Americans often overlook the smaller hotel companies in the Dominican Republic, but “smaller” is a relative term, given the size and pedigree of some “smaller” companies there. Besides, several large resorts (by any measure) debuted new properties or showed off game-changing upgrades during DATE, the Dominican Annual Trade Exchange (last week of March; see “DATE: The Domincan Tourism Engine is Purring”). However, let’s look now at three hotel groups that may not be on your radar screen.
Amhsa Marina Hotels & Resorts
When asked for the secret of Amhsa Marina Hotels & Resorts’ recent success, Floria Imbert marketing & sales marketing v.p. referred to “our excellent workers” and an investment of $25 million to remodel and upgrade the hotels. One of the company’s primary aims is to attract more guests from mainland North America; for Amhsa, she said, “The United States is an emerging market.”
The 30-year-old company has now renovated three all-inclusives: Grand Paradise Playa Dorada (Puerto Plata), Grand Paradise Samana, in Las Galeras Samana, and most recently, Casa Marina Beach & Reef in Sosua. Casa Marina has a new disco, lounge, spa, and fitness center, and the guestrooms look more contemporary. Hermann, a premium restaurant (extra charge), complements the five restaurants that are included. Finally, a new Select VIP Club at the Grand Paradise Playa Dorada and Grand Paradise Samana offers more comforts and amenities such as a private pool and a lounge with personalized service. In addition, Amhsa also has a new mobile app to make it easier for guests to use the hotels’ amenities and services.
In an answer to my question about commissions, Imbert explained, “We sell to the trade at a net rate rather than offer commissions.” She said that tour operators who book Amhsa properties include Apple Vacations, Sunwing, and Sunwing affiliate Vacation Express.
For more information see amhsamarina.com.
Xeliter Vacation Rentals
At a press conference during DATE, representatives of Xeliter Vacation Rentals and parent company Coral Hospitality Corporation announced a new project: Le Ensenada—a condo complex with 120 apartments in 10 buildings. The 1- to 4-bedroom condos feature a swath of Nova Romana beach, a clubhouse on the waterfront, swimming pools, green spaces, and access to world-class golf. Le Ensenada lies 35 minutes from Santo Domingo’s airport and 20 minutes from the airport at La Romana.
Other properties include the 164-room Villa Mare apartments on two beaches on Samana, where guests have access to good restaurants, and to whales, too, amid quiet and bucolic surroundings. Balcones del Atlantico in Las Serenas offers 1- to 3-bedroom condos on a fine beach in a charming Samana town. El Morro Eco Adventure hotel has 12 units featuring rustic chic decor amid a pristine setting in the north. These and other properties in Xeliter’s portfolio are geared couples, families, and groups of friends who want condo accommodations that offer access to nature, but have amenities normally associated with resorts. You can book Xeliter properties directly or through tour operators such as Island Destinations, and the odds are good that Xeliter will soon sign on with Liberty Travel.
For more information see xeliter.com.
Be Live Hotels
I’m including this non-Dominican company (it’s based in Spain) for two reasons: First, Be Live Hotels is not well-known to Americans. Second, the company is spending about $25 million to add a seventh hotel to the six it already has in the Dominican Republic. The new Be Live Collection Punta Cana Adults Only will have 403 rooms, personalized check-in/out, a VIP lounge, a private beach, 24-hour room service, and butler service. Its guests will also have access to the facilities at the adjacent Be Live Collection Punta Cana, including that resorts’ 11 restaurants, bars, pools, and beaches. When it opens, Be Live’s total room count in the D.R. will be 3,600.
I asked commercial director Israel Ortiz what Be Live’s commissions were for retail travel advisors who book direct. “We are always working on that in order to be attractive,” he replied. “Depending upon the requirements of each property, it would be 15 to 18 percent.”