 28,000 acres of northeastern Puerto Rico from the sea to the top of the Luquillo Mountain range. Beneath its dense canopy are tree frogs (coqui) and cucubanos, a luminous clicking beetle that lights up the forest with blinking hues of yellow, orange and red, as well as bats, owls, and Puerto Rican parrot, a small green bird with a spot of red above its beak and a flash of brilliant blue on its wings.
- You can explore the rain forest, the only one in the U.S. National Forest system, on foot or by car. There are several marked trails that leave from the El Portal Visitor Center and offer amazing views of waterfalls, tree ferns and vibrantly colored flowers, such as bromeliads, Heliconia and Hibiscus. If you choose to drive to the peak, you’ll enjoy spectacular views, but if you want to take a break, be on the look out for the many local, outdoor seafood stands that dot the sides of the road. Sample authentic local cuisine while checking out the sights.
- Be sure to pack your rain gear and/or bring an umbrella.
- Old San Juan. A stroll along the cobbled streets of Old San Juan is like stepping back in time. Lining the blocks of the more than 500-year-old, walled city are excellent examples of 18th century, Spanish Colonial architecture, painted in the brilliant colors of the Caribbean – bright yellow, vivid blue, and soft pinks and tan. You’ll find examples of older and newer buildings here, including Iglesia de San Jose, built in the 1530s and the second oldest Christian Church in the Americas.
- Don’t forget to check out the Paseo de la Princesa promenade. The tree-lined walkway, with food and artist stalls on either side, leads to the amazing Raices Fountain (a great spot to take photographs).
- Dinner and Dancing. Some of the island’s best cuisine and nightlife can be found in Condado area, where the Vanderbilt Hotel is located, and on two of Old San Juan’s cobbled streets – Calles Fortaleza and San Sebastian. Here you’ll find restaurants offering global cuisine, criolla fare (local Puerto Rican food) or a fusion of both.
- The St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort offers the many tastes of Puerto Rico and the world in its three on-property restaurants – Fern, Molasses, and Seagrapes, as well as the elegant St. Regis Bar. The Condado Vanderbilt Hotel also features several on-site eateries, including the elegantly appointed 1919 Restaurant, named for the year the hotel opened its doors. Here, you can enjoy dinner with a beautiful ocean backdrop.
- If you’re looking to work off those meals with a little salsa dancing, head for the Nuyorican Café on Calle San Francisco in Old San Juan. When the sun goes down, the tables of this restaurant are pushed back to opening up a dance floor. The place is so popular that you may see some of Puerto Rico’s leading salsa dancers hit the floor.
To learn more about Puerto Rico, check out this interesting article:
Luisita Lopez Torregrosa’s New York Times’ article, “The Many Faces of Puerto Rico,” offers a great introduction to this eclectic paradise. At the end of the article, Torregrosa, who grew up in Puerto Rico, shares suggestions of where to eat and drink while visiting.