A short history of Punta Cana: from Punta Borrachón to resort town

history-punta-cana-club-med-first-resort-area

A short history of Punta Cana: from Punta Borrachón to resort town

We have been going on and on about Punta Cana but we never shared the history of this town. In this edition of BOP, we go back in time.

 

History of a jungle town

48 years ago there was no Punta Cana as we know it today. No roads, just jungle, and untouched beaches. At that time there were also hardly any people living in the area. Only a few fishing villages along the coast showed signs of human life.

But that did not stop a group of American investors to buy 30 square miles of undeveloped bushy land in the area. Quite a challenge, but they saw the beautiful beaches, turquoise sea water as an opportunity to develop the place. Dominican businessman Frank R. Rainieri and New York attorney Theodore Kheel joined them and also created their own partnership together. They had the vision to create a resort community that respects the natural habitat of Punta Cana. That is why they decided to buy a 58-million square meter lot in the area.

Punta Borrachon to Punta Cana

Punta Borrachon (drunken point) was the original name of Punta Cana. Not very appealing when you are planning to build a resort town. That is why Frank R. Rainieri changed it to Punta Cana. Cana is the name of a type of palm tree that grows in Punta Cana. Its leafs are used on many roofs of different constructions. When you look at the map of the Dominican Republic, you can see that Punta Cana is located in a sharp point of the Dominican Republic, explaining the word ´Punta´ in the name.

First hotel

The first hotel in 1971 had a capacity to host 40 people. Frank Rainieri and Theodore Kheel called it Punta Cana Club. Its size was nowhere near the big resorts that are present today. Just one small landing strip gave access to the hotel.
Despite the fact that only small planes were able to land on Punta Cana, the place started gaining interest from people overseas.

One of the pioneers was Club Med. The French hotel chain opened a hotel in 1978.
Punta Cana started growing from there.

A road was constructed to connect Punta Cana to the rest of the island. In the past, it took 6 hours to get to Higuey! Now it only takes 30 to 40 minutes.
The airport was opened in 1984, making it possible for more people to visit the area.
The rest is history.

Well not quite. Did you know that late fashion designer Oscar de La Renta and famous singer Julio Iglesias actually developed real estate in the Marina in Punta Cana as part of the Grupo Punta Cana?

There are much more interesting facts like these.

An area in development

Punta Cana has been developing rapidly and is still growing up to this day. Now, it is the home of more than 100.000 people from different nationalities. Families grew and communities formed. It became a lively area with restaurants, bars, and hotels. But most importantly,  parts of the original flora and fauna were preserved.

You also might be wondering where places like Bavaro, Cabeza de Toro, Veron, Macao, and Uvero Alto fit in. Keep coming back to BOP, because we will be giving you another history lesson on these places.

Sources: Wikipedia, Puntacana.org, livingpuntacana, puntacana.info and people who live in Punta Cana

Picture: Club Med 

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