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September 2, 2008
  • Night of Brazilian melodies
  • Puerto Plata Merengue Festival
  • Rainieri rescues Victorian alley
  • A spa in the mountain
Night of Brazilian melodies
Santo Domingo continues to be a prime stage for worldclass artistic presentations. The Dominican-Brazilian Chamber of Commerce is presenting Jobim Sinfonico at the National Theater on 23 September 2008 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Bossa Nova. This fabulous concert comprises Brazilian melodies, both traditional and those composed by Antonio Carlos Jobim and many top Brazilian arrangers and musicians. The concert is known for its lush melodies, orchestral arrangements of depth and complexity, the vocal majesty of Milton Nascimento and many others. The presentation of Maestro Luiz Gustavo Petri is expected with a possible appearance of Paulo Jobim, son of legendary Antonio Carlos Jobim.
Puerto Plata Merengue Festival
The Puerto Plata Merengue Festival, sponsored by Brugal Rum, will take place 26, 27 and 28 September in Puerto Plata. Legendary merengue band leader, Wilfrido Vargas will have the closing of the festival, on occasion of celebrating his 40 years in merengue.
The event will bring together merengue bands for live presentations at La Puntilla, off from the Puerto Plata San Felipe Fort. The Ministry of Tourism is sponsoring the festival. Confirmed so far in addition to Vargas are Jose Pena Suazo, Bonny Cepeda, El Prodigio, Rubby Perez, La Kerubanda, those performing in "Los Anos Dorados del Merengue de los 80", Maria Diaz. The Puerto Plata Merengue Festival is produced by Amable Valenzuela.
Rainieri rescues Victorian alley
Few know that Frank Rainieri, the man that created the Punta Cana destination in the East, is related to the founders of the first tourism hotel in the Dominican Republic. Rainieri's grandparents, Isidoro Rainieri and Bianca Franceschini, originally from Italy, migrated to Puerto Plata in 1898, and early on noticed there was a need for a hotel for travelers. They founded the Hotel del Comercio, which later they named Hotel Europa.
Last month, the Rainieri Kuret family inaugurated an important contribution they have made to the rescuing of the cultural patrimony of Puerto Plata city, the renovated Callejon de Dona Blanca. This is a walkway that connects Beller and John F. Kennedy streets in the historic Victorian city center of the city. The renovation of the street marks the 110th anniversary of the Rainieri's arrival to the DR. During the inaugural, Rainieri highlighted that Puerto Plata had the first aqueduct, first power plant in the country, as it was a prime port of arrival for those traveling here. Dona Blanca, as she was known, ran a profitable and popular hotel operation. She had nine children that she raised practically on her own as her husband died in 1914, when her eldest son was but 17 years old. One of these was Frank Rainieri's father.
A spa in the mountain
Jasmine Spa opened in November last year and is probably the DR's only mountaintop spa. Located on grounds that span 40 acres along the Carretera Turistica in the mountains near Puerto Plata, the spa is a four-room retreat surrounded by the organic food the clinic uses in its own menu and its spa treatment. Owners Anis and Zahir Kara supervise a wide range of massages and treatments that are offered, along with yoga, meditation and horseback riding.
As a holistic health centre, the spa promotes a healthy diet and a healthy lifestyle to all its guests. "You have to look at your health as a total picture, not just have a massage once in awhile, but also your eating habits and other habits," says owner Anis Kara. "It's about helping people."
Two of the spa's most dynamic options are its detox and weight loss programs. The detox program focuses on changing unhealthy eating habits and unnecessary stress, while the weight loss program aims at helping people naturally shed extra pounds through healthy diet, treatments and strolls around the clinic's grounds.
To complete these healthy diets, the Jasmine Spa produces a wide variety of dishes and tailors diets to fit the needs of any guest. These include: Indian, Thai, Chinese, Dominican, Italian, vegetarian and whatever else the guest desires. Nearly all the food and ingredients come directly from the soils around Jasmine Spa and their ultimate goal is to have everything on the menu produced on site.
It's not only the food that's organic though, even the spa treatments are performed with the honey, coconuts, avocado and pineapple that grow just outside of the massage rooms. "People ask me when they come here what kind of products I use and I always have a big smile on my face because I say we use natural products. We are very chemical free," says Anis.
She mentions that the Jasmine Spa's full package of diet, treatment, spirituality and comfortable prices separate her spa from the competition. "We want to be affordable," says Anis. "Our place is for everybody who wants to come out, have a good day and connect with themselves and maybe learn something different and go back feeling really good with positive energy.
For more information about the Jasmine Spa you can visit them at: http://dr1.com/directories/spa/jasmine_spa.shtml

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