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Who is Frank Rainieri, awarded as the champion of Dominican tourism

The tourist entrepreneur and President of the Grupo Punta Cana, Frank Rainieri, was recognized as the Dominican Tourism Champion by the Association of Hotels and Tourism of the Dominican Republic -Asonahores-.

On November 27th, the business platform that presents the vision of the public and private sectors for the development of the tourism industry as an investment destination, honored Rainieri amongst a crowd of government authorities, businessmen, and professionals linked to the tourism, financial and stock market sector.

The award was handed by the ex-President of Asonahores, Joel Santos, and Gloria Guevara Manzo, president of the World Travel & Tourism Council -WTTC- and former Minister of Tourism of Mexico, at the 2nd Asonahores Tourist Investment Forum in Santo Domingo, the Dominican Republic’s capital.

“I think your country has great potential to keep growing, I congratulate you for what you have done here, it is impressive. When we look around, when we see other destinations, they have done things very well. I know it has not been easy, it has been a tense task, a long struggle, persistence, and a lot of tenacity, “said Guevara Manzo moments before Rainieri was invited to the stage.

In this post, we cover the highlights and awards of a career that spans half a century at the most emblematic tourist infrastructure in the country and the Caribbean: Punta Cana.


Frank Rainieri is the pioneer of tourism in Punta Cana, located at the eastern shore, stimulating the development of 34,000 hotel rooms and attracting over 3 million tourists per year.

At only 24 years old he started an agricultural business in the 60s with two friends. However, the lands where he would start his business interested in an American group that bought them without knowing them. There he had the vision, along with those Americans to begin the construction of some little cabins that would later become the main hotel in the area for the time, the Punta Cana Club with 23 rooms.

“We started in 1969 when the area was a secluded place known at the time by many as Punta Borrachon and by others as Yauya, and we decided to baptize it with the name of Punta Cana. In the region there was no tourism industry, nor talks about it, but we saw the opportunity when I looked at our beaches, our climate, and the friendly disposition of Dominicans.”

The tourism startup was named the Punta Cana Club, established with entrepreneur  Theodore Kheel. It originally consisted of ten small bungalows, has served as the groundwork for the development of one of the most exclusive, complete, and elegant tourist complexes, Puntacana Resort & Club.

It was not until 1979 that Rainieri became associated with the Club Mediterrané, and later, in December 1983, the Punta Cana International Airport was inaugurated with a 5,000-foot runway and a 300-square-meter terminal, with a capacity of 150 passengers per hour. half. This considerably increased the tourist demand, something that the entrepreneur had already foreseen and for what he was preparing his next commercial step.

His contributions to the community have earned him numerous recognitions both locally and internationally, such as “Outstanding Youth” in 1978 by Jaycees Intl.

He received the “Presidential Citation Award” in 1985 by the then President of the United States, Ronald Reagan, for his social work in San José de Ocoa, Dominican Republic, with the Reverend Luis Quinn, SFM.

In that same year, he was selected by the United Nations Organization as a representative for Latin America in the seminar for Young Entrepreneurs of Developing Countries, celebrated in Geneva, Switzerland.

In 1999, Rainieri was awarded “Hotelier of the Year” by the Caribbean Hotel Association and received the “5 Diamond” from the American Academy of Hospitality Sciences (AAHS) for his vision and leadership in the development of the hospitality industry. tourism in the Dominican Republic.

In 2006, he became an active member of two renowned international non-profit institutions, YPO International and Clinton Global Initiative. He recently became a member of the Council of the World Travel and Tourism Council.

In 2011, he was recognized by the Dominican Congress for his merits, vision and lifetime contributions to the tourism industry in his country.

In 2014, he was appointed by the Grand Council of the Sovereign Order of Malta in Rome, as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Sovereign Order of Malta in the Dominican Republic.

In 2015, he received the distinction of “Italiani che Onorano L’Italia nel Mondo” (Honorable Italian of the world) by the Italian Parliament and the Italian Senate, for his valuable contribution to the tourism industry in the Dominican Republic.

Recently, in November 2017, the World Tourism Organization, in coordination with the Ministry of Tourism of Jamaica, recognized him with the Global Legends of the Caribbean award, highlighting its merits in the creation of one of the most important tourist destinations in the world. , Punta Cana.

Recently he became Council Member of the World Travel and Tourism Council. Mr. Rainieri is the Chairman & CEO of Grupo Puntacana; and Grupo Puntacana Foundation, a non-profit entity dedicated to the development and execution of social and environmental awareness programs in favor of the communities of the Punta Cana zone.

He has also built schools, churches, a clinic, and a pediatric center for the less fortunate in the eastern part of the Dominican Republic with the collaboration of religious groups. He is also involved in other communities such as Cambita, San Cristóbal; La Vega; and La 40, in Santo Domingo with Monsignor Antonio Camilo. Currently, his company runs a Polytechnic Institute in Punta Cana with the Catholic Church, where more than 500 students are preparing themselves for their future with technical careers.

He has been married to Mrs. Haydee Kuret Rainieri since 1973, and has three children, Paola, Francesca, and Frank Elías, and six grandchildren. Mrs. Rainieri currently serves as Vice-President of Human Resources and Hospitality for Grupo Puntacana, and all three of his children are profoundly committed to the business group as well.

Punta Cana International Airport

One of the main achievements of the Grupo Puntacana is the growth of the Punta Cana International Airport (PUJ).

A year after opening the airport received 2,400 passengers. Today records a traffic of more than 7.6 million.

Punta Cana International Airport was recognized by the Airports Council International the “Best Airport in the Caribbean and Latin American region,” and is the leading and largest destination in the Caribbean.

Punta Cana’s airport operators completed an airport expansion project in November 2011, which included a new runway and a control tower equipped with modern radio and air traffic control equipment. There are also a new Terminal Approach Radar Control facility and a new Automated Weather Observation Station (AWOS). This new facility provides a back-up to the National Radar System located in Santo Domingo. A second international terminal that opened in 2014 is designed to accommodate about 6,500 passengers daily.

Its terminals have a ramp capacity of 14 positions with an approximate size of 54,000 M².

  • 98 Cities
  • 28 Countries
  • 81 Airlines
  • 500 flights per week in high season

Cargo Hub

The airport’s Cargo Hub is a distribution center from South America to Europe, United
States and Canada.

It includes 433 m² of cold rooms from 0ºC to 15ºC for exports.

The products that pass through the airport are flowers, fruits, vegetables, seafood, medical equipment, and messaging. PUJ also imports perishable products for hotels.

United States Customs pre-clearance

In 2016, the government of the Dominican Republic and the United States signed a pre-clearance agreement to allow for U.S. immigration, customs, agriculture inspection, and Transportation Security Agency (TSA) security screening prior to boarding a direct flight to the United States without further U.S. Customs or TSA screening upon arrival.

PUJ is one of 18 airports around the world approved for pre-clearance operations.

This creates self-metering of the passenger flow through the inspection process. More passengers are cleared with shorter wait times and fewer

Check the airlines and destinations that serve at PUJ

Puntacana Resort & Club, a resort and residential community with hotels and luxury real estate.


• 1985: United States ‘Presidential Citation Award’ for social work;
• 1999: ‘Hotelier of the Year’ granted by the Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association;
• 2010: ‘Five Diamond Personal Achievement Award’ from the American Academy of Hospitality Sciences;
• 2011: Congressional Citation for his merits, vision, and lifetime contributions to the Dominican Tourism Industry.

Mr. Frank Rainieri is a recognized leader and visionary of the tourism industry in the Dominican Republic.

Among its merits is its valuable contribution to the development of the tourist pole of Punta Cana, in the eastern part of the country, Punta Cana Club, Puntacana Resort & Club. Mr. Rainieri began undergraduate studies in Business Administration at Saint Joseph College in Philadelphia, which concluded at the APEC University in Santo Domingo. His contributions to the community have earned him numerous local and international awards, such as “Outstanding Young Man by the Jaycee’s Chapter in 1978.

Important to mention the high distinction” Presidential Citation Award “granted in 1985 by the then president of the United States, Ronald Reagan.

In that same year, he was chosen by the United Nations Organization to represent the Dominican Republic in the seminar of Young Entrepreneurs in Developing Countries, held in Geneva, Switzerland.

In 1999, he was awarded “Hotel of the Year” by the Caribbean Hotel Association. This year he received the award from the American Academy of Hospitality Sciences (AAHS) entitled “5 Diamond Award” for his work as a pioneer and leader in the development of sustainable tourism in the Dominican Republic.

At the local level, he has been President of the Association of Eastern Hotels, Member of the Monetary Board, and of the Commission for the Promotion of Foreign Investment; of the Board of Directors of APEC University and First Vice President of the National Council of Businessmen today CONEP.

Mr. Rainieri is President and CEO of the Puntacana Group and the Puntacana Foundation, the latter being a non-profit organization dedicated to the execution of social responsibility and environmental programs.

He is currently a member of the Board of the American Chamber of Commerce, an organization serving as its president in the period from 1986 to 1988; and of the National Association of Hotels and Restaurants (Asonahores), whose entity was its President in 1994;

Member of the Steering Committee of the Caribbean Hotel Association (CHA); and Founding President of the Caribbean Alliance for Sustainable Tourism (CAST); President of Fundación Carso Los Haitises and President of the Airports Association of the DR.

We also mention his active participation as a Member of the two renowned international non-profit institutions YPO International and Clinton Global Initiative.

In 1969, Rainieri and Theodore Kheel,[8] a high-powered New York attorney and labor mediator, acquired a 58-million square meter lot on the eastern end of the Dominican Republic, which was covered with jungle and six miles of beach.[2][9][10] Their first project was a 40 guest hotel called the Punta Cana Club, inaugurated two years later.[2] In 1979, they constructed The Puntacana Hotel. The Punta Cana International Airport followed in 1984.[9] In 1997, Rainieri and Kheel partnered with Oscar de la Renta and Julio Iglesias to start work on the Punta Cana Marina and the real estate development of the area

Recent recognitions

Frank Rainieri United Nations World Tourism Organization Award.
Source: UNWTO

CHRIS Lifetime Achievement Award

In May 2018, Frank Rainieri Marranzini received the “Lifetime Achievement Award” for his contributions to the travel and tourism industry. Rainieri received the award at the Caribbean Hotel & Resort Investment Summit (CHRIS), the most important hotel and tourism investment conference in the Caribbean, held in Miami, Floria.

The prominent award is given to those who have made significant contributions to the hospitality industry through their actions, deeds, and great accomplishments.

CHRIS Lifetime Achievement Award Frank Rainieri
Source: Caribbean Hotel & Resort Investment Summit.


Frank Rainieri is among the top ten most powerful tourism people in Latin America, according to a special REPORTUR ranking on the occasion of the fifth anniversary of the leading tourism publication in Latin America that takes place this October, and in which he appears with Alex Zozaya, Julián Balbuena, Alejandro Santo Domingo, Enrique Cueto, Germán Efromovich, Pablo Azcárraga, Jean Claude Bessudo, Luis Barrios, and Daniel Chávez.

Ranking Reportur most powerful tourism businessman
Source: Reportur

This top ten of the Latin American personalities with more power in the tourism industry is the first ranking of this style that is made public in the region, that REPORTUR, the leading tourist newspaper in Latin America offers its readers, highlighting Frank Rainieri as president Grupo Puntacana “leads the most influential tourist conglomerate in the Dominican Republic, and is the benchmark entrepreneur in one of the three major destinations in the Caribbean”

In 2015, Along with Frank Rainieri, it is worth remembering that three years ago his son Frank Elias Rainieri was also distinguished by REPORTUR among the twelve young people with the most future in Latin tourism, along with other leaders such as

“I have worked towards tourism plans that strive for the long-term. Good plans need to have solid public-private alliances and aim at long-term developments,” said Rainieri after receiving the award.


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