Emerging Caribbean Chic

“Along the northeastern coast of the Dominican Republic lies the Samaná Peninsula, a region of white sand, swaying palms, and fishing villages,” writes new Correspondent from that island nation Dan Hussmann.

“On the north coast of the Samaná peninsula, one of these fishing villages, Las Terrenas, situated between green mountains to the south and miles of undeveloped beaches to the north, is being transformed into a tropical paradise destination.

“For about a decade now, Europeans, including many French, have been hard at work building an international community with restaurants, bed and breakfasts, hotels, and small villa developments. The sandy roads that stretch along the region’s coasts are lined with more than 40 bars and restaurants nestled among the coconut trees.

“Don’t get the wrong idea. This region remains largely undeveloped in many ways. Still, there are large supermarkets, international banks, Internet cafes, and good telecommunications infrastructure…as well as a marina under development.

“In other words, the area is at the tipping point. Historically, Samaná has been an eco-tourism destination…a hideaway for in-the-know European expats. Much of the desired real estate here is not owned yet by foreign investors or hotel developers; it is held still by local families and remains affordable.

“This is changing. The new international airport, El Catey (25 minutes drive from Las Terrenas), operational since 2006, has been allowing ever-greater numbers of travelers from Europe and the Americas to fly directly into the Samaná Peninsula.

“And, last year, the new Samaná Highway opened, reducing the drive time from Santo Domingo from five hours to less than 90 minutes.

“In the past 18 months or so, four all-inclusive, 5-star Bahia Principe resorts have opened in the peninsula, with a total of 1,600 rooms. The Las Terrenas Country Club is offering villas and condos on the golf course, and a marina project, called Puerto Bonito, with 150 slips, is under construction nearby.

“In addition, more than 20 development projects are currently under way in Samaná.

“The Dominican Republic is one of the most stable countries in the Caribbean and in Latin America. The government has signed free-trade agreements with Canada and the United States, as well as a number of other Latin American countries. Its currency has remained stable, at an average of 32 pesos per U.S. dollar, for the past three years. No restrictions are placed on foreign ownership of property. And the island boasts both low labor and low living costs. It remains a safe haven for you and for your money amidst worsening global concerns.

“Furthermore, the island is working to attract investors to areas with big tourism potential…such as Las Terrenas. If your tourism-contributing business qualifies, you could be 100% exempt from all company and from certain national and municipal taxes.”

Kathleen Peddicord