Day 8 Dominican Republic – Around the DR in 8 Days

Jul 23 2014

The trip to the Dominican Republic was to review Alkifiesta and offer best practices to Oscar & Manual Schwarzbartl to assist in the development of their Event Rental Business. Oscar & Manual would show us the Dominican Republic through their eyes.

We planned to visit the three Alkifiesta locations. An easy task from Santiago. Then an opportunity presented itself to meet in Punta Cana, 5 hours from Santiago to discuss rentals for a 2015 event. We added this to our travels.

Saturday, Sunday & Monday we worked and played in Santiago. Alkifiesta offices and warehouse, Centro Leon, Cowboy Party, World Cup Game & touring the Al Fuentes Cigar Plant.

Tuesday we headed north for a 2 hour drive to Puerto Plato to visit Alkifiesta’s second location, tour the Ocean World Resort and tour the Burgal Rum plant. We had dinner at 10PM.

Wednesday we left early for Punta Cana about a 5 hour drive with the help of a new toll road. It was a beautiful drive along the north shore beaches and a large National Park. In Punta Cana we had a series of client meetings and finally went to dinner at 10PM. This not my usual schedule.

This is half the circle.

Thursday we left early for Santo Domingo to review Alkifiesta’s third location, visit other event rental stores in the area and take the Colonial City tour. Again it was 10pm before we arrived at our Restaurant.

Many of the restaurants we used would be at home in Austin’s second street district. They were modern, excellent food, service and wine lists.

Friday we returned to Santiago, stopping at a ranch set up for a 60th birthday party, inspecting the 2014 Santiago BMW test drive event and having Red Beans and Rice for lunch. A Dominican signature dish. Friday night Oscar & Manual’s parents invited us for a family dinner in their home. Excellent Dominican food! See my food blog when I write it.

Oscar, Manuel, Becky and I were in the car for 12 hours making this circular inspection trip. We talked the entire time about the rental business. It was an unexpected good time for this type of conversation. Hopefully our stories of Marquee’s lessons learned will propel Alkifiesta to faster and more profitable growth.

Becky and I enjoyed it. I will have to make special trips to the gym to return to my pre trip weight.

Por mi no hay problemo! Esta bien”

(For me it is no problem! It is OK!)

Damon W Holditch, CSEP, CERP
Marquee Event Group

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Day 7 Dominican Republic – History and Rental Stores

Jul 23 2014

Oscar & Manual Schwarzbartl, Becky & I arrived in Santo Domingo and our first stop was Vargas Event Rentals. Vargas started as a caterer 30 years ago and is now the largest supplier of party rental equipment in the DR. We were welcomed as if we were old friends. Mr Vargas visited with us and told us his story and his activity in Rotary International. Mr Vargas then introduced us to his son who took us on a tour of the showroom and warehouse.

Party Rental in the DR is centered on decor; large vases, candelabras, chandlers, elaborate couches, side chairs and end tables. Each company we visited had some china, some glassware, some dinner ware and some linens. The main rental items were decor items. What I consider core party rental items seem to be secondary in the DR. Every market is different.

At 3pm we meet our local tour guide for the Colonial Tour of Santo Domoingo. It took the Spanish several tries to locate and name this city. They started on the north coast after several years moved to the south coast and finally moved to the present location after a new governor was appointed by Spain.

After an unfriendly visit by Sir Francis Drake, (Drake was English), he burned the city down and left, the Spanish built a wall around the city with a Fort protecting the harbor. The wall and fort are the Colonial District. We saw the house where Hernandez Cortez planned the conquest of Mexico. We saw the palace of Christofer Columbus’ son who was the governor of the island of Hispaniola. Christofer Columbus never saw this palace.

These buildings were built in the early 1500′s. Less than 100 years after the discovery of the new world. The DR is preserving and restoring all the Colonial District to enhance the tourist industry.

The drivers of the DR economy are Tourism, Agriculture, mining, rum and cigars. The countryside is a beautiful green with crops and orchards.

More on our circular tour of the Dominican Republic and the meeting we had with Fourth Wall Events from New York City in our next blog.

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Day 6 Dominican Republic – Punta Cana to Santo Domingo

Jul 18 2014

Today Oscar, Manuel, Becky & I will go from the Newest City, Punta Cana, to the Oldest City, Santo Domingo, in the Dominican Republic.

Punta Cana on the Southeast Coast is the center of the new All inclusive Resorts. This is an opportunity for Alkifiesta to serve a new high end market that pays in US dollars. It is a two hour drive to Santo Domingo. We will take the Santo Domingo City tour (The Red Bus Tour) and tour Alkifiesta’s office. We will visit a job for BMW. More on this later!!

This morning as I looked out my hotel room I could have been in South Florida. Coastal flat land and vegetation. The weather has been magnifcant. Mild mornings with humidity, warm afternoons and evenings. We have seen rain but have not been in any rain storms.

The people and staffs have been friendly and helpful. I am surprised how much Spanish I understand. I have a few phrases that help me. cerveza, Donde esta El bano? Buenos Dias! Adios! Como se llama? Gracias!

Oscar & Manuel continue to amaze me. They have a great understanding of the Rental business. They have asked and Becky & I have answered at least 1000 questions. I have seen Alkifiesta’s new employee Power Point. Oscar and Manuel have seen Marquee’s employee Power Point. We have spent several hours presenting Challenger Sales.

Everywhere we go, Oscar & Manual see someone they know. We are having Dominican Coffee, which is very good, and people come by and say hello Alkifiesta! Alkifiesta has the contacts, the reputation, the market presences to be part of the rising future of the Dominican Republic.

As we drive from the newest to the oldest city in the DR, we are with the future leaders of the DR. Oscar, Manuel and their 30 something year old friends will lead the way to a modern and growing country.

It is raining but only a short summer shower. no more rain now!

More photos soon.

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Day 5 Dominican Republic – Rum and Sunset

Jul 17 2014

Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday have flown by!! Working and seeing the Dominican Republic through the eyes of citizens!

Monday we meet Sam Mendez, GM of Fuente Cigars. These are hand made by Cigar Chefs! New term! I have 50 surprises for Will’s Wedding.
We worked until 5:30PM at Alkifiesta and then went to dinner with Karina the Logistics Manager.

Tuesday, Becky, Oscar, Manual & I drove to Puerto Plata. Interesting drive showing the other side of the DR. We arrived at 10AM for a tour of the Brugal Rum Manufacturing plant. We had an hour and half Tour ending in a Rum Tasting like a wine tasting. The Rum Master, Jassil Quintana, 5th generation Brugal, used many terms used to describe wines. Who knew!!

We then visited Ocean World, the venue and the new cruise ship destination.
Evaluating the market potential for Alkifiesta. With 20,000 visiters per week there will be opportunity for Alkifiesta Party Rental.

Had dinner at an excellent restaurant and spent the night in Oscar & Manual’s family beach apartment.

Wednesday was a long day. We drove 5 and half hours from Puerto Plata to Punta Cana. Not far for Texas but a long way for The DR. We dodged motorbike taxis with three to four riders, trucks, donkeys, horses and pedestrians with balanced loads on their heads! I was exhausting! But it was beautiful to see the back country of The DR.

We arrived in Punta Cana for our 4PM meeting with a planner searching for vendors in the DR. Oscar & Manual know all the event professionals in the DR.
The meeting went well.

More tomorrow as we head to Santo Domingo the oldest European City in The New World!

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Day 4 Dominican Republic – Rentals and Cigars

Jul 15 2014

Tour of the Alkifiesta facility and then the Arturo Fuente Cigar factory.

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Day 3 Dominican Republic

Jul 14 2014

We traveled to the Dominican Republic, worked all day at Alkifiesta and the first party we go to is a Cowboy Bar-B-Q! The dinner at 10PM was BBQ, beer with rum (Rum is every where) and an exposition by a Tennessee Walking Horse club. Then Salas dancing and we ended at midnight! The Dominican Republic runs on a different activity schedule than we do!

Cowboy BBQ Party Santiago Manual, Laura, Oscar, Damon & Becky

Cowboy-BBQ

Laura, Oscar and their two sons took us to the newly completed Centro Leon Museum in Santiago. Centro Leon presented the Dominican Republic from 1903 to 2003. The Leon Family funded this project and it is a must see if you visit Santiago.

We then traveled to the Alta Vista Restaurant near Jarabacoa. Alta Vista is on the ridge of the mountains forming the east west cental valley. Santiago is located in this inland valley which protects it from hurricanes. A good location for the oldest European capital city in the New World.

We had lunch and struggled through the World Cup Final Game.

View from Alta Vista Restaurant Dominican Republic

Had lunch here and watched the World Cup Soccer Finals.

This week we will visit a rum distillery, a cigar manufacture and visit Alkifiesta’s two new stores.

We then head east for an appointment with a West Coast Planner looking for Dominican Republic suppliers. A contact made possible by ISES!

More details & Photos this week!

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Day 2 Dominican Republic

Jul 14 2014

After some careful questioning, I found out what Alkifiesta means!
The “fiesta” part I got. It was the “Alki” part I could not decifier. Was it German or Spanish? Manual Schwarzbartl, of Alkifiesta drew a diagram and I got!

{(Al) (Key) fiesta} = Alkifiesta

ALQUILER —–> RENTAL in Spanish

Change the Qui to Ki (Same Sound)

ALKI + Fiesta = Alkifiesta translate into Party Rental!

Oscar & Manual Schwarzbartl, owners of Alkifiesta have built a company using technology, engineering management skills with hard work and innovative thinking. Increasing sales each year and becoming a dominate market leader for the Dominican Republic.

The future will belong to the rental company with the best technogy. Alkifiesta has all the essentials to be the leader in Party Rental in the Dominican Republic.

Oscar & Manual Schwarzbartl are the hope and future for the Dominican Republic.

It will be fun to watch Alkifiesta, Oscar & Manual.

We are starting this Saturday morning with a visit to Alkifiesta showroom and warehouse in Santiago.

Becky & Damon Holditch @ Alkifiesta, Santiago, Dominican Republic.

left to right Oscar & Laura Schwarzbartl, Melissa Hernandez, Manual Schwarzbartl & Mr & Mrs Marquee. Oscar, Laura, Manual & Melissa are the future of the Dominican Republic!

Dinner at Noah’s in Santiago, Dominican Republic 1st night. Good Tempranillo and excellent food!

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