Condado Vanderbilt Hotel
In 1919, Frederick William Vanderbilt, scion of one of the wealthiest families in America and arguably one of the most influential men in the country, acquired oceanfront land in the exclusive Condado District of San Juan, Puerto Rico. He selected Warren and Whitmore - one of the foremost architectural firms of the time, boasting the designs of New York’s Biltmore, Commodore and Ambassador Hotels and Grand Central Station to its name - to design the Condado Vanderbilt Hotel, an exclusive tropical retreat in the heart of the Caribbean.
The early Spanish Revival style architecture was suggested by Frederick William Vanderbilt himself. Taking great advantage of the property’s breathtaking setting overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, the designers created an imposing structure with white walls, red tiles, French windows, lofty ceilings, and other design details typical of the style at the time. Inside, the original sweeping staircases and graceful archways remain in tact to this very day.
An ultra luxury hotel from day one, the Condado Vanderbilt shone for its beauty and magnificence, attracting the kind of guests - not to mention the local elite – envisioned by Mr. Vanderbilt. Among the hotel’s distinguished guests were Charles Lindberg, Carlos Gardel, Errol Flynn, Bob Hope, Arthur Rubinstein, and President Franklin and Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt.
Prestigious local events were booked at what was then the only first-class hotel on the island: The Catholic Daughters of America chose the Condado Vanderbilt for the crowning balls of the Queens of the Ponce de León and San Juan Carnivals. Afternoon tea was a must for the ladies of society, who instituted the "Te-Danzant," a combination of the British traditional tea infused with dancing and local flavor. For entertainment, the Condado Vanderbilt offered live music at the Terraza del Hotel Condado, in the oceanfront Patio del Fauno ballroom and the Fiesta Room. During the 1930's patrons toasted the good life at the Beer Garden, a small open-air pub with its very own take on Germany’s Oktoberfest.
Throughout the years the Condado Vanderbilt Hotel has undergone a number of renovations. In 1950, 80 new rooms were added as well as a new bar, cocktail lounge and coffee shop. By the 1970's, the hotel’s grandiosity began to fade and it was nearly demolished, saved only by an executive order from then Governor Luis A. Ferré, who declared the property a cultural heritage. During the 90's, the celebrated hotel shut its doors indefinitely.
Architectural styles come and go, yet from each period magnificent examples remain; examples that deserve to be preserved and immortalized if not for their splendor, then for their place in history. The Condado Vanderbilt Hotel has always been such a place, but after decades of gentle decline, this cherished gem was ready to be revitalized.
At every stage of this most recent refurbishment, meticulous care was taken to maintain the standard of quality that characterized the hotel during its first century. The developers gathered a team of experts in their respective fields, demanding and receiving excellence in every facet. From the richly appointed surroundings to the unsurpassed cuisine and highly personalized service, the only standard that applies to Condado Vanderbilt is that of absolute perfection.
Now restored to its original grandeur and welcoming guests once again, the Condado Vanderbilt Hotel showcases two 11-story towers consisting of 323 guest accommodations, including 80 Commodore Suites and 40 Biltmore Suites. Every floor is to be equipped with five-diamond service butler quarters. In Puerto Rico, the legend has been reborn and the promise of a brilliant future shines again for the Condado Vanderbilt Hotel - the place where it all began.