The Dominican Republic is in the midst of major growth.
New hotels open to attract groups in search of luxury accommodations mixed with experiential activities that go beyond expectations. More than 5,400 hotel rooms went online last year and the growth and options for meetings and incentives doesn’t stop there.
“The occupancy rate of major hotels in Santo Domingo continues to grow because of an emphasis on the meetings market,” says Roberto Henriquez, president of the Santo Domingo Hotel Association. “With five new hotels opening in the next two years, we’re looking to have Santo Domingo become the key city for MICE and for cultural experiences.”
The Latest in Luxury
Our group discovered many new developments during a recent visit to the island. The new 457-room, adults-only Secrets Cap Cana Resort & Spa, our host hotel, strutted its stuff while hosting the Dominican Annual Tourism Exchange’s (DATE) closing celebration this past May. The Blue Beach Punta Cana Luxury Resort opened this year, offering yoga classes, water sports, a juice bar, Namaste Spa and other wellness offerings.
Renovations at the Eden Roc at Cap Cana are helping to attract groups in search of top-notch amenities. In addition to offering gourmet cuisine (and golf packages), Eden Roc at Cap Cana recently debuted 26, two-bedroom beachfront suites. This adds to an earlier expansion that updated its Beach Club with an infinity pool, an oceanview fitness center that includes aero yoga and wellness areas, a refreshed private beach and the BLUE Grill + Bar.
“[The Dominican Republic] hasn’t yet been recognized as a high-end luxury destination, so one of our goals was to redefine luxury by adding to our hotel,” says Juliana Cordones, sales and marketing manager at Eden Rock.
A five-year contract with the PGA Tour that begins next year at one of Puntacana Resort & Club’s three properties, The Westin Puntacana Resort & Club, is also changing this perception, says Carmen Rosa De Torres, hospitality sales director of Puntacana Resort & Club. “Many planners don’t know that we’re recognized as a high-end golfing destination, and The Westin’s courses look out over the ocean.”
Meanwhile, the resort’s Tortuga Bay reopened this month following an extensive design refresh and tech upgrades to its 13 villas, a new 600-bottle wine cellar, and new lounge for arrivals and departures. Scuba diving, fishing and kiteboarding are available, and groups can explore the 1,500-acre Ojos Indigenas Ecological Park and Reserve off-site and free for attendees staying at the property, or partake in a sustainability giveback through the resort’s voluntarism partnership with the Grupo Puntacana Fundacion.
Exploring Santo Domingo
The recent opening of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Convention Center, which can hold up to 3,500 attendees, is Santo Domingo’s biggest news. Santo Domingo also continues to invest in the restoration of its Colonial City, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, to create diverse offerings in gastronomy, culture, history and entertainment for groups.