Puerto Plata GAMECHANGERS: Andrés Brugal

Inside Puerto Plata’s series on “Puerto Plata GAMECHANGERS” will highlight and give well-deserved praise to amazing individuals, past and present, who have had a tremendous impact on Puerto Plata and its surrounding areas. We will be featuring both revered and controversial figures and look forward to stimulating dialogue from you, our readers.


In this particular post, we will talk about a man who had a great impact not only in Dominican Republic and Puerto Plata, but also all around the world. His surname is usually pronounced in pubs anAndres Brugald bars where good liqueur is offered, and is always associated with outstanding rum and quality distillation processes. You will see here that this man is not only responsible for the quality cocktails that people drink nowadays, but also for the business and industrial shift of a whole country.

Born during the very beginning of the second half of the 19th century (January 29, 1850, to be precise) in Sitges, Cataluña, Spain, Andrés Brugal decided to leave the old continent in 1868 and moved to Santiago, Cuba. During this first stop in the Americas, he acquired work experience in sugar cane distillation and in the rum making field. Due to the war that was taking place in Cuba, he decided to move to Dominican Republic and start his own company in the beautiful beach town of Puerto Plata, where he also took up permanent residence. That was the event that changed Dominican Republic’s industry.

Founded in 1888, and thanks to “Don” Andrés’ experience in Cuba, Brugal & Co. took Dominicans by surprise and introduced a high quality rum, which was made locally in Puerto Plata. That was the beginning of the rum making industry in Dominican RepublRum2ic, and also the beginning of a long family tradition, since the Brugal family has been managing the company until today.

During the following years, Brugal & Co. grew fast in popularity and Andrés Brugal, unknowingly, started to become the forerunner of business leadership in Dominican society. With an innovation, originality, quality and hard-work mindset, this Gamechanger set a whole new business philosophy, which serves until today as spiritual guidelines for companies, managers, business leaders and entrepreneurs all over Puerto Plata and Dominican Republic.

Due to the fast growth of the company, Andrés Brugal decided to open some new factories in the city of San Pedro de Macoris. Also, the first rum ageing storehouses were built, which featured oak barrels and advanced a whole new “Golden Rums” product segment thanks to Andrés Brugal’s initiatives. He knew that the white oak barrels combined with the particular weather of the “Bride of the Atlantic” would give his products the unique flavor needed to shine among all competitors.

Apart from his knowledge in rum’s distillation, production and ageing, Andrés Brugal was so smart and had such a strategic thinking that he set a tradition among Brugal & Co.’s managers to adapt to changes. That is why his company is always at the forefront of the production processes trends, and that is why Brugal & Co. always supplies all the market’s demands. At that time, this point of view was very radical, but today, it has influenced business leaders all over the world.

Andrés Brugal, the GAMECHANGER

Andrés Brugal made a name for his family as expert artisans in the production of fine rum. He also made some of his relatives work as “Rum Masters”.  They were involved in each and every stage of the production in order to bestow the Brugal seal in all their products.

Since Andrés was not satisfied with a full operating and successful company, he decided to establish the “Brugal Foundation”, a non-profit organization that, until today, has the objective of supporting the country’s economic development. Through different programs and activities, this foundationRum works hard in order to improve life conditions of people in need in Dominican Republic. From building schools or houses to educating Dominican children, the Brugal Foundation has always presented a strong commitment with the community. With this initiative, Andrés Brugal’s influence started reaching not only businessmen in Puerto Plata and Dominican Republic, but also philanthropists from all over Latin America.

Thanks to “Don” Andrés’ vision and hard work, Brugal is now at the top three most consumed rums in the world, and its Golden Rum is the most sold in the Caribbean. Also, Brugal & Co. is considered as the Dominican “country brand”, due to its role as an active partaker in Dominican Republic’s industrial development.

After an extensive business and influential life, Andrés Brugal died on December 5, 1931, in Puerto Plata, and his body rests in the family’s local sepulchral vault. Today, there are more than 1,500 Dominican people, scattered over seven generations, who descend from this Spanish immigrant who had come to Puerto Plata to start a revolution in Dominican Republic’s industry.

Undoubtedly, Andrés Brugal had a vast career as a businessman and his vision has been an inspiration to many company leaders and rum-making experts. That is why it is so complicated to describe his whole influence in the Dominican Republic without forgetting or passing by some aspects. We, at Inside PuBrugalerto Plata, will take a shot and summarize the influence and legacy of this Gamechanger, both in Dominican Republic and Puerto Plata, with the following list:

  • Through his family business, Brugal & Co., he kick-started the Dominican rum-making industry.
  • His company offered a lot of job positions and opportunities for families in Puerto Plata.
  • He established a whole new business management and leadership mindset in Dominican society, which other businessmen all over the world adopted as their new business and management philosophy and style.
  • He set a new quality standard in the rum-making industry, protecting the local production.
  • With the Brugal Foundation, he supported the economic development of the country by helping Dominicans in need and offering them opportunities and hope.
  • He led a family business into global recognition, from which all Dominicans feel proud of.
  • He was a centerpiece in Dominican Republic’s industrial development, making Brugal & Co. the Dominican country brand.

5 Unusual Things To Do In The Dominican Republic

1 – Hospital San Nicolás de Bari

It is unknown to many that the very first hospital and hospital services in the Americas were in the Dominican Republic, Santo Domingo to be exact. In 1503 Nicolás de Ovando, who was the second governor of Hispañiola, commissioned the construction of the hospital. The actual building of the hospital was performed in two stages: once in 1503 and again in 1552, both at the request of Nicolás de Ovando. The hospital was built in the Spanish colonial style, which included stone floors and thick walls to act as a fortress. The wards accomodated up to 70 patients, and it is said that the hospital was modeled after the Hospital of Sancto Spiritu in Rome. In 1586 a pirate attack left the hospital terribly damaged. During its heyday the hospital served wounded and ill soldiers and was renamed Hospital Militar (Military Hospital) for a brief time. After operating for 350 years, Hospital San Nicolás de Bari is now a preserved ruin that qualifies as one of the most unusual and visited landmarks in the Dominican Republic.

2 – El Meson De La Cava

Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic is home to beauty, history, culture and a great deal of dining options. However, there is one place in particular which is just as unusual as it is spectacular, and has both local and international visitors flocking to it for a chance to view and indulge. El Meson De La Cava is a natural limestone cave that was formed by over one billion years of ocean waves. In 1965, the soldiers of the Organization of American States originally used the space for storage. Two years later, this beautiful cave became home to El Meson De La Cava restaurant. Known and respected as the most renowned restaurant in the area, El Meson De La Cava is also famous for some of the best cuisine that can be found in all of the Dominican Republic, with an emphasis on modern Spanish, local Caribbean and classic French cuisines. The restaurant is adorned with a spiral staircase that is 12.2 meters (40 feet) in height and takes diners down to the lobby. Guests can enjoy natural features within the cave, including stalagmites and stalactites all around, and viewing the belongings of the cave’s previous occupants. Diners will never find an experience like this anywhere else in the world.

3 – Corral de Los Indios

Located approximately 5 km north of the city of San Juan de la Maguana lies a circular ceremonial site, which has been compared to Stonehenge and the Ring of Brodgar. Named Corral de Los Indios, this pre-Columbian ceremonial site was once used by the Caonabo and Anacaona Indians and features a circular clearing 771 feet in diameter. Within the center of the clearing, visitors will find a vertical stone with the carving of a face, and it is speculated that astronomical phenomena could be observed from this ceremonial and astrological rock. In 1918 during an invasion by Americans, the ceremonial site was damaged when the center stone was moved. However, in the 1960s Emil Moya Boyra restored the center stone to its original condition and placement where visitors now see it today.


Faro a Colón, also known as Columbus Lighthouse is located in Santo Domingo Este, Dominican Republic, a municipality of Santo Domingo province. Faro a Colón is reinforced concrete constructed into a cross-shaped monument that reaches 210 meters (680 feet) in height and 59 meters (195 feet) in width. It represents the Christianization of America and is said to contain the remains of Christopher Columbus, a belief that continues to add to its mystery and generate many visitors to the monument annually. However, there has been a great deal of disagreement over this report.

Faro a Colón was constructed in 1986 and inaugurated in 1992. The project cost an estimated $70 million USD and was funded by Latin American states. The monument features 157 beams of light that project upward toward the sky; these beams of light can be seen as far away as Puerto Rico. The architect’s intent for the monument was for it to serve as a mausoleum, however former President Balaguer requested it be turned into an exhibit that showcases a permanent collection of exhibitions from America, European and Asian countries. Today, both local and international visitors flock to Faro a Colón for its beauty, mystery and history.


San Pedro de Macorís, Dominican Republic is currently known for being the home to a large number of professional baseball players. However, it is also home to a great historic wonder, and that is Cuevas de las Maravillas. Taíno shamans used the cave for religious and funeral rites over 1000 years ago. In 1926, when this 800-meter cave was discovered, it was still decorated with hundreds upon hundreds of Taíno cave paintings, all of which were incredibly intact. In addition to the mesmerizing cave paintings, Cuevas de las Maravillas is home to beautiful stalagmites and stalactites that surround visitors during their tour, as well as a preserved bat inhabitant.

Cuevas de las Maravillas is west of La Romana, Dominican Republic and lies between the Soco and Cumayasa Rivers. The cave must be accessed by taxi or rental car, as tour companies are not yet offering excursion opportunities to the cave due to its private ownership. Once at Cuevas de las Maravillas, guided one-hour tours take visitors 25 meters (80 feet) deep underground and are offered Tuesday through Sunday from 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. The cost of each tour is $10.00 USD and reservations are recommended. Please keep in mind that photography is not permitted, but the memories you will have after visiting Cuevas de las Maravillas are worth their weight in gold.

What are some of the most unusual things you’ve done while traveling to the Dominican Republic? Share your experiences below!

Puerto Plata’s Historic Lighthouse

Puerto Plata is a city rich with history and culture. From the historical landmarks to the beautiful Victorian architecture there is much for history buffs to experience when visiting Puerto Plata. The little known lighthouse in Puerto Plata is one such landmark that we must bring attention to.

Standing out amongst the coastline, you can’t miss the statuesque yellow lighthouse guarding the Puerto Plata harbor. This bright lighthouse was constructed in 1879 by R. Deely & Co. of New York. Puerto Plata’s lighthouse was in full use up until the 1960s and to date it is the second oldest lighthouse in the Dominican Republic and one of the longest standing in the world. Standing a whopping 24.38 meters high on a 6.20 meter base and 41.75 meters above sea level, this gigantic iron monument is both beautiful and powerful. The fact that the lighthouse is still standing is a testament to the well-designed and well-built cast iron architecture of the late 19th century. The Cultural Heritage Office of Puerto Plata has called it a symbol of the values of the city of Puerto Plata, illuminating the pathways of progress.

The origin of this spectacular structure is as rich as its city’s history. The lighthouse system of Puerto Plata was desperately needed largely in part for the exporting of sugar and other materials from Puerto Plata to ports all over the world. The bright kerosene light at the peak of the lighthouse was used as a shadow and light system to prepare and warn navigators nearing the Dominican coast. Over the years the corrosive salt air took its toll on the structure and the lighthouse was inevitably retired due to aging and the constant maintenance that was needed.

In the early 2000s, The World Monuments Fund, American Express and the Dominican Republic Government embarked on the restoration of this beautiful landmark with the help of Metaldom, a local metalwork firm. Luckily, original plans were still in tact and available from the 1870s. These plans were inevitably used to restore the lighthouse, utilizing remaining columns and fabric from the existing structure. New necessities, such as the lighting and a spiral cast iron staircase in the middle of the lighthouse leading to the top have been added, making for the picture perfect lighthouse that stands today.

The Puerto Plata lighthouse is a part of the Fort San Felipe Museum, which includes a long history of one of the oldest European settlements in The New World. With Fort San Felipe in the background and the Puerto Plata Lighthouse in the foreground, both are an impressive sight for travelers and locals to visit. Guided tours will soon be offered for visitors seeking both insight and the history of the lighthouse. Funding to continue to conserve and protect this nation’s beloved monument is still underway.

Puerto Plata GAMECHANGERS: Ulises Heureaux


Inside Puerto Plata’s series on “Puerto Plata GAMECHANGERSwill highlight and give well-deserved praise to amazing individuals, past and present, who have had a tremendous impact on Puerto Plata and its surrounding areas. We will be featuring both revered and controversial figures and look forward to stimulating dialogue from you, our readers.


Inside Puerto Plata’s series on key figures in Puerto Plata’s history continues with a summary of the well-regarded and disreputable Ulises Heureaux. Born in Puerto Plata in 1844, Ulises made his mark on the Dominican Republic as both a military man and dictator.

Nicknamed Lilís, Ulises served as a lieutenant under the esteemed General Gregorio Luperón, and played a significant role in the Luperón administration’s cabinet before becoming president in 1882. Ulises served multiple terms as president; the first from 1882 to 1884 and again using electoral manipulation and fraud from 1886 until his assassination in 1899.

Ulises was described as a man who had a thirst for power and control. He was a very popular statesman and in his quest for domination, he managed to manipulate previous and interim administrations to his benefit. His first term as president was described as an uneventful one; however, Ulises successfully conspired to secure longterm control of the country for more than a decade.

Ulises Heureaux the GAMECHANGER

There were a series of events that set the stage for Heureaux’s dictatorship. First and most important was the effective series of moves he undertook that extended presidential terms from two years to four years.

Heureaux’s administration, unlike others before, included members from opposing sides of government and utilized a network of secret police and informants that helped to prevent citizen uprising and rebellions.

In 1892, a sequence of pivotal meetings took place between President Heureaux and a group of Wall Street businessmen. The group of businessmen, known as the San Domingo Improvement Company, had purchased all of the Dominican Republic’s foreign debt and the country was not making payments. Negotiations ensued and President Heaureaux quickly saw that these men, through their connections and resources, could be used to borrow money and help keep him in power1. Needless to say, much of the money went to support the dictator’s personal extravagances and the financial requirements of his police state2.

There were considerable improvements made to the infrastructure of the Dominican Republic while under Heureaux’s rule. These include the construction of a railroad from Puerto Plata to Santiago, the electrification of Santo Domingo, and his support of Cuban sugar planters, which subsequently led to sugar as the main export. However, widespread corruption overshadowed the administration’s improvements and dissent grew.

A member of a growing group called the Young Revolutionary Junta assassinated President Heureaux in July 1899 and escaped untouched. After Heureaux’s death, the Dominican Republic fell into bankruptcy and foreign financial control.

Ulises Heureaux was considered a smart and effective politician. Unfortunately for him and for his country, his legacy is marked by corruption, financial mismanagement, and eventual bankruptcy.

1How Wall Street Sleaze Led to Roosevelt’s Famed Corollary. www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/

2Dominican Republic Foreign Policy and Government Guide, Volume 1

La Isabela: 1st European Settlement in the New World

La Isabela, located in the province of Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic is considered the first European settlement in the New World. La Isabela was conveniently named by the queen of Spain, Queen Isabella I of Castile. This settlement was established by Christopher Columbus on his second voyage in 1494 and was subsequently reclaimed by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabela in 1498.

La Isabela was established in 1494 and served as the ideal location to colonize the island of Hispaniola. Due to it’s natural beauty and the Bajabonico River, a fresh water river, colonists used this location for refining gold and metals (smelting) to ensure all the needs of the settlers were being met.

The colony initially failed, as Christopher Columbus and many of the settlers concentrated on searching for precious metals, instead of focusing on living off the land and the natural resources that thrived around them. Luckily, early colonists were able to construct structures including the First Church of the New World, an Admiral’s House for Christopher Columbus to reside in, as well as a warehouse. During this time of transition and building the native Taíno tried to assist the colonists, however since it was a challenge locating gold and silver, the Spaniards enslaved the Taíno and used their forced labor as an alternative form of revenue production. The majority of Taíno were left on the island to work, but some were transported back to Spain and enslaved there as well, all at the direction of the leaders of the colony.

In 1495 a disasterous hurricane struck La Isabela, resulting in extreme devastation, destruction of the buildings that had been so meticulously built and sinking all of the ships. Three years later, Christopher Columbus was called back to Spain to answer for his poor management of the colony, which in turn lead to the colony being abandoned by all its inhabitants.

Today La Isabela has been claimed as a UNESCO World Heritage site and is home to the beautiful and picturesque La Isabela National Park which is open to visitors year round. At the Park, you will be able to visit a few of the remains from Christopher Columbus’ time spent on the island. You are able to still see the ruins of a wall which is believed to be a part of what is left of Christopher Columbus’ house. Also, while in La Isabela you will have the pleasure of viewing the original church and some other historic structures of this unique early colony that were not completely destroyed by the 1495 hurricane nor time. La Isabela National Park additionally offers a historical museum, where you are able to view several of the artifacts that were excavated by early colonists and Taíno Natives.

The next time you visit beautiful Puerto Plata, take in the sun, enjoy nature, have fun with excursions, but make sure to allow for time to experience a little history and visit La Isabela, the first European settlement in the New World.

The Best Beer Brewed in the Dominican Republic

The Dominican Republic is well known for its rich history, scenic and beautiful beaches, delectable cuisine and even hand rolled cigars. Did you know the Dominican Republic is also known for their local brew?

The first Dominican brewed beer we must pay homage to is Presidente Beer. Presidente is not only the number one beer in the Dominican Republic; it is a popular international label as well. Cervecería Nacionál Dominicana first introduced Presidente to the Dominican Republic in 1935. However, the first formulation of this beer was not a success. A great deal of time re-testing and reformulating the beer was done and several years later the Presidente of today was reborn. The end result is a pilsner beer, pale lager, enjoyed globally by millions of people.

Another delicious beer that is brewed locally in the Dominican Republic is Bohemia Especial. This pale lager was introduced in the early 1980s, 1983 to be exact, and is still going strong today. Known for its body and flavor, Bohemia Especial has earned a gold medal for world-class quality in Spain and Italy. This award winning beer offers a lighter version which is a pilsner and very popular. Although Bohemia Especial is also brewed by Cervecería Nacionál Dominicana, it is still considered a direct competitor to Presidente.

For you dark beer lovers, we love the first Amber/Red Lager beer ever produced in the Dominican Republic. Drum roll please…it’s the world-recognized Ámbar Cerveza Oscura. Brewed in Santo Domingo, this delicious, dark beer is crafted from low temperature active yeast and spicy malt to make the wonderful amber so many enjoy today. It took Ámbar Cerveza Oscura over 40 trials and an extensive research process to perfect the final product, and it was well worth it!

Finally, we have to shine a light on Cerveza Quisqueya. This pale lager is well known for its light taste and crisp bite. It is a pilsner beer and full of body. When crafting Cerveza Quisqueya, the name was chosen based on the Taíno word meaning “Mother Earth.”  Therefore, don’t be confused if you hear native Dominicans referring to the island as “quisqueya”.  This pale and tasty pilsner is popular throughout the Dominican Republic; however, you will frequently find it on the north coast in Puerto Plata as well as in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.

The next time you are in the Dominican Republic, or wish you were, crack open one of these refreshing beers and enjoy!

The Beautiful Larimar Stones of the Dominican Republic

The larimar stone, otherwise known as “Dominican Turquoise”, is a pectolite, which is a stone cultivated from volcanic activity. Initially formed in the southern coast of the Dominican Republic, larimar was referred to as “blue gem” by Dominican natives who widely believed that larimar came directly from the ocean. A Dominican Friar first encountered this beautiful, blue stone in the early 20th century however the stone was not mined during this time. It wasn’t until the 1970s that larimar was ‘rediscovered’ by a Peace Corps volunteer, who combined the name of his daughter, Larissa with the Spanish word for sea (mar) to form the name larimar.

Larimar can be purchased in many Caribbean islands, but the best and most famous craftsmen of the stone are located in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic. There are several mines that mine this precious stone and it is considered a local specialty. The color spectrum of larimar stones consist of a range of blues but the stone is most known for its beautiful turquoise color, which mirrors the color of the Caribbean Sea. Aside from its obvious beauty, larimar is thought to have many healing properties. Its main healing power is said to help the throat and assist people in communicating more efficiently.

The largest collection of larimar stones is located upstream of the Bahoruco River near the southern tip of the Dominican Republic. Mining is only allowed during dry seasons, as many of the mines have a depth level in excess of 250 ft. and flood easily during the rainy season.

Larimar has become a strong part of the Dominican Republic backdrop and is featured in Puerto Plata’s Amber Museum.  The museum is situated in an old, two-story, Victorian residence and experts believe this particular museum is home to the most important amber and larimar collections in the world. Local artists express their creativity through the crafting of these precious stones, designing jewelry, such as necklaces, bracelets, rings and earrings, all of which are usually set in sterling silver but can be found in gold as well. Prices can range considerably, as the value of the larimar stone is determined by its shape, color and purity.

If you are planning on traveling to Puerto Plata, you must not miss exploring the beautiful larimar this gorgeous and unique country has to offer. While in Puerto Plata make the trip to one of the many specialty shops that sell larimar stones. You will be happy you did!

Beautiful Victorian Architecture in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic

Unlike many other Caribbean cities, Puerto Plata is distinguished by an impressive collection of Victorian-era homes and buildings, most of which are well-preserved and located in Puerto Plata’s Old City. Architecture enthusiasts will love admiring the many Victorian buildings in Puerto Plata that are in wonderful condition and painted in vibrant colors.

The term “Victorian architecture” refers to homes built between 1830 and 1910 during the reign of Queen Victoria of England. Victorian homes usually resemble dollhouses and feature elaborate “gingerbread” trim, lace filigree, and pastel colors.

A well recognized structure and a symbol of Puerto Plata, La Glorieta was first constructed in 1872 and is located in the center of Parque Central. Surrounded by City Hall and other government office buildings, what currently stands on site is a beautiful, reconstructed green and white gazebo where visitors can spend time relaxing and viewing the city.

Also located near Parque Central is Catedral San Felipe Apóstol. Although not a Victorian-era structure, this cathedral is also a key attraction for visitors while in Parque Central. Catedral San Felipe Apóstol is a two-steepled church and is pictured to the left of La Glorieta in the below photograph.

Another well-known Victorian structure in Puerto Plata is home to the popular Amber Museum. Built in 1919, Villa Bentz, as this Victorian mansion is called, is just two blocks away from Parque Central. Villa Bentz was purchased and restored in the early 1970s and subsequently opened to the public as the Amber Museum. This large, two-storied home features multiple balconies throughout with ornate features and mini-columns as depicted in these photographs.
IMG_3237 copy

When in Puerto Plata, be sure to stroll through the center of Puerto Plata to see some of the marvelous 19th century gingerbread Victorian homes pictured here that were home to middle class residents of the time.
Source: www.hermitina.com

Fort San Felipe: A Traveler’s Visual Perspective

Please enjoy these visitor generated authentic photos of Fort San Felipe in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic. Each picture gives a very unique vantage point of the historical fortress.

To learn more about Fort San Felipe and it’s tumultuous history, click here.

David Degrelle
Kristoph B
Luis Herrod

A Day Trip to Santiago, Dominican Republic

Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic is packed full of exciting adventures, fun activities, rich history, delicious restaurants and beautiful beaches

However, if you are yearning for a day trip, Santiago, Dominican Republic is a choice that will not dissapoint.