Juan Bancalari

Juan Bancalari

President, Puerto Bahia
Gianfranco Fini

Gianfranco Fini

Architect, Studio Fini

What opportunities has your company seen in the marina and coastal tourism sector?

JUAN BANCALARI I've long felt that there is a promising future for the Dominican Republic in the tourism sector. In particular, I believe SamanĂ¡ is one of the most beautiful areas in the country, yet its infrastructure was not fully developed. I was also inspired to get involved in tourism after traveling around Europe and observing the tourism industry there. Therefore, after many meetings, I decided to start a business with some colleagues in 2006. Puerto Bahia Marine & Residences is a beautiful getaway in the Caribbean surrounded by mountains, the sea, and a beautiful marina. In SamanĂ¡, summer lasts all year long. We offer the highest quality and luxury, whether it is in our exclusive Bannister Hotel or any of our different offerings in terms of apartments, villas, and townhouses.

GIANFRANCO FINI When I first arrived here, there were golf already courses and many people living in the higher part of the complex. However, there was no marina area and I developed the proposal of the marina in Casa de Campo. It was a very innovative and unique project in the country that raised many doubts about its viability. It was a tough project in which I have truly believed since the first moment because infrastructure is a must when aiming to attract tourists or investors. Over the years, the marina has become a key element in this complex, and today there are many shops and restaurants on the marina's promenade. In fact, we expanded the area due to its success, and that provided Casa de Campo with higher value-added. Since developing the marina we have seen similar projects in other areas of the country, such as Punta Cana. I have to say that when I first came to the country some 25 years ago to develop a particular project for a friend, many things were lacking, and over the years I have seen a huge improvement and development in the country's infrastructure and economy. There's not a day that goes by when I'm not amazed by the speed and pace of development in the Dominican Republic.

How is the project developing?

JB When we developed the idea in 2006, we envisioned four stages of development. We finished the first stage in 2010, which included the construction of luxury apartments and 3,000 sqm of commercial areas, including about 50 hotel rooms. So far, we have sold 90% of the 185 housing units we built in the first stage for approximately $100 million. The real estate crisis has affected our plans, however, and that's why we decided to include a hotel in the business model. The hotel diversifies our business so that we do not have to depend as much on real estate. The next stage of development will include a larger hotel as well as an additional commercial area. We have about 80 hectares under development in Puerto Bahia over the next five years. After the development is finished, Puerto Bahia will consist of about 400 housing units in total.

GF The entire proposal process was endless, and I had to modify the initial project proposal up to five times due to budget issues. After almost five years of negotiations and project modifications, the company gave the green light to the marina project. In only eight months, everything was sold out, even though we still had to find a construction company that would build the project. Due to the success of the marina area in Casa de Campo we had to expand its commercial areas, and, for example, a shopping mall was placed within the complex. The residential units around the marina were fully developed in the first stage of construction. Over the years, the marina has become a key element within the complex, and the transit of ships and boats in the area has considerably increased due to the attractiveness of the area. Also, another of the advantages of investing in the harbor here is that it will always be yours.

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