One of the pleasures of living in South Florida is the ability to hop over to the Caribbean in a matter of hours. Feeling the need for an escape Friday morning? Book an afternoon flight and arrive in time to watch the sunset over azure waters, piña colada in hand.
Few island destinations are as easy to travel to as the Puntacana Resort & Club in the Dominican Republic. The resort owns the nearby Punta Cana International Airport which hosts direct ﬂights
from 96 cities including Miami. It also offers a VIP arrival service that puts you at the front of the customs line and delivers you directly to your room. Rest assured, this will be the only rushing you do the entire trip. In Punta Cana, island time is the norm and relaxation the only creed.
The Punta Cana tourists know and love today is largely a by product of the Puntacana Resort & Club. In the early 1970s. Dominican born Frank Rainieri and American investor Ted Kheel began development on a lot in the southeastern province of La Altagracia. What started out as a 10-villa hotel grew into a high-end, all-inclusive destination that sparked economic growth throughout the region. In 1997, singer Julio lglesias and the late fashion designer Oscar de la Renta became co-investors and built homes on the property, signaling a new era of luxury living in the Dominican Republic. Today. Puntacana Resort & Club homeowners include lglesias, Annette de la Renta (Oscar‘s wife). and Russian dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov.
A handful of the resort's 310 homes and 80 condos are available for rent, meaning you can enjoy the wonders of paradise in a secluded residential environment complete with a full kitchen, private pools, and staff. Of course, you could always settle for a beachfront villa in Tortuga Bay, Puntacana‘s AAA Five Diamond boutique hotel. De la Renta designed the interiors of each room as well as the magniﬁcent Bamboo restaurant, Where chef Marco Antonio Paz del Alamo marries local ingredients with Mediterranean flavors to arrive at such inspiring dishes as mango gazpacho with pineapple froth and red snapper with yucca risotto.
Tortuga Bay is just one slice of the Puntacana Resort & Club‘s 26-square-mile property, which also comprises The Westin Puntacana Resort & Club, the Six Senses Spa, eight restaurants, the Oscar de la Renta Tennis Center, and three miles of beaches.
You could easily spend the entire vacation tanning on said beaches, escaping periodically to grab a signature passion-fruit mojito or fresh ceviche at the open-air Playa Blanca restaurant. Should you stray from your cabana in search or something more rigorous, book a round of golf at one of the resort‘s two world-class courses: the P.B. Dye-designed La Cana or Tom Fazio's Corales, situated between cliffs and overlooking the Caribbean Sea. There's also kite surﬁng, snorkeling, diving, beach yoga, and horseback riding—among other onsite activities.
All of this fun and luxury comes at an environmental cost, but the resort counteracts that through the Puntacana Ecological Foundation. In addition to implementing a zero-waste program, the foundation grows vegetables and fruit and produces organic honey, pollen, and royal jelly, all of which is used throughout the property and sold to area residents at a bimonthly farmer’s market. The foundation's goal is to balance the development of the region, and one of its most promising projects is its Coral Gardens, which propagate the coral population with coral grown in nurseries. Visitors to the resort can get a ﬁrsthand feel for these initiatives by touring the foundation and even diving underwater to plant a piece of coral.
Whether you choose to chill or get up and go, the Puntacana Resort & Club is ready to assist. Should
the siren call of the Caribbean prove too much to resist, you could always purchase an estate—we hear
the neighbors are fabulous. (www.puntacana.com)
3 Must Dos
1. Swim in one of the Ecological Foundation's 12 crystal-clear lagoons. Walking trails wind through the prehistoric foliage of the Indigenous Eyes Ecological Park & Reserve and lead to crisp freshwater springs, a welcome respite from the Caribbean heat.
2. Get a signature Punta Cana massage. A delicious cup of ginger-honey tea in the prelude to this medium-pressure massage, which uses oil from local coconuts. After-ward, sunbathe at the adjacent La Cana Golf & Beach Club before enjoying a farm-to-table feast at The Grill restaurant.
3. Snorkel to the Igneri Underwater Museum. Taking inspiration from the Taino - the indigenous people of the Caribbean- Dominican artist Thimo Pimentel made 22 sculptures that were then submerged 10 feet below water.
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