A one in a million experience

Restaurant La Casita Marina. Courtesy Casa de Campo.
That’s Casa de Campo, a jewel of the Caribbean in the Dominican Republic.

If you’re a millionaire — or billionaire — Casa de Campo is your kind of place.

I have been familiar with this Dominican Republic resort ever since my glory days at Robb Report magazine, when it was famous for its polo. (I briefly dated a polo player.) But I never actually got here  — until recently.

I enjoyed the perfect day in this enclave of the rich and famous that is a member of The Leading Hotels of the World. Unlike most guests here, I didn’t set foot on the award-winning Teeth of the Dog golf course, which is the top-rated course in the Caribbean. So many guests come here specifically to play golf, but I went to demonstrate that you — and your entire family — don’t need to play 18 holes in order to have a sublime time. Besides golf, the resort offers tennis, shooting, horseback-riding, pottery-making and the charming Altos de Chavón, a replica of a 16th-century Mediterranean village straight out of Italy.  (You must visit the jewelry store there, Everett Designs, for its one-of-a-kind treasures with pearls and gemstones.)

Casa de Campo is the preferred playground for some of the world’s most successful people, including lawyers, doctors, corporate businessmen, politicians, athletes and celebrities. (Martha Stewart, WAG’s July 2014 cover subject, recently stayed here while native son Oscar de la Renta, who owned one of the resort’s first villas, designed the original interiors, fabrics and employee uniforms, setting the hotel on its path in the 1980s.) It has received four stars from the Forbes Travel Guide and four diamonds from AAA. Many guests here travel by private jet and park their Gulfstreams just 10 minutes away at the private airport. Despite this, Casa de Campo remains one of the world’s best-kept secrets — a luxury resort that’s hardly a household name, except on the East Coast. 

“New York and New England are the bread and butter of Casa de Campo,” says Jason Kycek, the senior vice president of sales and marketing. Flights on JetBlue leave New York every Wednesday and Saturday and arrive in La Romana, where Casa de Campo is located. It couldn’t be any easier to get there.

I started my morning on the 7,000-acre property in Lago Grill, where the feast is much like that you would experience on a cruise ship — oceans of OJ and other juices, croissants, doughnuts, crepes, eggs, breads, smoothies, yogurts, sandwiches and much more to start your day. I had a bowl of oatmeal with the house-made granola, and I was happy as a clam.

Next, my husband, Bill, and I went to the sandy white Minitas Beach. We paid to have an all-inclusive package, so all of the alcohol and cocktails are included (though not made with premium liquors). Instead, we opted for a water and a custom-made diet lemonade that hit-the-spot. To that I say, “Cheers.”

Our all-inclusive package here also featured all nonmotorized water sports, so I was delighted to take out one of the blue floats and laze around in the azure waters at this gorgeous beach. Me, I always crave a visit to a first-class beach and Minitas did not disappoint. The powdery white sand was perfectly manicured, and the enticing sun beckoned at every angle as it shone over the clear waters. Waiters were at the ready to take our drink order, set up your beach chair or set down the huge Moët & Chandon bucket, filled with ice, for Champagne lovers (although I did see one patron bring her own Aperol for mixing). There are chaise longues and umbrellas galore and an extended reef so that swimming is safe and easy.

As if that wasn’t enough, we then took the 25-minute boat ride to Catalina Island. This is the resort’s private island. There’s a $41 per person charge to head over here. We snorkeled to our heart’s content and soaked up the splendid sun, even though there weren’t really that many fish swimming about. It was just as well. The mere act of breathing deeply, with your head in the warm turquoise waters, was a spirit-satisfying endeavor, and the area was picture-postcard beautiful. 

After our beach outing, we headed to lunch. At Lago, we feasted on homemade tuna fish sandwiches with capers (delicious) and quinoa salad, along with — what else? — a Jamaican ginger beer. I’ll also toast to that. 

We stayed in one of the 183 rooms and suites that compose the main hotel, but if you really want to travel in style, opt to stay in one of the villas.  We took a tour of them, and they are as good as it gets. A classic five-bedroom villa comes complete with maid service and a private chef and can feature nannies, a caterer and whatever else you need. The backyard has a pool and a much-needed hammock, where you can lie back and pinch yourself that you’ve arrived in this spectacular, posh place. In low season such a villa is $2,000 per night; in high season, about $4,000 per night.

If you’re really looking for a good time, head to the real estate office, to discover all about the private villas that are available for purchase here. For instance, an oceanfront villa such as 11 Punta Minitas  costs $13 million. This property puts you in a privileged position with seven bedrooms, including a three-bedroom guesthouse. It beautifully fuses indoor-outdoor living while offering seclusion and privacy. Sounds good, right?

I’d have to say that the only thing I didn’t do was to visit a spa — but I’m getting ready for that next time. They are breaking ground on the property for the Casa de Campo spa, which is sure to be a winner, like everything else here. I’ve never met a body scrub I didn’t like, so I am eager to return. I’ll toast to that — “Here’s mud on your thigh.”

For more, visit casadecampo.com.do.

Debbi K. Kickham is author of ‘The Globetrotter’s Get-Gorgeous Guide.’ Follow her on Twitter at @SATWgal.

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