Kayaking, horseback riding and city and cave tours are among excursions that Casa de Campo can arrange for guests. //© 2015 Casa de Campo
Feature image (above): Exclusive Villas feature spacious lounge areas and private pools. // © 2015 Casa de Campo
Maybe there’s a scientific reason as to why, but, in my opinion, the Caribbean Sea glistens brighter in the Dominican Republic than anywhere else. And perhaps the brightest spot is at Casa de Campo, the luxurious mega-resort on the island’s southeast coast. It’s no wonder why celebrities such as Beyonce, Jay-Z and Marc Anthony routinely vacation here.
With 7,000 verdant acres, it’s not hyperbolic to say that Casa de Campo is its own city. The possibilities of play are seemingly endless, from golfing and horseback riding to skeet shooting and water adventures. The 185-room, 50-villa property offers privacy for the affluent and the promise of pure personalization. These qualities make Casa de Campo a favored escape for the world’s elite, often including Saudi princes, Hollywood A-listers and financial moguls.
First things first: the golf cart. Because of the property’s sprawling reach, all guests receive a complimentary golf cart upon check-in for use throughout the property. Not a bad way to travel between the miles of amenities.
Like most Casa de Campo vacationers, I couldn’t wait to try my hands at the resort’s golf courses. Casa de Campo is heralded all over the world for its three premier courses — Dye Fore, Teeth of the Dog and The Links. However, the Pete Dye-designed courses have managed to swallow hundreds of golf balls with its cliffside, Caribbean-edge holes. The property is also home to Jim McLean Golf School and master instructor Eric Lillibridge, who thankfully helped fine-tune my game.
The land adventures continue with horseback riding at the nearby Rancho Peligro, owned by Casa de Campo. Set among 10,000 acres of lush countryside, my noble steed led me around the ranch’s many creeks, lakes and mountainous terrains. After that, we were off to Altos de Chavon, an artists’ enclave that’s home to an art and design school. Modeled after a 16th-century Mediterranean village with cobblestone paths, Altos de Chavon also includes a 5,000-seat Grecian-style amphitheater that has seen world-class performances by the likes of musicians Andrea Bocelli, Julio Iglesias, Sting and Carlos Santana.
No commentary about the Dominican Republic would be proper without mentioning its sea adventures. Minitas Beach is Casa de Campo’s own private beach. There, guests have endless water sports, including snorkeling, kayaking, paddleboarding or windsurfing. Or, guests can cool off with Minitas Beach’s pina coladas served in native Dominican pineapples. For an even more exclusive island escape, take a 25-minute catamaran ride to Catalina Island, which features 6 square miles of sugar-sand beaches surrounded by the crystal-clear waters of the Caribbean.
With all this adventure, thank goodness the property offers seven resort restaurants along with more than 14 other independently run dining options. Restaurant highlights include Lago Grill, which serves traditional and popular Dominican cuisine options, along with American counterparts, and features breathtaking views of Teeth of the Dog’s 18th hole.
For my farewell meal, I opted for the decidedly European menu at La Casita, a casually elegant, dinner-only restaurant with Spanish flair. With waterfront seating, La Casita’s expansive alfresco structure overlooks the property’s marina and its array of private yachts. With seafood paella in front of me and the bright stars above, I couldn’t have imagined a better way to say goodbye to the Dominican Republic.