last resort Sean Drakes retreats to the most exquisite R&R getaway in the Dominican Republic Photography by Sean Drakes
icture this: A replica of a 16th-century Mediterranean village fitted with romantic fine dining restaurants, a chic marina fashioned after Italian portofinos, and a sprinkling of extravagant villas that frame an 18-hole golf course perched on a coastal nugget in the Dominican Republicâ€“ all together these are the essentials for an exceptional allinclusive experience at Casa de Campo. This 7,000-acre ultra-exclusive resort and residential community in La Romana is 130-miles southeast of the capital city, Santo Domingo, and is reached by non-stop Liat flights from Antigua (www.liat.com). A massive toll booth-style security entrance and its own airport imply that Casa de Campo is an extraordinary gated community. Our driver surrendered his license in order to deliver us to the resortâ€™s reception team. Each suite is beautifully appointed and comes with a golf cart for shuttling about this massive campus. There are 13 tennis courts, a private beach, Italian designer boutiques, sailing day-trips to nearby Catalina Island, and those staples of luxury you expect to find at such a dreamy playground and resort. Casa de Campoâ€™s Sporting Clays Shooting Center offers avid marksmen realistic conditions for trap and skeet shooting, with the tallest station able to project clays 45 yards into the sky. The
equestrian facility has five fields and 70 trained polo ponies; it offers jumping and instruction and hosts international polo matches from November–May. But the pièce de resistance are the three Pete Dye-designed 18hole golf courses: Teeth of the Dog has seven holes skirting the ocean and has been ranked #17 on Golf Digest’s list of top 100 courses in the world, while Links is a hilly inland course where five holes tangle with lagoons and lakes. The new Dye Fore course, positioned 300-feet atop the bluffs of the Chavon River, is a mesmerizing masterpiece with a 7,800-yard, par 72 layout that attracts and challenges pro golfers from around the world. Attending a dinner party hosted at the stylish, open-air home of Cuban artist Bibi Leon was a feast for my curious eyes, which were eager to peep inside some of Casa de Campo’s multi-million dollar private properties. The following day we rode the coattails of this vivacious designer of home décor accessories as she showed-off the exquisite interior design of her friends’ vacation homes. (Reportedly there is a home owned by a Venezuelan oil tycoon that has 25 Opposite: Heliconia caribaea ‘Richmond Red’ Above from left to right: Philodendron; Pilea; Pseuderanthemum
bathrooms.) Computing pioneer, Bill Gates, and former US President, Bill Clinton, are among the celebrated citizens of the world who have dropped anchor at this private residence to relax and replenish. Casa de Campo Resort affords guests the option to “super-size” their accommodation with a rental villa tastefully lathered with status. Exclusive Villas accommodate 4–12 guests (rates supplied upon request) and includes maid and butler service, made-to-order breakfast prepared in your villa, a pool or whirlpool, concierge service for sporting and dining reservations, and private airport transfers. Every day busloads of tourists vacationing in Playa Dorado and Puerto Plata are ushered to Casa de Campo to explore the cobblestone pathways of Altos de Chavon, a replica of a 16th-century Mediterranean village that overlooks the curvaceous and gentle Chavon River. Construction of these coral-block and terracotta buildings began in 1976 under the stewardship of Italian artist, Roberto Copa; the final stone was laid in 1982. This enchanting site is home to a 5,000-seat Grecian-style amphitheatre that has hosted Dizzy Gillespie, Gloria Estefan, and the Dance Theatre of Harlem; the Regional Museum of Archeology, which houses a collection of pre-Columbian ritual and utilitarian artifacts; an art gallery as well as craft ateliers that produce ceramic and silkscreened souvenirs; and The Altos de Chavon School of Design (www.altosdechavon.com), which offers degrees in design fields and the fine arts and is affiliated with Parsons School of Design in New York and Paris.
El Sombrero, La Piazzetta, and Café del Sol are specialty restaurants at this site that are part of the resort—as is Chinois, based at the resort’s marina. When it’s time to refuel after a game of golf, vegetarian and heart-healthy menu selections are available at all restaurants. To plan and reserve your R&R itinerary, visit www.casadecampo.com.do.