The debut of a brand in a Caribbean destination is usually a milestone for a hotel company, an event preceded by months or years of planning, design, construction, marketing, promotion, publicity and probably a lot of late nights.
When that destination is the Dominican Republic, where the flags of many hotel companies already fly, and the resort in question is the first of its brand in the Caribbean to stake its place in the sun on Playa Juanillo, 15 minutes from the Punta Cana airport, anticipation runs high.
Opening this fall in Cap Cana is the Margaritaville Island Reserve Cap Cana, the second property for the luxury all-inclusive collection, which was created in partnership with Karisma Hotels & Resorts and Margaritaville. The first opened in Cancun in 2020.
The newbuild property, near Sanctuary Cap Cana, originally had targeted an October debut, but shipping delays have pushed the date back a few weeks, according to Elizabeth Fettes, chief marketing and sales officer for Premier Worldwide Marketing, the exclusive marketing and sales provider for Karisma Hotels & Resorts.
To ramp up interest, Karisma and Margaritaville hosted a Sips & Bites event in New York in early August for travel advisors that included a cocktail reception, a catered lunch the following day and a preview of the resort by Karisma and Margaritaville officials. Forty advisors from the New York metro area and the Midwest were in attendance, Fettes said.
"We have a solid partnership with travel advisors," she said. "Several were first-timers to the Margaritaville brand. We want to reach the agent community as well as consumers who might not know either the destination or Margarita's signature easy-going lifestyle."
The Island Reserve all-inclusive brand is synonymous with fun and carefree escapism, Fettes said, "and our appeal is to all markets from families to couples to multigeneration groups of travelers who are seeking an elevated gourmet and curated guest experience from arrival to check-out."
The floating taco bar will be a pool feature at the Cap Cana resort. Photo Credit: Karisma Hotels and Resorts
One unique feature at the Cap Cana property will be a large floating taco bar in one of the main pools. "We feature this in the Cancun property, and it's been a big Instagram hit," she said. "Guests love it." she said.
And she said that on-site inspections of the not-yet-completed resort in Cap Cana by travel advisors has resulted in an increase in bookings, especially from guests familiar with other Karisma brands (El Dorado, Generations, Nickelodeon and Azul Beach, among others).
The resort features 228 suites and 40 luxury villas with access to a lagoon pool and a swim-up bar featuring hanging beds. The 13 room categories range from swim-up to honeymoon suites. The Gourmet Village, set behind the suites and villas, offers a variety of restaurants, shops, bars and nightlife entertainment.
Other amenities include a kids' club, bikes for guests' use, a golf course, the St. Somewhere Spa, a theater and a variety of wedding venues.
Adjacent to the infinity pool is the Rum Runners hotspot and the 5 o'clock Somewhere bar.
Fettes said that staff in Cap Cana are nearly 100% vaccinated, and the resort will follow the Karisma Peace of Mind program and provide free, on-site antigen tests for guests traveling back to the U.S.
"The determination of travelers to travel is still out there," Fettes said.
Opening rates start at $178 per person, per night for guests booking a three-night stay or longer.