D.A.T.E. 2007: New Luxury Resorts and Expansions

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC—On the way to a fam trip at the Agua Resort and Spa in Uvero Alto prior to the Dominican Annual Tourism Exchange (D.A.T.E.) 2007, held April 12-14 in Punta Cana, Travel Agent noticed miles of virgin land. The sign welcoming delegates to the show

When the floor opened at the BarceloBavaroConvention Center several days later, we learned that if the extensions of existing hotels and quick construction of non-all-inclusive, luxury resorts in the Dominican Republic continue, that land will soon be occupied.

From the many of the estimated 100 suppliers and wholesalers whom we spoke with during the two-day tourism exchange, we discovered there is both a growing trend in non all-inclusive properties aimed at the luxury client as well as expansions of existing properties.

"I think it was excellent; every year is better than the last," says Ivan Santana, sales manager and e-commerce director for Sivory Punta Cana, a 55-suite luxury resort, one of many non all-inclusive properties that are making waves in the Dominican Republic.

"I think (luxury resorts) are getting big now because they had to take some time to be able to establish this product. Now that many people are coming to Punta Cana year after year, I think a lot of hoteliers are seeing the potential for luxury products," he remarks.

"Punta Cana really started to grow in the '90s. It started to get really strong in the last few years, strong enough where the upscale concept, the luxury market, is the next big thing here," says Domingo Aznar, director of sales for Excellence Punta Cana, a 452-room property that caters to couples.

New Hotel and Casino Ventures

News coming from press conferences over the course of the show include Amhsa Marina Hotels & Resorts' announcements of the extension of its supply in Bavaro, with 150 new rooms, in both Las Galeres and Samana.

A Hertz representative discusses her product at the Dominican Republic's tourism showcase

The company also discussed a "real estate tourism" project that will include 48 apartments. For the existing hotel in Samana, 230 rooms will be added. Meanwhile, the hotel Casa Marina Bay of Las Galeras will be taken from 334 to 564 rooms and the Club at Gran Paradise Bavaro will go from 228 to 378 rooms. Visit www.amhsamarina.com.

Casino Dominicus announced it would open by mid-summer, unveiling a gaming experience that will feature an exclusive Players Club, which it claims will have some of the highest gambling limits in the nation. Open seven days a week, the casino will have 23 table games. Situated between La Romana and Bayahibe, the tropical-style casino will be about 15 minutes away from La Romana International Airport. Visit www.casinodominicus.com.

Like most tourism conferences and trade shows, the first day was the busiest. "The first day was great and the second was very quiet, the same as it is with every show," says Gwenn Feliciano, director of wholesale sales for Superclubs' Breezes Resorts. "But all in all, it was great show."