Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Family Scandal in Paradise

Here's something you may not find in the NY Times society column:
46-year old American resident Paul Sandford Guggenheim is suspected to have committed suicide at the Palacio de la Justicia Jail where he was held. The case file charged Guggenheim with taking advantage of children and teenagers in vulnerable situations, paying them in exchange for sexual favors.

His hung body was found in the cell's bathroom by a fellow inmate at the Palacio de Justicia. Prosecutors had delayed formally charging Guggenheim until Friday, 18 August, due to the holiday celebrated on the Wednesday, 16 August.

The deceased had been arrested on 11 August 2017 after being caught infraganti having sex with a 15-year old male child at his Piantini apartment. The case file says Guggenheim had offered to pay the child RD$2,500 for the sexual favors. Guggenheim reportedly had picked up the child from the Plaza Juan Barón on the Malecón.

The news comes as a surprise as Guggenheim was country representative for Counterpart International, a leading development non-governmental organization.

As reported in El Dia, neighbors in the Piantini apartment building where he lived, had alerted the authorities on 31 March that vulnerable minors were visiting Guggenheim in his apartment. The minors would visit at night and leave in the early morning. This would be confirmed by the surveillance videos of the building, according to the case file.

The file mentions two specific cases of sexual abuse of minors. Reportedly, the deceased had sexually abused two teenagers, ages 13 and 15 years old. The 13-year old said he made a living begging on the Malecón and admitted to having sex for money. The file says the minor explained that the following morning Guggenheim would drop him off where he had picked him up the previous evening and pay him RD$1,000 for the services.

State prosecutors had been investigating the case, culminating to the arrest on 11 August.

During the search of Guggenheim's apartment on 11 August, the Police reportedly found a significant number of condoms, lubricants, sex potency pills, children-sized shoes and clothing, mobile phones, laptops, and tablets.

Reports are that Guggenheim was suspect of having committed suicide on Tuesday, 15 August. El Dia says an autopsy was ordered to confirm the suicide.

Guggenheim is related to the famous Guggenheim family that has created the cultural wonders of the New York Solomon Guggeinheim museum and the Bilbao Guggenheim museum, among others.


Tuesday, August 15, 2017

New Way to See the Colonial Zone

Two companies are offering drinks and bike tours in the Colonial City of Santo Domingo. These are La Coroleta (Beer Bike) and Bike Party, as reported in Diario Libre.

The Beer Bike has capacity for 16 persons that can pedal away, while enjoying snacks, soft drinks, hydrating drinks, water or beer while touring the city. The company offers wi-fi service so participants can up load their photos and share the experience as they go along. A Go-Pro camera videos the tour and shares this with the participants. The tours for 30-45 minutes start at RD$400 per person.

Party Bike is a new product by Trikke Dominicana and has capacity for 14 persons. Soft drinks, juice and light beers are served. The duration is 1:30 minutes and costs RD$550 per person.

There are also individual bikes for rent if you wish to see the Zone without the buzz of other tourists as a distraction.

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

On High Alert

dr1 reports: Business owners in Boca Chica are complaining about the high level of crime in the municipality. Representatives of the business community argue that the police, rather than preventing crimes, are aggravating the situation by demanding handouts.

Enrique Félix, president of the Union of Small Businesses in Boca Chica, highlighted that on Saturday morning, 22 July 2017, two individuals held up a tourist at gun point, stole her bag and left shooting in the air, all this only 500 meters from the police station.

He said that rather than the police protecting the tourists that some of their members blackmailed and extorted the tourists. Felix cited an example a group of firefighters from New Jersey who the police threatened with guns and demanded US$200 not to be taken to jail.

Felix reported low occupancy in Boca Chica, estimating this at 50% due to the insecurity.


Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Day At The River

I've said it before, there is nothing like an experience on one of the many rivers running throughout the Dominican Republic.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Vacation Planning 101

Be sure to visit the Travel Info Page for helpful tips when planning your vacation to the Dominican Republic. Support the links for great deals and great experiences!

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Take Your Papi to Dinner

The Billini Hotel is inviting the public to a plated three course dinner to be prepared on the evenings of Friday, 28 July, Saturday, 29 July and, Sunday, 30 July 2017 to celebrate Father's Day in the Dominican Republic. Father's Day in the Dominican Republic falls on the last Sunday in July, this year is 30 July.

The dinner cost is RD$2,490 plus government taxes and includes a bottle of red or white wine and a surprise gift. Reservations to 1-809 338-4040

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Smooth Sounds in SDQ

Will you be in SDQ this July? Looking for a classy, cultural alternative to the club scene? Fiesta Sunset Jazz at the rooftop of the Dominican Fiesta Hotel presents a selection of guest jazz musicians from Puerto Rico and the United States on Fridays at 8:30pm. Admission is free to listen to great jazz music. These are presentations by Jazz en Dominicana.

This July the schedule is:
Friday, 7 July: Richard Peña Latin Jazz Band (From San Juan, Puerto Rico)
Friday, 14 July: Peter Novelli´s History of the Blues (From New Orleans, Louisiana)
Friday, 21 July: Rafa Patán Trío (From Troy, New York)
Friday, 28 July: Pavel Polanco-Safadit Latin Jazz Quintet (From Indianapolis, Indiana)

Also enjoy jazz music at O.Livia restaurant on Av. Lope de Vega on Mondays, and Thursdays in July at the Casa de Teatro Jazz Festival.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Caribbean Tourism to Meet in Santo Domingo

dr1 reports: The 21st Caribbean Tourism Exchange (Bolsa Turística del Caribe) opens on 22 June 2017 at the Dominican Fiesta convention center. BTC 2017 will continue through 24 June. Coming for the event are buyers and sellers from the Caribbean, Central America, North and South America.

There will be a workshop on Accessible Tourism Congress, with the theme, "Social Innovation for Development” focusing on sustainable tourism. There will be an artisan exhibition, activities for travel agents, and a gastronomy festival with five chefs from five countries.

The event is organized by Luis Felipe and Luisa Aquino. See the program at

Monday, May 29, 2017

Orange Is The New Gone

Altice announced on Tuesday, 23 May 2017 that Tricom and Orange would be rebranded to be known under the Altice brand of the parent company. Tricom and Orange together have more than 4.8 million customers in the country, who subscribe to cable TV, fixed line, mobile and internet services.

The name change would be completed before the end of the first half of 2018. Altice has announced this is part of a worldwide strategy for the brand. The rebranding comes as Altice USA prepares to go public, with its stock to be traded on the New York Stock Exchange.

Altice, based in Luxembourg, acquired 100% of the French company Orange Dominicana in November 2013. In the previous month it had bought the Dominican telecom firm Tricom.

Michael Combes, executive director of Altice, said in addition to a new logo, the rebranding includes a new musical theme and slogan – "Together has no limits.”

In making the announcement in the United States, Patrick Drahi, founder and controlling shareholder of Altice NV, stated that the rebranding will help the company better compete against Internet giants Facebook, Google and Spectrum and other cable television providers.

The company is now waiting for the approval for the change from the Dominican Telecoms Institute (Indotel).

Friday, May 19, 2017

Punta Cana sale

For those of you who like to save money on travel, Travelzoo.com (one of my favorite sites) has weekly deals that are incredible! Visit their site and sign up for email alerts and weekly notifications like this great deal for a vacation package to Punta Cana for only $599, including airfare, taxes, food and drinks. Click HERE for details.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

T&T Experience

Many people know the islands of Trinidad & Tobago for their awesome dive experiences, but there is much more to do and see in these culturally diverse destinations. Click HERE for more details and happy traveling!

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Cuban beach retreats

Sometimes you need to recover from all the “go here, go there, go everywhere” stress of vacation—and where better to take a breather than on a beach? Each of Cuba’s distinct regions boasts impressive stretches of magnificent sand where you can kick back with a beverage and find some simple peace of mind after enjoying the complexity of the country’s interior. We rounded up the most pristine, picturesque beaches so you can plan some fun in the sun for your time in Cuba. 

For travelers who enjoy all-inclusive resorts and spring break scenes, Veradero’s got what you’re looking for. As the most popular resort town and beach in all of Cuba, Veradero’s 12-mile stretch of all-inclusives and coral reefs make for the perfect mix of tourist attractions and natural beauty. There are more than 60 hotels running along the Hicacos peninsula where Veradero is located making it tourist-friendly (albeit not the best bet for one-of-a-kind experiences).
Cayo Largo del Sur
A small island off the south coast of Cuba’s northwestern coast, Cayo Largo del Sur is best described as a pure Caribbean paradise. The jewel-tone water is nothing short of crystal clear and the powdery white sand makes the beaches glitter. A stay on Cayo Largo del Sur is a guarantee to experience not only the peace of the island’s large, uncrowded beaches but also the excitement of native wildlife such as nesting sea turtles and flamingos.
Playa Sirena
Playa Sirena is only a short ride away from Cuba’s most popular tourist hubs but it feels leagues away from the hustle and bustle of Havana. Day trips to the beach are offered daily from Veradero and Havana—allowing travelers to enjoy kayaks, sun-soaking, bouts of beach football, and tropical drinks from a ranchón-style bar and restaurant before you’ve even had a chance to dust the city off of your shoes.
Playa Girón
If you like to inject your travels with adventure and adrenaline, Playa Girón is the beach for you. Situated on the east side of the notorious Bay of Pigs in the province of Matanzas, the beach has a sharp offshore dropoff that makes for the perfect snorkeling and scuba diving setting. The underwater caves are there just waiting to be explored.
Rancho Luna
Located five miles south of Cienfuegos, Rancho Luna is best described as a toned-down, low-key version of Veradero. It’s beautiful without boasting. Along with no-frills hotel complexes, guests can chose to go for the real Cuban experience and stay in the casa particulares that are available in the area.
Playa Perla Blanca
Nestled within a nature reserve, Playa Perla Blanca is a textbook example of Mother Nature’s pure beauty with its soft sand, lush flora, and refreshing breezes. As of now, there are no hotels or resorts tarnishing the environment, and the beach is relatively accessible despite being located in the northern cays.
Playa Ancón
Located only seven short miles away from the can’t-miss colonial town of Trinidad, Playa Ancón is tucked away on an impressive peninsula that fosters a sense of seclusion from the rest of the world. Playa Ancón is the definitive stretch of white sand, blooming acacia trees, quaint fisherman, and a tranquil atmosphere.  
Playa Los Pinos
We’re giving away a hidden gem here, but this list would not be complete without including Playa los Pinos—located in Camagüey. It’s dreamily picturesque and almost unbelievably empty. But once making the trek to Playa los Pinos, you’ll realize why this beach isn’t in much danger of being spoiled by the masses. If you make it to the end of the impressively bumpy and unkempt dirt track, you’ll be gifted with the playa’s beauty, your own private beach, and the opportunity to explore the surrounding salt marshes where native deer and other wildlife roam.


Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Vacation Planning 101

Be sure to visit the Travel Info Page for helpful tips when planning your vacation to the Dominican Republic. Support the links for great deals and great experiences!

Friday, April 21, 2017

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Taxi, Taxi!!

I have updated the Travel Info Page to include the contact information of Mr. Antonio Bautista. He owns a nice, air-conditioned taxi and will transport you from the airport to your hotel, or provide other transport services with courtesy and reliability.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Caribbean Easter Dish


2 pounds mashed potatoes (hot)

  • 2 eggs (lightly beaten)
  • 3 tablespoons butter (or margarine)
  • 4 teaspoons corn starch
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 4 tablespoons sofrito
  • 4 tablespoons tomato sauce
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Vegetable oil for deep frying

  • How to Make It
    1. Mix together the hot mashed potatoes, eggs, butter and 2 teaspoons of cornstarch. Set aside and let cool.
    2. In a frying pan, heat the olive oil. Add the ground beef and cook until no longer pink. Stir to break up the meat.
    3. Add the sofrito, tomato sauce, oregano and salt to the cooked ground beef. Mix thoroughly. Turn the heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
    4. Spread a spoonful of the potato dough mix in the palm of your hand. Make an indentation in the middle and stuff it with the meat mixture.
    5. Cover the filling with more potato dough. Shape into a ball. Dust the ball lightly with the remaining cornstarch.
    6. Repeat until mix is used up.
    7. Deep fry the stuffed potato balls until golden (about 2 minutes).
    8. Remove and drain on paper towels.

    Monday, April 10, 2017


    The former Monaga Guesthouse is for sale after many years operating as The Foreigner's Club Hotel. It comes fully furnished, is in a good location just off The Conde and a few blocks from the Malecon, and appears to be a great investment opportunity for the right person. We would love to see it back in the hands of gay-friendly owners. Oh... the memories of the old Monaga. The good, the bad and the ugly. LOL

    Click HERE for details

    Friday, April 07, 2017

    Tuesday, April 04, 2017

    Cruising Santo Domingo

    Pullmantur Cruises promotes its Santo Domingo departures On Saturday, 8, 15, 22 and 29 April, Pullmantur Cruises's 720-cabin Zenith departs from Santo Domingo's Sansoucí, Port of Santo Domingo, for a first of many 7-night cruises through 2018.

    Santo Domingo is one of three ports where Zenith passengers can board or disembark during the Caribbean cruise. The others are located in St. Maarten and Barbados.

    The April 2017 trip itinerary is: Santo Domingo - La Romana – Philipsburg (St. Maarten) - St John's (Antigua) – Castries (St. Lucia) – Bridgetown (Barbados) - Santo Domingo.

    The Zenith then returns on 21 October for more 7-night cruises with departures on the 21, 28 October and 4 November. The itinerary for those departures is: Roseau (Dominica) – Bridgetown (Barbados) – St. Georges (Grenada) – St Vincent (Grenadines) – Santo Domingo
    Starting 11 November, the itinerary changes to 7-night cruises departing Santo Domingo with stops in Bassetterre (St. Kitts), Philipsburg (St Maarten), St. John's (Antigua), Castries (St. Lucia), returning to Santo Domingo. Using the same itinerary other cruises will depart on 18, 25 November, 2, 9 and 16, 23 and 30 December.

    The Santo Domingo Sansouci Port of Santo Domingo and La Romana Casa de Campo Port departures and returns make the cruise ship an attractive alternative for residents in the Dominican Republic wishing to get away from it all.

    Tuesday, March 28, 2017

    Tu Hablas Ingles?

    According to a ranking carried out by Education First, the Dominican Republic is the second country in Latin America with the best domination of the English language, moving ten places up the ranking over the last five years.

    The English Proficiency Index (EPI) ranks the DR as moderate in English proficiency, only superseded by Argentina in the region.

    The EPI was determined by testing English language skills of more than 950,000 adults from 72 countries.

    Education First attributes the English proficiency gains in the Dominican Republic to investments made in English education, especially by the Ministry of High Education, Science and Technology with their English Immersion Program and online courses for advance studies.

    Monday, March 13, 2017

    Taste Santo Domingo

    dr1 reports: Taste Santo Domingo 2017 this year is part of the Hub Santo Domingo, the business marketplace organized by the Santo Domingo Chamber of Commerce at the Convention Center of the Ministry of Foreign Relations on the Malecón. The event will take place 16-18 March 2017.

    Master Chef Christine Ha, who has taken cooking with the senses to a new level, will be participating in the event. She is an American chef, writer, and TV host who was the first blind contestant of MasterChef TV program and the winner of its third season in 2012.

    Wednesday, March 08, 2017

    A Change of the Guard

    If you're like us, you've been wondering what happened with the iconic Hotel Mercure Comercial. Boy, if those walls could talk, right? Well, the hotel has been shuttered for awhile and people have been speculating about what's going on. Here's the tea.

    After getting a bit of info from Anthony of Monaga I started investigating. The place was purchased by the Hodelpa chain, which now has three options in the Colonial Zone: the old Mercure, Hodelpa Caribe Colonial (which has been gay-friendly) and the Hodelpa Nicolas de Ovando.

    My new friend over at Hodelpa, Catherine Gomez, informed me that after extensive renovations the doors would open this year, hopefully in the summer, but you know, it's the Dominican Republic, so let's keep our fingers crossed.

    She couldn't tell me anything about guest policy just yet or whether the patio dining area would remain intact. When I think of the sights seen from that patio and the encounters had...let's keep our fingers crossed about that as well.

    Seems like so much is changing in that area. I wish the new hotel well and hope some of the good things about the former hotel remain, for nostalgia's sake.