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January 17, 2006
  • Villas Doradas upgrade
  • Portillo to be renovated
  • Constanza's new carnival
  • Whale-watching starts
  • Laser sailing in Cabarete
  • A wedding at the top of the Caribbean
Villas Doradas upgrade
Hotetur Villas Doradas Beach Resort in Cabarete will be closing for complete renovation for six months as from 1 May. The company's intent is to upgrade the hotel's facilities and services to four stars. Hotetur is a Spanish operating company. http://dr1.com/directories/hotels/dorado_club_hotetur.shtml
Portillo to be renovated
Spanish-based Pineyro hotel group's Bahia Principe chain has taken over the Portillo Beach Resort in Las Terrenas, Samana. The hotel closed on 15 January and is scheduled to re-open once fully renovated in November, in time for the 2006-2007 winter season. The Pineyro group runs hotels in the Playa Grande (Rio San Juan) area on the north coast, and in Punta Cana, and has reportedly recently acquired long-term operation rights on the Cayacoa and the Cayo Levantado hotels and purchased the Gran Bahia hotel, previously under Occidental management.
Constanza's new carnival
The mountain vacation area of Constanza is revving up to partake in the fun that Carnival brings to the Dominican Republic. The Constanza carnival troupes are making an early start, with celebrations from the last weekend in January till the first weekend in March.
The Constanza carnival characters are different: dragons, monsters, Indians and gargoyles parade through the city's five kilometers of streets.
The Constanza Carnival also has a gala evening on the Saturday preceding the grand finale, where all the participating groups display their best costumes and choreographed dances.
The most popular carnivals that take place on Sundays in February and early March are those of La Vega, Santiago, Bonao, and Santo Domingo.
Whale-watching starts
The whale observation season has begun in Samana. It is open from 15 January, and the season reaches its peak in the month of February. The Ministry of Environment has agreed to extend it this year through mid-April.
Thousands of humpbacked whales from the North Atlantic migrate to the waters of the Dominican Republic each winter to mate and give birth. Their most popular winter rendezvous is Silver Bank, the 3,000-square-kilometer reef system approximately 70 miles north east of Puerto Plata. Many continue and gather in Samana Bay. More than 1,500 humpbacks visit the bay, with as many as 300 present at any given time during the mating season.
The World Wildlife Fund considers Samana Bay one of the best places in the world to watch whales. It offers something for everyone - the outer bay is where you might find aggressive males competing for the favors of willing females, and the sheltered inner bay is one of the most important humpbacked whale nurseries in the world.
See http://dr1.com/travel/special/whales.shtml
Laser sailing in Cabarete
2003 Pan American gold medalist Raul Aguayo has won the 4th Caribbean Laser Midwinter Regatta 2006, held in Cabarete 13-15 January. Runner-ups were Ari Barshi, Tim Landt, Ken Brown, Jorge Abreu and four-times world laser champion, Peter Seidenberg. The event was organized by the Dominican Sailing Federation. Competitors from the DR, US, Canada, Ireland and France took part.
The 2004 great grand masters champion (laser radial), 68-year old Peter Seidenberg had words of praise for Cabarete as a laser destination. "This beach is excellent for light sailing. It allows you to compete behind the reef if the winds are light, and near the shore if they are strong," he commented on the natural conditions of Cabarete. He said he would return next year.
Cabarete, long famous for windsurfing and kitesurfing, is slowly becoming a hot spot for Laser sailing as well.
A wedding at the top of the Caribbean
Dominicans Catherine Kelner and Carlos Abreu chose to tie the knot at an altitude of 10,000 feet (3,000 meters) last November. They had met during an excursion to Pico Duarte and chose to formalize their relationship at the same spot. The wedding, which has made the news, came after a four-day excursion to the mountaintop with friends and family. The judge and several family members had to take helicopters to get to the summit, but most of the guests trekked all the way up and donned white attire for the wedding on the Caribbean's highest peak. The couple was subsequently married by the Catholic Church in Santiago, on 3 December.

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