Club Med is betting big on Miches, an ecotourism destination
in the Dominican Republic, with plans for what it said will be the first resort
in the area when it opens this year.
Set to welcome guests Nov. 30, the all-inclusive Club Med
Miches Playa Esmeralda will take up 93 acres near popular day-trip sites such
as the Laguna Limon nature reserve, the Samana Bay whale-watching hot spot and
Montana Redonda, a mountaintop known for its unobstructed panoramas and
Instagram-ready photo ops.
"It's interesting because we were already doing day
excursions to many places close to Miches from our resort in Punta Cana,"
said Xavier Mufraggi, CEO of Club Med North America and the Caribbean. "But
Miches was two and a half hours from the airport, too far for a resort. Then
three or four years ago, the government announced a plan to build a new
highway, which would pass within two kilometers of Playa
Esmeralda, making it just around an hour and a half from Punta Cana. When we
realized that, we jumped."
The $100 million project will offer 335 guestrooms split
across four "villages." They include the 111-room Caribbean Paradise,
which will be open to any traveler type, and the 158-room Explorer Cove, which
is designed for multigenerational families. The property's two adult-only
villages -- the 48-room, wellness-themed Emerald Jungle and the 18-suite
Archipelago -- offer a quieter, more intimate atmosphere.
Mufraggi said the resort's smaller villages format helps
plant Miches Playa Esmeralda firmly at the high end. The property will be the
first Club Med resort in the Americas to join the brand's Exclusive Collection
of high-end offerings. It will also be its first new resort in the Caribbean in
"We've looked at many trends, and we believe the future
of luxury all-inclusive is not about towers," Mufraggi said, adding that
the resort's ecofriendly ethos also aligns with current luxury trends. "We
have a strong belief that you can't really say you are luxury when you have a
16-story building. It's not really a chic or luxury concept if you're on the
beach and the only thing you see is the huge tower of the big hotel. To be
luxury, you need to respect your environment, and a big part of that is low density."
Meanwhile, with the vast majority of rooms at Club Med
Miches Playa Esmeralda set to be family-friendly, the property is positioned to
capture a growing demographic of millennial parents looking for a more
"Around 40% of millennials now have families, and in a
few years, that number will likely hit around 70%," Mufraggi said. "Millennials
are very committed to travel, and they don't want to leave their kids with the
"They also see all-inclusive very differently and view
it as more of a convenient base for experiences, so at Club Med Miches, they
can choose to do some excursions with the kids and then later leave the kids at
[the children's club] and do excursions on their own."
While Club Med is touting Miches as a destination largely
untouched by development, the region is likely to lose some of that
off-the-beaten-path cachet very soon. Miami-based developer Cisneros Real
Estate has unveiled plans for Tropicalia, a sustainable luxury resort and
residential complex in Miches that will be anchored by a 169-room Four Seasons.
That project is expected to be operational by 2021.
Mufraggi said Miches Playa Esmeralda is in talks to partner
with Four Seasons on an initiative to source local food.
"Our goal in the coming years is to have at least 50%
of our food and beverage coming from the region, he said. "But that's a
huge project, and it makes sense if we partner with the hotels that are coming
He added that while future development in Miches is
inevitable, he hopes that fast growth doesn't come at the expense of
exclusivity and natural charm.
"Now that we've arrived, people are interested in the
land," he said. "But we hope to have hotels and real estate that
really respect the positioning of Miches as more affluent and upscale and
respectful of the environment. We really want this to be an eco-chic luxury and