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Emerging Destinations in the Caribbean

September 29, 2011 By: Joe Pike


Samana, Dominican Republic, should attract families and couples.

In the Caribbean, we’re keeping an eye on a developing resort, a long-kept secret and a potential Mexican hot spot centuries in the making.

Dominican Dandy

Samana, a province in the northeast of the Dominican Republic, is still perhaps a few years away from being popular in the U.S. market, but the destination is slowly adding hotels that could attract American families and couples.

Balcones del Atlantico, A Rockresort opened in April. Of its 87 units, 35 are operational and the rest are expected to open to visitors at the end of the year.

The Viva Residence brand has both sales and rental divisions at two different properties. Viva Residence Bahía Estela, with Victorian-inspired design, has 42 beachfront apartments, each with two bedrooms, two bathrooms, living and dining area, complete kitchen, and balcony or terrace. Viva Residence Las Terrenas has 24 one- and two-bedroom villas and 52 one- and two-bedroom apartments.

El Portillo Beach Club & Spa looms as another option down the road. Although most of its 156 villa apartments will be entered in a rental pool, they may not be ready for booking until 2014.

Jetblue Airways is expected to operate the first direct flights from JFK in New York to the four-year- old Juan Bosch Airport in Samana by the end of the year. For now, clients can fly to Puerto Plata and take a 20-minute connection. We suggest pitching Samana to younger, adventurous couples who won’t mind the extra hop and short bus-ride to get there.

An American Paradise

Culebra, in eastern Puerto Rico, is a domestic tourism hot spot that is also popular among travel gurus and celebrities from around the world. Culebra’s appeal is its seclusion— along with its tranquil beaches and incredible wildlife. The Culebra National Wildlife Refuge is called Ultima Virgen (Last Virgin) for its virtually untouched natural wonders and underwater vistas. Its reefs are a diver’s paradise, and Flamenco Beach made the Travel Channel’s list of world’s best beaches.

Culebra’s notable boutique hotels include Palmetto House—a five-room gardened guesthouse just up the road from the airport and close to the ferry dock, town and beach—and Bahia Marina Condo resort with 16 one-bedroom suites and 12 brand-new two- bedroom villas. The site borders a 100-acre nature reserve and the Caribbean Sea.

The destination suits Americans who are seeking a quieter, more relaxing Caribbean getaway.


Tulum, Mexico could become a vacation destination in its own right by the end of the decade.

From Ruins to Riches?

As the third-most visited archaeological site in Mexico, Tulum is an immensely popular tourist attraction, but it’s never truly been a destination that stood on its own. Rather, travelers to Cancun or Playa del Carmen would take a two- hour drive to the Mayan city, check out some ruins, get an authentic Mexican meal and make their way back to their hotel. But with a new airline expected in Tulum in 2014 or 2015, we may see a tourism giant emerge in the Mexican Caribbean. Tulum’s Mayan ruins, coupled with its beaches and a plethora of cenotes (underwater caves), make it one of the most aesthetically pleasing spots in Mexico.

For more up-and-coming destinations around the world, visit

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About the Author

Joe Pike
Joe Pike is Travel Agent's senior editor covering the Caribbean, Bahamas & Bermuda; Hawaii; Central & South America. Previously, Pike was a newspaper reporter for The Asbury Park...

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By Joe Pike | September 29, 2011
In the third part of Travel Agent's series on the hottest up-and-coming destinations, Joe Pike looks at the latest Caribbean trends.
Filed under : Caribbean, Trends-Research