Dr. Malur Balaji

Architect & Builder

From South India, to the Northeast, to the North Coast


Beginning in February of 1982, Dr. Malur Balaji started vacationing at the north coast of the Dominican Republic with his wife and 5 children. During this recess each school year, they traveled from the snowy northeast of the United States to Sosúa, Puerto Plata where they fell in love with its warm beaches and even warmer townspeople.

Dr. Balaji was born in South India and came to America as a medical doctor in 1969 after graduating from Bangalore Medical College. He had further specialized General Surgery at the University of Rochester and Cardiovascular surgery under Dr. DeBakey at Methodist hospital in Houston with Baylor Medical College. He came back to Rochester, NY in 1975 and practiced as a General surgeon and Vascular surgeon, becoming chief of vascular surgery at St.Mary’s and Unity Hospital.

Balaji Palace

Construction

Site Selection
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!

Getting Started
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.

Construction Begins

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.

“Surprise Me.”
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.

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Palace Wildlife

Peacocks

Although the peacock is the national bird of India, there were Wild Peacocks born on the palace grounds before it was built. The peacock has become a palace motif. Today there are about 8 fourth and fifth generation wild peacocks here.

To ensure the swimming pool matched his mind’s eye, Dr. Balaji drew the outline of it with a can of spray paint. Some have noticed that the swimming pool looks like it is in the shape of a peacock. Maybe this happy accident was a subconscious inspiration?

While staying at the Balaji Palace, the official watercolor artist of the Buffalo Bills saw the peacocks flying and fighting and was inspired to paint them. Dr. Balaji’s one condition was that he would leave one original piece for the Palace.


Whale Watching

Every year between January and February, whales can be seen with the naked eye from the Balaji Palace. The whales migrate from here in the Atlantic Caribbean all the way to the Arctic Ocean. During construction of the palace, 80 people simultaneously stopped working and stared awestruck at the ocean to behold this local natural phenomenon. In one rare sighting, Dr. Balaji once witnessed a baby whale jumping out of the sea back and forth across the mother’s back as they swam by.




Ocean Garden Design
Most oceanfront resorts clearcut the natural landscape to provide unobscured views of the ocean from their rooms. Dr. Balaji was advised to build away from the large treeline, but he deliberately built to keep his palace in harmony with the treeline.

The rainforest was accentuated by strategically placing the flower gardens between the palace and the ocean. Having the option to walk, eat, or get married in the shade near the ocean was an uncommonly wise design decision and everyone loves the colorful, scented flower gardens. Jasmine is Dr. Balaji’s favorite scent, and can be smelled while walking along the oceanfront flower gardens. You can still see the ocean from the Royal Oceanfront Suites and Penthouse floor too!

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Cliffside Suites
The cliffside suites were the first component of the palace to be built. They started with the private stairs to the backyard Atlantic ocean beach. Private stair access permission was granted by the Marina General where more than 10 houses worth of concrete was poured to reinforce the cliffside stairs to the beach.

An Eastman Kodak engineer double checked the engineering work after its construction. After finding no flaws in the supports, he commented that the work was “absolutely amazing.”

NYLA Balaji Beach

Before becoming a grandfather, Dr. Balaji had a premonition to built up a kid friendly beach using the same natural sand well above the waves so parents could feel more relaxed while spending time at the ocean with children. Later, Dr. Balaji’s daughter called him halfway through the construction to announce her pregnancy. Nyla Balaji is the name of this granddaughter who was able to play here as Dr. Balaji imagined before she was even born!

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Juan Carlos and Company
Juan Carlos was the booking manager at the next door Playa Grande golf course who always had a personal touch, which the family enjoyed. Juan Carlos was Dr. Balaji’s first pick when hiring a concierge manager of the Balaji Palace when it opened as a business. The Balaji Palace staff also includes a chef, sous chef, 14 staff members, maids, security guards and a spa.

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Clean Energy

Solar Powered

The cost of gasoline in the Dominican Republic is extremely high compared to the US.

The solar panel installation has eliminated the need for 2 generators and has lowered their monthly electric bill by $14-16,000 USD. For those concerned about their carbon footprint, the Balaji Palace is a place to live more harmoniously with mother nature.



Grand Opening

Inauguration Event

After years of aggravating the community with construction, the palace was complete. Many prominent leaders from the Dominican Republic and the United States attended the black tie inauguration event. National TV crews and reporters from local and international newspapers arrived to witness the inauguration ceremony at the Balaji Palace.

Guests of Indian descent could not believe they were seeing Mughal architecture in the Caribbean. “Amazing!”, they said.

Now many families create special memories from weddings, to hosting Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s holidays at the Balaji Palace.


Public Opening

During the first few years the Balaji Palace was a private vacation home for Dr. Balaji’s immediate relatives and extended family. To keep up with operational expenses, the palace is now open to host corporate retreats and weddings in addition to individual or group bookings. The first guest was from East Hampton who flew in a private plane with his extended family. There have been others who have flown in via helicopter and private plane, including the CEO of JetBlue airlines. These aren’t just “vacation rooms to rent.” Families create special memories while hosting Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s holidays here.



Reactions to the

Balaji Palace

Pretty astounding let me tell you. We knew he was a wonderful surgeon, but didn’t know he had this vision in his head that he was able to bring this construction to a reality. It was very amazing.” – Eileen Balaji

“It’s a hidden gem. Visitors plead: ‘keep it a secret.’”
“I never dreamed a place like this could exist.”
“This is nirvana on earth.”
“The on-sight spirit cannot be expressed in a photo.”
“This is somewhere I would want to die in peace someday, but today it rejuvenates the spirit.”


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