This week’s episode of Eye on Travel broadcasts from the Puntacana Resort & Club in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. I have more reporting on the Boeing 737 Max story and the possibility that there may be criminal cases filed. And a real world, real time update on personal safety and crime for travelers to and in the Dominican Republic. Joining me on this week’s show is Jake Kheel, who explains the work by Grupo Puntacana to not only preserve but rebuild the country’s coral reef system, and a remarkable but true story of why you should thank the Parrotfish for the white, sandy beaches in the Dominican Republic. Cruise Critic Managing Editor Chris Gray Faust reports on a new parade of cruise ships entering the market (how, why and where) — and why the cruise lines are building/developing their own islands in the Caribbean. Margarita González-Auffant, Director of the Alcázar de Colón Viceregal Museum in Santo Domingo, shares the historical background of Santo Domingo, including the real story of Christopher Columbus. And yes, Peter makes his own cigars (photo here) and enjoys an unexpected smoke. There’s all this and more as Eye on Travel broadcasts from Puntacana Resort & Club in the Dominican Republic.
Alberto J. Abreu, CHA – Vice-President of Hospitality, Puntacana Resort & Club, explains how there was nothing in Punta Cana, 50 years ago. At 24, Frank Rainieri, founder of Grupo Puntacana was the first person who came up with the idea to sell the location as a tourist destination. In 1986, when he started working here, the only airline coming here was American Airlines from Puerto Rico. One of the biggest challenges for most visitors may be the language barrier as Spanish is the official language. Travelers are becoming more educated about different Caribbean islands though, and this has helped to set their expectations.
Jake Kheel, Vice President of Grupo Puntacana’s Corporate Environmental Programs, describes how the beach doesn’t happen unless there are coral reefs. Coral reefs are also a protection for the coast. He says if you’re talking about tourism, you have to talk about protecting the coral reefs or you won’t have the locations still there. One surprising fact is how Parrotfish are critical for the function of a coral reef. The fish eat algae and help keep the coral at a manageable level. In fact, some coral is fine, but too much of it is bad. Also surprising is that the white sandy beaches are because of the Parrotfish as they eat portions of the coral reef and end up “pooping” out the white sand.
Santiago Salamanca, Executive Chef and Food Manager for Puntacana Resort & Club, talks about the eight different kitchens that service both the hotel guests and private restaurants. He came to the resort for the first time in 2003. One of the biggest points he makes about the food across all menus is that it is properly sourced. The easiest ingredients to get (extra space) locally are lobster, red snapper, Mahi-Mahi, octopus, and goat. Goat is probably the quintessential dish here in the Dominican Republic. He explains that the trick to goat is that it has to be done slow and low — best when served in stew. All of the restaurants on property have a goat dish on the menu.
Our new way of communication!