Karisma Breaks Ground on Punta Cana Nickelodeon Resort
PHOTO: Celebrating the groundbreaking were, left to right, Rafael Feliz Jr., SpongeBob SquarePants, Mandy Chomat, and Patrick Star. (Photo by Claudette Covey)
Putting shovel to dirt, Dominican Republic President Danilo Medina brought the Nickelodeon Punta Cana one step closer to reality during a glamorous groundbreaking ceremony that celebrated the ambitious partnership between Karisma Hotels & Resorts and Viacom International Media Networks, of which Nickelodeon is a unit.
“We believe strongly in the new Nickelodeon brand, and we’re looking to develop five hotels in the next 10 years,” said Rafael Feliz, Jr., senior brand corporate manager for Karisma, adding that the company is currently assessing locations in Mexico’s Riviera Maya locations for a second property.
For the time being, Karisma has plenty on its plate with the construction of the Punta Cana property, which is scheduled to open next June and will share its enviable beachfront setting with a Sensatori resort slated to debut in May.
The project is nothing if not ambitious. The Nickelodeon resort will feature 204 suites, the Nick Village, the Nick Waterpark, a sports center, beachside infinity pool and myriad restaurants and lounges.
The Nick Village, comprising several building in a plaza-style design, will serve as the site where kids can interact with such Nickelodeon characters as Dora the Explorer, SpongeBob SquarePants and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. “It will be completely Nickelodeon themed,” said Feliz. In addition to a kid’s club, the Nick Village will house what’s being referred to as Studio Nick. “That’s where we’ll have shows and events – like private slimings and all that fun stuff,” said Feliz.
The Nick Waterpark will feature waterslides, pools and an upscale snack bar, while the sports center will boast tennis courts and soccer and basketball courts.
Nosh, a restaurant set close to the beach, will feature character breakfasts and Nickelodeon-themed events throughout the day.
Nickelodeon and Sensatori, which is being sold exclusively through the European tour operator TUI, will share what Feliz referred to as a Gourmet Village with seven restaurants and several bars. Adults staying at Nickelodeon will be able to take advantage of all Sensatori’s facilities, including its pools, bar and restaurants.
Feliz stressed that both properties will incorporate Karisma’s signature Gourmet Inclusive concept, with its emphasis on high-quality cuisine and one-of-a-kind a la carte dining experiences. “We’re focusing on making sure the experience is very luxurious,” he said.
A focus on luxury will also be evidenced in Nickelodeon’s accommodations, which will feature an abundance of swim-up suites. “All accommodations on the first floor will have swim-up suites,” Feliz said.
And, in a bow to SpongeBob, the resort’s signature suite will be dubbed the Pineapple Villa – which, according to Feliz, will resemble just that: a pineapple.
In the end, Feliz believes it was a propitious move to debut the Nickelodeon brand in the Dominican Republic, the destination where Karisma was born. “We believe demand is going to be very strong,” he said. “Nickelodeon will be a unique product in a world-class destination.”
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