Article repost from Forbes

By Regina Cole

The Caribbean islands have lots of hotel rooms to tempt visitors to the sugary beaches, aquamarine and turquoise waters and the balmy breezes. But a nicer way to spend some time in this winter vacation paradise is to rent a villa. And, if your rental is eco-friendly, all the better. A superb selection of villa rentals is available at the Puntacana Resort & Club, located at the far eastern end of the Dominican Republic. Since the resort’s inception in 1969, it has been invested in healing the environment instead of adding to its despoiling, as so many resorts do.

The enterprise was launched 50 years ago by Dominican businessman Frank R. Rainieri and Theodore W. Kheel, the late prominent New York attorney and labor mediator. They believed in the potential of a resort and real estate community that respects the natural habitat of Punta Cana while offering a world-class vacation experience. With a stated dedication to sustainable tourism, Puntacana Resort & Club has since grown to encompass over 26 square miles. This now includes Tortuga Bay, the only AAA Five-Diamond luxury hotel in the Dominican Republic, The Westin Puntacana Resort & Club, the Four Points by Sheraton Puntacana Village, the Six Senses Spa, the Oscar de la Renta Tennis Center, the Grupo Puntacana Foundation and seven residential communities. The complex also has a full-service marina, eight restaurants, a shopping village, 45 holes of championship golf over two golf courses and Punta Cana International Airport, a modern facility that incorporates innovative and eco-friendly design.

Jake Kheel, Vice President of Grupo Puntacana Foundation, says that commitment to the environment is ongoing.

“For over 25 years, the Grupo Puntacana Foundation has held a unique role in the Caribbean tourism industry, working with the public and private sector to uncover solutions to diverse social and environmental challenges related to tourism. The Foundation has pioneered one of the most expansive coral reef conservation and restoration programs in the Caribbean, designed and implemented one of the largest integrated solid waste projects in the Dominican Republic and continues to be an innovator in social and environmental sustainability.”

Puntacana Resort & Club’s seven residential communities – Corales, Hacienda, Hacienda del Mar, Marina, Arrecife, Playa Serena and Tortuga – offer villa rentals that range from the palatial to the charming. Corales has the largest homes, including those built by Oscar de la Renta and Julio Iglesias. Rates vary, depending on location, size and season; a four-bedroom villa in Hacienda rents for an average of $1,000 a night.  

Along with a lovely home, guests enjoy VIP Service at Punta Cana International Airport, access to the resort’s gym at Hacienda Estates, access to La Cana Golf & Beach Club clubhouse, access to all Puntacana Resort & Club restaurants and, perhaps best of all, access to Ojos Indígenas Ecological Reserve.

The Ecological Reserve features a series of crystal-clear fresh-water lagoons hidden in a tropical forest. Likely the product of an underground river’s roof cave-ins, these ojos, “eyes” in Spanish, are delightful swimming holes. For those who can tear themselves away from four miles of white sand beach, they are a revelation and a delight.