A Santo Domingo Legend, Reborn

By the Caribbean Journal staff

When it opened its doors in 1956, it was the place to be in Santo Domingo, if not the Caribbean.

El Embajador was the musical hotspot, the filming destination, the political meeting point.

Indeed, its role as the stand-in for Havana’s historic Hotel Capri in Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather Part II took the hotel and its renown to a new level (the property also subbed in for Havana in Andy Garcia’s The Lost City).

Over the years, though, the star faded, and by the turn of the century El Embajador was no longer the haunt of Oscar de la Rentas and Carolina Herreras of the world.

But Barcelo Hotel Group’s two-year, $40 million project (the company first acquired it in 2005) has transformed — and reinvented — the legendary hotel.

It’s now El Embajador, a Royal Hideaway hotel, and the results are dramatic.

Barcelo, which acquired the property in 2015, has transformed the property’s suites, while adding two new restaurants under Chef Jose Soto.

The hotel, which celebrated its grand reopening late last quarter, has added more than 10,000 square feet of ballrooms, along with a new wellness and spa center.

The marvelously upgraded rooms range from 440 square feet in smaller units to a sweeping 5,000-square-foot presidential suite, with a modern aesthetic that doesn’t ignore its old-school character.

Chef Jose Soto leads the cuisine at El Jardin and Los Porches.

That’s all in addition to the hotel’s centerpiece, the 125,000 square feet of tropical gardens, and a privileged hilltop location in Santo Domingo’s charming Bellavista neighborhood.

The rooms are bright and sleek.

It’s all another boost for the city of Santo Domingo, which has long lived in the shadow of beach destinations like Punta Cana and Puerto Plata.

Now, the city is starting to get its place in the travel spotlight, thanks to one of the hemisphere’s most beautiful colonial cities and what has been a rapidly transforming hotel offering, from classics like the Hodelpa Nicolas de Ovando (which just added a new hotel-within-a-hotel) to the continually impressive JW Marriott.

a cafe in santo domingo.

Santo Domingo’s Colonial Zone is a destination in its own right.

The result? The grande dame of Santo Domingo has been reborn — and it’s another great reason to visit the Dominican Republic’s fascinating capital.