2000 Travel News ArchiveTravel

Jaragua changes its reputation from liberal to conservative hotel

When Marriott took over the Renaissance Jaragua Hotel & Casino, general manager Craig Smith, son of US diplomats, was given the task of "restoring integrity" to the city hotel that has the best physical facilities. In an interview with El Siglo he explained that when his boss spoke about "integrity" he didn’t get it at the time. After he arrived, he quickly caught on. On the first day on the job, he was approached by five prostitutes who asked him if he wanted to go out with them. He soon saw for himself, the Jaragua, a business hotel that is like a resort in a city, was a haven for the single tourist, especially those interested in meeting Dominican women. "Before a guest could go up [to his room] with three girls, with which we supposedly gave the impression that we were liberals, that we did not represent the bishop, so that I came to be a bit excessive on the measures. I would hear comments of guests that were having breakfast, and there were people that didn’t want to have breakfast with these girls here," Craig said in the interview. Under him, the hotel did a turn around. For starters, he called in a new security chief, who is also the Regional Security of Marriott. Today, only persons who have registered at the time of the guest’s first registration in the hotel can go up to the rooms. He said they lost restaurant sales, as this crowd took their business elsewhere. He explained the casino also implemented new security measures to improve general service. In the interview, he also explained about the new US$10 million remodeling underway in interior and exterior areas throughout the past 17 months. All suites have been remodeled. The suites were a priority, as the hotel hosted several heads of state that came for the Summit of African, Caribbean and Asian heads of state and government in November of last year. This year, the remaining hotel rooms will be remodeled. The spa underwent major renovations and new equipment was imported. The hotel has new restaurants, including the Quisqueya (Dominican food), Manjar Steak House, and next to open is the Champions Restaurant, the largest in the hotel. Champions will feature American food, sports museum with items signed by famous baseball players, 25 TV screens, and a giant TV screen. (6 January 2000)