October 7, 2003
  • New Sol Meliá hotel in the East
  • Time for the stars
  • Futuristic retirement city in Yamasá
  • E León Jimenes Cultural Center
New Sol Meliá hotel in the East
Manfred Schoebel announced the Sol Meliá hotel chain would build a luxury 500-room hotel in the Punta Cana area. Schoebel, spokesman for the organization, told Hoy newspaper that the newest construction would be one notch above its other two properties in the Punta Cana area and would open in time for the 2005 winter season. Sol Meliá also operates the Meliá Tropical Caribe and Paradisus in the Punta Cana region, in addition to the Santo Domingo Meliá in the capital city.
The third East Coast Sol Meliá hotel will be built with the US traveler in mind, said Schoebel, who also mentioned that Meliá Caribe Tropical would soon offer golf suites for those traveling to play their Cocotal golf course this winter. The first 40 golf suites will be available at year’s end, with another 40 to join the market in 2004, and 40 more by the end of 2005.
The new hotel and golf suites will be built on the Meliá Caribe Tropical’s 500,000-square-meter property, of which only one third has been built up so far to house the present 44 residential villas, 502 hotel rooms for groups and couples and another 502 rooms that cater to family travelers. The hotel complex also offers eight meeting rooms with capacity for 1,000. For more information, see http://www.dr1.com/directories/realestate/palmareal.shtml
Time for the stars
El Caribe newspaper reports that Decree 818-03, dated 20 August, provides for the creation of the Hotel Classification Committee. The new ruling replaces the 1984 classification norms and will entrust the committee with the grading of Dominican hotels in categories that range from one star up to five-star deluxe. The committee is to be presided over by the Minister of Tourism. Other members will include the president of the National Association of Hotels and Restaurants (Asonahores) and the head of the Department of Business and Services of the Ministry of Tourism.
The committee is also responsible for monitoring the fulfillment of price policies, inspecting operating conditions of hotels, resolving claims, and assessing penalties for non-fulfillment of regulations. The decree establishes conditions for city, beach, mountain, apart-hotels, bungalows, cabañas and villa accommodation categories.
The next step will be for the Ministry of Tourism to distribute forms to hotel operators in order to gather information for the classification process.
Futuristic retirement city in Yamasá
Pablo Ferrer of El Caribe reports that the DR may soon have its own Asimov-inspired ecotourism vacation and residential community located in the mountains of Yamasá, north of Santo Domingo. Legacy International, a Miami-based US corporation, is behind the US$620-million investment in a co-venture with Rancho Verde, belonging to Dominican entrepreneur Maximino Brito. The plans call for the construction of a retirement and residential community, complemented by sports venues, educational centers (hotel and business schools), 300 villas and an apartment complex in the mountain area. The hotel would also include a golf course, tennis courts, and an equestrian center.
As reported, Legacy has contracted the preliminary designs to world-acclaimed US architect John Randall McDonald, a disciple of architect Frank Lloyd Wright. McDonald visited the area last month and is quoted in El Caribe saying, “I have designed many hotels in many places around the world, and on many islands, but I had never seen anything so beautiful.” He promised outstanding views from all vantage points. The first phase of construction is set to start on 15 November.
E León Jimenes Cultural Center
There is a new reason to visit Santiago de los Caballeros, the second largest city in the Dominican Republic. E. León Jimenes has opened its Centro León, a cultural center that boasts probably the largest private collection of artwork in the Dominican Republic. The opening of the center took place on Friday, 3 October, and was part of the events to commemorate the company’s 100th anniversary. E. León Jimenes affiliate companies produce Presidente beer, Marlboro cigarettes and Aurora cigars, among other products and services.
Dominican artist Geo Ripley told the El Caribe reporter covering the event: “For the doors of the Centro León to open during a time of so much disenchantment means that all is not lost, that there is still a refuge, a space for dreams and for discovering who we really are.”
The Centro León has two permanent exhibitions, one of which is titled “Genesis and Trajectory: The León Jimenes Collection” and is made up of winners of the annual E. León Jimenes Art Contest. “Signs of Identity” is a multi-sensory journey that sheds light on the Dominican people, through the context of their Caribbean, American and global influences.
Dominican culture expert Freddy Ginebra said the center will be to Santiago what the Guggenheim Museum is to Bilbao. “Foreigners who want to understand who we Dominicans are, who we have been and who we will become will find their answers on the walls of the center. At least, I saw myself here....”
Admission is RD$50 for adults and RD$20 for children. For more information, see http://www.centroleon.org.do

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