Katerina Katopis, Director Dolphin Capital, Developer behind the Playa Grande Club & Reserve.
Can Faik is in conversation with Katerina Katopis, Director Dolphin Capital, Developer behind the Playa Grande Club & Reserve…
What was the brief for the Hotel, Amanera?
The brief involved indulgence through volumes and respect of the environment and cultural locality. With that said, for Aman to continue to be a leader in the hospitality and lifestyle industry, there has been a push for more modern designs and cleaner lines. Keeping the latter in mind, it was essential that the design concept was such that the focal point on property was the landscape, allowing nature’s elements to permeate the spaces, as well as providing vistas to the ocean.
How has the hotel’s design set a new standard in luxury hotels and residential villas?
Each Casita offers beautifully handcrafted living spaces which echo the warmth of the country itself. Natural materials are part of an aesthetic ripe with detail: stone from local quarries, indigenous handmade Aguayo tiles and Dominican art and artifacts. The Casitas all have flat biodiverse roofs that cultivate green gardens, cool living spaces and further blur the lines between dwellings and jungle. The Casitas appear to be very much part of the landscape, something that has come to define an Aman.
Adding to that, we worked closely with the Santo Domingo University, and by doing so, we managed to firmly re-establish a native-only forest, giving the guest a real Dominican experience, while experiencing the impeccable Aman service.
Other than its location and golf-inspired design, what do you believe sets the hotel apart from other properties in the Aman portfolio?
Each Aman is so different; they are all set in a dramatic location, with painstaking energy and resources devoted to a harmonious integration with its surroundings. This is factored into everything from architecture, landscaping, cuisine and style of service and with every new Aman comes an enhancement to an already very diverse collection.
How did you preserve the locations natural landscape when creating the Playa Grande Club & Reserve?
During renovation of the golf course, it was decided to relocate a number of holes, and decrease the overall acreage the course would cover. It was paramount that we re-establish as much of the original rainforest, introducing solely native plants, while actively working with the Santo Domingo University, to help with the preservation of endangered plant species.
Why is the Dominican Republic the perfect location for this property?
From the stunning beaches to the 60-foot cliffs of the legendary Robert Trent Jones Sr. designed golf course, recently renovated by his son, Rhys Jones, and unspoiled natural preserve, Playa Grande, the land in which Amanera is situated, is a perfect mix of sky, earth, and water. Occupying more than 2,000 acres on the north coast of the Dominican Republic with almost 7 miles of coastline overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, Playa Grande is an unusually beautiful place.
Dominated by its eponymous mile-long beach, followed by a more intimate beach, Playa Preciosa, Playa Grande sits on virtually untouched land with a natural beauty framed by soft green mountains that culminate in a plateau of rolling hills, lush with native trees and royal palms. The surrounding area is pristine and unpopulated with underground springs supplying abundant fresh water.
With its world-class Robert Trent Jones, Sr. golf course – the course in the western hemisphere with the most holes on the ocean (10 holes on the ocean)- stunning beaches, verdant mountains, dramatic cliffs and natural preserve, Playa Grande offers residents and guests everything in one perfect location.
Playa Grande is committed to maintaining the natural beauty of its land while providing the highest standards of design, service, and privacy in a one-of-a-kind private residential resort community.
Amanera opened 23 November 2015, and is becoming the resort of choice for discerning travellers, who value understated luxury, in the Caribbean.
What challenges did you face in this project?
Our commitment to re-introduce certain endangered native plant species to the property meant that, rather than purchasing mature plants from nurseries, we had to create our own on site nursery. Ensuring successful propagation was an arduous process, which however has allowed us to showcase the indigenous Dominican flora on the property. Also through our nature discover center, we will aim to introduce children to the local flora and fauna, while educating them on environmental protection. Finally, our on-property organic farm will also give children the opportunity to understand and hands-on the concept of farm to fork, an integral part of our entire cuisine concept.
How does the hotel offer an experience as opposed to just a place to stay?
Aman is an experiential collection of hotels that provide more than just rooms. As much as the hotels design, facilities and service, the actual destination within which the hotel is set is equaly important. Aman seek out all the little nuances of a destination, and will provide their guests with experiences that no one else can.
Why casitas instead of hotel rooms and suites?
Amanera comprises 25 casitas (rooms) and a limited number of Aman branded Villas which are for sale and rent. Aman, introduced the term ‘villa integrated resort’ to the world, back in 1988, with the opening of its flagship first property ‘Amanpuri’ in Phuket. Amanpuri, in addition to the resort, still has to this date, villas, which belong to private individuals and which are serviced by the resort. Amanera follows along the same lines, and will bring to the island of the Dominican Republic a new product of the highest standards.
Integrated development has seen a rise the past few years. The resort takes care of the residence, of the maintenance and the staff, and the property is actually run like a hotel. An ideal option for niche clientele who are seeking hassle free ownership coupled with a resort, brand and design they really appreciate.
The quality of our resort and the attractiveness of the investment opportunity are generating strong interest from discerning North Americans, looking for the next best destination to live unique memories and establish a second home.