The Latest Luxury Hotel Developments in the Caribbean

JW Marriott Santo Domingo’s Vertygo 101 Lounge & Bar is a “floating” restaurant and bar, which has a glass-floor terrace rising 101 feet above the city street below.
JW Marriott Santo Domingo’s Vertygo 101 Lounge & Bar is a “floating” restaurant and bar, which has a glass-floor terrace rising 101 feet above the city street below.

The JW Marriott Hotel Santo Domingo could turn the quiet colonial town of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, into the next hot spot for Caribbean luxury. Travel Agent was lucky enough to tour the property during our recent coverage of the Dominican Annual Tourism Exchange (DATE). Check out our review of this new property along with other luxury hotel news from around the islands.

JW Marriott: An Inside Look At a Caribbean First

Although we were told that the JW Marriott Santo Domingo — the first hotel by that brand in the Caribbean — is primarily a business hotel, we believe it has incredible potential for leisure travel as well. There are not many luxury hotels in Santo Domingo and this is a great option for clients looking to spend two to three nights in the historic five-centuries-old city before perhaps venturing off to Punta Cana, which is only a roughly 90-minute drive away.

The hotel opened late last summer and represents a $50 million investment. It has some really cool, out-of-the-box features, including TVs embedded into the mirrors of the bathrooms and key cards that are protected from magnetic strip damage.

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Part of the upscale Piantini financial district, the hotel is set inside the Blue Mall, which features several fine-dining restaurants and high-end shops, such as Cartier, Carolina Herrera and Louis Vuitton. We were also informed that JW Marriott is looking to start a program whereby guests of the hotel can charge restaurant bills from the mall to their hotel rooms.

Another excellent feature is the Vertygo 101 Lounge & Bar, the Dominican Republic’s first “floating” restaurant and bar, which has a glass-floor terrace rising 101 feet above the city street below. For clients who fear heights, it can be a little scary to walk on, but it is definitely something worth experiencing at least once. Along with Vertygo 101, the JW Marriott Hotel Santo Domingo also houses the exclusive Winston Grill & Patio, a fine-dining restaurant that serves up Latin American specialties with an Asian influence as well as an extensive international wine and cocktail menu.

While all 150 rooms and suites come with high-speed, wireless Internet and other expected amenities, as well as the signature JW Marriott brand aromatherapy bathroom amenities, the Presidential Suite is the standout. It has some of the most high-end details in the Caribbean, including an $8,000 Kohler bathtub with light therapy, massage and hydrotherapy.

The hotel’s nine meeting and event spaces total roughly 3,000 square feet, with the ballroom accounting for more than one-third of that space.

The Landings St. Lucia Looks To Expand by Year’s End

Travel Agent sat down last month with Kashmie Ali, managing director of The Landings St. Lucia, and learned that the luxury hotel plans to add 12 villas by the end of the year. He says an existing building has already been gutted out and the remainder of the work should be completed by December. The plans call for a mix of one-, two- and three-bedroom villas.

Ali also told us hotel representatives had wanted to expand the 146-villa property for some time, but their hands were tied because the property was previously owned by the developers. In December, however, the owners of The Landings St. Lucia acquired the assets of the insolvent development company associated with the property.

The Landings St. Lucia recently announced that the more than 140 owners of the resort have successfully pooled their resources to create a fully owned, operated and managed hotel and residence community.

“It allows us to move forward with plans we had for the resort,” said Ali. “Before, [the hotel was] owned by the developers, but now that the owners are debt-free, we can start doing some things that we could not before.”

And the expansion of rooms was not the only new development since the hotel became independent. In January, The Landings spruced up its offerings by adding a new dining option, upgrading an existing restaurant and opening a new sunset beach bar. A new gift shop and boutique invites guests to linger in the lobby area and offers standard resort amenities as well as St. Lucian-branded gifts and souvenirs.

The Landings St. Lucia also recently introduced butler service, and each villa features a fully equipped kitchen. Guests who desire a more private, upscale dining affair now have the option of requesting In-Suite Chef Service.

The Warwick, Paradise Island Taking Bookings for the Fall

The Warwick, Paradise Island, Bahamas has begun accepting reservations for travel dates beginning in fall 2015. Guests will enjoy spacious accommodations with views of Paradise Island, the city of Nassau and Nassau Harbor. Free, wireless Internet will be available in all 245 rooms and suites and throughout the resort. Dining options will include à la carte specialty restaurants and the main resort buffet restaurant. Guests can enjoy a barbecue on the resort’s private Shipwreck Beach or, if they don’t want to leave the pool, sip a Bahama Mama or other tropical favorite at the poolside pizza oven, bar and grille. The lobby bar will offer nightly entertainment.

People on the Move

Belmond La Samanna, a luxury resort in St. Martin, recently named Tracey Fentem director of sales and marketing for the hotel. In her new position, Fentem will integrate her existing skill set of consultative sales, new business development, strategic planning, staff management and relationship building.

Grace Bay Resorts in Turks and Caicos has promoted Thierry Grandsire from group director of operations to executive vice president of operations. Grandsire has more than 28 years of hotel-management experience in the luxury hospitality industry.

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