Punta Cana is a relatively new settlement, having grown from virtually uncharted territory known to mariners as "Punta Borrachón" ("Drunken Point") to a luxe oasis of tourism bliss and celebrity yacht parties in just a matter of decades. The land, which was about 30 square miles of mostly jungle, was purchased by a group of American investors in 1969. Since then, the area has been cautiously and elegantly developed with a keen eye on environmental preservation; now regulated by the PUNTACANA Ecological Foundation as well as the Center for Sustainability and Biodiversity of PUNTACANA. The latter organization enlists the help of students from universities like Harvard, Columbia, Cornell, and the University of Miami to help create and implement programs to solve problems and make the settlement as eco-friendly as possible. Development began in 1971 with opening of The Punta Cana Club, a hotel consisting of 10 two-room villas. By 1978, it had done so well that Club Mediterrané began constructing a 350-room hotel. The real explosion of Punta Cana's popularity came years later with the construction of the Punta Cana International Airport, which opened its runways in 1984. Now, you'll find tens of thousands of rooms in Punta Cana—as well as neighboring destinations with "Punta Cana" in their property names to entice uninformed guests, so check your map to make sure you're going to the real deal.