When did you open Tubagua Ecolodge and what inspired you to do so?
I first came to the Dominican Republic in 1983 as a journalist to write a feature for the Toronto Star about Playa Dorada, the new tourist destination in Puerto Plata. I came back again and again until I finally stayed.
I started off writing for the country’s only English-language newspaper, Santo Domingo News. I then went on to publish a local Spanish-language newspaper and to produce a tourism-related TV show.
However, I’ve learned the lesson of the Caribbean: survival depends on wearing more than one hat. I opened my restaurant, Cafe Cito, which gained renown during its time as a fun, funky expat hangout. In 2008, I opened Tubagua Plantation Eco-Village in the mountains behind Puerto Plata. I am also the North Coast’s Canadian Honorary Consul - I was appointed in 1988, after a phone call that woke me up on my 30th birthday. It’s been two decades now and there’s lots of stories to tell.
In 1982, charter flights started bringing planeloads of tourists to Playa Dorada, to this virgin region where they built the country’s first all-inclusive resorts. During that first tidal wave of tourists, local fishermen were getting pulled off their boats to wait on tables, delivering dinners like surf ‘n’ turf, and getting raked over coals by some fancy tourist when a steak wasn’t medium-rare. At the time, nobody knew about medium-rare. Yet Dominicans have amazing resilience, and the ability to smile whether the tip is 10 pesos or 10 dollars.
Nowadays, people are learning this isn’t just a beach resort destination; there is a growing interest in eco-tourism, and people are discovering the real Dominican Republic. They’re also realizing that there’s a real sense of community for visitors on the North Coast.
What do you love most about Tubagua Ecolodge?
One of the things I enjoy most is sharing the things I’ve discovered living here… the best local rums and the hand-rolled cigars that are among the top in the world… the fresh foods and local recipes… the hidden-away places that most tourists don’t get to see. My standing offer at Tubagua Ecolodge is that if you spend your first two days here, I will use my insider knowledge to help custom-plan the rest of my guests’ trip.
What has been the most rewarding part of opening Tubagua Ecolodge?
Living in the islands doesn’t provide typical financial security, such as a pension to look forward to. And I haven’t afforded a BMW… but, my life pretty much belongs to me.
How has Tab helped Tubagua Ecolodge?
Tab is easy to use. Guests like the security and convenience of processing the charge from their own phone.
Why would you recommend Tab to another business?
Tab is prompt in response to support requests, and provides personalized attention to businesses.
Why is the Dominican Republic a great place to visit?
The Dominican Republic offers world-class travel experiences; it has so much more to offer than just palm trees and beaches. It’s also very easy to get to from so many places.
You can find out more about Tubagua Ecolodge on their website at https://tubagua.com/.