Dominican resort expansion continues with Hilton La Romana opening

Dominican resort expansion Hilton La Romana
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Netherlands-based Playa Hotels and Resorts has recently opened a new all-inclusive property in the Dominican Republic in partnership with Hilton, while the firm will also be opening further resorts in the country under the Hyatt brand this November.


A new resort in La Romana on the Dominican Republic’s southeastern coast marks the latest addition to Playa Hotels and Resorts growing portfolio of properties in the Caribbean.

The dual-resort Hilton La Romana will be opening its new family-friendly section on at the start of December, while the property already opened its 344-room adults-only resort in September.

In total, the resort will include five eateries, a 24- hour coffee house, a fitness centre, four pools, a casino and a 21,000 sq ft spa, along with 8,000 sq ft of meeting space.

“This was an existing property under the Dreams brand. The property was owned by Playa for many years but managed by a different company. Last November, we took over the property to manage it as well, and we did a complete renovation,” said Paola Gomez, Playa’s director of sales for Hilton La Romana, Hyatt Ziva Cap Cana and Hyatt Zilara Cap Cana.

“We decided to split the hotel in two, with one hotel for families and one for adults only.

Paola Gomez, Director of Sales for Hilton La Romana, Hyatt Ziva Cap Can and Hyatt Zilara Cap Cana

We built a brand new lobby on the adult side, so families who arrive will use one lobby and adults arrive at the other.

“The resorts are next to each other but with their own lobbies and restaurants and pools.” The property also marks the second resort in what will be a broad all-inclusive expansion in the Caribbean for Hilton, as part of the company’s strategic alliance with Playa.

That agreement, signed in September 2018, will ultimately result in a total of 10 new all-inclusive resorts in the wider Caribbean-Mexico region, all of which are slated to debut by 2025.

The first of these resorts opened its doors last year, after the hospitality company rebranded The Royal resort in Playa del Carmen, Mexico as the Hilton Playa del Carmen. “Our strategic alliance with Hilton is a win-win for both companies.

This alliance will empower us to reach more guests, on more occasions, and in more geographies, than ever before,” said Bruce Wardinski, Playa’s chairman and CEO.

“We view this as just a first step toward what is possible as part of this strategic alliance.” The agreement also forms part of a larger all-inclusive development push by Playa, which is set to open another two all-inclusive resorts in the Dominican Republic in November with the debut of the Hyatt Ziva Cap Cana and the Hyatt Zilara Cap Cana resorts in greater Punta Cana.

“While the Dominican Republic has built a large presence of all-inclusive resorts, it was missing the presence of global hospitality brands within the segment,” said Kevin Froemming, EVP and chief commercial officer of Playa Hotels and Resorts.

“With the launch of Hilton La Romana and the Hyatt Zilara and Ziva complex in Cap Cana, we are bringing the quality, standards and service guests expect from the brands they trust.”

Gomez added that unlike the company’s Hyatt Ziva and Hyatt Zilara properties in Jamaica which were renovation and expansion projects utilising existing infrastructure, the new Hyatt Ziva Cap Cana and Hyatt Zilara Cap Cana have been “built from the ground up”.

“In Cap Cana, it’s completely built from scratch, from the ground up. The resort has all of the unique features we’ve put into all of the other hotels that we have renovated.

We have been able to create different concepts and different structures. The shape of the hotel is a “w” so 90 percent of the rooms will have ocean views.

That’s something we couldn’t do unless we were doing the hotel from scratch,” she emphasised. While the Dominican Republic has seen a number of new resort openings this year and investor confidence remains high, in the short term, the country’s tourism industry continues to feel the effects of a rash of negative media reports regarding tourist safety.

As part of efforts to counteract this, the Dominican authorities created the National Committee for Tourist Security (Comité Nacional de Seguridad Turística) at the start of September.

The move came following a wave of cancellations in July which saw visitation fall to its lowest level since 2011.

Created by presidential decree, the new body will be headed by the Ministry of Tourism, and includes representatives from the Ministries of Defence and the Interior, along with the Attorney General’s Office, the National Police, and the Dominican Association of Hotels and Tourism (ASONAHORES).

The committee’s objectives include improving inter-agency security coordination, enhancing cooperation with private sector security agencies, and designing “policies, strategies, and programmes for the prevention, detection, and …eradication of threats to the security of the tourist industry”.

Napoleón de la Cruz, a spokesman for the Ministry of Tourism, said that the initiative formed part of “actions which the country has been undertaking since the start of the year” to help improve tourist safety.

“[Visitor] security has always been a priority for the government and all Dominicans,” he emphasised. The launch of the new committee was announced three days after the Central Bank of the Dominican Republic released new figures indicating overseas tourist numbers fell 16.1 percent year on year in July, while hotel occupation was down to 69.7 percent.

The fall in reservations was particularly notable in Punta Cana, the country’s main tourism destination, where occupation fell to 74.8 percent during the month, compared to 91.9 percent during the same period in 2018.

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