The woman looks serious, if not a bit devilish, as she holds a hair dryer and looks intently to the side. The large mural at the Renaissance Santo Domingo Jaragua Hotel & Casino was created by artist Omar Garcia, who is better known by the name Angurria. The artist said the mural was inspired by his mother, a hairstylist.
There are six murals on the property by Angurria, who also created murals for Lin-Manuel Miranda’s film “In the Heights.” The murals are located in three executive boardrooms and in the newly renovated Garden Lobby.
These artworks are just some of the Instagrammable highlights awaiting guests at this upscale, resort-like property in the Dominican capital. A friend and I snapped away during a recent stay at the Renaissance.
“Renaissance Hotels invites you to connect with the destination through moments of spontaneous discovery and discover hidden gems — like art,” said Manel Atie, a spokeswoman for the hotel. “Our walls are covered by what it means to be Dominican for those artists such as Angurria and Carina Crousset. Our guests are able to walk through our murals and learn about Dominican history and values.”
The hotel is just a few steps from George Washington Avenue, better known as El Malecon, which hugs the Caribbean coast and attracts many tourists with its hotels, casinos, monuments and palm trees. A large “SD” sculpture is perfect for Instagram photos, as are the vibrantly colored sunsets this city is blessed with.
At the Renaissance, which comprises roughly 300 units, luxury comes to life through color and unexpected details.
The two Presidential Suites stand as the epitome of bliss and comfort, providing a spacious haven with cozy furnishings and stunning decor. The dining table transforms into a pool table. A colorful hammock beckons from the balcony, promising a little open-air relaxation. There’s exercise equipment for a private workout and a private kitchen that can come with a personal chef who will create a menu and prepare meals.
Atie said the Renaissance attracts a great number of frequent travelers, many on the road upward of 100 nights a year. With that in mind, a lot of detail has been put into the hotel’s fitness center.
It is open 24/7, although currently it is accessible by appointment only. The center has cardiovascular equipment, elliptical and treadmill machines with access to live TV and Netflix, exercise bikes, free weights and strength equipment.
Zui Spa at Jaragua, meanwhile, is where guests can unwind after a long day or flight. My own spa experience at Zui was relaxing and rejuvenating, with deep strokes during the deep-tissue massage.
“We have not had a guest that has stepped into Zui without leaving relaxed,” Atie said proudly. “Our essential oils were specially designed for those wanting to unwind, exhilarate and balance.”
The JW Marriott Hotel Santo Domingo
Nearby, the JW Marriott Hotel Santo Domingo caters to business travelers who specialize in consulting, finance and sports. The property has 150 rooms and is much busier and buzzier than its sister property, the Renaissance.
The real gem here is the Presidential Suite. At more than 2,000 square feet, it offers stunning panoramic views of the city. There’s a large bedroom with a king bed, master bathroom with a Jacuzzi bath, a vast living area, a private kitchen and an office.
The bedroom includes a richly furnished living area and a work desk with sophisticated decor and fine details.
The property also includes master and junior suites on each floor that are located at the corners to provide sweeping views of the skyline.
Through the end of March, the hotel is pouring its own brand of beer in its Vertygo 101 Lounge & Bar, its distinctive glass-floored rooftop lounge and bar. The hotel says it is the first in the Dominican Republic to develop its own brew.
The beer is produced off-site by Chato, a local craft brewer.
On the town
For those wishing to sightsee in Santo Domingo, there are a variety of options. The Zona Colonial offers sites like Museo de las Casas Reales (Museum of the Royal Houses) and Parque Independencia, and Three Eyes National Park, an open-air, limestone cave with clear lakes, is a must-see.
Colonial Tours is a great option for tours, and our guide, Rafael, was knowledgeable, friendly and fun to spend the day with during a hop-on, hop-off van tour.
A lunch break took us to El Buho Cafe Restaurant, which has everything from Dominican food to pasta. The frozen margaritas are a real treat, especially when sipped in the restaurant’s beautiful outdoor area. My pasta was superb, but the ambience is what really made the experience for me.
For rates and more information on the Renaissance Santo Domingo Jaragua Hotel & Casino, visit marriott.com/en-us/hotels/sdqgw-renaissance-santo-domingo-jaragua-hotel-and-casino. o learn more about the JW Marriott, visit marriott.com/en-us/hotels/sdqjw-jw-marriott-hotel-santo-domingo.
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