Since opening in late 2019, the quality of the culinary offerings at twin resorts Hyatt Ziva and Hyatt Zilara in Cap Cana – an exclusive gated community in the Dominican Republic – have been a source of pride for the hotels.
“We put a lot of effort into our food and beverage outlets,” General Manager Pedro Tomas told PAX during a visit to the properties from Dec. 5-7. “Having the brand Hyatt behind us has helped a lot to attract [Chef] talents that might have not come if we had a generic brand. It’s been a huge success."
Despite that success, however, Tomas says the resorts aren’t satisfied simply resting on their laurels.
“We knew we had to start doing something different, we have to put something into the community for travel agents, everyone to get excited about,” he said.
Introducing The Blind Butcher
Enter the property's newest restaurant, The Blind Butcher, a multisensory dining experience, two years in the making, designed to change the image of what the D.R. has to offer in the culinary space.
“We wanted a hybrid of having entertainment and food in the same restaurant. We know it's trendy right now," said Tomas. “There is a segment that is looking for that, they want to have dinner but they also want music and entertainment. We had to get into that trend.”
From the outset, The Blind Butcher looks like a basic butcher shop, but then the hostess opens a large fridge door and guides you inside for an evening that is anything but basic.
“I would describe it as disruptive, fun, sexy – why not?” said Tomas.
Drawing inspiration from land, water, earth, and air, the menu features starters like pork arepas, sushi, prime rib empanadas, ceviche, and a beef tartare prepared table side. The server is literally grinding out the meat in front of you.
Entrees include sea bass, octopus, a creole barbecue with chorizo, short ribs, and steak wagyu.
The Blind Butcher is a nod to a legend about a famous South American chef who, after an accident that robs him of his sight, experiences a heightening of his remaining senses, which he uses to create culinary masterpieces.
The restaurant named after him takes all of the senses into consideration with its music and intermittent dance performances throughout the restaurant during each sitting.
But while The Blind Butcher provides a feast for the eyes and ears, taste is the sense most important to the restaurant.
The emphasis on food quality was hammered home to Tomas and his team after visiting other experiential restaurants around the globe for inspiration.
“The common denominator was that the food wasn't good, but the ambience was amazing,” he said. “The food was lacking. It wasn't bad, but for what they charge, it didn’t make any sense.”
Tomas didn’t want patrons of The Blind Butcher walking away with the same sentiments.
“We want people to say, ‘I had a good meal, food quality was good, fresh, the flavour was amazing, and on top of that, I had a good time’” he told PAX. “We cannot forget, it's a restaurant.”
Tomas said The Blind Butcher experience should break down to being 70 per cent about the food, 15 per cent about the entertainment, and the final 15 per cent being about the mixology of it all.
A culinary extension
Currently open, The Blind Butcher officially launches Dec. 15, and while it’s located at the all-inclusive Hyatt Ziva Cap Cana (the all-ages side), the restaurant is not included in the stay.
Guests who want to indulge in the experience should be prepared to pay $149 USD per person (taxes included).
Tomas said he doesn’t expect the additional cost to deter guests.
“The Hyatt customer is a higher-[end] customer,” he explained. “So, we knew we had an opportunity with people who are willing to pay, even if they’re already paying for an all-inclusive.”
Tomas thinks the allure of a one-of-a-kind experience will encourage guests to open up their wallets.
“When you go to an all-inclusive, you’re not going to find an offer like this,” he said. “I want to be as humble as possible, but you don’t get an option like this.”
Tomas sees The Blind Butcher as an extension of the Ziva/Zilara Cap Cana’s already elevated culinary options, which include restaurants like the French and Polynesian inspired, Brandos, the Italian trattoria Noodle and Thread, and the Peruvian-Caribbean Shutters Beachside.
He said elevating the culinary experience of an all-inclusive resort was the goal from day one.
“It was a challenge that we took when we opened the hotel. Many people doubted we were going to get there because it's not something the D.R. is well known for, but we have accomplished it,” he said.
Concept restaurants are the new waterparks
The general manager would like to see travel agents market The Blind Butcher to clients as a must-do addition to their vacation packages.
“In the past, if you had a waterpark, you were different. Now, you have many hotels with waterparks. But how many have this concept?” he asks. “Experience a restaurant that you might see in a really high-end metropolis, in another country. That’s an element that travel agents can use to close deals.”
Travel professionals are not currently set up to receive a commission for booking guests at The Blind Butcher, but Tomas said it’s a conversation he’s willing to have.
“That's something we haven't spoken about yet, to be honest, but definitely something we will discuss,” he said.
While you don’t have to be a guest at either Ziva/Zilara Cap Cana in order to experience The Blind Butcher, but priority is given to guests of the properties, with 85 per cent of seating reserved for in-house patrons.
Tomas said the hotel is already booking for 2024 and expects interest in The Blind Butcher to only increase through word of mouth and once guests start posting on social media.
“You're gonna wanna take pictures and say to the world ‘I’m here,’” he said.
“It's disruptive, but the food quality is superior. It's different. Having that in the D.R. is something we feel really proud of."