AIC Looks To Repeat Hard Rock Hotel's Dominican Republic Success
PHOTO: AIC Hotel Group is hoping it can enjoy the same success with its Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Santo Domingo as it has with its Punta Cana property, pictured. (Photo courtesy of AIC Hotel Group)
AIC Hotel Group’s opening of the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Punta Cana in 2009 launched what is today a signature resort in the Dominican Republic’s all-inclusive-intensive Punta Cana district. The company is seeking a similar success with the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Santo Domingo, a 400-room resort scheduled to open in late 2017in the Dominican Republic’s historic capital city.
But like Punta Cana and Santo Domingo, there will be significant differences between the existing Hard Rock in Punta Cana, a sprawling resort located along the Bavaro Beach district, and the new Santo Domingo property, which is planned as the tallest high-rise building in Santo Domingo’s fashionable city center.
The new hotel will serve leisure and business travelers and represents a key property in the government’s campaign to establish Santo Domingo as an international tourist destination.
The new property will also feature a 23,000-square-foot casino, a film screening room, and a nightclub that opens onto the resort’s main pool. The main pool will include a bar and grill and private cabanas. The hotel will also feature a cigar lounge and a celebrity-chef specialty restaurant. Guests will also enjoy convenient access to Santo Domingo’s Blue Mall upscale shopping center.
We spoke recently with Frank Maduro, vice president of marketing at AIC Hotel Group, to learn more about AIC Hotel Group’s newest Dominican Republic property.
TravelPulse: How have the Dominican Republic government’s infrastructure improvements (restoration of the colonial district and the highways around the capital) influenced the company’s decision to locate a hotel in the Dominican Republic’s capital?
Frank Maduro: The government’s continued commitment to improving services and infrastructure also played a key role in our expansion. Santo Domingo continues to lead the way as a modern and in-demand city for both leisure and business travelers.
TP: How does the new property compare with other Hard Rock hotels, in particular the sprawling Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Punta Cana?
FM: Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Santo Domingo will be very similar to our Punta Cana property as far as the vibe and quality, but from there it will be very different. The Santo Domingo project will be a high rise, non all-inclusive with a heavy emphasis on dining, gaming and entertainment. It will leverage everything the city has to offer, as far as tours and experiences, to ensure we’re catering to both the business and leisure travelers.
TP: How has the success of the Punta Cana property influenced this decision to expand further in the Dominican Republic?
FM: Our success with the first all-inclusive Hard Rock Hotel – Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Punta Cana – definitely played a role in our decision to go into Santo Domingo with Hard Rock International. Santo Domingo has become a very large hub for business in the Caribbean and Latin America so the demand for this type of property outpaces supply.
We also saw the opportunity to fill a void in the marketplace for a hotel that also acts as an entertainment destination for the local market. This property will feature world-class restaurants, a nightclub like the ones you find in major U.S. cities like Los Angeles, New York City and Las Vegas, and an intimate concert space for world-leading entertainment.
TP: Discuss partnership with AIC Hotel Group and what services and strategies remain the same or change at the Santo Domingo property in comparison to other AIC properties.
FM: RCD Hotels owns and operates the only all-inclusive Hard Rock Hotels in the world and is also behind the new Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Santo Domingo project, which happens to be an EP [“European plan” or not all inclusive] property. RCD Hotels has an exclusive sales and marketing agreement with AIC Hotel Group to represent these properties in North America.
Part of this agreement is a continuing effort to look for partners and opportunities that will complement and enhance the guest experience. Examples of some of the partnerships RCD Hotels has been able to secure include Weddings by Colin Cowie, HIT Entertainment and the Little Big Club, and the recently announced Camp Woodward.
TP: Does the company have plans to expand to other parts of the Dominican Republic?
FM: For right now we are concentrating on this new non all-inclusive, EP property. In the future we night look at expanding our Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Punta Cana property with a high-end all-suites section, but that's still simply a concept on the drawing board and a long way away.
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