PUNTA CANA — The grand reopening of Secrets Royal Beach Punta Cana is a celebration that calls for plenty of wine – good thing it has over 2,700 bottles in its wine cellar.
The 639-all-suite resort, which had its official reopening yesterday following a US$36 million renovation, made a glittering debut with 90 new rooms, additional dining outlets and two new pools, one being a dazzling 52-metre, Olympic-sized oasis.
An official ribbon-cutting ceremony was hosted by Luis Abinader Corona, President of the Dominican Republic, who also unveiled the resort’s official plaque. Speaking from none other than the Presidential Suite, President Abinader Corona addressed travel agents personally via a live feed to update them about the Dominican Republic’s recovery.
“This pandemic has hit us all very hard but we have done our homework and this is reflected in the data that we have,” he said. “Since August, we’ve had strict health protocols that’s certified by world-class authorities. Today, our country is a very safe country for tourists. Our government has put in place all the mechanisms that we have at our disposal so that all tourists from around the world can come and enjoy a unique experience.”
The country’s recovery has ramped up in recent weeks, with 129 arriving in the second week of October alone. These flights carried 13,550 passengers for an average of 103 passengers per flight and representing a flight occupancy rate of 60%.
In the first half of August, the country welcomed just 12% of total tourists who arrived in the same period last year. This, however, improved to 24% in the first 25 days of October compared to the same period in 2019, and when compared to the first 25 days of September, tourist arrivals increased by 50%.
There’s still a long way to go, said President Abinader Corona. But with the country’s new temporary insurance coverage, which is 100% covered by the Dominican state, the president says the future looks promising indeed.
“Every tourist visiting a hotel in the Dominican Republic will have a traveller assistance plan that, in addition to including health coverage, covers the cost of changing flights and prolonged stays in the event of a positive test,” he said. “No other country in the world is taking a similar action to protect and take care of their visitors. We are leaders in this sector, and this is why 98 out of 100 tourists think they will return to our destination.”
The renovated Secrets Royal Beach Punta Cana, which had the support and approval of the Dominican government, signifies continued growth and economic recovery for the destination, he added.
In addition to new rooms and pools, the resort also debuted a new suite category featuring private pool access, marble floors, hydro tubs and update décor. Guests can also enjoy Mexican cuisine at the new El Patio Restaurant as well as cocktails at two new bars, which bring the resort’s total number of bars to 11.
UPDATE FROM D.A.T.E.
Also taking place yesterday, a panel discussion at the virtual Dominican Annual Tourism Exchange (D.A.T.E.) looked at the way forward for tourism to the D.R. in the wake of the pandemic.
Frank Rainieri, Founder and Chairman of Grupo Puntacana, joined Alex Zozoya, Executive Chairman, Apple Leisure Group and the D.R.’s Minister of Tourism, Edward Lewis Zammit, on the panel.
Zozoya noted that AMResorts, which is owned by Apple Leisure Group, has 11 resorts in the D.R. Eight are in Punta Cana, one is in Cap Cana, one is in La Romana and one is in Puerto Plata. Eight of the resorts are open, and the other three will be reopening soon.
“People want connectivity, we need more flights,” said Grupo Puntacana’s Rainieri, indicating that tourism to the D.R., even in the wake of COVID-19, is on the rise. But more lift is needed.
Added Rainieri: “There’s a great opportunity right now. When there’s a vaccine, everyone will be open. But for now, there aren’t as many destinations open. But the D.R. is open.”