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Bahia Principe Hotels & Resorts has rolled out the brand’s Experiences, a portfolio reorganization, at each of its properties. There are three distinct ExperiencesTreasure, Escape, and Friends & Family—that travelers can now choose from in order to book the ideal vacation for their needs. Each of the three Experiences is targeted at various hotels and resorts while giving your clients optimal experiences and activities to make their vacation dreams come true.

Recommend reached out to Helen Montijano, v.p. of sales & marketing for Bahia Principe Hotels & Resorts in the U.S. and Canada markets, to learn more about how these experiences work, what they offer, where you can book them, and what she thinks about the current climate on travel to the Dominican Republic. She weighs in on what her properties have done to ensure safe travel to the Dominican Republic and the importance of travel advisors to relay these messages.

Michelle Marie Arean (MMA): What inspired the Bahia Principe’s new Experiences concept?

Helen Montijano (HM): At Bahia Principe, we understand the importance of constantly improving our offerings to better meet the needs of our valued guests. That mindset led us to a portfolio re-categorization, which began last year with the creation of these Experiences, as a means to make it easier for potential guests to define the property that would best allow them to experience happiness. Consequently, we created three segmented Experiences, each with updated programming in the pillars of entertainment, sports, food & beverage, allowing us to offer customized stays for every type of guest.

MMA: Do properties offer more than one type of Experiences?

HM: No, each property is segmented into only one of the Experiences, and the pillars under each segment cater to a distinct type of traveler. For instance, guests seeking seclusion and amenities that highlight the local environment should opt for our Treasure properties, those looking for a lively, adults-only escape for two can choose one of our Escape Experience properties and others hoping to spend quality time with loved ones or traveling in large groups would enjoy our Family & Friends properties with comprehensive programming for guests of all ages. While each Experience is complete with its own personality, all share our commitment to remarkable service, top-tier amenities and a superior quality stay.

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The Kids Spa at Grand Bahia Principe Turquesa. (Photo courtesy of Bahia Principe Hotels and Resorts.)

MMA: Can families also participate in the Treasure Experience or is it an adults-only programming?

HM: Yes, families should also consider staying at two of our family-friendly Treasure Experience properties, as these invite guests of all ages to connect with the incredible natural environment surrounding the properties. Tucked away in off-the beaten path locations, Luxury Bahia Principe Cayo Levantado and Grand Bahia Principe Cayacoa are sanctuaries that boast a charming allure highlighting the very best of Samana, which is mirrored in the programming we’ve created for the segment. For example, these properties’ entertainment pillar highlights and promotes local cultural immersion through activities appropriate for all ages. Similarly, food and beverage offerings at Treasure properties celebrate local products and organic ingredients unique to the destinations.

MMA: What is the schedule like for these experiences? Is it a full day of activities?

HM: Now that Experiences have been rolled out, the programming remains active all day. Thanks to our four pillars of focus—entertainment, sports, food & drinks—guests have access to a vast array of options that allow them to pack their trip itinerary as much as they wish. While programming varies each week, activities included under each segment are customized to better meet the needs of travelers seeking that particular Experience.

MMA: In the Family & Friends Experience option, is there any downtime for parents to escape and do something alone?

HM: Our Family & Friends Experience caters to families, which is the reason why most of the programming offered includes activities that can be enjoyed by guests of all ages. While many of these have been created with the little ones in mind, of course, parents are also invited to enjoy some serenity during their stay. The kids’ clubs have dedicated and trained staff that are able watch over kids ages 4 to 12 and have extended hours of operation while teens can enjoy video games or play pool at the teens club, allowing parents to take a romantic break. For example, parents can enjoy soothing treatments at Bahia Spa, have dinner at a specialty restaurant, or depending on the destination, visit the Bahia Principe Village for lively entertainment options.

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Exploring the cenotes. (Photo courtesy of Bahia Principe Hotels & Resorts.)

MMA: Other than the family-friendly activities offered at the Family & Friends Experience specific hotels, are there any additional activities they can participate in off property?

HM: As part of their stay at our Family & Friends Experience properties, guests can participate in Eco-Bahia activities, aimed at conserving and protecting the nature surrounding our properties in the Riviera Maya. From the conservation of sea turtles and flora to the rescue of the region’s wildlife, guests have the opportunity to give out a helping hand to the surrounding community.

Also, for an additional fee, all Bahia Principe properties offer guests the option to experience the surrounding destinations through several activities centered in culture, history and nature. For example, guests staying at any property in Punta Cana can pay to experience a chocolate and coffee tour or to jump on board a modern catamaran to nearby island Isla Saona. Similarly, those staying at our properties in the Riviera Maya can experience the destination’s historical richness, with highlight activities including a tour to Chichen Itza or visits to local cenotes for an added cost.

MMA: Can you give us an example of what a day for one of these Experiences would be like?

HM: While it depends on the Experience of choice and which specific activities are available at the moment, here’s what a day at Luxury Bahia Principe Ambar, an Escape Experience property would look like.

Those looking for a hearty breakfast that will power the rest of the day should start their morning at Los Corales Restaurant, and indulge in some traditional mangu (smashed plantains) with salami and fried cheese. After, guests can participate in one of several sports style fitness activities available, such as Zumba or body pump, followed by relaxation by the pool. For lunch, guests can head to Rodizio Restaurant Arrecife, a Brazilian steakhouse by the beach or, if scheduled, attend a gastronomy event featuring the latest trends in global cuisine. For afternoon fun, guests can participate in a cocktail workshop highlighting the latest mixology trends, while sipping down one or two locally-inspired recipes. Those looking for a livelier afternoon activity can let go at the pool’s foam party. Heading into the night, Limbo Restaurant promises guests a gourmet culinary experience in an adults-only setting. To wrap up the night, guests can attend a themed party—like silent disco or the white party at the beach—or experience a burlesque show.

MMA: How would an agent go about booking their client for one of these Experiences?

HM: There is no booking required for the Experiences, just the regular booking of the hotel, as the programming—entertainment and daily activities—are included within each property.

MMA: Do these Experiences have an additional cost?

HM: The Experiences bring no additional charge for guests; every amenity that has been part of our all-inclusive offerings remains included. That being said, certain activities that are part of these Experiences, such as spa treatment and access to the golf course, do require additional fees.

MMA: How can travel advisors learn more about the new Experience categories?

HM: Throughout our years of operation, we have worked on creating a collaborative dynamic where agents, our most valued partners, can serve as brand ambassadors and have access to the tools they need to effectively communicate our brand differentiators. Experiences is no exception to the story. Currently, we are in the process of training agents on the Experiences and what each entails through monthly webinars and in-person workshops.

Travel agents looking to get a head start can watch the following videos to learn more about the Experiences:

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Activities for children at Bahia Principe.

MMA: How is Bahia Principe dealing with the latest news coming out regarding tourists having fatalities during their travels to the DR?

HM: We work daily to ensure a safe and comfortable stay for all our guests and currently, all of our properties are operating as normal as the cause of these unfortunate cases are still under investigation. Thus far we are not seeing a serious impact in terms of overall bookings and there’s been reporting that flight bookings are also bouncing back. We’re truly appreciative of our guests’ continued support and collaboration through these times and have assured all our guests with current bookings that our resorts are safe.

MMA: What would you suggest travel agents tell their clients who might be worried about traveling to the DR after seeing all the hype in the news lately?

HM: We are very appreciative of all our trade partners and understand that they may be facing some challenging questions from their loyal clients. We want to assure them that the safety and comfort of our guests remains at the core of our company values. Our hotels hold a number of prestigious certifications in the areas of health and safety, and we have passed all inspections by the Dominican Republic’s health department. The relationships we have built with the trade are the result of many years of collaboration and making sure to provide the best possible vacation experience to their customers. We are thankful for their continued faith in our brand and assure them they can continue to trust us to fulfill their client’s expectations.

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