|Punta Cana is being connected to Santo Domingo by a new Coral Highway that will cut the travel time to roughly two hours.|
During our recent coverage of the Dominican Annual Tourism Exchange (DATE) last month, we learned that the Dominican Republic is perhaps the hottest destination in all of the Caribbean as far as tourist arrivals go.
In fact, Minister of Tourism Francisco Javier Garcia reports that the Dominican Republic has had its highest growth from January to March than it has in any other year. According to Garcia, the destination has received approximately 1.7 million tourists from January to March, representing a 9 percent spike when compared to the same period in 2011.
“Our tourism product is more consolidated, it’s stronger and it has better energy than ever before,” Garcia says, noting that tourism growth from the U.S. increased by 14 percent in that same period. “Some factors for the increase are our country’s natural features, our gastronomy and the beauty, and the second aspect is something I always mentioned. In every case what people liked, when we asked them, is the way Dominicans treat the tourists.”
The Ministry of Tourism underscored the country’s strategy to develop tourism infrastructure, announcing an investment of more than $12 million into 58 new projects. Other important developments include the Atlantic Boulevard in Puerto Plata that will connect the North Coast to the Samana Peninsula, the revitalization and development of major highways and roads, and new flexible facilities among the destination’s eight international airports for receiving major airlines and charter flights.
But perhaps the announcement that will have the biggest effect on the destination’s tourism future was the news of the Coral Highway construction, which will connect the capital, Santo Domingo, to Punta Cana. Why will this matter to your clients? The highway will cut the length of the trip from Santo Domingo to Punta Cana from four hours to roughly two hours. The estimated completion for this new highway is by the end of this July.
This highway will be 43.5 miles and will also connect Santo Domingo to other main cities and airports in the eastern part of the country. Cities east of Santo Domingo include Bayahibe, La Romana and Punta Cana, all heavily frequented tourist destinations in the Dominican Republic.
In addition, the Ministry of Tourism’s new territorial ordinances include a five-year plan that will help develop rural tourism throughout the country’s 31 provinces. The plan calls for developing friendly guesthouses that will have a minimal eco-impact on small villages and towns, but allow visitors to explore the areas’ delights. Growing in popularity, rural agri-tourism in the country includes chocolate tours of cocoa plantations and other trips to coffee, tobacco and sugarcane fields that often end with visits to coffee roasters, cigar factories and rum distilleries, respectively.
Direct Flights to Samana
Also during our coverage, we learned that the island of Samana (which Travel Agent, as previously reported, expects to be the next big getaway in the Dominican Republic) is close to finalizing direct JetBlue Airways flights from North America.
Although Samana hotel association representatives would not say where in North America the possible JetBlue flights would leave from, we were told during our coverage of last year’s DATE that JetBlue is expected to operate the first direct flights from JFK in New York to the five-year-old Juan Bosch Airport.
“Even though we have nothing official, we can motivate you by saying that we have advanced in our discussions with JetBlue, which can finally open the door to the North American market,” says Fabeth Martinez Fernandez, executive director of Samana’s hotel association.
|Pirate’s Cove is a new water park at Barcelo Bavaro Beach Resort that features a themed pool, a pirate ship and a wave pool.|
New Barcelo Bavaro Beach Resort Complex
It is so comforting when a hotel company not only listens to the gripes of its guests, but actually does something about them. For years, we were told that many guests of the Barcelo Bavaro Beach Resort felt the amount of brands offered at the complex were too confusing and many of the rooms were outdated.
Well, not anymore. In fact, Travel Agent went from not convinced the first time we saw this complex roughly five years ago to being highly impressed. We now consider this one of the best options in not just the Dominican Republic, but in all of the Caribbean, for guests looking to save a buck or two without sacrificing quality.
So, what was done exactly to put this product in the forefront of Caribbean all-inclusive offerings?
Basically, the company plunked down $330 million for a mega renovation that divided the complex into two resorts. It expanded the Palace Deluxe resort to include additional family-only and golf-only accommodations and created a new adults-only resort by renovating the old convention center accommodations; it also added new restaurants and bars.
The adults-only Barcelo Bavaro Beach hotel now has a redesigned lobby and Club Premium Lounge, two vibrant bars, three international dining restaurants and new pool areas; the renovated hotel was specifically redesigned with adult relaxation and entertainment in mind.
Barcelo Bavaro Beach is the adults-only component in the Barcelo Bavaro Beach Resort complex that also includes the nearby, family-friendly Barcelo Bavaro Palace Deluxe.
Guests can retreat to one of the three remodeled suite categories or Barcelo’s signature guest room. Appointed with calming colors and ocean views, accommodations feature luxurious in-room amenities like rain dance-style showers, bathrobes, slippers and Barcelo’s signature bedding, and are equipped with the latest in in-room entertainment, including a 32-inch LCD TV with USB port and iPod/MP3 connections.
Vacationers can unwind with a tropical drink at one of the two new bars, arrange exciting excursions at the concierge desk or enhance their experience by upgrading to Club Premium in the private lounge.
Club Premium is an exclusive concept for Barcelo Hotels & Resorts that grants guests the opportunity to have a unique vacation experience exceeding their expectations. Members are treated to a private check-in at the Club Premium Lounge that is stocked with refreshments and computers with free Internet access. Other perks such as late checkout, free room service and in-room Wi-Fi are just a few of the many upgrades offered.
Three internationally inspired restaurants tempt palates with a wide range of offerings. From the à la carte international Chez Gourmet to the Caribbean buffet restaurant and the beachfront La Brisa, Bavaro Beach’s dining options provide guests with fresh gourmet meals. Diners are also allowed complimentary access to the steakhouse and seafood restaurants located nearby at Barcelo Bavaro Palace Deluxe. Bavaro Beach guests can enjoy a meal at Palace Deluxe’s additional five à la carte fine dining restaurants for a small fee, while Club Premium members can add access to their list of complimentary upgrades.
The nearly 50,000-square-foot Barcelo Bavaro Palace Deluxe now has an all-new teen activities complex, including a water park and nightclub, Barcy Kids Club area, and golf-only accommodations with private clubhouse.
Teen and Kids Perks
Designed with their age in mind, the Maxi Club, a comprehensive teen entertainment district for ages 13-17, contains an interactive water park, wave pool, mini-golf range, private bar, game room and disco. Parents need not worry; the Maxi Club is adult-supervised to ensure everyone has a fun and safe experience.
There is also a new adventure at Pirate’s Cove—a water park complete with a themed pool, swashbuckling pirate ship outfitted with thrilling water slides, and a one-of-a-kind wave pool. The wave pool operates on six different motion settings to create different swells every 20 minutes. Agents should note, however, that entrance to the water park requires a nominal seasonal fee.
Adjacent to Pirate’s Cove is an 18-hole mini-golf course and the Las Olas bar where underage guests can sip on nonalcoholic versions of tropical classics like daiquiris or reenergize with a snack.
Opposite of the pool are the game room and disco. Equipped with a vibrant variety of arcade classics and the latest selection of video games, the teen game room is sure to keep attendees engaged. Even after the sun goes down, teens can return to the entertainment district to dance the night away at their very own disco. Guests from ages 13 to 17 are welcome to enjoy the latest dance music and have fun with other teens from 10 p.m. until 2 a.m.
Accompanying the freshly redesigned golf course, The Lakes is an all-new clubhouse equipped with a private concierge, spacious locker rooms, modern pro shop with Callaway club rentals, putting practice area, and the 19th Hole, a unique bar and restaurant with panoramic views of the course. Beginners and pros alike are welcome to attend daily golf clinics or private lessons taught by official PGA instructors.
Brand-new accommodations include a deluxe and family suite designated just for players with convenient access to the course and stunning views of the landscape.
Agents should direct their queries to Teresa Tejada ([email protected], 809-686-5797), sales director for Barcelo Bavaro Beach Resort Convention Center Golf & Casino.
|Barcelo Bavaro Palace Deluxe guest rooms are designed in calming colors and afford fantastic ocean views.|