The lanai complex, with an Olympic-size freshwater pool, a restaurant, a snack bar and a bar (Big Fish, Little Fish and Fish Bowl) nestles in an amphitheater toward the bottom of the hill. To get down to the lanai, or to the saltwater pool and marina below, you have to take either a cable car or a funicular. To speed traffic and ease congestion, Puro has ordered from a Swiss firm two giant air-conditioned funiculars, each with a carrying capacity of 30 persons. The marina should be finished next month and will offer berths to 70 boats; Puro plans to build a pier so that cruise liners can send passengers ashore. A catamaran now takes guests out to swim and frolic on nearby islets, and Walt Hendricks, an experienced diver, leads novice snorkelers or experienced scuba divers on underwater tours of nearby reefs. A charter boat is available for deep-sea fishing, but what an angler will catch is anyone's guess. Paradoxically, Puerto Rico has done little to develop its sport fisheries for sailfish, dolphin and blue and white marlin. ("I guess most Puerto Ricans have stuck with dried cod up till now," says a biologist who has spent time on the island.) Inshore, right at the hotel, there is excellent light-tackle fishing to be had for jack, barracuda and sundry reef fishes.
Inevitably, an occasional Cassandra thinks Louis Puro is going to fall flat on his euphoric face with El Conquistador, but Puro says, "We are almost completely-booked right through May." A second golf course will be finished this year, and then condominiums and houses, starting at $25,000, will be built around both courses. Late this year, too, jumbo jets, carrying up to 490 passengers apiece, will start arriving at San Juan from the States, and four Puro helicopters will be ready to whisk guests to El Conquistador's private landing field only 10 minutes away. "Eventually I hope to build another 400 or 500 rooms," says Puro. "I am very optimistic." Given his optimism, Puro has no trouble sleeping at night in his all-white suite at the hotel. His pillow is Purofied. Beautiful.