Development in Punta Cana, the 30-mile-long sandy beach along the easternmost coast of Dominican Republic (DR), has been on the rise for the last decade. While the area is now central to some of the latest and most luxurious resorts in the Caribbean, most Punta Cana MICE venues are still found within the resorts.
Easily accessible from Punta Cana International Airport (which is in the process of constructing a fourth terminal to accommodate growing passenger numbers), is the second busiest airport in the Caribbean and the DR’s most popular, having welcomed approximately 2.6 million visitors in 2013.
Chief among MICE venues in Punta Cana, Barcelo Bavaro Beach (Adults Only) & Convention Center features a convention center with 11,500 square meters of meeting space in 24 rooms that can accommodate a total of 5,000 people. These are divisible in multiple configurations. While the 1,787-room Hard Rock Hotel & Casino comes close, with more than 9,290 square meters of meeting space in 11 meeting rooms, most MICE hotels in Punta Cana cap their meeting space at 4,645 square meters, although the 694-room Paradisus Punta Cana Resort has a stand-alone Nova Theater that can accommodate up to 700; and the 744-room Paradisus Palma Real's 3,902-square-meter includes the new 1,672-square-meter convention center.
The MICE event spaces and dining venues in Punta Cana that are tied to the resorts are considered excellent; each resort has several restaurants that can be used singly or in tandem for a dine-around experience. Some, like the Simon Mansion & Supper Club at the Hard Rock, are uniquely themed.
Caribbean golf is always in demand. Golfers can spend a day at gorgeous Cap Cana on the southeast tip of the Dominican Republic, where the Jack Nicklaus-designed Punta Espada is the first championship-sized signature course in the Caribbean. The 18 holes at this par-72 course were designed to incorporate natural landscape features, such as the coastal waters lining the edge of eight holes. They can also check out one of the newest courses, the Jack Nicklaus-designed course at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Punta Cana.
Beach time is always popular with groups, and the resort areas of Playa Bavaro and Punta Cana will not disappoint. Commonly called the "Coconut Coast," Punta Cana is a palm tree-lined beach, known for its various water sports.
Looking for true authentic Caribbean adventures? Energetic groups can take Punta Cana's daylong Fun-Fun Cave excursion, which is an active 12-hour adventure through Los Haitises National Park. The day starts with a tropical-themed breakfast, followed by a 40-minute horse ride and 35-minute walk through the park to the mouth of Fun-Fun Cave. After rappelling 20 meters into the mouth of the cave, visitors can explore its underground rivers and Indian cave paintings. For a less intense experience, groups can try Don Lucas cigar company, which offers the only true cigar factory tour in the Punta Cana area. (DR is the largest producer of cigars in the world, with more than 600,000 acres devoted to tobacco cultivation.)