Exclusive Interview with Conrad Bergwerf, Managing Director, of both the Paradisus Palma Real and Paradisus Punta Cana

2015-02-23 19.02.17Exclusive interview with Conrad Bergwerf, Managing Director of the Paradisus Palma Real and Paradisus Punta Cana properties, in the Dominican Republic.

Conrad Bergwerf has almost twenty years of experience in the luxury hospitality industry and has won a number of prestigious awards. As General Manager of Hotel Gran Meliá Jakarta, Mr. Bergwerf was recognized by the Comité de Turismo de Asociación de Naciones del Sudeste Asiático (ASEAN), in addition to receiving a nomination by the government for the best hotel in the country. Mr. Bergwerf also served as the General Manager of Melia and Paradisus resorts and hotels in Cancun, Jakarta, Vietnam, Costa Rica and Punta Cana.

About the properties:

Both resorts are 5-star all-inclusives. Paradisus is the the all-inclusive luxury brand of Meliá Hotels International.

Paradisus Palma Real is a 554-suite all-inclusive resort that offers a signature adults-only Royal Service program with personal butler service, private beach and pool areas, and Family Concierge service. The resort also offers an abundance of water sports activities, horseback riding excursions, four tennis courts, three pools, Kids’ Club, six gourmet restaurants, and a full-service spa.

Paradisus Punta Cana is a luxury all-inclusive resort situated among white-sand beaches and beautiful blue waters in the easternmost province of the Dominican Republic. The resort offers an array of chic suite accommodations and exclusive offerings for guests creating a distinct and memorable vacation experience including seven swimming pools, 12 restaurants and a full service, signature YHI Spa.

Liz Palmer:

What does Meliá Hotels International brand represent?

Conrad Bergwerf:

Across four continents it’s the number 1 vacation destination world wide; in Spain it’s the number 1 hotel chain, it’s number 2 in Europe, and world wide it’s number 10 – this all speaks how successful it has become.

Liz Palmer:

Does the Paradisus Palma Real and the Paradisus Punta Cana properties have a philosophy?

Conrad Bergwerf:

Yes, they do… “Its he pure freedom of just to be…” and this speaks for itself.

Liz Palmer:

Can you share what makes Paradisus Palma Real unique?

Conrad Bergwerf:

Paradisus is unique in that every single aspect has been thoughtfully and precisely created to deliver an unparalleled experience for all the senses. Your senses will be fully engaged in all respects.

The Family Concierge at the Paradisus Palma Real has had a recent $12 million renovation which includes 42 deluxe suites, with ocean or partial ocean views, some suites have Jacuzzi’s on the balcony — there is lots of marble, an elegant bathtub (separated by a white diaphanous curtain), has VIP check-in, private pool, exclusive restaurant, butlers, and a lounge with a nonstop selection of snacks and juices.

The Family Concierge section also has special  children’s in-suite amenities including robes and slippers and Kids Camp.

Liz Palmer:

Whom Does Paradisus Palma Real Particularly Appeal to?

Conrad Bergwerf:

Our guests come from:

#1 USA – East Coast and Midwest

#2 Canada

#3 Brazil

We do a lot of “barefoot dinners on the beach”, weddings, proposals,  entertain celebraties and Latin American sport celebrities.

Liz Palmer:

You have so many restaurants to choose from, which is your favorite? Do you also have a favorite dish? And a favorite wine?

Conrad Bergwerf:

It usually depends on the time of the day and my mood. Usually, I enjoy seafood. I love Spanish wine, we have many on our wine lists.

Liz Palmer:

How do you keep up with the industry trends and changes in emerging markets and cultural needs of global clients?

Conrad Bergwerf:

I am very focused on this. For example I like playing with the lighting – indirect on the beach and other parts of the resort. I’m also looking at changing the shower lighting. Also, having more open space on the properties, this gives it a nice flow. Using trendy architects to assist us in designing space. Trends start in Asia and I follow a lot of the top designers. Lastly, and the most important is that getting Wi-Fi to go to the beach.

Liz Palmer:

Thank you for taking some time out of your schedule to talk to us and for your wonderful hospitality during our visit to Paradisus Palma Real.

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Interview with Meritxell Lecha Vinuesa, Manager of Passion by Martin Berasategui, Paradisus Palma Real, Dominican Republic

Before assuming her current role as the Manager of Passion, Melia in Punta Cana, Meritxell Lecha Vinuesa worked with Martin Berasategui for 7 years in managerial positions at Restaurante Enoteca, Hotel Art (2 Michelin star restaurant in Barcelona) and Restaurante Lasarte (2 Michelin star restaurant in Barcelona), and Restaurante Gaig (1 Michelin star restaurant in Barcelona).

Martin Berasategui winner of 7 Michelin stars, and for the last six years his restaurant San Sebastian, Spain has been listed as one of The World’s Top Fifty Restaurants.

I sat down with Meritxell to discuss everything from the restaurant Passion, to Chef Martin Berasategui, to glassware, and of course Champagne. Step into Meritxell’s world with me. 

Liz Palmer

I understand that Paradisus Resorts are responsible for bringing Martin Berasategu, the seven-star chef to the Caribbean two years ago. Can you tell me has it been a success?

Meritxell Lecha Vinuesa

According to Trip Advisor, Passion is the number one restaurant in Punta Cana and the number two restaurant in all of the Dominican Republic – that tells us!

Liz Palmer

Has Passion won any recent awards?

Meritxell Lecha Vinuesa

I’m very proud to say that we received four months ago the 4-Diamond Award by AAA.

Liz Palmer

What is Passion by Martín Berasategui’s signature dish?

Meritxell Lecha Vinuesa

That’s funny that you ask thisthe signature dish at Passion and all of Martin’s restaurants Spain is Egg cooked at lower temperature with fine-herb liquid salad. People all over the world ask for this dish – it’s a very popular on the menu.

Liz Palmer

How often does Chef Berasategui come to the Dominican Republic to oversee his restaurant and brand?

Meritxell Lecha Vinuesa

Martin comes three to four times a year to review the menu. His presence also impacts the selection of products, staff training and standard operating procedures.

One of Martin’s philosophies is that he works with local produce and fruits and meats. In the Dominican his menu and recipes are 50/50 50% Spanish and 50% Dominican influence.

When Martin changes a recipe he changes it gradually and slowly.

Every two to three months he changes two to three dishes.

One thing to note is that the chef is very flexible in changing the menu for customers that have food allergies and for strict vegetarians.

Liz Palmer

Tell me about the wine list, like who selects the wines?

Meritxell Lecha Vinuesa

The wine list is developed by the head sommelier who works together with the chef and the tasting menu.

The specially selected wine pairings have been developed from three separate wine lists created exclusively for the restaurant.

Liz Palmer

Which stemware does Passion use?

Meritxell Lecha Vinuesa

We use Stölzle from Germany, its innovative, excellent quality and lead-free for wine glasses – the various shapes and flutes. We also use their decanters.

It’s important that the team undergoes training and learns to understand the importance of each wine and food pairing.

Liz Palmer

Every year we see new and interesting restaurant trends develop. – What do you do to keep up and pushing the boundaries?

Meritxell Lecha Vinuesa

It’s important to compare competitors and to learn what they do and how they do it.   It’s also good to travel to different countries and see and experience different cultures and bring this back home.

Liz Palmer

On a personal note – what is your favorite dish on the menu?

Meritxell Lecha Vinuesa

I have a few favorites: the turbot fish, slow cooked veal with potato risotto

What is your favorite restaurant around the world?

I have two favorites: Restaurante Martín Berasategui, in Lasarte. This restaurant has maintained a three-star rating from Michelin since 2001, and El Celler de Can Roca is at heart a local family-owned restaurant rooted in the fiercely independent state of Catalonia and named one of the top 50 restaurants in the world

Liz Palmer

You have an opportunity to taste lots of interesting and unique wines. Do you have a preference for Champagne?

Meritxell Lecha Vinuesa

Yes absolutely – my favorites are: Bollinger ‘Grande Année, Veuve Clicquot La Grande Dame, and Cristal Champagne and I do collect. 


Berasategui has incorporated Caribbean flavors into his signature cuisine. Local seafood has a starring role. Dining a la carte or enjoy the full sampling menu with wine.


Rich with design and colour – airy vaulted ceilings with whimsical lighting features and stunning art pieces.


This gastronomic experience serves dinner nightly or Private Parties

Resort Elegant

Passion by Martin Berasategui is accessible to local residents and visitors.


Liz Palmer
Wine + Lifestyle Writer

Krug Kreperie Pop-Up

KrugKrug Kreperie launched this week and is only available until December 8th. Head to the East Piazza in Covent Garden and there you will find Krug Kreperie.

Try one of Pierre Koffman’s limited edition crepes. Krug Kreperie will be serving up six different crepes, including: three sweet, three savoury, including my favorite apple crumble.

Served in snug French chalet-inspired dining pods, the crepes, of course, come with a flute of Krug Grande Cuvée! Get your skates on because it is only available until 8th December before it heads over to Koffmann’s at The Berkeley until mid-January.

The Mistral Wine and Champagne Bar – São Paulo, Brazil

The Mistral Wine and Champagne Bar is a stunning space showcasing wines and champagnes in a modern and minimalist way. Forgoing the typical shelving units, this store displays bottles on backlit walls, making it appear as though they are floating in midair.

Designed by Studio Arthur Casas and located in São Paulo, Brazil, the bar bridges the gap between the in-store and online consumer. The clean lines and bright lighting brings to mind a digital world while the wood panels add an undeniable warmth.

The Mistral Wine and Champagne Bar also has an interactive gallery, reading room and tasting area.

Liz Palmer

Pop-up Champagne Bar is back on Aspen Mountain

A traveling champagne bar, which debuted last spring on the ski slopes, provided a unique experience and caused no problems, Aspen Skiing Co. officials reported.

“I’m happy to report we had no problems whatsoever,” said David Bellack, Skico senior vice president and general counsel. “It was popular with the guests. The people who visited it seemed to enjoy it a great deal.”

In February, when the pop-up champagne “oasis” first came before commissioners, there were concerns about promoting on-slope drinking, and Commissioner George Newman wound up voting against the proposal.

On Tuesday, no vote was necessary, and commissioners raised no concerns with the plan.

“It wasn’t a big party,” John Speers, general manager of The Little Nell, said of last season’s experience. “It was never a big drinking crowd that was going to make a day of it.”

The Nell, the luxury hotel at the base of Aspen Mountain, also operates the Sundeck restaurant at the summit and oversees the champagne bar, a portable affair set up at sunny spots on the mountain where patrons could enjoy great vistas. Skico plans to set up the bar again for spring skiing, starting on Presidents Day weekend, but it did uncork the bar for opening day this winter, given the unseasonably high temperatures.

“It doesn’t work too well when we have temperatures of minus 2,” Bellack said.

The bar operated on weekends last season, selling small, snow-chilled flutes of Veuve Clicquot for $15 each. The amenity was unique among ski areas and gave Aspen some additional media attention as a result, Speers said.

“We’re always trying to figure out how to position ourselves to get more PR,” he said. “It’s about having a cool new thing for our guests that they don’t see somewhere else.”

Source:Aspen Times