The Cresencio Hose Arias and his family had previously owned this portion of Playa Grande, Rio San Juan which can be traced back nearly 400 years to Spain and the Age of Exploration. Despite today’s rising demand for premium oceanfront Caribbean real estate, this untouched lot only became available to Dr. Balaji out of an appreciation for his years of voluntary medical service to the needy in nearby Rio San Juan.
Yes, Dr. Balaji has rebuilt vital organs as a vascular and general surgeon but had no prior homebuilding experience. In this way, his palace is a once in a lifetime project!
To get started adhering to building codes, Dionicio Ramirez and Celestino Izquierdo were selected as the official engineer and architect.
The daughter of a famous Dominican General, Vilma Montes contributed as the interior designer who supervised the final phase of construction. Montes was instrumental in getting all necessary permits for the project. Her brother (who is in the Dominican air force) helped build a most modern Helipad on palace grounds next to the pool.
The Balaji Palace construction took place from 2000-2008. During these 8 years there was no final plan. Similar to the construction story of the famous Hearst Castle, the grandiose concept was painstakingly iterated every three to six months. While actively practicing medicine, Dr. Balaji would visit every six to eight weeks. He admits to have shaken things up and frustrating the crew each time. In one example, six different palace pillars were produced (to scale) so Dr. Balaji could choose the most eye-pleasing design. There were governmental regulatory hurdles to a U.S. citizen building a new estate on virgin rainforest next to the ocean, but Dr. Balaji’s reputation as volunteer cardiac-surgeon was a bypass to “red tape” others in his shoes might have faced.
The Crew and Construction
Dr. Balaji has said that he was the only foreigner who had a hand in the construction because it was important to him to hire only local crew from Hispaniola to show what they can do. To construct the palace itself, building materials from South America, East Asia, India, and Europe were imported. All of the production, assembly, and wood-carving took place at the Palace itself by local talent.
Dr. Balaji was spending so much time and energy during the first phase of construction that his wife, Eileen, kept the pressure off by requesting that the end result become a surprise to her. She requested that her husband, Dr. Balaji not speak of the project until it was ready to visit. For the next few years, Dr. Balaji shared progress with his children, but Eileen never knew what he was building until it was time to see and believe it.