True to Hollywood style, a famous movie star recently underwent an extravagantly expensive facelift in the Caribbean after realizing the ravages of age had caught up with her…
A two-year $40 million renovation, just completed, has given a new lease on life to the beloved El Embajador, a Royal Hideaway Hotel in the Dominican Republic, renowned for its leading role in “Godfather II” starring Al Pacino. In that classic movie, El Embajador doubled for the hotel in Havana, Cuba, where much of the action took place.
While the outside face of the hotel, located in downtown Santo Domingo, has kept the pre-Revolutionary look of the historic city, the 298 guest rooms inside are 21st Century high tech in every way possible. (Ever had a modern fabric steamer in your hotel room? No need for a klutzy ironing board.) El Embajador calls their guest rooms “Smart rooms.”
While the hotel was undergoing this renovation — from 2015 to January of this year – sections of the property were restricted with a sign reading, “We are constructing a dream.” And they were.
Today, every modern lighting fixture in the rooms comes on when you enter — and then goes dark when the sensors know you have left; there’s no need to put your key in a slot in order to save electricity. The bathtub is part of the bathroom wall, with an electronic screen that comes down for privacy or rolls back up if you would like to be part of the whole room and, perhaps, watch TV while you bathe.
El Embajador has something that no other hotel in Santo Domingo has: an outdoor, ground-level swimming pool set in a lush 108,000-square-foot park full of tropical flowers and thick greenery. Swimmers in this 80-foot-long pool feel as though they are floating in the midst of a well-landscaped jungle. As expected in with such a beautiful setting, a number of weddings have taken place by the neighboring giant banyan tree in the garden. A separate spa and fitness center has its own smaller indoor pool, and nearby a new “Garden Tent” provides event space for 700 people in yet another tropical setting.
A convenient feature for guests is its close proximity to the historic section of Santo Domingo, about a 10-minute taxi ride door-to-door. The Colonial Zone of the city, which is on the World Heritage UNESCO list, is the oldest continually inhabited European settlement in the Americas. Founded in 1498 by Bartholomew Columbus, Christopher’s brother, it has the first cathedral, the first hospital, first customs house and first university (Aquinas U.). The Colonial Zone is walled, and very little has changed from its original grid, including the cobblestoned Calle Los Damas, the new World’s oldest paved street, dating from 1502.
Back at El Embajador, all the rooms are ultra modern, bright and large – but the largest rooms of all are in the humongous Presidential Suite on the 9th floor, a private 2,271-square-foot palace that offers a giant boudoir with an apartment-sized walk-in closet, a living room, a sleek kitchen, a private access elevator, a vertical garden, secretarial services, a private concierge and butler… and a magnificent two-person bathtub on the terrace for outdoor soaking in the sunlight high above the city. Well, after all, would you expect anything less for $3,250, per night?