Casa de Campo resort and villas, set in 7,000 acres, is a holiday destination in its own right. A world-class golf destination that has been compared to New York’s Hamptons, more than lives up to its name, which is Spanish for “Country House.”
There is no chance of getting bored here with three golf courses, horse riding, polo, tennis courts, water sports centre, clay pigeon shooting, fitness centre, spa, swimming pools – one has a swim up bar – and for those lounge-in-the-sun folks, there’s a beach around three kilometres away.
So here we were in the Casa de Campo resort after a nine-and-a-bit-hour flight from London and an easy 45-minute transfer to the resort from Punta Cana airport. A friendly welcome was waiting for us in the busy reception area along with a glass of prosecco. ‘It isn’t champagne’, smiled the receptionist, ‘but nevertheless it goes down well with our guests’.
Casa de Campo, located in the Dominican Republic’s historic sugar mill town of La Romana, opened around 50 years ago to an illustrious crowd of VIPs. In those early days, notables including Michael Douglas, Henry Kissinger, Joe DiMaggio and ‘ole blue eyes’ Frank Sinatra frequented the resort, flying in to Casa’s own airstrip in their private jets. It is still the preferred playground for some of the world’s most successful people. With golf as its main draw, many visitors come to enjoy a game or two on one of the three world class courses – the main one, Teeth of the Dog, is considered the best course in the Caribbean.
It is family-friendly too, with supervised kids’ activities including basketball, table tennis and puppet shows as well as providing a professional nanny service for younger children. The whole shebang, in fact.
View this post on Instagram
Those who visit this super-sized resort can choose to rent a villa or if preferred, opt from one of the 247 hotel rooms. These rooms vary in size and type, decked out in contemporary wood furnishings with muted neutral tones with enormous, hugely comfortable beds, a 42-inch LCD TV, Nespresso machine, large bathroom with L’Occitane toiletries, white robes and slippers, and complimentary WiFi. Due to the resort’s size, a four-seater buggy is included in guests’ package.
Guests can eat the atlas if they choose – Mexican, Italian, Spanish, Asian – and a couple of upscale food trucks too. However, because they are all between five and seven kilometres away from the hotel, getting to them means hopping in the aforementioned buggy. Be warned that you have to travel along what are essentially main roads to reach these restaurants, it’s obviously a no-no to even think about drinking and driving. That means if you want to enjoy a drink or two, the sensible alternative is to drive your buggy to the reception where you can wait for the hotel shuttle service. In the evenings, this arrives roughly every 30 minutes.
Exploring the town? Visit Altos de Chavon, a replica 16th century Mediterranean village built in 1983, part of the Casa de Campo resort complex. For a small fee, the hotel runs a daily shuttle service here for guests. At Altos you’ll find restaurants, a couple of shops, a small museum, artists’ studios and church, but its pièce de résistance is the amphitheatre, used as a concert venue. I was told that Frank Sinatra was the first to perform here, since then it has seen Elton John, Andrea Bocelli, Duran Duran and Julio Iglesias gracing the stage. Singer Alicia Keys filmed part of her video ‘Karma’ here and a hot pink piano was dropped via helicopter in front of astonished onlookers. During my visit preparations were being made for a concert of 80s music by REO Speedwagon.
If you fancy teeing up in one of the Caribbean’s top-rated golf courses, Casa de Campo lives up to its reputation as the grande dame of the Dominican Republic.
Inspired to visit the Caribbean? Read our Spa Edit here