Gansevoort Hotel Group is upping the accommodations ante on the Dominican Republic's north coast — long dominated by value-driven, all-inclusive properties — with the official debut of the upscale but still all-inclusive 48-suite Gansevoort Dominican Republic at Playa Imbert this December.
With a prime seaside location in the town of Sosua, just 15 minutes by car from Puerto Plata's airport, the hotel, in soft opening for several months, brings the urban, boutique chic of the 11-year-old Gansevoort brand to a region typified by massive, mass-market properties from European all-inclusive kingpins such as Barcelo, Riu and Iberostar.
"Most hotel companies in the Dominican Republic focus on the quantity of guests arriving rather than the quality of services offered," said Ian Schembri-Sant, the hotel's owner and developer. "We found a stretch of secluded beach in the middle of a small town that we believed would fill the void missing in the industry."
Gansevoort Hotel Group founder and President Michael Achenbaum agreed. "Gansevoort prides itself on bringing a whole new level of service and amenities to emerging destinations," he said in a statement. "From Playa Imbert to Cabarete, we love the vibe and beauty of the north coast and believe there's a unique opportunity to create something truly special for the luxury market here."
This novel, all-inclusive-yet-still-exclusive hybrid approach suited me fine on a recent visit. The property's modern yet comfortable accommodations comprise one- and two-bedroom lofts (the latter category served as my accommodations); three-bedroom apartments with private plunge pools and terraces; and four-bedroom penthouses with private, rooftop Jacuzzis. Units feature wall-to-ceiling windows, state-of-the-art kitchens and bathrooms with walk-in showers and bathtubs.
The Gansevoort Dominican Republic features two swimming pools (one infinity, one adults-only), a fitness center, a spa (still under construction), a restaurant and a wine-cigar bar. The Baia Lounge serves Mediterranean and Asian fare by executive chef Giancarlo Fiori (whose credits include Spain's three-Michelin-star eatery El Bulli) while La Cantina Wine + Cigar Cellar boasts a collection of wines from around the world and a fully stocked humidor.
Guests can enjoy waiter service and watersports equipment on Playa Imbert beach. Photo Credit: Kenneth Kiesnoski
A second restaurant, to open by year's end, will proffer pan-Asian cuisine, and management plans to open an on-site market selling kosher-certified foodstuffs. "We have … seen a number of guests that seek to keep kosher under the Jewish faith while on vacation, and we want to be able to cater to these guests," said Schembri-Sant.
(Speaking of "catering," service at the resort is top-drawer, with the professional yet friendly staff sporting equal parts Gansevoort chic and Dominican charm.)
The spa, to debut in November, will "focus on the next level of healthy lifestyle experiences," said Schembri-Sant; spa facilities will include a Turkish hammam-style sauna. Also in the works are a yoga and meditation garden and a small shopping area, to open mid-2016, where "guests can peruse local artwork and experience local foods while still experiencing the security of the compound."
In a nod to Puerto Plata's popularity with families, the Gansevoort Dominican Republic touts its inventory of multibedroom lofts, apartments and penthouses as not only upscale but ideally suited for family and group stays, as well. Children's activity programs are under development.
That sets the resort apart from its sister properties in New York and the Turks and Caicos, which tend to attract those looking for an adults-only atmosphere. "Families are very attracted to our hotel due to its multiroom luxury apartments and penthouse suites available," said Schembri-Sant. "These room categories allow families the space to truly enjoy their vacation.
"Additionally, with the hotel's close proximity to a variety of family-friendly activities — such as kayaking, snorkeling, playing with monkeys and waterfall jumping — families can get the quintessential island luxury they are looking for packed with the adventure we all know kids want … [and] that truly cater to families and solo travelers alike," he added.
The all-inclusive pricing strategy also sets the Gansevoort Dominican Republic apart from its siblings. Nightly rates range from $845 to $5,800, double occupancy, for accommodations; breakfast, lunch and dinner for two; and roundtrip airport transfers.
The resort is also offering special packages and deals. The Get Indulged package, priced at $1,010 per person per night with a four-night minimum stay through Oct. 31, includes accommodations; three meals daily; unlimited tropical cocktails, house wine by the glass, beer and nonalcoholic beverages; escorted VIP airport arrival greeting, baggage collection and immigrations and customs screening; roundtrip transfers; and welcome bottle of wine and cheese platter.
Guests also get every fifth night free under a deal valid through Dec. 18. The resort has teamed with Ultimate Jet Vacations and the Gansevoort Turk + Caicos to offer a Penthouse to Penthouse package that includes roundtrip private jet service, three nights' accommodations in oceanfront penthouse suites at both resorts, VIP beach and pool beds daily and more, priced from $74,790 for six people.