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Santo Domingo: A Business Traveler’s Guide

Santo Domingo: A Business Traveler’s Guide

The oldest European city in the New World, Santo Domingo’s enchanting colonial past and cool Caribbean breezes promise excitement and inspiration to the ready business traveler.

Armed with an intensely urban ambiance, Santo Domingo is a business, political and media epicenter with a laid-back and casual spirit.  Home to the bachata, merengue and salsa, Santo Domingo is to Dominicans what Havana is to Cubans, a throbbing pulse that keeps the entire country alive.

Where to Stay

In the heart of the colonial city, business travelers can enjoy Santo Domingo’s rich history while still having their every need met at the Sofitel Nicolas de Ovando, a 16th century mansion that was restored and reopened as a modern hotel with all the trimmings.  The beautiful structure offers spectacular views of the Ozama River and is a short walk from Parque Colón.

The thrill-seeking executive can opt for the Renaissance Jaragua Resort and Casino, where you can stay productive by day and tempt Lady Luck by night: each guestroom is equipped with a work desk, complimentary and efficient high speed internet, and the hotel boasts a 24,000 square foot business center.  Renaissance Jaragua also offers all-inclusive packages for a seamless and uncomplicated trip.

The tried-and-true favorite for business travelers is the Hilton Santo Domingo, the latest addition to Hilton’s business hotel collection.  The 21-floor tower-style hotel is the leading business and conference hotel in Santo Domingo and is only 30 minutes from Las Americas Airport.  The hotel anchors The Malecon Center, a complex for retail shopping, fine dining and commercial office space, ensuring the utmost convenience for the business traveler.

Where to Dine

Take a break from the city and dive into Santo Domingo’s jungle paradise at El Conuco, a cozy eatery with a mosaic of hammocks, plants and woven blankets.  The menu stays true to the theme with an array of the Dominican’s most authentic dishes.  Try “La Bandera,” a plate of beef simmered with rice, kidney beans, and fried bananas.

The executive looking to satisfy a red-meat craving must take a ride to el Distrito Nacíonal and pop into Restaurant David Crockett, a high-end steakhouse with a country-western twist.  One of the most unique restaurants in the city, the décor is the perfect setting as you dine on Black Angus steak and thick cut tenderloin, while the twang of country-western music rings in the background.

All over the streets of Santo Domingo, locals come together for pick-up games of Domino, a popular Caribbean game.  Try and snag a seat in a game—it’s relatively easy to learn and you’re sure to hear some interesting stories about life in the Caribbean. 

For the best Italian in the city, head to the Evalista Morales area and have an intimate meal on the outdoor terrace at Fellini Ristorante and Bar. Chef Ciro Carola’s innovative Italian dishes have earned the restaurant a sparkling reputation amongst travelers and locals alike.  The romantic yet casual atmosphere and impeccable service perfectly complement the restaurant’s superb pasta dishes and vast selection of wines.

Off the Clock

You won’t want to miss visiting the Catedral Primada de America, the oldest cathedral in the Americas.  Built by Diego Columbus (yes, that’s Christopher Columbus’s son), the cathedral’s huge vaulted ceilings and numerous statues truly capture a piece of history.  The Dominican government in 1992 constructed the extravagant and controversial Columbus Lighthouse, which houses Christopher Columbus’s remains and cost over 300 million Dominican pesos to construct.  Just as important, visit one of the Dominican’s sandy white beaches, especially Boca Chica Beach, which is closest to the center of Santo Domingo.

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Santo Domingo nightlife is a burst of Caribbean flair and Spanish influence.  Head to Bachata Rosa, owned by Juan Luis Guerra, a popular high-profile musician who named this busy and exciting venue after his most famous song.  The club boasts three floors of live music, dancing, and a Caribbean restaurant.  The sports-obsessed business traveler will thoroughly enjoy Bella Bleus in Malecon, owned by the legendary Dominican baseball player Jose Río.  This exclusive club entertains a mature crowd but that doesn’t stop the music from pumping: order drinks on the outdoor terrace and have a chat with a local baseball player.  For an even more local experience, visit La Guácara Taína, set in an underground cavern, where patrons enjoy some of the country’s best merengue and salsa dancing.

Getting Around

The most efficient way for the business traveler to get around in Santo Domingo is by taxi.  Be sure to negotiate with the driver; if you don’t like the fare you’re given, start walking away and watch as they quickly lower their price.  Beware of local citizens trying to make a quick buck – an official taxi will have a “Taxi” sign on their side door.  As an added precaution, have your hotel call a taxi for you.  Or, if you’re up for an adventure, take a guagua, the Spanish Caribbean word for “bus.” The ride may be rocky, but much more economical.

Culture Shock

All over the streets of Santo Domingo, locals come together for pick-up games of Domino, a popular Caribbean game.  Try and snag a seat in a game—it’s relatively easy to learn and you’re sure to hear some interesting stories about life in the Caribbean.  Make sure to drink a Presidente, the Dominican’s frosty brew and essential to a Dominican refrigerator.  And stop for a street vendor and buy some delicious fruit or homemade sweets for a delectable experience you won’t forget.

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