Companion Program

Puerto Rico and its surroundings offer a broad variety of cultural, historical, and natural attractions. The companion program will offer daily trips to places of interest during the entire conference, as well as family activities.

Please note that individual tours are subject to cancellation and refund of tour fees if an insufficient number of attendees reserve space for any given tour prior to the beginning of the conference.

Tour Name Date & Time Adv. Reg. On-site
Ponce City Excursion Sunday
8:30 AM - 6:00 PM
$70 $80
Old City Historical Walking Tour with Shopping Monday
8:30 AM – 4:30 PM
$45 $55
Catamaran Snorkeling Tuesday
9:00 AM – 1:00 PM
$70 $80
Camuy Caves and The Arecibo Observatory Wednesday
8:30 AM – 6:00 PM
$75 $85
Puerto Rican Fusion Cuisine Wednesday, 3hrs $85 $95
Eco Kayaking / Rio Grande Thursday
8:30 AM – 1:00PM
$30 $40
Old San Juan and Bacardi Rum Distillery Friday
8:30 AM – 4:30 PM
$48 $58
El Yunque Rainforest Excursion Saturday
8:30 AM – 1:00PM
$35 $45


Conference Arranged Tours:

Sunday:  pre-registration  $70,   at conference $80

Ponce City Excursion  – All day, 8:30 AM to 6:00 PM, including 2.5 hours each way on the bus, box lunch and bottle water is included. Participants are asked to arrive in the lobby 20 min. early.

Puerto Rico's second largest city is located on the southern coast and easily accessible by highway. The Pearl of the South," Ponce was named after Loiza Ponce de Leon, great-grandson of Juan Ponce de Leon. Founded in 1692, Ponce is today Puerto Rico's principal shipping port on the Caribbean. The city is well kept and attractive. A suggestion of a provincial Mediterranean town lingers in the air. The streets are lit with gas lamps and lined with neoclassical buildings, just as they were a century ago. Horse-drawn carriages clop by, and strollers walk along sidewalks edged with pink marble. Thanks to the restoration, Ponce now recalls the turn of the 20th century, when it rivaled San Juan as a wealthy business and cultural center. The all day group excursions, with knowledgeable step-aboard guides, will include a visit to the Ponce Art Museum. With more than 3,000 works of the European and American schools, from the 14th to the 20th centuries, the museum's collection is known worldwide for its superb selection of Italian Baroque and British Pre-Raphaelite works as well as French Academy and 17th century Spanish (Golden Age) schools. The Museum also exhibits Puerto Rican and contemporary Latin American art. Visit Musarte, the museum shop, for interesting gift & souvenirs. On a high hill overlooking the city of Ponce is the Serralles Castle, once the baronial estate of one of Puerto Rico's most powerful rum-producing families. It is not really a castle but poncenos gave it that name because its elegant clay-tile capped tower, its graceful arches, its long galleries and landscaped terraces suggest a medieval castle. Its rooms now delight visitors with their preservation of an elegant era and their exhibits of artifacts from the rum and sugarcane trade.

The Serralles Castle is a magnificent example of Spanish Revival architecture, popular in the 1920's. It was designed by architect Pedro de Castro and was completed in the early 1930's. It occupies three levels in the hillside. Minute detailing characterizes the windows, roofs, ironwork and mosaics. Authentic furnishings include the original Serralles dining room with its reminiscence of Medieval Spain.

A permanent exhibition chronicles the sugar cane and rum industries, including information on the role of the Serralles family in the founding Central Mercedita and Don Q, Ponce's world-famous rum.. There is a cafe and arts and crafts shop on the grounds. Most people also visit nearby La Cruceta del Vigia and climb the 100-foot observation tower to gaze at the city, the islands and the sea. A box lunch and beverages will be provided.

Monday:  pre-registration $45,  at conference $55

Old City Historical Walking Tour with Shopping – All day, 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM. Participants are asked to arrive in the lobby 20 min. early

This tour is designed for culture and history enthusiasts who like to get up close to the sites and examine the past first-hand. Knowledgeable step-aboard guides will take your party to Old San Juan-the oldest city in the U.S. There, they'll be able to stroll through Old Spanish cathedrals and forts such as San Cristobal, where they'll see and learn how the Spanish built and defended their city. Afterwards, they'll have an opportunity to do some shopping and have lunch on their own We highly recommend comfortable walking shoes, hat and sunscreen. Traveling time is approximately one hour and 15 minutes each way. Duration is 6 hours including transfer time.

Activity Level: Low Impact

Recommended Attire: We highly recommend comfortable walking shoes, hat and sunscreen.


Tuesday: pre-registration $70,  at conference $80

Catamaran Snorkeling  – 3 hours, Participants are asked to arrive in the lobby 20 min. early.

These excursions have always had strong participation from groups visiting Puerto Rico, as they show off some of our best assets. The typical excursion entails a transfer to the marina where the guests will board one of our state of the art catamarans, to begin a leisurely sail to one of the off shore coral reefs. After anchoring near the reef the captain and crew will inform our guest as to the safety rules & procedures and pass out the snorkeling equipment and safety gear. Guests typically have between one and two hours to snorkel, swim or relax at the beach. Box lunches and beverages will provided.


Wednesday: pre-registration $75,  at conference $85

Camuy Caves and Arecibo – all day (9 hours, including 2.5 hours each way on the bus). Box lunch and bottle water is included. Participants are asked to arrive in the lobby 20 min. early.

The Camuy Caves System  - For those who love Natural wonders and rock formations you will visit the third largest underground river system in the world, which has taken millions of years to carve out the spectacular 300-acre network of subterranean chambers known as the Rio Camuy Caves. Today the underground cave system is part of a natural reserve that is recognized as one of the world's most impressive natural wonders. Developed and operated by the; Puerto Rico Land Administration, the park provides visitors the opportunity to visit three of the system’s most remarkable sinkholes and caves in safety and comfort. The Visitors will board trolleys for guided tours that carry them down the spiraling enplaned sinkhole, into one of the system's largest caves. After a walk through the 170-foot Cueva Clara, another shuttle takes them to a platform overlooking the 65-foot wide and 400 feet deep Tres Pueblos Sinkhole.

The Arecibo Observatory  - The Arecibo Observatory is part of the National Astronomy and Ionosphere Center (NAIC), a national research center operated by Cornell University under a cooperative agreement with the National Science Foundation (NSF). The NSF is an independent federal agency whose aim is to promote scientific and engineering progress in the United States. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) provide additional support. As the site of the world's largest single-dish radio telescope, the Observatory is recognized as one of the most important national centers for research in radio astronomy, planetary radar and terrestrial aeronomy. Use of the Arecibo Observatory is available on an equal, competitive basis to all scientists from throughout the world. Observing time is granted on the basis of the most promising research as ascertained by a panel of independent referees who review the proposals sent to the Observatory by interested scientists. Box lunches and beverages will be provided.

Option – (if enough attendees sign up in advance) pre-registration $85,  at conference $95

Puerto Rican Fusion Cuisine
Presented by the Conquistador Chefs
– 3 hours

Our proposal includes a 3 hour experience with some of the talented Chefs of El Conquistador; Robert Bokins, Executive Chef, Pascal Gresser, Executive Sous Chef, Juan Saniel, Sous Chef and Sammy Perez, Sous Chef.

The Conquistador culinary team has won gold and silver medals in the Taste of the Caribbean Culinary Competition 2003 in Jamaica, as well as gold, silver and bronze medals in the 2003 Florida Restaurant Show.

Each member of the class will receive an apron and chefs hat upon entering El Faro, Isabela's Restaurant.

  • Bebidas – Guests will learn how to prepare Mojitos and Sangria

  • Appetizers – Guests will incorporate local ingredients such as plantain and shrimp into alcapurrias, a bite size appetizer.

  • Entree – Guests will be led into Isabela's kitchen for a lesson in preparing Sangria marinated pork loin stuffed with sweet mofongo, a Puerto Rican staple, with papaya salsa

  • Dessert – Back in El Faro, guests will learn about a Canasta de Frutas...a pastry basket dipped in chocolate and filled with mango mousse and garnished with fruit


Thursday: pre-registration $30, at conference $40

Eco Kayaking / Rio Grande Nature Reserve  –  8:30 AM – 1:00PM. Snacks and beverages are included.  Participants are asked to arrive in the lobby 20 min. early.

Kayaking brings to the traveler the opportunity to explore remote areas inaccessible to most forms of marine transportation. The Mangrove river labyrinths that wind their way into salt lagoons sustain a wide variety of wild life, land and sea dwellers alike. Upon arrival at each site you will be given a brief safety and kayak lesson before teaming up in a tandem kayak. Our sturdy kayaks and knowledgeable tour guides will assure a safe and fun experience for beginners and advanced sportsmen.

Note: This tour has been modified and will be conducted via Kayak. As we gather more information, it was clear that the walking trails really provided very little ability to see the area and that the Kayak is the only good way to see the sights. The tour operator provides all of the equipment and the guides. The stream system is calm and easy to navigate. If you desire more detailed information, contact the companion program director (


Friday:: pre-registration $48,  at conference $58

Old San Juan and Bacardi Rum Distillery-Group Activity – Participants are asked to arrive in the lobby 20 min. early.

Visitors to Casa BACARDI will be guided through seven exquisitely designed and historically accurate rooms created to engage visitors as they experience the sight, smell and taste of BACARDI rum. Nosing booths invite visitors to take in the delicious smells of eight BACARDI rums. Learning of the secrets of the Bacardi rum making, including the secret strain of yeast isolated in 1862 and still used today.

Demonstrations by professional bartenders making BACARDI classics such as the Cuba Libre, Mojito and Daiquiri from the Company's "Golden Cocktail Age," which occurred during prohibition when visitors flocked to Cuba to enjoy a then-American taboo. State-of-the-art technology allowing visitors to send e-video messages to their friends from Puerto Rico against a backdrop of a tower composed of more than 375 bottles of BACARDI rum amid a five-screen presentation of the brand's current commercials from around the world.

After our tour of the Bacardi Facilities, we will depart for Old San Juan. We've designed this tour for culture and history enthusiasts who like to get up close to the sites and examine the past first-hand. Knowledgeable step-aboard guides will take your party to Old San Juan-the oldest city in the U.S. There, they'll be able to stroll through Old Spanish cathedrals and forts such as "San Cristobal", where they'll see and learn how the Spanish built and defended their city. Afterwards, they'll have an opportunity to do some shopping and have lunch on their own.


Saturday: pre-registration $35,  at conference $45

El Yunque Rainforest Excursion – 4 hours. Participants are asked to arrive in the lobby 20 min. early.

El Yunque Rainforest is the perfect place to spend some quiet time, take unique photos and enjoy the vistas from your mountaintop location. The Caribe Indians spent some 200 years living in their 28,000 acre tropical paradise while here on earth and when you explore their mountain named after their “Good Indian Spirit, Yuquiyu”, you can imagine the serene life they must have lead. The 3,624 foot mountain is home to 240 different species of trees and with over 120 inches of rain each year you couldn’t conceive of the lush ground cover of vines, tubers, ginger and orchids.

Waterfalls into cool pools abound blending sounds with those of tropical creatures such as the birds and frogs in this sanctuary. Observatories, walking trails and great places to sit and contemplate make this tour a special one.

Duration of this step into nature is 3.5 to 5.5 hours depending on departure point.

In addition to the conference organized tours listed above, there are many activities that can be booked at the hotel by individuals.   We list here descriptions of the Kid’s Klub and scuba diving offerings.   Other activities are listed at the hotel web site and include a variety of beach related activities, horseback riding at the hotel’s private island, and numerous aquatic activities.  The hotel also offers several swimming pools, tennis courts, golf course, and general activity rooms.  We have two companion program chairs this year, and we they will be available during the conference to help with hotel based programs that are not part of the conference arranged tours.

Kid’s Klub

The Kid’s Klub is a five star recreational supervised program designed for kids from 4 to 15 years old. Our goal is to enhance the child’s experience through the provision of recreational indoor & outdoor fun – educational activities during their stay at Wyndham El Conquistador Resort & Golden Door Spa. Children should bring with them a swim suit under casual clothes (T-shirt, shorts, and sneakers) as well as extra sun block. The children must be completely potty trained, no training pants are accepted.

The registration takes place every morning at 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. At the Kids’ Klub House located at the Main North Pool and the parents pick them up at 4:00 p.m. at the same place. Parents must come with the kids to the registration to sign a regulation and release form before 10:00 a.m.

The Kid’s Klub House is equipped with a wide variety of games to entertain the children. We have available: board games, Playstations 2, TVs, Computers, mini theater, arts & craft, balls, hula hoops, toys, kid’s tables, bean bags, fun rugs, kitchen, snacks, popcorn machine, refrigerator, vending machines, sound system, dance-revolution systems, and much more. Some of the outdoor activities included on the program are: swimming, basketball, volleyball, kayaking snorkeling, soccer, treasure hunts and sand sculpting.

The counselors are highly motivated professionals that have over 5 years of experience working with kids as elementary & junior high school teachers, babysitters & physical education instructors.

The program offers different activities programs for different age groups: 4-8 years, 9-12 years & 13-15 years. For more information see the daily activities program.

Personalized Underwater Adventures – Scuba diving from the hotel

Patch reefs, mini-walls and small grottoes punctuate the sandy sea floor.  Shallow like camouflaged stealth bomber.  Visibility often soars to 100 feet, with most days around 50.  Winter water temperatures never drop below the mid-70’s and bathe you in the mid-80’s during the summer months.

Complementary bottled water, soft drinks, snacks, fresh fruit and fresh towels are available throughout your trip.  And if you desire, and ice-cold beer will be waiting for you after your last dive during the trip back to the marina

Dive to Culebra

Twenty miles off Fajardo, the Island of Culebra rises from the shallows to form the only landfall between Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, just 15 miles east.  You’ll find thick schools of grunts, Creole wrasse and angelfish.  Grouper—rare are more common here.

Take the plunge?  Try Discover Scuba

If you’ve always wanted to try scuba, and experience the thrill of breathing underwater for the first time, this is your perfect opportunity.  Learn the basics in just and hour with our professional instructors in the pool.  Then hop on our boat for a guided shallow dive on the local coral reef. 


Barb Lewellen
Companion Program Chair
Phone: 1 206 598 6253
University of Washington

Carolyn Hoffman
Companion Program Co-Chair
Phone: 1 310 471 1464