Tim Hall, a Canadian expatriate who for 20 years has been helping travelers as Canada’s Honorary Consul here, built an eco-resort in 2008 on the twisting, scenic mountain road that connects Puerto Plata on the north coast with Santiago in the interior.
“We think our place is stunning and it’s a convenient place to start and end a trip because we’re close to two international airports,” Hall says, “but two days here is plenty, travelers want to travel, so we we thought it would be useful to offer our in-country knowledge and resources to make it easier for them, as an added incentive to come stay with us for a bit. Who doesn’t want inside information from a local who lives here?”
And so, in addition to lodging in a panoramic mountain settting, Hall offers guests an up-to-the-minute orientation about the country, a selection of pre-inspected small hotels to choose from around the country—and a local cell phone with which to stay connected while traveling around. Travel time from hotel to hotel is about three hours, he says, making for easy, unstressed day trips from place to place. He has organized the idea into five- to 14-day flexible trips that travel agents can sell as a package to people who want to travel around independently yet remain flexible, with a bit of back-up. Packages average out to about $75 per person per day for room and board, exclusive of air and ground transportation.
The cell phone idea happened by accident. One day as a guest was leaving to the south coast city of Santo Domingo. Hall decided to loan him a cell phone he had lying around. “He didn’t speak Spanish and it can be challenging getting through the big cities,” says Hall. “With the cell phone I was able to stay in touch and help him along the way. Since then it’s become part of our service. People really like the sense of connectivity.”
Hall also stays up to date about new and interesting small inns and lodges located around the country. However he makes his recommendations about where to go and stay only after getting to know his guests, basing his suggestions on what their interests and priorities are, their budget and their acquired travel experience.
“Guide books are good for an overview but they can never be up-to-the-minute,”
Hall charges nothing for the extra service, except for a deposit on the cell phone.
“There’s no need to charge,” he says. “If I can help people have a better time and avoid hassles while tripping around, it’s a win-win.”
Situated between Cuba and Puerto Rico in the Caribbean, The Dominican Republic is a Spanish-speaking democratic country that occupies the eastern two-thirds of the island of Hispaniola, sharing the island with Haiti. Well-known for its beautiful beaches and all-inclusive beach resorts, the Dominican Republic also boasts an unsung wealth of ecologocal attractions and diverse terrain ranging from a below-sea-level lake, to the Caribbean’s highest mountain. A recently opened toll highway connects the north and south coasts, creating a convenient-to-
For more information, visit http://www.popreport.com/
# # #
The Puerto Plata Report is a regional newsmagazine providing news and travel information from Puerto Plata and the Dominican Republic