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February 28, 2006
  • Punta Espada due for October inaugural
  • Playa Grande development
  • SeaTree opening in May
  • More people are booking via Internet
Punta Espada due for October inaugural
Cap Cana has announced that Punta Espada's Jack Nicklaus signature course would be ready for play by 16 August with an October inauguration planned with Jack Nicklaus himself as the draw. Nicklaus has committed to building two more courses in the Cap Cana area, next door to the Punta Cana Resort & Club. Sam Logan, general manager of the golf course that is going up 20 minutes away from the Punta Cana International Airport, told El Caribe in an interview that it will be impressive and without doubt, the best golf course in the Caribbean. He explained that eight holes are beside the sea and another 10 have a view of the Caribbean Sea, which makes it one of the most lovely in the world. He explained that courses in its class usually only have five holes by the sea. Nicklaus joins other world famous golfers-turned designers who are working on new golf courses in the eastern coast of the DR. Others are Nick Faldo that is designing the course at Roco Ki Westin in the Macao area north of Punta Cana, Nick Price, working on the Punta Blanca golf course near the Majestic Colonial Resort in Arena Gorda (Bavaro) beach strip and Tom Fazio who is working on the Corales Golf Course, part of the Punta Cana Resort & Club. Cap Cana is the southernmost tourist development along the approximately 50-km beach strip.
Playa Grande development
News is trickling in about the new owners of the Playa Grande golf course and development. The New York-based group promises to bring together "an exciting community of creative people, from the arts, music, business and politics." Founding residents already include Newsweek editor Fareed Zakaria, previous Microsoft CFO and Expedia chairman Greg Maffei, fashion designer Lela Rose, Moby, Charlie Rose and Alex von Furstenberg.
Playa Grande golf course has always been considered one of the best, if not the best golf courses in the DR. Robert Trent Jones, the late golf designer, himself considered it his masterpiece. It was the last course that he designed. There was nothing out in the area, and he was able to use what otherwise would have been prime real estate property, for the golf course. Thus, several of the holes offer spectacular sea views.
The developers have plans to build on the natural beauty of the place and promise low density, lots of preserved nature, trails and open space "barefoot luxury." In the immediate land use plans for the eight million square meter property is a boutique hotel that will anchor the western edge of the beach.
Playa Grande covers about 2,000 acres and is 80 kms from the Puerto Plata International Airport, near the towns of Rio San Juan and Cabrera, which have already seen a great deal of luxury home construction. The property has its share of hills and cliffs and over eight kms of exposure to the Atlantic Ocean. Playa Grande beach runs alongside the property.
The company has yet to make the announcement publicly, but company spokesmen have said it was a US$50 million purchase from the Central Bank and that they will be investing US$250 million in the development, which seeks to cater to upscale vacationers.
SeaTree opening in May
Originally from New York and New Jersey but "retired" in Cabrera, Lynn Kramer and Sheila Jacobs have combined their knowledge and talents in luxury property development to create Sea Tree Estates in Abreu, Cabrera, just west of Playa Grande. In May the first owners will receive the keys to the first Sea Tree villa. "Our concept is to offer our clients the key to an exquisite Caribbean villa on a minimum of two acres of oceanfront property, equipped with everything needed to live a first world life in a third world environment," Kramer explains.
Sea Tree Estates encompasses 1 km of dramatic coastal property on which nine luxury Caribbean customized villa estates will be built in a gated community.
The first villa to be inaugurated next month, Cantamar, has already been purchased, and the second, currently available for sale, is situated on 1-3/4 acres and 267 ft. of sea frontage. The second villa contains 11,000 sq. ft with six bedroom suites, each with their own veranda overlooking the sea. The property consists of two levels connected by a 40 ft. waterfall, accessed by a meandering hand-hewn stone staircase arriving at an elaborately designed sandy beach and entrance to the sea.
Lynn Kramer first came to the DR on vacation in 1980 and has lived in the DR ever since. She is known as the co-creator of Sea Horse Ranch, the leading development on the North Coast. Sheila Jacobs originally came to the DR with her working husband but has now lived in Cabrera for 20 years where she created the pioneering North Coast Management, a successful villa management and rental business.
See http://www.seatree-estates.com
More people are booking via Internet
YPB&R marketing company reminds us that 2006 marks the 10th anniversary of the Internet as a consumer medium. This also marked a new era for the travel industry. YPB&R reports that an estimated 86% of active business travelers and 73% of active leisure travelers have Internet access at home, and most now go online through a high-speed connection. It highlights, in a February newsletter, that online travelers are booking more travel every day.
"The incidence of Internet usage by both business and leisure travelers to actually book travel services continues to rise," they report, while a plateau seems to have been reached in the numbers going on to the Internet in the US. The company forecasts that the percentage of active travelers who actually make reservations online will grow for years to come, although probably not at the same rate observed in recent years. YPB&R says that one third of active travelers still express concern about using a credit card for making online reservations.

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