Frank Rainieri, Distinguished Caribbean Hotelier Addressed UNWTO Conference
FRANK RAINIERI HONORED BY UN WORLD TOURISM ORGANIZATION FOR LIFELONG CONTRIBUTIONS TO CARIBBEAN TOURISM
Honors Presented by Jamaican Minister of Tourism at Gala Awards Dinner in Montenegro Punta
Punta Cana, Dominican Republic– Grupo Puntacana is proud to announce that Frank Rainieri, the resort’s founder, president and CEO, and one of the most influential businessmen in the Caribbean, was recently honored by the United Nations World Tourism Organization (WTO) for his “innovation and [the] global impact of [his] contribution to the development of tourism in the Caribbean”. At a gala awards ceremony held on November 8 in Jamaica, Mr. Rainieri was honored alongside Sandals Resorts founder and Chairman Gordon “Butch” Stewart and Carnival Corp. Chairman Micky Arison.
The Honorable Ed Bartlett, the Minister of Tourism for Jamaica, conferred the award and celebrated Mr. Rainieri and his peers for their “contribution to the development of regional tourism in land, sea and air.” In addition to receiving recognition for his work, Mr. Rainieri participated in a Plenary 2 roundtable discussion at the WTO conference, “From Boardroom Decisions to Destination Development.” The session was moderated by Prof. Donald Hawkins, Professor Emeritus of Management and Tourism Discussion at George Washington University. It featured private sector leaders from diverse industry sectors, who discussed emerging trends and key drivers of destination development over the next 10 years.
Mr. Rainieri spoke to how sustainable tourism partnerships contribute to job creation, connectivity and inclusive growth. The Punta Cana region of the Dominican Republic is a case study in Mr. Rainieri’s commitment to sustainable tourism. His efforts in the region have transformed Punta Cana into one of the world’s most prized tourism destinations. Mr. Rainieri, in fact, helped created the “Punta Cana” brand itself, in the 1970s. It is now the most recognized Dominican brand in the world.
In doing so, he has helped Punta Cana thrive. Mr. Rainieri is president of Grupo Puntacana Foundation, a non-profit entity that advocates social responsibility and ecological programs. He has overseen the creation of the Oscar de la Renta Pediatric Center, which was built in Mr. De la Renta’s memory by Grupo Puntacana Foundation. Located in the Verón Punta Cana region of La Altagracia, the pediatric center renders services to Dominican children free of charge – diagnosing and treating illness, offering regular checkups ad immunizations, taking x-rays and scans and tracking children’s growth progress.
Mr. Rainieri is also the owner of the first international commercial and private airport in the world, the Punta Cana International Airport. It is a modern facility that incorporates innovative and eco-friendly designs, and now ranks among the busiest airports in the Caribbean.
Puntacana Group has earned numerous international awards for its commitment to sustainable tourism. These include the prestigious World Tourism and Travel Council’s “Tourism for Tomorrow” award for Destination Stewardship, the Condé Nast Traveler “World Savers Award” and the “Global Vision” award from Travel & Leisure Magazine. The resort also earned a Platinum Award in the HSMAI and National Geographic Traveler “Leader in Sustainable Tourism Award” category.
He has served as President of the National Association of Hotels and Restaurants in the Dominican Republic, as well as President of the Dominican Association of Airports. He also serves on the Board of Directors of the 2
Caribbean Hotel Association, the WPO International, the Clinton Global Initiative and the World Travel and Tourism Council.
In tourism, he has served as: President of National Association of Hotels and Restaurants of the DR, (ASONAHORES); and is an active member of this association. He is currently President of the Dominican Association of Airports; and serves as a member of the Board of Directors of the Caribbean Hotel Association (CHA); the WPO International; Clinton Global Initiative Org; and the World Travel and Tourism Council.
About Grupo Puntacana
Punta Cana story’s begins in 1969 when a group of American investors, led by Ted Kheel, purchased 30 square miles of undeveloped land that stretched along five miles of the coast of La Altagracia province, on the country’s eastern region known for its pristine white-sand beaches lined with thousands of coconut trees. At the time, there was no road access to this particular region. Years later, entrepreneur Frank R. Rainieri joined the original investors with the vision of creating a tourism community that respected the surrounding natural habitat while at the same time providing visitors with a world-class vacation experience. Although at the time the area was known as Punta Borrachón, Rainieri wisely decided to change the name to Punta Cana because of the palm leaf – in the particular shape of a fan – that grows freely in the region.
That is when in 1971 the Grupo Puntacana SA formally opened the doors of the first hotel in the region: the Punta Cana Club. The new hotel featured 10 two-room villas, a club house, a small community for employees, an electricity power station, and a runway that was more like a clean stretch of road where small planes could land. The area, however, was quite isolated. The nearest town was Higüey, and it took six hours to get there from the capital city of Santo Domingo. It was understood that a new road to the region was needed. Even so, connecting Punta Cana with the nearest airport took four hours.
Ever since then, the Grupo Puntacana has grown extensively and now consists of many different types of businesses, philanthropic programs and educational institutions, including Puntacana Resort & Club, Punta Cana International Airport, Grupo Puntacana Foundation, Puntacana International School. Puntacana Village, Puntacana Tourism Service Corporation, the security corps “Guardianes del Este” and Puntacana Laundry Service.
With more than 2,000 employees and an extensive list of areas of expertise to offer, the Grupo Puntacana is committed to supporting the dreams of those that promote leadership, ethics, innovation and loyalty in all work areas.