The LocationHistory
Hotel History

Although InterContinental Resort & Casino has recently undergone an extensive $42 million renovation to incorporate modern luxuries and reflect the beauty and opulence InterContintental Hotel Groups brand hotels is known for, the building itself has a rich and surprising history.

Originally opened in 1962, The InterContinental San Juan –then known as “Americana” – was the second hotel to be constructed in the prime location of Isla Verde, which now houses multiple hotels, condos, apartments, a variety of shops and top notch restaurants.

Constructed for the Loews Hotel chain, the building itself was designed by famed  Russian-born artist Morris Lapidus, known best for the curvy, flamboyant Neo-baroque modern hotels that defined the 1950s. Some of his best known creations include the Fontainebleau and Eden Roc hotels on Miami Beach.

His designs and influence in the states quickly made their way to the Caribbean island of Puerto Rico. Lapidus is credited with designing  Ponce De Leon Hotel in San Juan in 1960; El Conquistador in Fajardo in 1965; El San Juan Hotel in Isla Verde in 1965; and InterContinental Hotel in Isla Verde two years later, although at the time its moniker was “Americana.”

Before passing away in 2001, the Columbia University grad had defied his harsh professional critics by successfully creating more than 1,000 buildings in his unique, creative style. The island of Puerto Rico itself is now home to four of his hotel designs. InterContinental is proud to be included in that distinctive list.

His designs are widely known by their characteristically sweeping curves and lines, which other experts in his field have said creates spatial suspense. Critics who have written about him since his death say he was a master of space and understood a building’s spatial and emotional range. Blinkered critics had trouble comprehending this architecture in a larger cultural sense.

 “I hate boxes,” he said once. Instead he favored “ornament and strong colors.” Guests can see influences of Lapidus in our resort’s lagoon-shaped pool and wandering dual grand staircase that opens at its base to greet towering palm trees and lush tropical vegetation lining the poolside area.
For more details on the history of the resort property please see below:

  • 1967 the Loews hotel chain opened the hotel as Americana of San Juan
  • American Airlines bought the hotel to manage it. Americana of San Juan was the 2nd hotel constructed in Isla Verde after the El San Juan Hotel
  • In 1977 the hotel closed for three years due to a union problem
  • In 1980 the hotel opened up as The Palace Hotel under new management
  • In 1983 the hotel once again closed its operations which lasted four years
  • In 1987 the Pratt Corporation opened the hotel as the Sand’s Hotel & Casino which operated as such for 10 years
  • In 1991 the Flagship Services Corporation managed the hotel under as the Sand’s Hotel & Casino
  • In August 1997 the hotel temporarily closed for a $15 million renovation. That October it opened up under the new name of the San Juan Grand Beach Resort & Casino under the management of the Flagship Services Corporation, but with an investment company as the new owners
  • In Sept. 2000, InterContinental Hotels & Resort took over the property and renamed it The InterContinental San Juan Resort & Casino and spent more than $20 million in renovations
  • In 2008, InterContinental underwent another massive renovation, improving its luxuries and aesthetic appeal with a $42 million makeover

For more details on Morris Lapidus, please click here.

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