Bavaro & Punta Cana May 18, 2024 - 11:52 am

Trouble in paradise

Cap Cana – It is not easy to determine Dominican investment in the tourism sector. Some of the large business groups have entered the sector as partners of already established chains or through their participation in the banks most active in financing ongoing projects. From the 80s of the last century, international chains, especially the Spanish ones, opened the way to local investor appetite, which took a long time to arrive (with some well-known exceptions, such as the pioneers of Puerto Plata and Punta Cana), but which did so strongly when it decided to bet on the hospitality industry.

Among these, the Cap Cana project, now baptized Destination City, aroused the interest of investors from its inception due to its ambition and the natural beauty of the enclave. There was no shortage of serious financial vicissitudes that took him from the covers of specialized international publications to bankruptcy due to his alliance with the Trump family.

Years later, after an admirable recovery, the Destination City has become a mainstay of the Dominican East, a host of great concerts and sporting events, and a prosperous real estate tourism development point.

But there was trouble in paradise. Although rumors of internal disagreements had been circulating for months, at the beginning of May, a letter circulated through social media groups confirming the internal crisis—a crisis that painfully affected the Hazoury family, promoters of the project since its inception.

A letter Dated May 6, signed by Abraham Hazoury, denounces “the intention to subtract the operation of the common areas of the Punta Palmera Project for the benefit of companies linked to the president of Cap Cana,” Fernando Hazoury, to whom the letter is addressed.

According to the signatory, the letter does not fail to recall that a similar action had already taken place to deliver to the same beneficiary the restaurant that operated on Juanillo Beach, always benefiting companies related to Mr. Benny Guevara.

The letter does not spare specific details about the complicated web of companies involved in the complex’s ownership and management. There is also no shortage of very direct terms that portray the tension: “attempted abuse and abuse,” “torturous and abusive manoeuvre,” “sadness, shame and indignation,” “agreements based on abuse and mischief,” “exchange of gold for mirrors.”

An internal struggle that has been made public, whether intentionally leaked or not, does not favor either the owners or the investors and, by extension, the sector.

Starlift Limited

The above is not the only leaked correspondence.

Starlift Limited, in its capacity as owner of 30% of Miniari S.A.S., the company that owns Cap Cana and whose majority shareholder is Abraham Hazoury, sent on March 8, two days after the aforementioned letter, a communication in similar terms and on the same matter to the Chairman of the Board of Directors of Miniari and Cap Cana, Fernando Hazoury: the commercial exploitation of common areas and commercial gazebos of the Punta Palmera complex.

This letter details that Mr. Benny Guevara is an “associate/commercial associate of Fernando Hazoury”. It details the statutory obligations to ensure that the Assembly must approve the commercial commitments established in these areas.

The letter lists all the companies linked to Mr. Benny Guevara, specifying those granting mortgage-backed loans to Fernando Hazoury.

Punta Palmera is a complex of 86 luxury apartments on the private beachfront, distributed in one-, two—, and three-bedroom suites, located in the heart of La Marina de Cap Cana. This is the description found on one of the booking pages. For sale, in one of the real estate firms authorized to market them, a 167-square-meter, one-bedroom apartment is offered for US$525,000. All listings detail an offer of exclusivity and privacy.

In his claim, Abraham Hazoury protests (if not already the fact that it has been done) the risk of “handing over to this character the operation of the beach club (of Juanillo), supposedly of the owners, which he has converted into a branch of the beach of Boca Chica.”

Companies from Panama, the British Virgin Islands, and local companies have been exposed in this conflict, which has generated serious shareholder and family disputes that concern not only the owners of Punta Palmera due to the tone of the letters.

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