Local Color: Getting Around
" Most travelers headed for Cabarete fly into Puerto Plata, half an hour away. Vans or taxis shuttle to Cabaretes hotels.
" Avoid flying into Santo Domingo, if possible. Its a four-hour ride north.
" Guests who want to sightsee in the area board local minibuses that travel all day long between Puerto Plata, Playa Dorada, Sosua and Cabarete.
" Tourists must purchase a $10 tourist card in cash upon arrival at the airport; the $10 departure tax usually is included in the airline ticket cost.
Dominican Republic -- The name of the hotel chain is a good
indication of the recreational activities offered at its properties
-and the market the chain is chasing.
eXtreme Hotels --
theres just one now, but plans are afoot for more -- is a visible
signal of the growth of the active sports- tourism
as kiteboarding, ramp skateboarding and surfing, canyoning and
mountain biking appeal to the extreme sports enthusiast, although
the list virtually is without limit as long as vacationers hanker
for new challenges.
Credit must be
given to entrepreneur Bill Lee, founder of eXtreme Hotels, for
knowing how to define his market segment.
Our goal is the
concentrated adrenaline vacationer who wants an intense workout by
day and an equally fun time by night, he said.
33-year-old former Internet CEO, founder of West Coast Holdings
investment firm and current head of a high-tech company dealing
with the obliteration of spam, said the hotel concept was born from
his personal search for world-class surfing locales that offer
instruction, accommodations and nightlife.
I traveled a lot
for business. When I traveled for leisure, Id go to Google to find
a place to windsurf, then Id have to find a place to rent equipment
and a place to stay and a place that had local nightlife, he said.
No one was putting the key ingredients together under one brand in
the action sports world.
niche, Lee hit upon creating the eXtreme Hotels brand and began his
search for the location of his first property.
His criteria were
pretty simple. Each hotel will have a world-class location that
caters to action sports and offers fun, exciting nightlife nearby,
I checked out
sites in Dubai, Brazil, Hawaii and Mexico.
Cabarete, Lees flagship property which he purchased as a rundown
hotel a year ago on Kite Beach in Cabarete on the Dominican
Republics north shore, arguably one of the worlds best sites for
kiteboarding and windsurfing.
envisioned the property as his own home but then saw its
possibilities as a hotel and hub that catered to action- sports
He spent a year
renovating it, converting it to 20 moderately priced rooms ($70 per
night, single or double; 20% commission), and hauling in all sorts
of water-sports equipment.
launch and opening celebrations began March 12 with demonstrations
by premier athletes from the skateboarding, surfing, kiteboarding
and tow surfing worlds.
Lee hired Diana
Stoecklin as general manager.
Switzerland, speaks six languages, is an action, active person. In
fact, everyone on staff is into water sports.
what eXtreme Cabarete is all about. Guests can kiteboard and
windsurf. Skateboarders have the worlds first below-ground
professional skateboard ramp called Six Feet Under, a
39-foot-by-49-foot fun ramp designed by top European skateboarding
Were right near Encuentro Beach,
where the annual Latin Surf Classic takes place each summer, and
right in front of Six Feet Over, a reef break for intermediate to
advanced surfers, Lee said. Scuba
diving, canyoning, river rafting, mountain biking and hiking also
great, Lee said. We already have sellout periods. Windsurfers say
the best months for the sport are June through August. Surfers say
the best waves occur from January through March. Kiteboarders just
want good wind conditions all the time.
planning to add up to 30 condominium units next to the hotel,
beginning this fall.
I want to keep
this small so I can cater to my guests. Families are definitely
welcome, and we have instructors for kids, he said.
Hes scouting out
locations for his next hotels, including sites in Brazil, Costa
Rica and Panama for surfing and kiteboarding, Chile for
snowboarding and Nevada for snowboarding and rock
Plans are to open
other eXtreme hotels within the next two years.
Color: Hotel Haunts
Kitexcite is on
the site of the hotel. The leading kite school in Cabarete, with
14-plus certified instructors, has new and used gear for lessons,
rentals and sales. Kiteboarders get special attention at eXtreme
Cabarete, with kite lockers, beach showers, air pumps, equipment
areas and on-site repairs. To check wind conditions, the hotel
maintains a wind-forecasting Web site and live Web cams.
beach bar and lounge has pool tables, TVs and gaming areas as well
as free wireless Internet and is good place to hang out before
venturing down the road to Cabaretes scene.
To contact reporter Gay Nagle
Myers, send e-mail to[email protected].