45 years is a long time to do anything, but it’s an especially long time to be in business. One of those big truisms that’s always floating around is that 80% of all new businesses fail within the first 18 months.
This is especially true in the hospitality industry, and it takes a special combination of talent, vision, and hard work (so much hard work) to succeed. PUNTACANA Resort is proud to be one of those businesses that beat the odds. Today, we are going to take a look back at 45 years of PUNTACANA history before we spend a few weeks looking forward. Please indulge us in a bit of nostalgia as we discuss some of the high points in our history.
As you’ve probably surmised from the whole “45 years” thing, the Grupo PUNTACANA story begins in 1969 when Frank Rainieri, Ted Kheel and 40 partners bought 30 squares miles of land in the Dominican Republic. Two years later they had built their first “resort” consisting of ten beach cottages and a clubhouse named the Punta Cana Club. 45 years later, the resort now uses these 30 square miles to maintain an ecological reserve, resorts, hotels, and housing developments. We have come a long way since 1969.
We would not have gotten very far, however, without a strong commitment to environmentalism. While expanding our property was important, it has been equally important to make sure that we were expanding in environmentally sound and socially responsible ways. In 1987, the new PUNTACANA Resort & Club was constructed using thatch roof constructions and low impact sustainable architecture. Only a year later, in 1988, The Puntacana Ecological Foundation was also founded with the donation of 1,500 acres for an ecological reserve. From here, things progressed very rapidly, and we were able to launch our first sustainable agriculture initiative in 1992. We also created the Puntacana Center for Sustainability in 2001 to research solutions to some of the environmental problems facing the tourism industry. It wasn’t enough to focus on our area; we knew we had to think globally as we were acting locally. In the 2000’s, it became obvious that people were taking notice of our environmental initiatives, as we were honored to make a commitment to the Clinton Global Initiative in 2005 and to become a member of the United Nations Global Compact in 2007.
It wasn’t just politicians who were paying attention, however. Celebrities Oscar de la Renta and Julio Iglesias were paying attention to the PUNTACANA Resort & Club and joined Ted Kheel as partners in 1997. They have been driving forces behind the direction of the PUNTACANA Resort ever since, and they were instrumental in the Corales development project that began in 1997. Oscar de la Renta has also been kind enough to lend his hand in designing the Bamboo Restaurant and the Tortuga Bay Hotel.
Not content to only have one non-profit Foundation, however, the Puntacana Foundation was founded in 1998 in an attempt to develop social and community programs for the area. While we have covered a couple of these issues on our blog already, most notably our program for ballboys and the Ann and Ted Kheel Polytechnic School, that is only scratching the surface of what we’ve been able to accomplish in the last 16 years. In 2000, the Puntacana Foundation opened the bilingual Puntacana International School, which caters both to the local Dominican community as well as to the international community. In 2005, the Puntacana Foundation became co-‐managers of a clinic in the rural city of Veron. The clinic provides free medical care to residents of Veron as part of its mission to enrich the lives of local residents.
45 years, however, is only the beginning the of the PUNTACANA Resort story. If you are impressed by what you’ve seen here today, you haven’t seen anything yet. Over the next few weeks we will detail some of the exciting projects we have in the works for our 45th anniversary and an idea of where the PUNTACANA Resort is headed in the future.
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