Black & white Historic photo of Caribe Hilton.

History of Caribe Hilton

Not just a beautiful beachside resort, Caribe Hilton has become an iconic landmark. From the creation of the Piña Colada to celebrity guests, stay where history is made.

The first International Hilton

A gem of the Caribbean, Caribe Hilton is not just a San Juan legend, but also a Hilton icon. Opening in 1949, the resort became the first international Hilton hotel and has been making headlines ever since. Sitting along the shorefront, this iconic property has welcomed celebrities, politicians, royalty — and now, the doors are open to you.

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2024
The Winning Design
The Winning Design

After winning the architectural design competition, the company Toro Ferrer and Torregrosa set the wheels in motion to design the island’s first modern hotel. In their proposal, the architect’s intention was to have an ocean view in every guest room.

The Stepping Stone
The Stepping Stone

Construction began at the hands of New York contractor, George Fuller, with Roberto Sánchez Vilella acting as the resident engineer – in 1965, he became the second elected governor of Puerto Rico.

The Grand Opening
The Grand Opening

December saw the grand opening of the island’s first modern hotel; a triumph that marked the beginning of a new era of tourism that continues to this day.

The Celebrities
The Celebrities

The hotel was plunged into the limelight when actress Elizabeth Taylor spent part of her honeymoon here. She was then married to Conrad Hilton Jr. – the first of her seven husbands. The hotel was placed firmly on the celebrity map.

Top of the Tournaments (1953 – 1972)
Top of the Tournaments (1953 – 1972)

Over the next 19 years, Puerto Rico was among the top countries to hold major tennis tournaments. The Caribe Hilton International Tournament was the most famous and prestigious tournament held on the island.

The Cocktail
The Cocktail

Sweet history was made when bartender, Ramón “Monchito”Marrero, created the Piña Colada at the hotel’s Beachcomber Bar. To this day, the Piña Colada remains one of the most famed cocktails of the World.

First Hotel Expansion
First Hotel Expansion

The first expansion of Caribe Hilton was inaugurated with the opening of its new Garden Wing.

The First Renovation
The First Renovation

The 11th December marked the inauguration of the first renewed building La Torre, also known as "The Towers."

The First ‘25’
The First ‘25’

Caribe Hilton celebrates its 25th anniversary in style. It was a party like no other!

The Big Event
The Big Event

Renowned artists like Carmita Jiménez performed at Caribe Hilton's Club Caribe. In the video, she is with the Mario Ortiz' Orchestra, conducted by Quique Talavera.

It’s Official
It’s Official

The Piña Colada is named the official drink of Puerto Rico. ¡Salud!

The Big Celebration
The Big Celebration

Caribe Hilton celebrates its 40th anniversary with a party bigger and better than ever!

The Sale
The Sale

The government sold the hotel to the Hilton International chain for $80 million dollars.

The Christmas Closure
The Christmas Closure

After buying the hotel, Hilton closed for remodeling purposes at a cost of $65 million. On December 25th of that same year, it reopened with a new look and renovated facilities.

The Presidential Visit
The Presidential Visit

During a short visit to the Island of Enchantment, President Barack Obama visited Caribe Hilton hotel to attend a fundraising event.

Sun, Sea and Coffee
Sun, Sea and Coffee

Caribe Hilton opens the first Starbucks in the world that serves their clients on the beach.

The Golden Oldie
The Golden Oldie

Caribe Hilton celebrates the 60th Anniversary of the Piña Colada and receives a second proclaim, this time from Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla.

The Place To Be
The Place To Be

Caribe Hilton redesigns and inaugurates the new destination bar, Caribar Rums & Light Bites, offering the best handcrafted cocktails and tapas in San Juan with spectacular ocean views.

Hurricane María
Hurricane María

On the morning of September 20, 2017, Hurricane María makes landfall in Puerto Rico, causing widespread devastation and destruction. Caribe Hilton closes due to the aftermath.

Caribe Hilton Reopens  (May 2019)
Caribe Hilton Reopens (May 2019)

After over a $150 million-dollar restoration, Caribe Hilton reopens on May 15th to welcome guests back after a 15-month closure. On June 18, 2019, the Hotel has it's official ribbon cutting ceremony, joined by the Governor and executives from to help celebrate this momentous occasion.

Dedication of Mónica Puig Tennis Courts at Caribe Hilton (November 2019)
Dedication of Mónica Puig Tennis Courts at Caribe Hilton (November 2019)

The three lighted tennis courts at Caribe Hilton were dedicated to the first tennis Olympic-gold medalist for Puerto Rico - Mónica Puig - on Monday, November 4, 2019.

70 Iconic Years (December 2019)
70 Iconic Years (December 2019)

70 years ago, Puerto Rico selected Hilton Hotels to operate a luxury hotel in a prime spot of the San Juan region. Therefore, in the spirit of Conrad Hilton’s philosophy to “fill the earth with the light and warmth of hospitality” and “The Hilton Effect” to make world-altering impact on our guests and local community, Caribe Hilton has identified to donate 70 two-night stay certificates in the hopes that they can be used to raise money to support each of these deserving causes in the local community.

First Female to Become a General Manager
First Female to Become a General Manager

General Manager Sharilyn Toko becomes the first female to take the leadership of Caribe Hilton

Ever-Iconic (Today)
Ever-Iconic (Today)

Today, just as yesterday, Caribe Hilton is a bold icon of what Puerto Rican hospitality truly means. With a keen eye for fresh opportunities and ideas, the Hotel will channel the groundbreaking energy that spurred its own origins and keep moving toward raising the standards of hospitality.

Celebrating 75 Years

For the past 75 years, Caribe Hilton has been curating a Puerto Rican experience unlike any other. A symbol of timeless elegance and exceptional service, we have welcomed countless guests from around the world to our tropical oasis, creating cherished memories and establishing an enduring legacy that transcends generations.

As we celebrate this significant milestone, we invite you to share in the sweetness of the Piña Colada, the calm of the ocean breeze, and the vibrancy of the experience that is the ever-iconic Caribe Hilton.

Stay tuned for details on up coming events and celebrate with us!

Celebrating 75 Years of Caribe Hilton. Exterior of hotel with 75th anniversary logo.

The Birthplace of the 
Piña Colada

Meet Ramón “Monchito” Marrero. In 1954, he was a bartender at Caribe Hilton and became the creator of the Piña Colada.

Challenged to create a new welcome drink for guests, Ramón mixed together rum, coconut cream, and pineapple juice – and the delicious Piña Colada was born! The cocktail that is now a staple on every bar’s menu was served personally by Ramón for 35 years while he bartended at the hotel.

In 1978, history was made when the Piña Colada was declared the official drink of Puerto Rico. And in 2004, history was cemented when Puerto Rico’s Governor, Sila María Calderón, presented Caribe Hilton with an officially signed proclamation in celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the iconic drink.

Original Piña Colada Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 2 ounces white rum
  • 1 ounce coconut cream
  • 1 ounce heavy cream
  • 6 ounces fresh pineapple juice
  • ½ cup of crushed ice

Method:

Add the rum, coconut cream, heavy cream and pineapple juice in a blender. Add the ice and blend until smooth for about 15 seconds. Serve in a 12-ounce glass. Garnish with a fresh pineapple wedge and a maraschino cherry.

Original Pina Colada at Caribe Hilton. Hand holding Pina Colada in outdoor tropical terrace with string lights in background.