Welcome to Cvent's MICE Guide to the Dominican Republic - an island guide for MICE professionals. Regularly lauded as a top Caribbean destination, the Dominican Republic is touted for everything from its beaches and top ranked resorts, to its sustainable tourism and historic preservation efforts. The country's popularity continues to grow, enjoying a jump of nearly 20 percent in foreign visitors in 2014. International visitors flock to enjoy the country's historic charm, luxury hotels and resorts, sassy nightlife, pristine beaches, and lush natural attractions.
Easily accessible, the country's eight major international airports, serving 27 direct flights from the United States on a regular basis, provide convenient gateways to the island's top cities. Las Americas International, the largest airport, offers flights to destinations throughout the U.S., Caribbean, Europe, and South America. Punta Cana International Airport, in the process of constructing a fourth terminal to accommodate growing passenger numbers, is the second busiest airport in the Caribbean and the country's most popular, welcoming approximately 2.6 million visitors in 2013.
Intent on maintaining its popularity, the Dominican Republic continues to improve and expand all aspects of the visitor experience. Three new ecotourism projects are under way in San Jose de las Matas, one of the most important ecotourism regions in the country; renovations in Santo Domingo's Colonial Zone are being done to make the historic attraction more accessible to visitors; and several new highways have recently opened in order to make travel more efficient, including the Maimon-Luperon highway that links the country's Atlantic coast and cruise ports.
Significant efforts are also focusing on hospitality venues, from new boutique hotels, to expansive resorts. The Dominican Republic is currently a leader in Caribbean hotel development, offering 70,000 hotel rooms, with 3,000-5,000 more scheduled to open by late 2015.
These upscale guest rooms, many accompanied by meeting space, make for an excellent range of lodging options throughout the Dominican Republic. In 2014 alone, three key hotel players opened new properties targeting the meeting industry. The 245-room Sheraton Santo Domingo opened with 13 function rooms, along with a casino and nightclub, on the bustling Avenida George Washington near the capital city's historic Colonial Zone. JW Marriott and Embassy Suites also each opened a hotel in central Santo Domingo. The Marriott property, the brand's first Caribbean hotel, will initially feature 121 suites and 7 function rooms, including a ballroom that can handle a meeting for 360 people. The Embassy Suites by Hilton property, with 200 suites and meeting space for up to 500 people, opened within the Silver Sun Gallery complex, Santo Domingo's tallest commercial building, and offers sweeping views of the surrounding metropolitan area.
The spectacular 228-room 21-story Hilton Santo Domingo is regarded as one of the capital city's most prestigious locations, offering 1,579 square meters of meeting space. The Barcelo Bavaro Palace Deluxe resort features one of the largest and most modern meeting facilities in the Caribbean. Its Barcelo Bavaro Convention Center can accommodate up to 5,000 guests within 24 meeting rooms. The center's largest room, the 1,600-square-meter Grand Bavaro Hall, is a stunning venue for black-tie galas and posh affairs of up to 3,000 people.
From casinos to award-winning golf courses, the country's meeting and convention hotels have much more to offer than boardrooms and ballrooms. For example, Casa de Campo resort offers numerous convenient settings for events so that attendees need not venture off resort grounds. The tennis center gardens are an elegant backdrop for dinners and receptions, while the resort's private Minitas Beach can host up to 600 people. Casa de Campo's Altos de Chavon, the resort's own 16th century replica of a Mediterranean village, has several beautiful venues, including the Chavon Terrace, La Piazzetta Restaurant, and Chavon Plaza.
Unique venues are certainly not limited to those within resort grounds. La Plaza de la Cultura in Santo Domingo is home to a host of popular attractions that impart a traditional Dominican feel to any event. Add punch to a presentation by holding it in one of three theaters at the historic National Theater. Take the bored out of boardroom with a meeting in the conference room of the Museum of the Dominican Man, home of the world's largest collection of Taino artifacts. With wild orchids and tropical palms as a background, the Santo Domingo National Botanical Gardens are a colorful and elegant setting for cocktails and post-event receptions.
The Dominican Republic's economic mainstay is tourism, followed closely by agriculture. The country serves as headquarters for TRICOM, a major telecommunications corporation, and for cigar manufacturer General Cigar Dominicana.