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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”