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DOMINICAN REPUBLIC-This island nation of 9.1 million people has been tapped for a $1-billion vacation complex to be headlined by the Ritz Carlton. The international lodging firm will team with a Dominican-based developer to create its Ritz Carlton, Cap Cana, a mix of hotel rooms and 194 privately owned residences. The project represents the next phase of a 30,000-acre oceanfront development envisioned by Cap Cana SA, an affiliate of leading Dominican holding company Abrisa Group. Already, $1.5 billion has been spent on infrastructure and accommodations.

“Cap Cana has envisioned a bold luxury tourism and real estate development project that promises to be one of the most exciting new destinations in the Caribbean,” says Marriott International CEO J.W. Marriott Jr. in announcing his company’s participation. Besides the firm’s Ritz-Carlton brand, Marriott expressed hope that Cap Cana will consider other Marriott flags for the complex as the project matures.

Situated along the eastern tip of the Dominican Republic five minutes from the Punta Cana International Airport, Cap Cana is being touted by ownership as “the most important tourism and real estate property in the Caribbean,” one whose master plan spans 15 years and encompasses 3.4 miles of beaches with white powder sand. Upon completion, Cap Cana will have more than 5,000 residential units, innumerable luxury hotels, a 1,000-slip marina and six golf courses. Three designed by Jack Nicklaus, all for a tiny country that already boasts the most number of golf courses of any Caribbean nation.. Other amenities include upscale retail, polo, water sports and exclusive membership clubs.

Between the entertainment options, golf courses and natural attractions, Ritz-Carlton Hotel Co. President Simon Cooper predicts Cap Cana “will attract affluent and sophisticated travelers from around the world looking for truly exceptional leisure or group travel destinations.” The Ritz portion is being built as a centerpiece of the complex along a two-mile stretch of Juanillo Beach. All 220 hotel rooms will feature spacious balconies and ocean views, Cooper stresses, with the architectural design also calling on incorporation of island materials and abundant natural light where possible. The resort will also have more than 8,000 sf of meeting space dominated by a grand ballroom; a 16,000-sf luxury spa; and five restaurants and lounges upon opening in 2010.

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