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Samana, The Dominican Republic

June 9, 2011 By: Joe Pike Travel Agent



New developments on Samana should boost its appeal to U.S. vacationers.


On my first visit, about five years ago, to what was then an unknown island in the northeast of the Dominican Republic, local representatives told me about their resort plans for 2011. I found it hard to imagine penthouse suites and oceanfront villas in this remote setting, but took their word for it.

This April, when I returned, to my surprise, three impressive resorts had turned Samana into an attractive proposition for American travelers. It’s not just the resorts. The island is close to the popular Puerto Plata, and 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. The island has already drawn wealthy Dominicans, Europeans and Canadians.

The first two properties we visited on Samana were both part of The Viva Residence brand, which consists of both sales and rentals divisions. Viva Residence Bahía Estela, of  Victorian-inspired design, offers 42 apartments on a beautiful beachfront, each with two bedrooms, two bathrooms, living and dining area, complete kitchen and balcony or terrace with fantastic views of the ocean or gardens.

Agent Advice

“Over the last four weeks we have received a much-larger-than-normal number of requests for Samana,” says Mark Toren, vice president of sales for TripGuy Travel. “We had booked a few rooms there in the past, but almost always for clients who had been to Punta Cana and were looking for something more off the beaten track—more agent- than client-initiated. We assumed it may have do with whale watching—which was sometimes the reason for requests in that area—but it wasn’t specifically mentioned by the clients.”


Viva Residence Las Terrenas comprises 24 villas with one or two bedrooms on first or second level and independent access, and 52 apartments with one or two bedrooms in a three-level building with elevators. This development is on an exquisite beachfront with impressive views of the ocean and mountains. All units have air conditioners, hot water system, living area, dining room, complete kitchen and balcony or terrace.  

I checked out one of the one-bedroom apartments at Viva Residence Las Terrenas. The colors are a little flashy, as is usually the case in the Caribbean, but the layout is really well done. The room has a 36-inch flat-screen TV, separate outdoor patio and king-size bed. 


One-Bedroom Apartment
One-Bedroom Apartment at Viva Residence.


There will be a four-room spa in the near future; in-room massages are available now. WiFi is being added this summer but only in the public areas of the resort, not in the guest rooms.

Contact Erika Sordo (809-562-6001, [email protected]), a representative for Viva Residence, with queries.

El Portillo Beach Club will be open to its owners this year. Although most of the 156 apartments will be entered in a rental pool, they are not expected to be ready for booking until 2014. But this is still worth keeping on your radar.

Of the more than 42 acres of land for the project, 23 were set apart for the El Portillo Airport, and the remaining 19 constitute a stretch of nearly a quarter mile of beachfront. A fresh-water spring flows from mountains to the sea, creating a lagoon that serves as the centerpiece of the project.

There will be three types of designs to choose from: Beach Villas, Beach Island and Beach Lagoon, all with terrific views of the water. They, however, come in different sizes, with the Beach Villas being the most spacious.

The common areas will include a Beach Club with a swimming pool, a spa, a restaurant, bars, a deli, water sports and a children’s playground. A nearby farm will offer horseback riding for adults and children, tennis courts, bicycle trails and more.

Agents should contact Leslie Risk (809-381-6244, [email protected]), sales executive, for details.

My last stop in Samana turned out to be my favorite—RockResorts’ latest Caribbean acquisition, the 87-unit Balcones del Atlantico, A RockResort. The brand-new resort had opened just a week before I arrived. Of the 87 units, 35 are operational and the rest are expected to be open to visitors at the end of the year. The design of the rooms is modern chic with a lot of blacks and whites in contrast to the traditional bright Caribbean colors. The construction of the spa was slated to begin in May and to be completed at the end of the year.

Agents should contact Maxaida Marte (809-240-5011, [email protected]), front office manager for the property, for more information.

Balcones del Atlantico
One-Bedroom Villa at Balcones del Atlantico, A RockResort.


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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 | June 9, 2011
Now home to impressive resorts, this small island could be the next big getaway.