Archive for March, 2014
The Dominican Tourism Competitiveness Consortium, a nonprofit organization established to promote the development and competitiveness of the country’s tourism industry, has begun to identify tourism-related businesses that support ecotourism and sustainable tourism projects.
Those that meet the standards established by the Consortium are officially certified as a “Dominican Treasure.”
As of March 2014 the program has certified 30 products and services throughout the country. ACCESS provides a list of those who have received a “Dominican Treasure” certificate, as of December 2013.
Taino Park: Situated along the north coast’s Sanchez-Samana highway, visitors will find Taino Park, an outdoor museum depicting life in a Taino village before the arrival of the Spanish colonizers. In 2013 the park received a Certificate of Excellence from the popular travel website TripAdvisor, for its excellent reproduction of life in a Taino village. The Tainos were the original inhabitants of the island now shared by the Dominican Republic and Haiti. The Park also features a museum depicting Taino art, with more than 200 pieces of pottery, bones, stones and wood carvings. The Park is open daily from 9:00-5:30 p.m. There is a one-hour audio tour available. For more information, please contact:firstname.lastname@example.org or www.tainopark.com.
“Parada la Manzana:” This unique vegetarian restaurant is situated on the Limon-Samaná highway, in the northeast province of Samana. The restaurant also features a small shop where visitors can purchase locally made souvenirs made from wood and coconut shells, organic coffee and cacao. Please write to: email@example.com for more information.
Zipline Samana: Also situated on the Limon-Samana highway, the zipline park features 20 platforms and 10 cables ranging from 85-450 meters. Guests will be able to “fly” through the region’s lush tropical vegetation. The park also offers hiking tours, beginning with a fun Safari-style tour providing visitors will all the necessary information on the culture and history of this incredibly beautiful region. More information available: firstname.lastname@example.org and www.samanazipline.com.
“Clave Verde:” Situated in the fishing village of Portillo, in Samana, these four Caribbean-style houses feature a private gymnasium, a swimming pool treated with natural chlorine and a play area. All of the homes have running hot water and a full kitchen. During the regular reason prices go for US$90 per night. Holidays: US$110. For more details, please write: email@example.com and/orwww.claveverde.com.
Chalet Tropical Village: This three-home “village” is situated in “Las Galeras,” one of the country’s most beautiful beaches. All houses are built with natural materials, and offer free internet, satellite TV, 24 hour security service, secure parking, electricity, running water and barbecue area. Please write to:firstname.lastname@example.org or www.chalettropical.com.
“Ecocampo La Sangria:” Also in “Las Galeras,” this ecotourism project consists of seven log cabins with thatched roofs. The village perfectly depicts life in the Caribbean countryside. Visitors will enjoy beautiful hiking trails, biking and visit extensive pineapple farms. More information:email@example.com and in www.ecocampolasangria.com.
“D’Vieja Pan:” This old-style bakery is situated on the outskirts of Samana, on the country’s northeast region. “D’Vieja Pan” is an icon of Samana’s culinary tradition. The cafeteria-style store reflects the culture of the founders of Samana, men and women who arrived in the region from the nearby English-speaking Caribbean islands during the early 19th century. For information, please write:firstname.lastname@example.org.
Damajagua Waterfalls: This region was declared a protected area in 2004. The 27 Damajagua Lagoons occupy an area of six square kilometers. Visitors will enjoy hiking from one lagoon to the other, but first passing through natural waterfalls. Please write to: email@example.com,www.saltosdamajagua.com, and www.27charcos.com.
Tubagua Plantation Eco Village: This nine-room facility offers visitors recreation areas, and an open kitchen where they will enjoy meals made with fresh local products. There are wonderful nearby hiking trails that will take the visitor through coffee farms and amber mines. Also available: rich mud baths, and bird watching. For information: firstname.lastname@example.org and www.tubagua.com.
Natura Cabana Boutique Hotel & Spa: This eco-sensitive facility consists of rustic style cabins built ?with Feng Shui elements. It is the perfect spot to practice yoga, and to pursue spiritual growth. Its two outdoor beachfront restaurants are run by an international chef. There is also a “Buddha Trail” and a natural spa. Please write to: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org and/orwww.naturacabana.com.
Skina Bar & Restaurant: The restaurant offers visitors a taste of Dominican food, in a natural environment. Situated on “Calle Separacion 12 de julio,” Puerto Plata. Telephone 809-979-1950.
General Gregorio Luperon Museum: General Luperon was one of the Dominican Republic’s founding fathers for his efforts to liberate the Dominican Republic from the Spanish Crown in the 19th century. Hours: Tuesday-Sunday, from 9:00 a.m. – 5 p.m. Entry fee: RD$100 adults, RD$35 students, RD$50 children, RD$200 international visitors. For information: email@example.com.
Puerto Plata Cable Car: The city’s cable car is literally the symbol of the country’s most important north coast city. The cable car is situated on: Manolo Tavarez Justo Street. The cable car is also the only one in the Caribbean. Hours: Monday to Sunday, from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Entry fee: RD$350 adults and RD$200 children between the ages of 5-10. Information available: teleférico.firstname.lastname@example.org andwww.telefericopuertoplata.com.
Rancho Olivier: The ranch is situated in the mountain town of Constanza, a two-hour drive north of Santo Domingo. Nestled in the very heart of the country’s most important central mountain range, and the tallest in the Caribbean, Constanza is a unique town where freezing temperatures are pretty common.
Hotel Altocerro: This 68-room hotel, overlooks the impressive Constanza Valley, and is situated atop a hill outside the town of Constanza. It also features a mini market, a convention center, campsite, horseback riding and hiking. There’s more information available at: email@example.com andwww.altocerro.com.
Restaurant Aguas Blancas: Its most impressive attraction is its unique menu, based on all local produce. It is also known for its famous local deserts. For information: firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Villa Pajon:” This seven-cottage destination is situated some 2,000 meters above sea level, in one of the country’s most beautiful natural parks. All cottages are fully equipped with kitchens, fireplaces, rustic handmade furniture, bathrooms with running hot water, balconies, barbecue area and a common dining area. Visitors can enjoy nature walks, horseback riding, bird watching, mountain biking, collecting berries (in season), swimming in local streams, and excursions to the “Salto de Aguas Blancas,” one of the region’s most beautiful waterfalls, and other nearby attractions. For information please write:email@example.com and www.villapajon.do.
“Sonido del Yaque:” This facility is owned and operated by rural women from the community through a local women’s co-op. It is a perfect example of what a sustainable ecotourism project is all about. The facility also features a restaurant overlooking the “Yaque del Norte” river, the largest in the area. Water from the nearby river is used for electricity production. All meals are prepared with locally grown organic products, farmed by the community. For more: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rancho Baiguate: The “ranch,” situated some 500 meters above sea level in the heart of the Central Mountain chain, features several eco cottages (27 rooms), a buffet area and a swimming pool. It has its own organic plantation, a waste disposal plant, hiking trails, and organizes white-water rafting, canoeing, mountain biking, horseback riding excursions. For reservations: email@example.com www.ranchobaiguate.com.
El Morro Eco Adventure Hotel: This small 12-room hotel, featuring a small restaurant, a swimming pool and a heliport, is situated on the very edge of the “El Morro National Park,” one of the country’s most important natural regions. The hotel also offers mountain hiking and biking, boating, tours to nearby keys, and other water sports. For information: firstname.lastname@example.org andwww.elmorro.com.do.
Generalissimo Máximo Gómez Museum: This is one of the city’s most important tourism attractions. The museum honors this Dominican general who spearheaded the independence of Cuba from the Spanish Crown. The museum is situated on Mella Street #29. There’s more information on:email@example.com.
Soraya and Santos Tours: This is the only tour operator in Montecristi and other nearby towns. It offers expertly-guided tours to the region’s most important sites, such as the region’s mangrove forests and nearby keys. For information: firstname.lastname@example.org and www.ssmontecristitours.com.
Atarazana Restaurant: The “Atarazana Restaurant” is one of the oldest and finest restaurants in Santo Domingo’s Colonial Zone. Situated in a colonial residence, the restaurant is known for its beautiful indoor Spanish patios. Those who prefer may dine inside, in one of the restaurant’s air-conditioned salons. Guests will also enjoy a beautiful view of the “Alcazar de Colón” residence, the official home of Christopher Columbus’ brother in Colonial Santo Domingo. There’s more information available:email@example.com and www.restauranteatarazana.com.
Trikke Republica Dominicana: This tour operator offers 1.5 hour guided tours of the Colonial Zone. The Trikke green cars are one-passenger vehicles and very easy to maneuver. Guests are provided with an audio-guided tour, and given all the necessary protection needed for a safe tour. Address: “Calle El Conde” #101, across the street from the Columbus Plaza. For information write to: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.trikke.do.
Hostal Doña Chava: The 18-room facility features indoor bathrooms, ceiling fans, security, wi-fi, restaurant, bar, laundry service. Some rooms have air conditioning. It is ideal for those who plan to visit the nearby Bay of Eagles, the Bahoruco southwest mountain region, the Oviedo Lagoon and other nearby natural attractions. There’s more information: email@example.com andwww.donachava.com.
Brisas del Caribe Restaurant: This beachfront restaurant is one of the finest in the country’s southwest region. Although it specializes in seafood dishes, it also offers tasty meats, poultry and pasta dishes. Address: Avenida Enriquillo #73. Please visit: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cuseco Art: This arts and crafts shop specializes in making all kinds of jewelry from local seeds, coconut shells and other natural items. The shop is completely run by women artisans. The shop also features space for workshops, a nursery for children and a designer’s lounge, for visitors who want to design their own jewelry using the materials of their choice. Information: email@example.com.
Altos de Chavon Archaeological Museum: The museum features the most important items used by the Tainos, the original inhabitants of the island. Some 3,000 objects, most found in the region, are displayed showing the evolution of Taino society through the ages. To visit the archaeological site visitors must fill out a form found on the museum’s website, and for group bookings. For information:firstname.lastname@example.org and www.altosdechavon.museum.
Source: Access DR
Severe scurvy struck Columbus’s crew during his second voyage and after its end, forensic archaeologists suggest, likely leading to the collapse of the first European town established in the New World.
In 1492, Christopher Columbus crossed the Atlantic, beginning Europe’s discovery of the New World. Two years later on his second voyage, he and 1,500 colonists founded La Isabela, located in the modern-day Dominican Republic.
The first permanent European town in the Western Hemisphere, La Isabela was abandoned within four years amid sickness and deprivation. (See “Columbus’s Cursed Colony.”)
Historians have long blamed diseases such as smallpox, influenza, and malaria for the town’s demise. But a study of graveyard remains from the town site, reported online in the International Journal of Osteoarchaeology, suggests that an ancient seafarer’s scourge—scurvy, a severe vitamin C deficiency—plagued Columbus’s first colony and worsened the illnesses behind their town’s collapse.
“There were lots of diseases, fevers, epidemics, we know from their writing. It seems no one was spared,” says study author Vera Tiesler, an archaeologist at Mexico’s Universidad Autonoma de Yucatán. “But apparently scurvy played a big role.” (Related: “Columbus’s Failing Mining Colony Pilfered Its Supplies.”)
Since the 1980s, archaeologists have been unearthing the bones of La Isabela’s inhabitants from graves behind the abandoned village’s small churchyard, and storing them at the Museo del Hombre Dominicano in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.
The skeletons are of sailors and colonists from La Isabela who were buried in the Catholic tradition, laid on their backs with their arms crossed. “They were still encased in earth when we started the study. We had to clean the bones to proceed,” Tiesler says. (One of Tiesler’s co-authors, her husband and colleague Andrea Cucina, is a National Geographic Society grantee, on a separate but related project.)
Tuberculosis, syphilis, and other diseases that historians believe struck La Isabela would leave their mark on skeletal remains. Tiesler and colleagues examined 27 of the skeletons, all but one belonging to men. At least 20 bore signs—striations carved in the outer lining of bones—of what the study called “severe scurvy.” The telltale marks were found on weight-bearing bones on both sides of the body, evidence against severe bone infection, which would strike in one location.
The study “shows convincingly that the crew members of Columbus who were buried at La Isabela had suffered, but also had healed, from scurvy before they died,” says scurvy expert George J. R. Maat of Leiden University Medical Center, the Netherlands.
Scurvy remained the scourge of seafarers until the 18th century. British sailors famously were nicknamed ”limeys” for the lime juice they drank as a preventive for the severe vitamin C deficiency, which produces symptoms including lethargy, anemia, and, in severe cases, the re-opening of old wounds. The ailment typically appears after one to three months of complete vitamin deficiency.
The study suggests that the colonists, weakened by a two-month voyage and the one-month wait at sea that preceded it, probably already suffered from scurvy when they arrived in 1494.
In the New World, however, the colonists would have been surrounded by fresh fruits and vegetables rich in vitamin C. So how did they end up with severe scurvy?
“The implication, to me, is that the Spaniards had cut themselves off almost completely from their new environment by alienating the native people around them,” says Charles Mann, author of 1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created.
“The Caribbean is full of foods that are packed with vitamin C,” Mann says. Fruits such as guava and wild cherries, and the native staples of cassava (yucca) and sweet potato, all contain enough vitamin C to forestall scurvy.
“Packed behind their stockade in La Isabela, they seem to have sampled next to nothing of the rich menu of the Caribbean,” Mann says. “It was a lethal mistake.”
The finding might explain why Columbus implored the Spanish crown to send more shipments of food to the early colonists. But none of the foodstuffs requested were rich in vitamin C, and ultimately the colonists faced rationing.
“One problem was that Christopher Columbus himself was more concerned with looking for gold than feeding his people,” Tiesler says. “In their letters they all want to go home.”
The organization of La Isabela, the tools, and its pottery all point to Spanish colonists pursuing a European lifestyle there. “This probably also applied to their dietary preferences,” says the study.
“They also faced constant attacks” by the native people, Tiesler says. Later weakened by European epidemics, the native Taino people of the island probably couldn’t have helped the colonists, she adds, even if they had wanted to.
Tiesler acknowledges that her initial report of the scurvy findings, at a 2010 bioarchaeology meeting, met with strong skepticism from some archaeologists, who did not see evidence of scurvy in the colonists’ own accounts from the time. “Diagnosis from old letters is very difficult,” Tiesler says. “We argue [that] the historical evidence and what we see on the bones support the argument for very bad cases of scurvy.”
Some of the bones do show some signs of healing, likely as a result of the colonists eating limited amounts of some foods containing vitamin C, says Maat. A. E. van der Merwe, Maat’s Leiden University colleague and fellow scurvy expert, concurs. Some vitamin C must have been present in the diets of some of the dead, she says, because they had been healed of scurvy when other diseases killed them.
By Dan Vergano
Source: National Geographic
The country, along with several international organizations, is currently sponsoring various programs to protect the coral reefs in important tourism regions. The programs include the set-up of nurseries for the production of corals and many educational activities are taking place to raise awareness in many beachfront communities on the need to protect the corals, a fundamental component to the country’s ecosystem.
There are currently eight coral nurseries set up, the largest one situated in Punta Cana, on the country’s eastern region, and operated by the Punta Cana Group, the country’s first tourism company to introduce environmentally sound programs through its Ecological Foundation.
The “Coral Nurseries Initiative” program – run and managed by the Punta Cana Ecological Foundation – was developed with the University of Miami, Counterpart International and the Inter- American Development Bank (IDB). The program’s main goal is to raise awareness regarding this issue and to promote the planting of coral along the Dominican coastline.
Through the initiative the Foundation has developed strong ties with other organizations and groups working with sustainable management and conservation of coral reef issues. The goal is to improve the livelihood of fishermen in the Punta Cana area, in the country’s easternmost region. The Foundation also organizes workshops on coral restoration. The latest workshop was on “Best Practices in Restoring the Staghorn Coral,” with Dr. Austin Bowden – Kerby – a pioneer in planting corals – as the guest speaker.
The Dominican Foundation for Marine Research’s Center for Coastal-Marine Studies currently operates two nurseries. One is situated seven meters deep and the other at twelve meters. It has successfully transplanted coral along the Bayahibe coastline, specifically off the waters of the Viva Wyndham Dominicus Beach Hotel and other nearby areas.
The Tropigas Natural and the Reef Check foundations are carrying out important protection and coral planting projects in Las Galeras, in Samaná Province, on the country’s northeast region. The Acropora Palmata and the Acropora Cervicornis are the two coral species found in the nurseries operated by the foundations. Both species are on the endangered list.
Source: Access DR
While there’s no shortage of sea and sand in the Caribbean, authentic history is harder to come by. A major exception is the city of Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic. Often referred to as the “Oldest City of the New World,” Santo Domingo has a compact historic neighborhood with many buildings dating back to the 15th century. A handful of these can linked to Christopher Columbus and his crew. Travelers can immerse themselves in Santo Domingo’s days of yesteryear atmosphere by choosing to stay overnight in one of the city’s historic Colonial Zone hotels.
Casas del XVI
One of Christopher Columbus’ ship pilots, Alonso Perez Roldan, was an early resident of Casas del XVI, a 16th century mansion comprising three houses. Accommodations are spread throughout the houses — Casa de los Barcos has the property’s two-bedroom suite; Casa de Mapas has three rooms, an expansive courtyard and a small pool and Casa del Arbol has a smaller courtyard and four rooms featuring free-standing soaking tubs. All Casas del XVI guests receive the services of an unobtrusive butler, who can do everything from making dinner reservations at local eateries to delivering a gentle morning knock on your door as a wakeup call. Breakfast is included in the room rate and served al fresco. There are a number of choices, but guests should try the Dominican-style breakfast at least once during their stay, which includes eggs over easy, fried cheese, fried salami and mangú (cooked plantains with sautéed onions). Casas del XVI is a good choice for travelers desiring an extra measure of service.
Hostal Nicolas de Ovando
Hostal Nicolas de Ovando originally housed Governor Nicolas de Ovando, the first governor of the Americas. It’s to be expected that the 500-year-old property is brimming over with history, but surprisingly it also manages to project a hip and sophisticated ambience. Santo Domingo’s twentysomethings are a common sight here, sipping cocktails around the pool as merengue plays in the background. The hotel has 104 rooms; those intent on enjoying a historic vibe should opt for one of the 45 colonial-style rooms. These have hacienda shutters, high ceilings and tile floors that transport a lodger back into the past. Don’t miss the hotel’s Cibao Bar, where guests can kick back with a variety of aged rums while lighting up a Dominican cigar hand-rolled by the hotel’s very own tabaquero (tobacconist). Hostal Nicolas de Ovando is recommended for those in search of a full-service, modern hotel with roots in the 16th century.
El Beaterio is an 11-room hotel in a 16th-century former convent. As one might expect, there’s a hushed, homey atmosphere at El Beaterio, which has been carefully restored over the years. There are plenty of historic details, including original stone walls and tile floors, as well as antique musical instruments adorning the walls. Don’t miss the rooftop terrace bar, which boasts great views looking out over the Colonial Zone and Parque Duarte. El Beaterio is a good match for those favoring an elegant and homey atmosphere at very reasonable rates.
Boutique Hotel Palacio
Jumping forward a few centuries brings us to the Boutique Hotel Palacio, a 19th century building that was the home of Ramon Baez, a former president of the Dominican Republic. The Boutique Hotel Palacio has a unique ambience — a blend of history and mystery that will please those who love a good gumshoe film. The four-story building has a cozy lobby bar, inviting inner courtyard and a rooftop pool. The Boutique Hotel Palacio makes a good choice for budget-minded travelers with a fondness for history and a dash of film noir drama.
All four of the above hotels are within blocks of each other in Santo Domingo’s Colonial Zone. Guests will find lots of pleasant surprises to discover on foot, including a multitude of restored buildings with period details, al fresco restaurants, parks brimming over with local color and lots of shops, especially along the pedestrianized Calle El Conde.
The principal urban center of the North region was included in the network of 100 cities that are best prepared to respond to the challenges of the 21st century, in the initiative “100 Resilient Cities” by the Rockefeller Foundation.
The initiative “100 Resilient Cities” (100 CR), headed by the Rockefeller Foundation, announced yesterday that they have invited 35 cities from around the world, including Santiago de los Caballeros, to join the Network of the 100 Resilient Cities.
This announcement was made during the Summit of Urban Resilience of the Rockefeller Foundation held in Singapore.
The cities are: Accra, Ghana; Deyang, China; San Juan, Puerto Rico; Amman, Jordan; Enugu, Nigeria; Santa Fe, Argentina; Arusha, Tanzania; Huangshi, China; Santiago de los Caballeros, Dominican Republic; Athens, Greece; Juárez, México; Santiago (Metropolitan region), Chile; Barcelona, Spain; Kigali, Ruanda; Singapore; Belgrade, Serbia; Lisbon, Portugal; St. Louis, Missouri, USA.; Bangalore, India; London, England; Sidney, Australia; Boston, Massachusetts, USA.; Milán, Italy.
The list also includes the cities of Thessaloniki, Greece; Cali, Colombia; Montreal, Canada; Toyama, Japan; Chennai, India; Paris, France; Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA.; Chicago, Illinois, USA.; Phnom Penh, Cambodia; the City of Wellington, New Zealand; Dallas, Texas, USA y Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA
This 2nd wave of cities will join the 32 cities which won the 100 Resilient Cities Challenge, forming a growing network of urban centers all around the world that are ready to respond to the social, economic and physical blows and tentions which are a growing part of the 21st century.
The 100 Resilient Cities was created with a commitment of US$100 million by the Rockefeller Foundation as part of its Centennial last year, recognizing the tendencies of urbanization and globalization which characterize these centuries.
“The members of the network of 100 Resilient Cities are the world leaders in demonstrating that not only is it possible to create urban resilience in all types of cities, but also that it is an imperative,” said Judith Rodin, the president of the Rockefeller Foundation in the press release published regarding the announcement on the webpage of the initiative (www.100resilientcities.org).
“The cities are learning that by creating resilience, not only will they be better prepared to face the bad times, but also that life is better during the good times, especially for the poor and vulnerable populations. This is an intelligent investment and generates a benefit of resilience which is positive for everyone.”
Why Resilient Cities?
The Rockefeller Foundation explained that as the number of persons who live in urban areas grows from 50% of the world population to around 70% in 2050, the cities around the world will have to deal with the effects of rapid urbanization, globalization, climate change, and tnatural catastrophes as well as those caused by man.
Urban resilience is the capacity of the individuals, the communities, the institutions, the companies and the systems of surviving, to adapt and grow in spite of any chronic tension in sharp blows which they experience.
From the impact of the super typhoons, to the growing social – economic inequalities or the ability of the municipal systems to respond to growing populations and the reduction of food supplies, 100 Resilient Cities has as its purpose to equip the urban areas with the tools and the support network in order to design, develop and implement integrated solutions.
“Each city is unique, and by means of the Network 100 CR, the cities are taking advantage of the experiences of others and learning the best techniques in order to promote resilience,” explained Michael Berkowitz, the president of 100 Resilient Cities.
“By connecting the cities between each other and to experts in the promotion of resilience, we have the intention of creating a global practice of solutions of scalable resilience, in order that the cities can respond to the challenges of this urban century in a most effective and efficient manner,” he explained.
The creation of the network
This diverse list reflects the needs to learn from cities of all sizes in all parts of the world in order to be able to adapt and innovate.
The cities that make up the network of 100 Resilient Cities face a broad range of environmental and social challenges – from the growing threat of floods and extreme meteorological phenomena, to the growing pressures on the infrastructure and the health systems and economic tensions ever more profound – which are found in different points in their road towards the creation of a more resilient metropolis.
Each city in the network qualifies to receive subventions in order to contract in a Executive Director of Resilience, who will head the analysis, planning and implementation of the resilience that energy of the city, by means of collaborating with different agencies of the government and with all of the sectors.
They will also receive technical support and services when these are necessary while they work in order to implement this strategy. In addition they will have access to a variety of partners in the private, public and nonprofit sectors. These partners will offer tools in fields such as innovative financing, technology, infrastructure, territorial organization and community and social resilience.