The Hottest News Out of the Dominican Republic

Juan Dolio is set to become an area of upcoming focus of tourism development efforts. // Photo courtesy of the Dominican Republic Ministry of Tourism

Last week, Travel Agent told you about the aggressive hotel development taking place in the Dominican Republic's capital city of Santo Domingo.

This week, we tell you all you need to know about the rest of the country from a heavy investment in an up-and-coming Dominican Republic hotspot to the latest tourism figures.

Companies Aggressively Invest in Juan Dolio

Juan Dolio, an area located roughly 45 minutes east of the country's capital of Santo Domingo, is set to become an area of upcoming focus of tourism development efforts. 


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Offering clients a beach experience as well as easily accessible cosmopolitan entertainment, Juan Dolio is well positioned to welcome a variety of tourists and offer a great diversity of accommodations.

Located between the two destinations, Juan Dolio serves as a good option for clients looking to experience both Santo Domingo's rich history and vibrant nightlife as well as La Romana's luxurious and sunny attractions, both accessible in under an hour. 

Also nearby, Cueva de las Maravillas offers a natural excursion, while the Barcelo Rum Historical Center gives guests a taste of one of Dominican Republic's best products. 

Golf aficionados are able to play two of the country's 28 courses here – Los Marlins and Guavaberry – with La Romana's designer golf courses just a drive away.

To bolster Juan Dolio's future, several companies announced their investments in the area at this year's Dominican Annual Tourism Exchange (DATE) conference.

Hodelpa Hotel Group announced plans to open a new hotel, Emotions by Hodelpa, in November 2016, and is planning to add another, Sensation Hotel, before the end of the year. 

The four-star Emotions by Holdepa will offer 341 rooms, five restaurants, five bars and three pools. Active individuals and families can enjoy a tennis court, kids' club, climbing wall, table tennis, bicycle rentals, water sports, beach volleyball, diving and a gym. 

Emotions guests can unwind at the Serenity Spa or spend a night of gaming and dancing at the club and casino. Event services are offered on-site to help plan destination weddings or conferences.

The fiev-star Sensation Hotel will offer 329 rooms, five restaurants, six bars and three pools, with 90 percent of all rooms designed to have ocean views.

Catering to the needs of the Millennial client, the hotel will offer expanded fitness offerings that align with current trends, including cross-fit, Zumba, boxing, kickboxing, racquetball, rock climbing, Pilates and yoga. The hotel will also offer partner packages with the nearby Los Marlins and Guavaberry golf clubs.

Hodelpa also announced their passion to grow and promote the Juan Dolio area by making investments to the city and preserving its historic culture. The group has invested in the improvement of the city's infrastructure through updates to houses, streets and sidewalks.

Representatives from Coral Hospitality Corporation (CHC) announced plans to expand tourism offerings in the Juan Dolio area of Dominican Republic. CHC plans to invest $10 million in the refurbishment of the 400-room Coral Costa Caribe Hotel, set to reopen in the 2016-2017 winter season.

Tourism Growth

The Dominican Republic recently announced a growth of 5.8 percent in overall tourism to the destination, a number that is growing faster than the Caribbean's overall rate of 3.7 percent. 

Simon Suarez, president of the National Hotel & Tourism Association (ASONAHORES), added that growth rates in the country are double the world average, tracking at a median growth of 5.1 percent over the last 5 years. 

The country is projected to reach six million total visitors in 2016 – based on numbers thus far, the country is on track to meet the targeted 7 percent growth needed to achieve this. It was also noted that the United States remains the largest source market for Dominican tourism with 2 million visitors in 2015, and Canada following with 780,000.

Puerto Plata Tourism Increases 11.5 Percent Since 2015

Puerto Plata // Photo courtesy of the Dominican Republic Ministry of Tourism

Representatives from Dominican Republic's Puerto Plata Tourism Cluster (CTDPP) highlighted the area's strong tourism numbers at DATE. CTDPP announced an increase in visitors to Puerto Plata of 11.5 percent over 2015 numbers.

Currently, more than 12,500 hotel rooms are available in the area, expected to grow to meet increasing tourism interest. Puerto Plata has seen significant tourism developments in the past few years – most notably the completion and grand opening of the Amber Cove cruise port, welcoming high-profile cruises such as Carnival's voluntourism-oriented Fathom – and it expects to welcome more than 400,000 cruise passenger arrivals this year. 

Hotel Announcements 

Dominican Republic's hotel occupancy rate was also greater than that of overall Caribbean numbers, with 75.5 percent of hotel rooms occupied in 2015 and an expected average of 80 percent in 2016, according to ASONAHORES officials. 

Punta Cana leads accommodations in the Dominican Republic, currently offering 37,000 rooms in the area. Its lead is followed by Puerto Plata and Santo Domingo, offering 18 percent and 10 percent of rooms available in-country, respectively. 

By 2019, it is expected that 18,000 new hotel rooms will open in the country, thanks to more than 55 new hotel projects and investments worth $2 billion coming into the tourism pipeline.

Cruise Arrivals

With Amber Cove in Puerto Plata opening in 2015, cruise arrivals increased by 64 percent, coming in at 550,000 visitors. Since Amber Cove's inauguration, an average of 5,000 cruise visitors arrive weekly to the area, shifting by season. The country plans to expand its cruise market beginning in December 2016 in Cap Cana, signing contracts with 11 providers and continuing discussion with six others.

Samana Updates and Developments

Samana // Photo courtesy of the Dominican Republic Ministry of Tourism

Tourism industry experts at DATE also announced updates coming to the Samana peninsula.

Representatives of the Association of Hotels and Tourism Companies of Samana (AHETSA) noted a growth in tourism traffic to the area through local El Catey International Airport (AZS), which welcomes roughly 57,000 annual visitors, and projected an increase of 5.5 percent in the number of travelers this year. 

Samana has also become more accessible by land to multi-destination travelers within Dominican Republic thanks to a new highway connecting it to the remainder of the country, with most other key destinations now within a two-hour drive.

To further connect the area, Dominican Republic infrastructure development officials are considering the construction of a new port to facilitate ferry arrivals, connecting Sabana de la Mar to the peninsula of Samana, bordering a part of the treasured protected area of Los Haitises National Park.

Officials also presented the high-value ecological destination's hotel statistics, announcing that 1,000 new rooms will be added to the area's existing portfolio of more than 3,650 rooms by 2017, with an additional 1,000 to come between 2017 and 2018.

Various projects supplementary to hotel construction – such as new marinas and golf courses – are also underway.

Two hotel and real estate development companies voiced their support of Samana's ongoing development, announcing plans for continued investment in the Dominican Republic's northeastern corner.

Amhsa Marina hotel officials released news of their development of a five-star, 386-room Kaaeni Beach Hotel after a $50 million investment. Kaaeni is projected to open in September of 2017 and will be the largest luxury hotel in the Las Galeras area of Samana, according to the AHETSA. Similarly, Xeliter announced the success of its luxury units in the area, highlighting that they have seen great value in Las Terrenas, calling out its Balcones del Atlantico property, which was recently added to the brand's property portfolio.

Visit and keep visiting for all your latest Caribbean news. Be sure to follow Travel Agent’s Joe Pike on Twitter @TravelPike.