The one strike against Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic has always been the 2-hour transfer to the Bayahibe and La Romana regions on the Caribbean coast. You had to go through the busy city of Higuey where the streets are jammed with a few thousand motoconchos (small motorcycles) at any given hour of the day. And while many group attendees over the years have made the journey, many did not.
That’s no longer the case with the brand new superhighway that cuts driving time to Bayahibe/La Romana down to 40 minutes from the south of Punta Cana’s hotel strip near the airport, PUNTACANA Resort and Club Med Punta Cana.
Basically that means that Punta Cana has doubled itself in terms of available group experiences because Bayahibe and La Romana bring two spectacular venues unique to themselves.
The tiny fishing village of Bayahibe is the jump off point for the daily flotilla of fishing boats making the crossing to Isla Saona. The truly white beaches there will stop you in your tracks, rimming the palm tree-carpeted island like a ring of white lace. Previously, after the 2-hour transfer, it would take what felt like half a day to get to Saona. Now you can be there in time for brunch.
Just outside La Romana, Altos de Chavon is a recreated Mediterranean village owned by Casa De Campo. This is by far the most majestic outdoor group venue in the Dominican Republic, with a huge cobblestone plaza perched on a high precipice over the palm tree forest bordering Chavon River. And you can combine that with Casa’s unequalled shopping, dining and golf product.
Iron Chef winner Kerry Simon has made a reputation for himself as the well coiffed celeb chef to the stars with busy restaurants in L.A. and Las Vegas. The “rock ’n roll chef” as he’s often referred to is opening his first international restaurant this winter at the all-inclusive Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Punta Cana on the spectacular east coast of the Dominican Republic.
To create the new vibe for The Mansion by Simon, the winning Iron Chef tag teams with the renowned interior design firm 555 International to bring some minimalist modernism to the beachfront hotel. The restaurant features multiple rooms including a dining room, living room, bedroom, bathroom, library, studio and patio, invoking the opulent residences of L.A. rock stars.
The design vision features a menagerie of glass and stone, with giant portraits of chef Simon, huge thrones for seating and contemporary multi-cultural art.
The menu will showcase Simon’s fortes—natural meats, hand-selected local produce and big city cocktail innovations. There’s even going to be a rum sommelier to help your attendees pair a wide selection of exotic rums with the cuisine.
During your other nights at the Hard Rock Hotel, book outdoor seating at either the Toro steakhouse or Brazilian-themed Ipanema restaurants with stunning ocean views.