Our Story and The Punta Cana Brand

Our story – Back in 1969 a group of American investors headed by renowned New York lawyer Theodore Kheel, bought 15,000 acres of undeveloped land stretching along the east coast of the Dominican Republic. The land was mostly an impenetrable jungle with no road access and only a handful of small fishing villages dotted along the coast, but the beaches were among the most beautiful on the island with their white sand, coconut palms, crystal-clear waters and protective coral reefs. A few years later, Dominican entrepreneur Frank R. Rainieri joined them with his vision to create a resort community that respects the natural habitat while providing visitors with a world-class vacation experience. At that time the area was called Punta Borrachón (Drunkard’s Point), therefore Mr. Frank wisely decided to rename it Punta Cana, after the fan-shaped Cana palm leaf that flourishes in the area.

So in 1971 Grupo Puntacana S.A. development began with the opening of a small hotel known as the Punta Cana Club. It had 10 two bedroom villas, a clubhouse, power plant, a basic aircraft runway and a small town for employees. At full capacity this hotel could host 40 guests. Although it was never full, Punta Cana Club confirmed that the property had great potential and in 1978 the French hotel company Club Mediterranée started construction of the first 350 room hotel.

This led to the construction of the Punta Cana International Airport (PUJ). After an eight year battle with three different governments, authorization was finally obtained for the construction of the first private international airport in the country, allowing Grupo Puntacana’s primitive airstrip to be developed in order to accommodate full-sized commercial aircraft. In a joint venture with Club Med, its construction began, and in 1984, Punta Cana International Airport (PUJ) was inaugurated with the first international flight (a twin-turbo propeller aircraft) arriving from San Juan, Puerto Rico. It was the world’s first and most successful, privately built, owned and managed, international airport. And it still is. Without it, the Punta Cana region would not be what it is today. In its inaugural year the airport received 2,976 passengers, and in 2012 it has already received over four million. Currently, there are over 60 resorts in the Punta Cana-Bavaro area.

Puntacana Resort & Club is the commercial name used for most of Grupo Puntacana’s touristic activities within that original piece of land. With over 50 years of experience, this company is rock-solid and has been able to grow even through the recent international financial crisis. Faith, hard work and perseverance have been invaluable tools over these years. Things were not accomplished overnight, but the company has continued to expand without rushing, but without stopping. 

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