Investing in Santo Domingo Dominican Republic


by Mark Chesnut
National Palace

I’m standing next to a rooftop pool, gazing down at the wide avenue called Abraham Lincoln. Upscale restaurants, global advertising agencies, and high-rise condos and office towers line the street. This may not be how most people picture the Caribbean, but for business travelers in Santo Domingo, it’s not unusual at all.

The oldest European-founded city in the Americas, Santo Domingo is the capital of the Dominican Republic, and an economic hub for the nation and the region. While the city’s beautifully restored historic center may date back to 1492, this metropolis of more than two million is clearly focused on the future. Since the turn of this century, Santo Domingo’s infrastructure has undergone major improvements, including a brand-new Metro rail system (one line opened in early 2009, and another is under construction), an updated airport terminal, a new convention center, and new hotels. Add to this an ambitious plan to develop the port into a major, high-end cruise, retail, real estate, and tourism destination. While the fact that Ikea is opening here may not impress most globetrotters, the idea that it’s the very first Ikea anywhere in Latin America certainly says something about this growing city.

I’ve been to Santo Domingo multiple times over the years, and I’ve come again now to learn more about the latest developments. If all goes as planned, Santo Domingo will soon cease to be an afterthought to vacationers heading to the Dominican Republic’s beach resorts, and more of a must-see destination for sophisticated entertainment, shopping, and living.

A flurry of construction along the prized waterfront Malecón is bringing a variety of sleek, high-rise, residential and retail towers to the water’s edge. This includes the Malecón Center, Torre Ibiza and Veiramar. Malecon Center which is home to the Hilton Santo Domingo, and just down the street from the recently renovated InterContinental V Centenario. Right next to the InterContinental is Veiramar III, a 28-story tower on the waterfront Malecón; other new luxury condo developments include MarAzul, which features three soaring residential towers along a quiet park, and Ocean Tower, on the upscale Anacaona Avenue.

Sure, the Holiday Inn where you may have stayed with your family all those years ago probably wasn’t very exciting, but InterContinental Hotels Group, the chain’s owner, has revamped the brand and Santo Domingo is home to one of the newest: the Holiday Inn Santo Domingo, which debuted in 2009 with crisp, contemporary lines and décor. It sits squarely in the center of Abraham Lincoln, one of the main arteries for business, commerce, and luxury living. The hotel’s grand opening, which I attended, was like a Hollywood premiere, complete with searchlights, red carpet, and live entertainers. Even today, after the crowds have gone, the view from the rooftop pool is perhaps the best in the neighborhood.

This district, sometimes called the Polígano Central, is a shining example of what planners hope will be Santo Domingo’s future, right down to the international, name-brand fashion and local designers. Dominican design, after all, is already well established (just ask Oscar de la Renta, a Santo Domingo native). Rising names include Magaly Tiburcio, Jenny Polanco, and Sully Bonnelly, who began his career studying architecture and launched his own clothing collection in 1998. Bonnelly was elected a member of the Council of Fashion Designers of America in 2000

Style-conscious shoppers head to places like the refurbished Acropolis Center, one of the city’s largest and most upscale shopping malls with more than 100 stores and restaurants.

Meanwhile, Plaza Andalucia is a smaller mall, not far away, that also caters to upscale shoppers and features the work of international and local designers and artists. just opened Blue Mall, AGORA MALL, SAMBIL MALL, GALERIA 360, SILVER CENTER MALL, NOVOCENTRO. each will have more than 226,000 square feet of retail space and 123,000 square feet of office space when it opens in late 2010; the developer, FVI, is building a similar complex in St. Maarten.

The neighborhood is also good for dining options. Santo Domingo’s dining scene is becoming ever more sophisticated, with fusion cuisine blending Dominican elements (like plantains or tasty sancocho, a stew that is the national dish) with interesting flavors from around the world. Current hotspots include Mitre Restaurant & Wine Bar (a creation of the owners of long-standing Vesuvio, which is often called the best Italian restaurant in the Dominican Republic), and Praia which makes headlines for its “Miami Beach-chic” lounge style, but it’s also a fun place to enjoy fusion cuisine.

It’s Saturday night, and we’re greeted by a member of the Spanish court as we enter the Alcázar de Colón, a royal home built in 1510 for the newly appointed governor of the West Indies, Diego Columbus (who just happened to be the son of Christopher). The finely garbed regent bows deeply before leading us upstairs to “meet” the Columbus family themselves. This half-hour tour is part of Noches Vivas del Alcázar (Living Nights of Alcázar), a new program with live, costumed interpretive performers offered Saturday nights until midnight at the historic site. The guided, costumed tour may be loose on content and detail, but it has attendees smiling and children staring wide-eyed at the heavily dressed hosts.

There’s no denying the allure of Santo Domingo’s history. The Polígano Central may be “square one” for many business travelers and shopaholics, but visitors are well advised to explore other areas too, most notably the Zona Colonial, the historic city center that was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1991. This beautiful, 16-square-block neighborhood was the first European urban settlement in the Americas and is home to the hemisphere’s first cathedral, hospital, palace, paved street, and university.

The Zona Colonial offers an interesting array of accommodations as well, from the Miami Beach-style Hodelpa Caribe Colonial Hotel to the historic landmark buildings of the Hotel Frances Santo Domingo and Hostal Nicolas de Ovando Santo Domingo, both of which belong to French hotelier Accor’s M Gallery brand.

Also visually inspiring is the Malecón, a waterfront boulevard lined with sidewalks and benches. Large-scale international hotel brands are the norm along this prestigious address, where leading properties include the recently renovated InterContinental V Centenario, the Renaissance Jaragua, and the Hilton Santo Domingo.

Gay US Embassador in Santo Domingo Dominican Republic

gay US ambassador to Dominican Republic

The arrival of a new envoy and his husband in Santo Domingo has incensed prominent Catholics and evangelical
The new US ambassador, James 'Wally' Brewster, and his husband, Bob Satawake, described the Dominican Republic as 'our second home'. Photograph: Alamy

The new US ambassador to the Dominican Republic has taken up his post and introduced the country to his husband, despite an outcry from religious groups over the fact that he is gay.

James "Wally" Brewster arrived in Santo Domingo this week after months of protests from Catholic and evangelical Christian leaders who branded his appointment an insult to the Caribbean nation. The diplomat, who is believed to be the US's seventh openly gay ambassador, responded to the controversy with an upbeat promotional video on the embassy website which introduced his husband, Bob Satawake.

"My spouse, Bob, and I have travelled the world, from the far reaches of Asia to the stunning coastlines of southern Europe," Brewster says in the clip. Satawake chips in: "But we always return to the beauty of the Dominican Republic."

Both men wear smiles and sober suits and profess a love of baseball, their adopted country's national passion.

In a veiled plea for tolerance, the ambassador says: "My parents taught me that all people deserve respect, dignity, love and opportunity. They also instilled in me a strong belief in God, and the values of love and tolerance. Bob and I bring those beliefs and values with us as we come to the Dominican Republic. We are both thrilled to be coming back to our second home."

Luis Rosario, a Catholic priest and director of church youth ministries, appeared unmoved and lamented President Barack Obama's appointment.

"He has not considered the particularities of our people. The United States is trying to impose on us marriage between gays and lesbians as well as adoption by these couples," he told CNN.

The Dominican government, gay rights groups and some leading media organisations have accepted the appointment but religious leaders have responded with abuse and criticism since it was announced in June. The Dominican Evangelical Fraternity called it "an insult to good Dominican customs" and called for a black-ribbon protest.

A Catholic cardinal, Nicolás de Jesús López Rodríguez, waded in several times and at a press conference referred to "faggots and lesbians". Another church leader, Monsignor Pablo Cedano, said he hoped Brewster would not come: "Because I know if he comes he is going to suffer and will have to leave."

Obama has appointed four other openly gay ambassadors, to Australia, Denmark, Spain and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe. Bill Clinton appointed the first, to Luxembourg, in 1999.

In a Senate confirmation hearing last month Brewster anticipated "challenges and controversies" in his new job but said they would be outweighed by the rewards of representing the American people. He married Satawake last week at a ceremony near the White House, hours after Vice-President Joe Biden swore him in.

A Texan and lifelong Democrat, Brewster has served on the board of the gay-rights advocacy group Human Rights Campaign. He made a made a fortune in real estate and marketing and was a generous donor to Obama's 2012 presidential campaign.


US gay Embajador se casa en Santo Domingo

Wally Brewster, embajador de Estados Unidos en República Dominicana, se casa con su novio Bob J. Satawake

“El cardenal Nicolás de Jesús López, presidente de la Conferencia del Episcopado Dominicano, usó la palabra `maricones` para describir a Brewster."

Noticias SIN - El embajador de Estados Unidos viene casado

El empresario estadounidense James “Wally” Brewster, rechazado por sectores de República Dominicana por su preferencia homosexual, se casó este domingo con su novio, horas después de que el vicepresidente Joe Biden lo juramentara como embajador en Santo Domingo, según un portal promotor de los derechos civiles.

“Hoy puede haber sido el día más importante de la vida de Wally Brewster. En Washington, DC., hace apenas unas horas, el vicepresidente Joe Biden juramentó a James “Wally” Brewster como embajador de Estados Unidos en la República Dominicana. Y a las 7:00 PM (hora del este), Brewster se casó con su pareja y el novio de largo plazo, Bob J. Satawake”

Siendo así, Brewster llegará casado al país aunque la citada publicación no especifica si se trasladará a Santo Domingo con su pareja.

La ceremonia de juramentación tuvo lugar en la histórica Sala de Tratados Indios, situada en el ala este de la Oficina Ejecutiva del edificio Eisenhower, detalla el portal. En cuanto a la boda y la recepción, tuvieron lugar en The Hay-Adams Hotel, con vistas a la Casa Blanca, agrega.

Resalta el medio que Brewster y su socio, Bob Satawake, gerente de Jameson Sotheby International Real Estate, recolectaron más de 500 mil dólares a favor de la campaña del presidente Barack Obama.

También destaca la controversia que generó su designación porque grupos y personalidades de República Dominicana consideraron una afrenta que nombraran a un diplomático homosexual.

“El cardenal Nicolás de Jesús López,  presidente de la Conferencia del Episcopado Dominicano, usó la palabra `maricones` para describir a Brewster. No hay leyes contra la homosexualidad en la República Dominicana, pero los miembros de la comunidad LGBT (Lesbianas, Gais, Bisexuales y Transexuales) han sido objeto de hostigamiento”, comenta el artículo, que cierra con la siguiente salutación: “¡Felicitaciones a la feliz pareja!”.

Wally Brewster, Embajador, Estados Unidos, República Dominicana, Homosexual, Gay, Bob J. Satawake, Bob Satawake, Cardenal

El Día - Embajador EU se casa con pareja homosexual

El nuevo embajador de Estados Unidos en República Dominicana, James “Wally” Brewster, se casó con su pareja homosexual Bob J. Satawake una hora después de ser juramentado el pasado viernes.

La información está contenida en el portal de la organización denominada “Nuevo Movimiento para los derechos civiles” (The New Civil Rights Movement), que además publica varias fotos de la boda.

La publicación indica que Brewster contrajo matrimonio en The Hay-Adams Hotel, en Washington, con vistas al Jardín Sur de la Casa Blanca.

Brewster fue ratificado la semana pasada por el Senado de Estados Unidos y juramentado el viernes por el vicepresidente Joe Biden, quien en el acto hizo referencia a las reivindicaciones alcanzadas por la comunidad homosexual.

Se estima que el nuevo embajador se hará acompañar de su pareja cuando asuma su puesto en Santo Domingo. Brewster es el octavo embajador abiertamente homosexual designado por la administración de Barack Obama, pero es el primero que se casa al ser juramentado.

Brewster es uno de los líderes de una importante organización de la comunidad homosexual en Estados Unidos.

The New Civil Rights Movement indica que la pareja Brewster y Satawake recaudó 500 mil dólares para la campaña a la reelección de Obama.

Wally Brewster, Embajador, Estados Unidos, República Dominicana, Homosexual, Gay, Bob J. Satawake, Bob Satawake, Cardenal

The New Civil Rights Movement - Wally Brewster’s Really Big Day: Sworn In As A US Ambassador, Marries Bob Satawake

Today may have been the biggest day of Wally Brewster’s life. In Washington, D.C. just a few hours ago, Vice President Joe Biden swore James “Wally” Brewster in as the U.S. Ambassador to the Dominican Republic. And at 7:00 PM ET, Brewster married his long term partner and fiancé, Bob J. Satawake.
The swearing-in ceremony took place in the historic Indian Treaty Room, located in the East Wing of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. The wedding and reception were at The Hay-Adams Hotel, with a view of the White House South Lawn.

Confirmed by the Senate less than two weeks ago, Brewster becomes the fifth openly-gay U.S. Ambassador this year alone. HRC lists John Berry in Australia, James Costos in Spain, Rufus Gifford in Denmark, and Daniel Baer as ambassador to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, as the other four, along with Jim Hormel, Michael Guest and David Huebner in previous years.