Tourism is expected to increase to select regions in the Dominican Republic. // © Dominican Republic Ministry of Tourism
The Caribbean travel experts at Prohotel International, a Houston-based hotel management company, recently announced their picks for the region’s top travel destinations for 2014, including Mexico’s Caribbean coast and parts of Latin America. We’ve provided snapshots of destinations in the Dominican Republic that were singled out by Prohotel’s survey.
Santo Domingo’s Ciudad Colonial
Santo Domingo’s UNESCO World Heritage site, Ciudad Colonial, will experience an increase in leisure and business travelers next year.
“The completion of the Coral Highway in November will link a vast number of tourists to one of the new world’s richest cultural heritage sites,” said Marc Dalet, general manager of Las Casas del XVI. “A new initiative by the Ministry of Tourism will convert a significant part of the Ciudad Colonial into pedestrian-only areas to enhance the travelers’ experience. This has prompted a significant increase in private investment in restaurants, bars, shops and local excursions. These two factors combined will result in a definite increase in travel to old Santo Domingo, making it the Caribbean’s newest hot spot.”
As the oldest city in the new world, Santo Domingo is home to the first church in the Americas, a number of museums, fine restaurants and vibrant nightlife. The area’s first luxury hotel, Las Casas del XVI, will open in November, with nine rooms and suites in newly renovated houses dating back to the sixteenth century, all located within walking distance of the area’s top attractions.
The Samana Peninsula
This long undiscovered French hideaway is as authentic a Caribbean destination as they come. Spectacular beaches stretch for miles with no developments in sight, and mountain ranges provide the backdrop to a landscape teeming with natural wonders. Sublime Samana Hotel & Residences, a 20-room boutique resort located on six miles of private beachfront, is the area’s top luxury hotel. The property provides plenty of privacy while still being in close proximity to the lively, European-influenced community of Las Terrena.
Sublime Samana is located just outside of town, making it convenient for guests to take the 10-minute drive in to Las Terrana to experience local Dominican culture and fine French cuisine. Between January and March, travelers can enjoy some of the world’s best whale watching.
Travel to the peninsula is also expected to increase due to improved transportation to the area. A new highway will provide easy access from Santo Domingo and a new JetBlue route from New York City will fly directly into Samana El Catey Airport.
Sustainable Tourism on the Secluded Southwestern Coast
The Sierra Barahuco Mountains of the Dominican Republic’s southwestern coast is a hit with eco-tourists. While the region is quite a distance from the island’s main tourism centers, it offers an ecological immersion unlike any other, thanks to sustainable boutique hotels that are leading the trend in green luxury.
Casa Bonita Tropical Lodge is a 12-room eco-lodge surrounded by the area’s impressive mountain range, overlooking the Caribbean Sea. It is the ideal retreat for travelers looking to minimize their carbon footprint and get away from it all. For an adrenaline rush, however, they should look no further than a canopy tour, which takes guests on a thrilling ride through jungle’s towering treetops. The ride culminates at a hydroelectric plant that supplies the hotel with 30 percent of its electricity. A large sustainable garden provides produce for use in the property’s restaurant and organic river spa.
Ideal excursions include trips to nearby national parks within the Jaragua, Bahoruco and Enriquillo Biosphere Reserve; visiting an organic coffee plantation; visiting Las Aguilas Bay, Oviedo Lagoon and Lake Enriquillo; or exploring caves with ancient Indian art.