Why This is the Caribbean’s Coolest New Hotel

Above: the JW Marriott Santo Domingo (All photos by CJ)

By Alexander Britell

SANTO DOMINGO — I am floating above Santo Domingo.

I am walking on air, held up only by a thin sliver of glass extended from the lobby lounge at the new JW Marriott Santo Domingo.

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Here, high above Avenida Winston Churchill is the hotel bar called Vertygo 101. It gets its name from the height, 101 feet from the street.

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It doesn’t cause vertigo, but it feels surreal, different, new.

That’s the feeling here in the oldest city in the New World, in a hotel that’s as new and exciting as any in the region.

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The JW Marriott is a wonderful modern urban hotel in the heart of the city’s financial district, seven floors above a sleek new luxury shopping mall called Blue Mall.

It’s not big — about 122 rooms and 28 suites spread across 15 floors. But everything here is about detail, from the Nespresso machines that come in every room to TVs set inside the bathroom mirrors.

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This is the first JW Marriott on a Caribbean island.

But it’s not often you find a hotel like this in the Caribbean — one that would be at home in Singapore or Hong Kong, one with spectacular design ideas, executive-level service and remarkably good value (think under $300 per night for a standard room).

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It’s truly a show-stopping place , from the transparent-box infinity pool to the library-style bar, which has become one of the city’s hippest watering holes, filled with installations from a private art collection.

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No, this isn’t the Dominican Republic you might expect. Nor the Marriott you expect either.

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It’s the Caribbean’s coolest new hotel.