Sign Up for Our Monthly Caribbean Newsletter
While San Juan’s history usually revolves around the 15th-century attractions in Old San Juan, it’s important to note that the city has been making history in subsequent centuries. One of its most celebrated historic structures is Condado Vanderbilt Hotel, which was inaugurated in 1919.
The original hotel was developed by Frederick William Vanderbilt, grandson of deep-pocketed industrialist Cornelius Vanderbilt, and was designed by Warren and Wetmore, the architectural firm behind New York City’s Grand Central Terminal. The Condado Vanderbilt played host to an array of 20th century movers and shakers, including Errol Flynn, Arthur Rubinstein, Charles Lindbergh, Bob Hope and former president Franklin Roosevelt and Eleanor Roosevelt. Its original designers created a sophisticated hotel with red tile roofs, French windows, high ceilings and grand staircases; much of these design elements remain post-renovation.
Condado Vanderbilt Hotel went into decline in the 1970s and was eventually shuttered in the 1990s. In 2008, while still closed, the hotel was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. The five-star hotel fully reopened last December, after an investment of $270 million, as a member of Preferred Hotels & Resorts.
“The U.S. based business is very important for Condado Vanderbilt — we expect that 80 percent of our business will be U.S.-based,” said Jorge Collazo, regional director of sales and marketing for Condado Vanderbilt Hotel. “Our extensive oceanfront event space makes the hotel very attractive to groups. The other factor to consider is how plentiful the airlift is from the U.S. to Puerto Rico and the fact that travelers from the U.S. do not need passports, nor do they have to go through customs. Nowadays, we are all very connected to our cell phones, and most major carriers consider Puerto Rico a domestic location, which offers not only convenience but considerable savings in roaming charges.”
Condado Vanderbilt Hotel has two 11-story towers consisting of 323 accommodations, including 80 Commodore Suites and 40 Biltmore Suites. The suites have European-style kitchens and white Carrera marble floors. Bathrooms feature Jacuzzi tubs and separate rain showers. Another plus for the suites are the magnificent views of the Atlantic Ocean. Five-diamond, 24/7-butler quarters are located on each floor as well.
“The main traveler to whom we will be marketing is the traveler who wants to be in a warm climate, without feeling isolated in the middle of nowhere,” explained Collazo. “Our location makes for the perfect city hotel stay on the beach. When our guests walk out the front door of the hotel, they have the city of San Juan at their feet. When they walk out the back door of the hotel, they have endless views of the Atlantic Ocean and the beach. Both corporate and incentive groups like our location because of the close proximity to the airport and all the walking-distance options for their attendees to enjoy.”
The hotel’s signature restaurant is called 1919 and is overseen by Michelin-starred chef Juan Jose Cuevas. The property has several pools, including an infinity pool overlooking the Atlantic and a 10,000-square-foot spa, with what the property claims is the only Turkish hammam in Puerto Rico.
“At Condado Vanderbilt, we strongly believe in a business model that is a collaborative effort with our travel industry partners,” Collazo said. “This extends to travel agents and meeting planners alike. We have already conducted four familiarization trips and will continue to offer them throughout our first year of operation.”