I was kindly invited by Global DMC Partners to join their Connection Event in the very beautiful and tropical Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. Voted number one Destination in the Caribbean in the 2016 TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice Awards Punta Cana is touted for everything from its beaches and top ranked resorts, to its sustainable tourism and historic preservation efforts.
Flying direct from London Gatwick with British Airways we landed in a very humid and sunny Punta Cana. The event was hosted at the all-inclusive Resort the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino which is located on the golden sandy beach of Macao and overlooks secluded lagoons, rivers and pools. The resort has 9 restaurants and 15 bars, access to an 18-hole golf course, state of the art spa and the largest casino in the Dominican Republic.
We arrived to a separate entrance and reception area that is dedicated to groups and as soon as you walk through the doors and into the lobby you feel like a Rockstar! There are high ceilings, large displays and wide hallways with lots of rock paraphernalia, a characteristic of the Hard Rock brand. The WOW factor vibe really floats in the air as you make your way around whole resort.
The hotel has 1,787 bedrooms including 207 suites in total. The room I stayed in was massive; split between two levels with a large hydro spa bath tub big enough for two people and a private balcony. The room even came with its own liquor dispenser! The bathroom was spacious with a separate toilet area and a huge walk in shower with two separate shower heads.
There are plenty of meeting spaces too with 43 meeting rooms in total. The Ballroom alone comfortably seats up to 3,960 guests not to mention the dramatic Woodstock outdoor venue, which can accommodate a further 3,600 guests. With so much space, it’s easy for each group to find its niche!
The conference I was attending was held in one of the larger function rooms and the event itself gave me and other meeting professionals the opportunity to learn about key industry trends, including emergency preparedness and the direction of the global economy, to discuss best practices, meet one-on-one with DMCs from around the world and network with our peers.
There were also some brilliant teambuilding activities arranged by SongDivison, the world’s premier experiential music agency, and Wildgoose, an award-winning mobile event application company that deliver treasure hunts (or scavenger hunts, depending on where in the world you are!). Both brilliant ways to add a little bit of fun to your next event!
Although Punta Cana has wonderful beaches and amazing resorts, it also has some beautiful tropical countryside as well. After a morning of meeting’s and discussions we had some free time so I went on a Real Dominican Tour with a company called the Bavaro Runners. We were loaded onto open air adventure safari trucks and were driven through local towns and deep into the the jungle-covered mountains. We had a look around a tobacco plantation where we got to see cigars being made and visited a typical Dominican home where we had a chance to try the fresh fruit, coffee and hot chocolate. The tour was a nice break from the meeting room and a great way to learn all about the culture and customs directly from the locals!
In the evenings we escaped offsite to check out a couple of other local hotels with conference facilities. The Barceló Premium Resort is located right on the beach and surrounded by tropical gardens. This 798-bedroom resort hosted our group one evening for a beach party with fantastic food, live music and a spectacular display of acrobatic dancers.
On the final night The Westin Resort invited our group to dress all in white for the Wrap Party in their La Cana Golf & Beach Clubhouse. This resort has 200 bedrooms all with ocean views for each room, 10 suites, a convention center and plenty of outdoor space. During the evening we were treated to some traditional Dominican dancing and live music – a fantastic end to the two-day event.
Thank You to the Global DMC Partners for putting on such a great event in Punta Cana – If there exists a more beautiful setting to have a meeting, I have yet to find it.
Click here to see more of what we got up to and contact the Zanna Events Team for more information in hosting your next event in the Dominican Republic!