The Caribbean is open for business. In the five-plus months since hurricanes Irma and Maria struck, that has been the loudest message that many hotels in affected areas have been trying to get out. Properties have reopened in Anguilla and St. Martin. Cruise ships have returned to St. Thomas. The St. Barth Bucket Regatta has solidified its March 15 to 18 dates. Yes, portions of Puerto Rico, St. John and other places are still in serious recovery mode, but there’s little doubt that the sun is starting to peek its way through the clouds again.
The proud region has another reason to smile right now, too. Forbes Travel Guide recently announced its 2018 Star-Ratings winners, and the Caribbean and Bermuda put on an incredible showing with 31 properties being recognized.
One of the Four-Star recipients is the Dominican Republic’s Tortuga Bay Puntacana Resort & Club. We recently chatted with Robert Belletti, the property’s general manager, to get his thoughts on modern travelers, remaining consistent and what it means to be a standout property in this ever-resilient corner of the globe.
You have achieved the coveted Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star honor. What does that distinction mean to you?
This distinction is proof of our team’s hard work and commitment to achieve excellence. We feel proud of this Star honor.
There are a number of high-end properties in Punta Cana. What makes Tortuga Bay stand out from the extremely competitive crowd?
Punta Cana is the Dominican Republic’s largest and most important tourism destination. Situated in the easternmost La Altagracia province, Punta Cana boasts more than 30 miles of white-sand beaches lined with lush coconut trees and bordered by warm and crystal-clear waters.
Experts place some of these beaches on the list of the finest in the world. The region is also known for its world-class golf courses, two of them located in Puntacana Resort & Club.
Tortuga Bay is also the only hotel designed by iconic designer Oscar de la Renta. It features 13 refreshed private villas. All the suites come with an updated design and new technology that has been curated to enhance the guests’ experience. The hotel also incorporated a renewed aesthetic as well as additional seating and a new kitchen for its award-winning Bamboo Restaurant.
In addition, Tortuga Bay Puntacana Resort & Club has a new wine cellar offering a large variety of bottles of fine wine; a humidor featuring a prestigious selection of cigars; a new and improved bar; and new state-of-the-art-fitness equipment for the hotel’s private gym. The property has also added a new waiting area to accommodate early arrivals and departures, allowing guests to enjoy the resort’s privacy and service from the moment they arrive until the moment they leave.
How challenging is it to keep your team focused on delivering a Four-Star experience every day?
With constant motivation to provide an optimal quality service, Tortuga Bay’s team is focused on making the client feel at home.
How has luxury travel changed in your eyes over the past five years?
Travel and tourism trends are changing fast. Luxury travel today is defined less by exceptional luxury surroundings and comfortable accommodation and more by access to the people and experiences that represent all that is authentic about a destination. Today’s luxury traveler seeks more depth of understanding and immersion into local culture than ever before. People don’t just want to see; they want to participate and accumulate unique and genuine experiences.