Dominican Republic in midst of growth spurt

PUNTA CANA, Dominican Republic -- Among the Dominican Republics tourist areas slated for growth are Punta Cana and Puerto Plata.

In Punta Cana, hotels and a Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course are under construction; the airport terminal was expanded; and a 24-mile boulevard is being built to facilitate travel to and from tourist areas.

One of the newest hotels is Sunscape the Beach, a 620-room property operated by AMResorts that opened in April in Uvero Alto, about an hour from Punta Canas airport.

Ocean Hotels opened two adjacent, all-inclusive properties in Punta Cana last winter: Ocean Blue and Ocean Sands, totaling 708 units.

Other recent openings are the 228-room Club at Grand Paradise Bavaro (the second Amhsa Marina Hotels & Resorts property in the Punta Cana area) and the 1,200-room Gran Bahia Principe Punta Cana.

Sol Melia will debut its 450-room Paradisus Palma Real on Bavaro Beach by December, with 100 Royal Service Suites. 

EMI Resorts is building a 205-room timeshare, opening in December on Cofresi Beach near Puerto Plata.

Under construction are 144 Royal Service suites at the 1,044-unit Melia Caribe Tropical, which will open in June. Sol Melia will welcome Warner Brothers Flintstones cartoon characters at both the Caribe Tropical and the Paradisus Punta Cana.

At Macao Beach, 20 miles west of the airport, construction is under way on the Westin Roco Ki Beach & Golf Resort, opening in November 2006.

The 315-room resort will include Jungle Luxe bungalows and 56 two- and three-bedroom condo units as well as a Nick Faldo-designed golf course.

An on-site museum will exhibit Taino Indian artifacts found during construction.

In the new residential/resort development known as Cap Cana, construction has begun on what is billed as the largest marina in the Caribbean, with capacity for more than 500 boats.

No opening date has been set for the adjacent Alta Bella Sanctuary Collection Golf & Spa Hotel, a resort complex that will include the Punta Espada, a Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course.

Puerto Plata will get a makeover within the next three years, according to Felix Jimenez, minister of tourism. Jimenez said the government will spend $20 million on projects, including a new amphitheater at San Felipe Fort.

The cable car Teleferico ride, which takes visitors to the top of Mount Isabel de Torres, will be rebuilt.

Officials said the government plans to acquire a group of Victorian-style homes and develop them into bars and restaurants. A public bus system also is planned.

Botanical gardens and restaurants are planned for nearby Sosua as well as a new highway linking Puerto Plata with Sosua.

To contact the reporter who wrote this article, send e-mail to [email protected].

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