By Alice & Danny Scott
The Destination Dominican Republic is part of the Antilles archipelago in the Caribbean Sea and La Romana in the southeast region is colorfully tropical with a welcoming culture. Sporadic showers bring many flowers and lush vegetation. Canopied floral trees and coconut palms meet the vast blue sky while bright bougainvillea and cape plumbago dominate the landscape. Small flocks of green parrots flit by, squealing with delight as do little kids in the azure water. It is Jurassic Park beautiful without the dinosaurs.
The Venue Casa de Campo Resort and Villas is a gated paradise where guests at check in receive a 4-passenger golf cart as their magic carpet ride to explore the kingdom of Pete Dye golf designs and gourmet cuisine. The all-inclusive dining option takes guests on a global food tour. French Boeuf Bourguignon at La Cana by the lobby is a perfect intro to Casa’s gastronomy after a long day of travel with live music and cigars after dinner. Lago Restaurant by the 18th hole of Teeth of the Dog serves a sea view as well as breakfast and lunch buffets with many diverse selections. La Piazzetta perches high above the river in Altos de Chavon, a 16th century, stone sculpted Mediterranean replica village where entertainers perform in the Roman amphitheater. Manager Massimo was born in Italy and fell in love with the Caribbean as well as a Dominican gal and brings his grandmother’s seven-layer lasagna and other delectable recipes to the table.
Chilango Taqueria and the new Peruvian Causa satisfy Latino food cravings while La Casita and SBG are the premier spots for watching yachts go by in the prestigious marina as the sun sets. Minitas Beach Club & Restaurant features surf and turf by the sand for lunch and dinner. Add the new food trucks at Minitas and poolside or swim up bars and mathematically you could dine all year with unique daily menus.
Elite rooms with patios or balconies are spacious while villas are grand for families and friends to congregate. Bed linens are softer than anywhere. Ever expanding, more units are under construction with additional space and the latest blackout and electronic features. A new, enhanced spa will also be erected, though the current spa delivers complete tranquility and services. Around 20k employees are attentive and contented caring for guests and grounds on the sprawling 7,000 acres.
The Golf Pete Dye left his design mark on the golf world and no more beautifully than with his 63 holes at Casa de Campo. The most famous Teeth of the Dog is “Pebblesque plus” with its Heaven seven ocean holes and beautiful weather year-round. So named because the laborers said sharp rocks bit like a dog when they relocated them along the shore, the course conversely kisses the Caribbean. Adjacent is The Links’ 18 with a couple holes also glimpsing the ocean, and speedy greens with false fronts and subtle slopes.
Dye Fore has three nines – The Lakes, The Chavon running dramatically along the cliffs above the Chavon River and The Marina winding above the harbor into which the river flows with spectacular sea views. Golf meets “Homes of the Rich and Famous” on this fabulous course with sprawling homesteads uniquely architected and creatively, impeccably landscaped. Caddies’ Buenos Dias greetings turn into Buena bola, good ball on all the courses. Our Hector caddied for President Bush, Sr., and Michael Jordan who he shared is “not so good player.” Pro shops display the finest apparel in colorful Caribbean style. Front and center outside is a statue of Pete Dye, and a plaque also pays tribute on one hole with his quote, “Bury me in a pot bunker.” Rest in peace, Pete, and Alice too.
And More Drive the cart to Playa Minitas, the private, creamy sand beach and pool area with plenty of lounge chairs, umbrellas, and cabana boys. Relax or partake in water action as snorkelers swim alongside waders and floaters, kayakers, and paddle boarders. A light breeze pushes a catamaran through the break in the sea rocks that form a natural enclosure. Optional motorized excursions transport to sea fishing or Catalina Island and the concierge arranges offsite zipline or cigar factory tours. Onsite, the impressive Polo and Equestrian Center is home to 200 well-tended and well-trained horses which are given 3-month vacations. Polo is an elegant sport to watch, and amateurs may try a donkey polo version. Cowboy Margarito gave a riding tour of the ranch including Mark Anthony’s home and horses before galloping across the polo field and back to the coral. At the Shooting Range, Director Jake Pike from England is committed to safe and fun experiences where Sandy guided us through rounds of skeet pulls with shotguns. Play tennis or walk, shop and swoon over the yachts at the Marina.
Our Takeaway Some trips might invoke, “been there, done that,” but Casa de Campo makes you long to return or even become a resident. We loved riding through the many areas in our cart, admiring homes, sampling so many activities, and meeting friendly people from France, England, and all over the Americas. Love abounds as evidenced by numerous weddings in gorgeous settings and the food and golf really are to “Dye” for.
The Journey Arrive by yacht if you can. Otherwise, La Romana airport is five minutes from Casa de Campo for private or limited commercial flights while Santo Domingo and Punta Cana airports are less than an hour away. Let the Resort arrange comfortable transfers and rest assured that customs procedures are efficient and easy with online forms. Quick Covid testing is done right at Casa de Campo if still mandatory for reentry to the U.S.
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