In 1999, pack your swimsuits and walking shoes to prepare for a Caribbean week where the year round temperature averages 78 degrees. Puerto Rico, a self-governing Commonwealth in association with the U.S., is 100 by 35 miles in size, and exploration of the interior reveals the lush vegetation and wildlife of rain forests and mangroves as well as caves and lagoons. Puerto Rico boasts miles of white sand beach, rugged mountain ranges and historical attractions dating to 500 years ago.

There is not space here to fully describe the various attractions and the details needed to plan ahead. The best bet is to obtain a travel book or check the several Puerto Rico related Web sites. Without a doubt, Puerto Rico's tourist and recreational possibilities are rich and varied, including snorkeling, hiking, and sailing as well as horse racing, baseball (beisbol), and golf.

Once there, when not participating in the symposium, you can take advantage of organized day trips to the island interior or nearby islands and, of course, every form of watersport. Nightlife offers a full menu of cosmopolitan dining and music, as well as "Vegas in the tropics" which describes the San Juan hotel strip featuring spectacular show revues and casinos. Our host, the Condado Plaza Hotel & Casino, is one of the top night spots.


By far the most accessible of the islands, Puerto Rico is in fact the airline capital of the West Indies. U.S. carriers include American, Delta, TWA, and United. Flights from outside the U.S. are likely to connect in New York or Miami or, coming from Asia, through Los Angeles. There are, however, direct flights from London, Frankfurt, and Madrid. Check with a travel agent to determine options for obtaining the best fare.


Americans who fly from the mainland to Puerto Rico and return to the mainland don't need passports, as Puerto Rico is considered a territory of the United States. Non-U.S. citizens require a passport and may also require a visa. Check with your travel agent or U.S. consulate to determine requirements that apply to your travel.


If you have not rented a car, take a taxi (~$13) or share a minivan (~$5) to the Condado Plaza. Car rental is available at both the airport and hotel. However, the guidebooks offer two pieces of advice: Drive in Puerto Rico only if necessary - given traffic congestion and poor driving conditions - and, if you do rent, stick with the old reliables - e.g., Avis, Budget, Hertz. For public transportation, car-taxis and minivans (known as públicos) are readily available and reasonably priced, and places like Old San Juan and the business & shopping district are less than 10 minutes from the hotel.


The official language is Spanish but English is widely spoken, particularly in hotels, shops, and attractions catering to tourists. Puerto Rico is in the Eastern Standard Time zone (same as New York) but Daylight Savings Time is not observed. Currency is the U.S. dollar. Tip as you would in the U.S., that is, around 15% in restaurants and 10-15% for other services. Guidebooks remind travelers from outside the U.S. that service workers may earn much of their income from tips and will be taxed according to their employer's income. Thus, they may pay taxes on income they did not receive if they do not receive the anticipated tip.


Many readers may be aware of the change in hotels for IPPS/SPDP'99. However, one guidebook, referring to the Condado Plaza Hotel & Casino, suggests that it was a change for the better, noting that "… Hilton is its major rival, but we prefer the style and flair here." An oceanfront complex, it is close to the airport and Old San Juan. The Condado Plaza's older oceanfront building is connected by an elevated walkway to the Laguna Wing where the conference facilities are located. There are 6 international restaurants on-site as well as several lounges and cafes and the largest casino in Puerto Rico. A protected beach and swimming area fronts the complex, and its 5 pools include a saltwater "swim-up" bar and one for laps. There are 2 tennis courts, a fitness gym, and Camp Taino for children. Spacious guestrooms, each with a private balcony, overlook the ocean or the Condado Lagoon.

The Condado Plaza IEEE-IPPS/SPDP room rate is $145 for single or double, plus tax (currently 9%) and gratuities (housekeeping @ $.25 per person per day + one-time bellman charge @ $3.50). This room rate is valid from April 9, 1999 through April 19, 1999, and a one-night deposit is required. Check-in time is 3:00 p.m. & checkout is 12 noon.

Reservations must be received by hotel no later than March 19, 1999. It is suggested that reservations be made by telephone, followed by fax or mail (see tear out form in middle of Advance Program). To guarantee reservation, either (1) mail a check or money order covering the first night's room rate plus applicable sales tax, or (2) fax the completed tear out form or (3) call to make your reservation and give your credit card information by telephone. Within the U.S. call 800-468-8588 or fax 787-253-0178. Outside the U.S., call 787-721-1000 or fax 787-722-7955. Failure to cancel your reservation 72 hours prior to arrival will result in forfeit of deposit. Send email to ipps-spdp@useda.com if you should encounter any problem registering based on the information provided here.