Travel Interview: Vanessa Reyes of Dominican Republic's Villa Celeste Estate
Posted: Apr 22 2014
We had a great time speaking with Vanessa Reyes, owner of the Villa Celeste Estate, a hotel in Jarabacoa, Dominican Republic. The Estate recently opened Nov. 1st.
Hispanic.com: Villa Celeste Estate just opened, tell us about the background
Vanessa Reyes: Well, I had been looking for something to do 2 to 3 years after I had my first child. Prior to our child’s birth, I had my own nutrition business which taught Latinos how to use Latino food and recipes and eat healthfully.
Last August my father called me. He had built this estate, but ended up wanting to sell it. And he remembered years ago, that I had asked him if I could use the property to take people to learn about wellness and health. So that’s when I started thinking I could do something great with the property.
My husband and I flew down to the Dominican Republic in November of 2012 with our security deposit and purchased the property. From that moment on, I knew I wanted to make it a place where people could go relax, and eat well, and participate in all the eco-touristic excursions that the town of Jarabacoa has to offer.
What is Jarabacoa, Dominican Republic like?
Jarabacoa is located in the eco-touristic capital of the DR. When people think of the Dominican Republic, they think of Punta Cana and the famous all-inclusive hotels. Punta Cana is beautiful, but it is not a clear representation of our Island. Tourists do not really get a real experience of the island when at these mega all-inclusive resorts. So with the Estate we want to take clients into a different, unexplored part of DR and expose guests to a local experience. The Estate is only an hour away from the beach and we offer daily tours, city tours, beach and eco-touristic excursions. We want guests to have a true experience of what the island offers – a local experience, in a natural surrounding without sacrificing comfort and deluxe amenities.
Excellent, please tell us about what makes the Estate different from other hotels in the Dominican Republic
Everything is custom made, it adds to the ambience of the house. Also we pride ourselves in ‘farm to table’ cooking. A lot of the foods we serve are grown in our own garden or purchased from the locals here in the neighborhood who grow or raise their own meat, eggs, fruits, and vegetables. We do Dominican food in a healthier way and use no chemicals.
Tell us about you and your husband, both of you will be managing the estate
I’m originally from the Dominican Republic, I moved to the U.S. in 1981. I grew up in the small town of Allentown, PA. I left Allentown for the big city of New York when I was 21 years old in search of bigger opportunities. I worked in Corporate America by day as an Executive Assistant to pay my way through school. I successfully completed my B.A. of Psychology from New York University, and since then have been looking for ways to contribute to the Latino Community to by bringing awareness to issues regarding nutrition and health.
My husband a New York Rican was born and raised in the Lower East Side. He had a very tough upbringing. From a very young age David, involved himself in community outreach programs to develop the skills he needed in order to create bigger opportunities. David’s passion for giving back to a community that gave him led him to devote 15 years to the Boys Club of New York. His B.A. in Recreation Education from Lehman College is what he will put to use in order to organize activities for those who live in the poorer rural communities in Jarabacoa.
On December 29th the Estate is hosting a ‘Celebration of Life’ for all of the children in the community who have never had a birthday party or received a gift of any kind. Here's the website for Villa Celeste http://www.villacelesteestate.com/