Punta Cana History

Dominican Republic Punta Cana Resort
1492: Cristopher Columbus land at Hispaniola Island
1496: Santo Domingo become first capital of the first Spanish colony in Western hemisphere
1515: All the gold has been mined out, Spaniards move on to Mexico
1697: Western part of the island comes under a French control
1791: In French part the slaves revolt and later 1804 they declare independence from France
1809: Eastern part of the island returns under Spanish control
1844: Eastern Part calls itself Dominican Republic and declares independence from Spain
1930: General Trujillo establishes personal dictatorship
1937: Army massacres about 20,000 Haitians living near the border
1961: Trujillo is assassinated and later leftist president is elected
1966: Trujillos protege is elected president for the first time and later is reelected 5 times
1979: Two hurricanes leave 200 thousand people homeless
1969: Americans buy land in Punta Cana
1971: First hotel built in Punta Cana
1978: Club Med builds big resort
1984: Commercial Airport Open in Punta Cana

Today Punta Cana is a world famous resort. But less than 40 years ago only few people knew or visited Punta Cana.

In 1969 a group of American investors bought 30 square miles (77 km²) of undeveloped land

bordering about 5 miles of the east coast of the Dominican Republic. The land was mostly impenetrable jungle with no access roads. There were only a few fishing villages along the coast. However the beaches were some of the most beautiful on the island with their white sand, coconut palms, crystal clear waters and protective coral reefs.

The land they bought was known as Punta Borrachón (“Drunken Point”) and the investors quickly realized they needed to change that name to something that sounded better and so Dominican entrepreneur and Frank Rainieri decided to use the name of the first hotel in the area called The Punta Cana Club.

It was not long before Punta Cana started to attract attention from the rest of the world. And the group of investors attracted among others Dominican fashion designer Oscar de la Renta and international music artist Julio Iglesias.

In 1971 the first hotel was built in Punta Cana. This hotel could accommodate 40 guests and consisted of 10 rustic cabins. The access to the hotel was by a dirt airstrip for small planes.

Club Med | © Club Med

In 1978 the French resort chain Club Med built a 350 room Club Med Punta Cana. The area is still fairly isolated. However toothpaste company Colgate was forced to invests in the first paved road that connect Punta Cana with the rest of the island. Instead of 6 hours it now only takes 30 minutes for the trip to the town of Higuey.

In 1982, after many years of negotiation with the Dominican government, the owners of Puntacana resort are allowed to build airstrip that would allow big jumbo jets to land here.

In 1984 the airstrip is opened and during the first year of operation the number of visitors grows to the airport received 2,976 passengers. In 30 years there will be almost 4 millions people landing at this airport.

Currently there are over 60 resorts in Punta Cana. These resorts, along with other tourism related business are backbone of the local economy. About a quarter of the country’s gross domestic product comes from Punta Cana.