Bahia Principe makes its mark in the Caribbean

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Newly rebuilt sign for Grand Case in French St. Martin, a sign of the rebuilding and recovery that is taking place.
Newly rebuilt sign for Grand Case in French St. Martin, a sign of the rebuilding and recovery that is taking place. Photo Credit: Jeff Berger

With 20 all-inclusive resorts in the Dominican Republic, Jamaica and the Mexican Riviera, Bahia Principe Hotels & Resorts, a division of Spain-based Grupo Pinero, has become a big player in the region.

"We have 7,108 rooms in the Caribbean and the Riviera Maya and are currently the biggest hotel chain in the Dominican Republic in terms of room count," said Helen Montijano, the company's vice president of sales and marketing. (The company also has four hotels in Tenerife and three in Mallorca and will open another in Tenerife later this year.)

While no additional Caribbean properties are planned for this year, a $30 million, top-to-bottom renovation is scheduled for the Luxury Bahia Principe Ambar Blue in Punta Cana. The hotel will close June 1 and reopen Nov. 1 as the Luxury Bahia Principe Ambar -- "dropping the word 'Blue' in the name," Montijano said.

"This will mark the first time that we have completely closed a resort for an upgrade and re-do," she added. "Usually we just block off sections of rooms to renovate while keeping the rest of the resort open."

The revamped, adults-only resort will feature 148 swim-up suites for a total of 528 rooms, the addition of a gym, a cafe, a big sports bar, new decor and enhanced culinary venues.

The seven-resort Bahia Principe complex in Punta Cana is home to four properties under the Luxury brand and three in the Grand brand, although the Luxury Bahia Principe Ambar Green will rebrand as the Grand Bahia Principe Aquamarine on Nov. 1.

The resorts have different rates, depending upon the brand and room category selected, but several of the the facilities within the resorts are open to all guests, whose access to specific facilities is denoted by the color of the bracelets they each wear.  

"With a complex of this size, groups can stay together in one property" Montijano said. "It gives guests more choices."

As an example, she cited the Luxury Bahia Principe Fantasia resort, which attracts the multigenerational travel sector.

"We offer activities for all the age groups, from a kids' club to a teen center, a theater, gymnastics and mother-daughter spa treatments," she said.

The Samana area, on the DR's north coast, is a focus of the company's marketing efforts, as well as Punta Cana. "It's not as well known as Punta Cana, but we're finding that it is attracting a lot of interest, especially from the U.S. market," Montijano said.

"People are curious and like to discover new areas and activities, and the Samana region offers that."

Bahia Principe has four properties there, including the Luxury Bahia Principe Cayo Levantado on the island of Cayo Levantado.

The resort, previously an adults-only property, began welcoming families with young travelers on May 1.

To keep agents abreast of brands and developments, Bahia Principe expanded its Rewards program in February.

"We enhance the program daily," Montijano said. "We update our agents constantly, and we are very conscious of the training necessary to enable agents to become experts on our product line."

In addition to a robust points system, the updated program offers travel partners opportunities to collect more points when participating in online courses (200 points) and securing referrals (150 points). Agents also receive double points during specific sales periods.

"To empower new travel partners to join the program, we offer an additional 1,000-point bonus for new registrations. We also modified the program so that all stays and bookings, regardless of length of stay, will warrant rewards points," she said.

Agents who earn points can redeem their rewards in several ways, including complimentary stays, private airport transfers, spa treatments, golf vouchers and dinners for two. 

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