Puntacana Resort Expanding

Puntacana Resort & Club in the Dominican Republic will be getting bigger over the next couple of years. Now the home of the original P.B. Dye-designed La Cana Golf Course, the resort will open the new Tom Fazio-designed Corales layout in March, with a second P.B. Dye design, Hacienda, to debut in 2010.

La Cana and Hacienda will be open to resort guests, while the provide Corales will allow access to members and residents of the surrounding community. Corales, which will feature six holes beside the Caribbean, will be augmented by a beach club and separate clubhouse.

La Cana helped make the Dominican Republic become one of the Greater Antilles' premier destinations. That reputation, which will assuredly grow with the new tracks by Fazio and Dye, has grown with the development of other top courses on the island.

The resort's developer is hoping Fazio's influence will ratchet up Puntacana's desirability another notch. After all, the Florida-based designer has more credits on Golf Digest's list of "America's 100 Greatest Golf Courses" and Golfweek's collection of "America's Best" than any other living designer.

"We considered several top architects before entrusting Tom Fazio with the resplendent stretch of land that is Corales," said Frank R. Rainieri, chairman of Grupo Puntacana, owners and operators of the resort.

Situated on a stretch of land along several rocky cliffs, the 7,500-yard Corales course will feature a dramatic backdrop. Its 18th hole will have a unique "double-shot" that dares players to try to drive over the ocean and the cliffs of the Bay of Corales to the fairway on the other side. Among the members who may take a swing at the course are current residents, famed Dominican couturier Oscar de la Renta and performers Julio Iglesias and Mikhail Baryshnikov, who have beachfront residences. For the course's inaugural year, guests of Tortuga Bay will also be able to play Corales.

The Hacienda layout will be the resort's first inland course when it opens next year. In addition to golf, the facility will have a clubhouse, restaurants and tennis courts.

The original La Cana course stretches 7,152 yards from the tips. The track boasts 12 holes with sea views and another four along the Caribbean. Perhaps its signature hole is the seventh, which features a "Hecklebirnie" - a cluster of 21 pot bunkers that P.B. Dye has called a "golfer's purgatory." Once the Corales and Hacienda courses open for play, the Puntacana Resort & Club plans to revamp La Cana with new landscaping and tee upgrades.

Visitors have several entertainment options at the resort besides golf. The de la Renta-designed La Cana Golf & Beach Club provides an elegant setting for a game of backgammon, a bite to eat, or a place to relax. Several other dining options are also available. In addition, an experienced teaching staff is on hand at the Puntacana Golf Academy.

History of Puntacana

The development of Puntacana resort dates back to 1971 when Dominican businessman and hotelier Frank R. Rainieri and Theodore W. Kheel, a prominent New York attorney and labor mediator, created a partnership to construct a resort and real estate community. Maintaining a dedication to sustainable tourism with an eye toward protecting the environment, the resort has since grown to encompass over 26 square miles. Besides the three 18-hole courses, it now includes Tortuga Bay, Six Senses Spa, the Puntacana Ecological Foundation, three residential communities (Corales, Hacienda and Arrecife), a full-service marina, seven restaurants, a shopping village, and Punta Cana International Airport. In 1997, Iglesias and de la Renta joined the group as co-investors and have made the property their home.

The Puntacana Ecological Foundation (PCEF) is a non-profit foundation established in 1994 by the Grupo Puntacana to protect and restore the natural resources of the Punta Cana region and contribute to the sustainable development of the island nation. The foundation is endowed with a 1,500-acre ecological park and reserve filled with an array of local flora and fauna, experimental gardens, and a petting zoo. The foundation works directly with the resort and numerous partners and researchers from around the world (including those from Harvard, Columbia and Cornell universities) to protect and contribute to the use of natural resources for the sustainable development of destinations. Major projects include providing education and health care to the local community as well as protecting and conserving the area's coral reefs.

For more information and reservations, call 888/442-2262 or visit http://www.puntacana.com.