Sustainable tourism is such a hot topic for everyone on the planet. We love stumbling upon places that have been eco-conscious for years and are now sharing the fruits of their labor with guests. Puntacana Resort & Club is one such place. The Rainieri family has been at this for decades. I remember my first visit to the island, where a thatched roof airport was my first glimpse of the destination. Built by Frank Rainieri, this primitive looking structure has now blossomed (still thatched) into a bustling international airport with a luxury lounge for departing passengers. This lounge is so luxe, it has a swimming pool overlooking the runways. Let’s just say best-life backdrop and call it a day. Thinking about departure is not usually the first thing one does when landing in a Caribbean destination, but this one is worth chatting about…later.
That being said, the destination truly starts and ends with the airport. Upon arrival, you get a sense of Punta Cana, named after the same trees, the Cana tree, that give up their fronds for the thatch roof of the arrivals terminal. Getting to the resort, you run along roads lined with the same indigenous tree and begin to realize how easy it was to name the destination. Positioned on the easternmost tip of the Dominican Republic, with expanses off white sand beaches, the area had become home to many resorts, but none quite as local as the Rainieri’s Puntacana Resort & Club. Several celebrity friends call this resort home, and for very good reason. The low-impact development feels like an authentic (luxurious) Dominican experience.
Surrounded by crystal clear water and world renowned golf courses, the resort has all the necessary ingredients for a Caribbean vacation. It has a bit more…it has depth. Beyond the beach is a real sentiment here. The spa is fantastic and dinners throughout the properties numerous restaurants never disappointed. What thrilled us even more than anything else was the time spent at the Marine innovation Center, the newest component of the Puntacana Foundation which already had the Puntacana Center for Sustainability, built in 1999 as a research and education facility devoted to creating solutions to environmental and social challenges related to tourism development in the Caribbean. The building is comprised of laboratories, offices, a library, classroom facilities, dormitory rooms, as well as laundry and kitchen facilities for extended stays for researchers. The marine center focuses on regenerating the depleted coral reefs by growing initial coral buds in the facility then anchoring them at sea. Their efforts also impact marine life in other ways. They are working closely with universities in the US and are looking at growing exotic aquarium fish, to avoid even further damage to the budding reef system. They feel that by satisfying the demand for these beautiful aquarium fish, they preemptively stop those who would come to harvest from the delicate reef.
We learned so much by visiting the lab and even more by heading out to sea and watching coral being planted and viewing the underwater museum, designed to positively impact the guest experience as well as the marine life in the area. Good food, warm hospitality, good vibes and an opportunity to experience good works were all we needed to round out this quick visit to experience the sustainability efforts being put forth by the resort. We will come back in the years to come and see how the reefs are holding up and how well the exotic fish trade idea has come along. Those are good enough reasons… plus to pamper ourselves (again) in the spa and have another wonderful dinner under the stars at Anani Grill, where chef spoiled us to no end.