Source: Travel Pulse

The Dominican Republic’s challenges with issues related to traveler safety and security clearly haven’t affected Playa Hotels & Resorts officials’ confidence in the Caribbean destination.

Playa will open the Hyatt Ziva Cap Cana and Hyatt Zilara Cap Cana resorts in Cap Cana in November and will also launch the Hilton La Romana family resort in the coastal city of the same name in December.

Paola Gomez, director of sales for Playa Hotels & Resorts in the Dominican Republic, will oversee the launch of the new properties, part of Playa’s continuing expansion in popular Caribbean destinations. We spoke recently with Paola to learn more about the new properties.

TP: Are the facilities, amenities and services at the new Hyatt Ziva Cap Cana and Hyatt Zilara Cap Cana similar to those at the Hyatt Ziva and Hyatt Zilara properties in Jamaica?

PG: In Cap Cana, it’s completely built from scratch, from the ground up. The resort has all of the unique features we’ve put into all of the other hotels that we have renovated. We have been able to create different concepts and different structures. The shape of the hotel is a “w” so 90 percent of the rooms will have ocean views. That’s something we couldn’t do unless we were doing the hotel from scratch. The amenities will have a special touch as this will be a flagship property for Playa and for Hyatt in the region.

Cap Cana is a very exclusive spot in the Dominican Republic, it has a beautiful beach and with the large property we are building we have a lot of beachfront. Also because it’s part of a gated community it’s something very exclusive.

TP: Playa’s Sanctuary Cap Cana resort is also located within the property, although it’s not adjacent. Will the Hyatt Ziva and Hyatt Zilara and Sanctuary resorts offer different experiences for travelers?

PG: We manage both, but they are different brands for different customers. Sanctuary is more like a boutique-style hotel, adults only. At Hyatt Ziva and Zilara you will be able to have a multi-generational trip. So you can have vacation with your young kids or your 17- and 18- year olds but you also can bring your parents and they can stay on the Zilara side, which is more sophisticated with more activities geared toward adults. Ziva has more activities that involve kids, and the décor is more colorful.

TP: Playa is also planning to open the Hilton La Romana in November. What is the origin of the resort and what is Playa planning for the new property?

PG: This was an existing property under the Dreams brand. The property was owned by Playa for many years but managed by a different company. Last November, we took over the property to manage it as well, and we did a complete renovation.

We decided to split the hotel in two, with one hotel for families and one for adults only. We built a brand new lobby on the adult side, so families who arrive will use one lobby and adults arrive at the other.

The resorts are next to each other but with their own lobbies and restaurants and pools. It is on a beachfront, and it’s very close to Bayhibe, the resort village. So you can walk on the beach to get there. That landscape of the property is gorgeous with a lot of green, a lot of gardens and the beach right in front. The property is also very convenient because you can fly into Santo Domingo, which is an hour away; or into Punta Cana, which is 45 minutes away.

TP: The Dominican Republic has obviously battled negative consumer perceptions following well-publicized incidents this year. While none of the incidents occurred at a Playa property, how do you address travelers’ concerns regarding these incidents?

PG: In addition to our own company standards we have the umbrella of the brands that we manage. That gives us some leverage over a small chain or a European chain that the American customer may not be as familiar with. With the Hyatt or Hilton, it’s like an extra – the destination is safe and you have those additional standards in terms of food and security. The location of our hotels means they are only accessible to guests. That’s something that has helped us. We’ve had some impact from the recent events, but we believe the situation is turning around.

TP: Why do you believe the Playa’s properties have been successful?

PG: I think it’s from having local expertise within the staff and management at the properties that deliver the value proposition that the company is selling. It becomes true. All of the work being done on the properties reflects in guest satisfaction. The high quality of service, food and facilities creates a huge value that the people at the properties provide.