It’s crunch time for Playa Resorts in the Dominican Republic as construction on two big projects—Hilton La Romana’s new family section, waterpark and convention center, and the much-anticipated Hyatt Ziva/Hyatt Zilara Cap Cana—is coming down to the wire.
Both projects already are causing a stir among travel professionals. The chance to use frequent-traveler points for an all-inclusive vacation or destination wedding, combined with the comfort and security of a branded resort, is expected to be a shining new draw for the Dominican Republic.
The Hyatt, set on 40 acres of Juanillo Beach on the Caribbean Sea, will be a new flagship for its all-inclusive brands, insiders say. It will be the first-ever new-build Ziva and Zilara, on a huge beachfront tailor-made by Mother Nature to host weddings and corporate events, with the only water park in the tony Cap Cana area.
And at the Hilton, the family area will add 412 rooms, more than doubling the size of that complex, located on Playa Bayahibe, a convenient 15 minutes from the airport. It will complete the top-to-bottom renovation and rebranding of the former Dreams La Romana, whose adults-only section opened in August.
When it’s done, the Hilton will have 36 swim-out rooms in the adults section and 22 in the family area, buffets and restaurants that include sushi and teppanyaki, a spa, gym, and a convention center. A water park and programs for kids and teens will keep families occupied.
In the meantime, adult guests looking for a touch of luxury can check into the Premium section, which comes with private checkin, a private lounge serving food and drinks all day, and breakfast and lunch in the Noor sit-down restaurant. For another $50 a day, they can spend the day on luxurious Bali beds, half submerged in the infinity pool, with butler service.
For now the new family section remains walled-in and guarded. It is scheduled to open in December.
Hyatt Ziva and Zilara
The biggest buzz, though, is around the new Hyatt. Its imposing height, at the top of a royal staircase, gives guests an ocean view from the moment of check-in and its U-shaped design offers 90% of the rooms an ocean view.
When it opens, there will be a beachfront infinity pool, a lazy river, separate water slides for adults and kids, dining options of all kinds, and a 40,000-square foot fitness center. Couples can be married at any of three permanent wedding gazebos, or have a wooden gazebo erected right on the wide white sands.
A month before its scheduled November 1 opening, parts of the property remain incomplete. But staffers say there is no cause for concern; there are only 80 reservations for opening day, and no weddings are booked until 2020. The soft opening, with limited occupancy and special rates, will run at least two months, through the Christmas season, “and then we will decide if it should continue,” said group sales manager Grisel Cordones.
Expectations are high for this project not just among travel advisors, but for the Playa brand as well. “We’ve taken everything that worked in other locations and brought it here.” Cordones said. “We hope to make this property the flagship of the brand.”
Playa Resorts operates 20 all-inclusive properties in Mexico, the DR and Jamaica, including 10 all-inclusive Hiltons, Hyatt Ziva and Zilara, Panama Jack, Dreams, Sanctuary, Secrets and The Royal brands.
But the new partnership with Hyatt and Hilton provides “our more than 82 million Hilton Honors members with more ways to earn and redeem points than ever before, and allow us to further extend Hilton’s signature hospitality to guests looking for an upscale, all-inclusive vacation experience,” Vera Manoukian, senior vice president and global brand head of Hilton Hotels & Resorts, told TMR in an earlier interview (https://www.travelmarketreport.com/articles/Luxury-Meal-Plans-Up-the-Ante-at-All-Inclusive-Resorts).
Hotels across the Dominican Republic, meanwhile, are following a new set of initiatives designed to restore traveler confidence, including inspections of their food-handling processes and walk-in medical centers with English-speaking staff for guests who are not feeling well.