Selling Puerto Plata's Renaissance

The much-needed improvements to the infrastructure of Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic, will be complete by the end of the month, creating a list of new selling points for a destination that desperately needed to revamp its image. Last year, the Dominican Republic announced to travel industry representatives from around the world that the city on the Atlantic coast near Santiago will be back in top form. The government allocated more than $30 million to development and improvement projects in Puerto Plata, including new water processing facilities, sanitation systems, roads and walkways, all the while protecting the Dominican Republic's natural resources,  Pool area at Casa Colonial in Puerto Plata

And to prove it's not just talk, the Dominican Republic unveiled a token of good faith, a major milestone of the monumental project—the recovery of a historic beach. A weekend-long event, entitled "Inauguración Long Beach," showcased improvements at Long Beach, located on the Malecón, an ocean-side road featuring numerous cafés and small restaurants.

The reopening of the area, along with the government's permission to rezone it, will maximize its use and give the tourism industry a boost. Whereas the previous height limit for apartments and condominiums used to be three floors, the new buildings along the Malecón will be able to be up to seven stories high. More than 300 hotel rooms per hectare will not be allowed.

Casa Colonial's Rooftop Infinity Pool

In addition to infrastructure improvements, the newly constructed Ocean World Casino & Marina opened its doors in December 2006. There is a restaurant on the first floor of the facility, while the second floor houses the gaming area, which has 60 slot machines and 10 table games. The third floor is the show floor, where 30-plus professional dancers kick up their heels. The $95 million project includes a marina with a gym and a grocery store, which Diego J. Tripaldi, OceanWorldAdventurePark's business development director, calls the "missing link" between the Bahamas and Puerto Rico.

Ocean World Adventure Park

Puerto Plata has a mix of boutique hotels and resorts. The three top properties in Puerto Plata are Casa Colonial, which is a luxurious boutique hotel, Occidental Grand Puerto Plata and Coral by Hilton Puerto Plata. The latter two are all-inclusive resorts for both couples and families.

Three recommended restaurants are Pizzeria Roma; Hemingway's Café, specializing in American cuisine; and Al Fresco, which is in the PlayaDoradaPlaza and serves pasta, sushi and various grilled foods.

An Amber Museum specimen

Getting There and Getting Around

Apple Vacations sends about 45,000-50,000 people to Puerto Plata every year. Funjet Vacations, although its Dominican Republic sales are primarily for Punta Cana, also sells Puerto Plata.

Domestic flights can be arranged within the Dominican Republic for travel between tourist areas—flying is often the easiest way to get around. Air Santo Domingo (809-683-8006) is a domestic airline.

Taxis can be hired at airports and major hotels. Visitors should always agree on a rate with the driver before getting into the cab, since not all vehicles are metered.

Essential Links

Dominican Republic Ministry of Tourism or 888-374-6361
Casa Colonial
Occidental Grand Puerto Plata
Coral by Hilton Puerto Plata
The AmberMuseum