Words by Gilly Pickup
You don’t need to have millionaire status to enjoy a holiday at Casa de Campo Resort and Villas even though back in the day folks like Henry Kissinger and Frank Sinatra used to visit, landing their private planes on the resort’s very own airstrip.
More recently Casa de Campo has seen notables including Il Divo, Justin Bieber and Hugh Grant swing by to indulge in some chill time and just the week before I arrived, Bill Clinton was there enjoying a game or two of golf. In fact, the reason many visitors head for this Caribbean resort is to play on one of its three world class courses – the main one, Teeth of the Dog, is considered the best course in the Caribbean.
Casa de Campo is a huge complex, around 7,000 acres. Besides its Pete Dye designed golf courses it has its own road system, a marina which is home to some super-expensive yachts and a replica 16th century Mediterranean village called Altos de Chavon, which was built by a Hollywood set designer. Now a cultural centre, it is home to artists’ studios, handicraft workshops and art galleries.
The icing on Altos de Chavon’s cake though is the 5,000 seat Roman style amphitheatre which was opened in 1982 by none other than ole’ blue eyes himself, Frank Sinatra. Elton John, Andrea Bocelli, Duran Duran and Julio Iglesias are among other notables who have appeared on stage here and when I visited, preparations were underway for an 80s style concert by REO Speedwagon.
The resort has 247 hotel rooms. Mine was decked out in contemporary wood furnishings and came with a 42-inch LCD TV, Nespresso machine, large bathroom with L’Occitane toiletries and a jolly comfortable queen size bed. A separate dressing area held a safe and wardrobe. Wifi is complimentary.
Due to the resort’s size, a four-seater buggy is included in guests’ package. It’s an essential, as everything is quite a trek from everywhere else. I should add, if you go don’t forget your driving licence as they won’t let you loose with a buggy otherwise!
If a hotel room doesn’t cut the mustard for guests, they have the option to rent a villa – there are hundreds, ranging from those of epic size proportions to well – smaller. Honeymooners or Greta Garbo types who want to luxuriate in complete privacy as well as celebs such as those I mentioned earlier will of course prefer to bag a villa.
They pretty much have it all, some have a gym, most have pools/ jacuzzis and besides that, you get a butler and maid and not just one golf buggy to get you around, villa guests get two or more, depending on how many of you there are.
Of course this super-size resort has several restaurants and a couple of upscale food trucks on the private beach which is a few kilometres away. When I visited the resort, La Caña restaurant and bar was closed for renovations, so was the Minitas beach restaurant.
The closest restaurant to the part of the hotel I was staying in was the Lago, though I found the buffet style meals fairly uninspiring. I did enjoy the 19th Hole sandwich bar, open early till late, it’s a relaxing place to visit with fabulous views over one of the golf courses and staff are super-friendly. I also liked La Piazetta in Altos de Chavon, it serves Italian inspired dishes with an extensive variety of homemade pastas.
Besides golf, there are lots of things for guests to do. The resort has its own polo fields and horse-riding facilities and there is ample opportunity with 13 courts to enjoy a game of tennis. There’s a water sports centre, gym, swimming pools and clay pigeon shooting too, or if you’re feeling creative, you could opt for a pottery lesson.
A spa which uses Ayurvedic techniques and organic ingredients offers a range of treatments besides run-of-the-mill massages. You can enjoy chocolate therapy by way of a body mask – they say it helps delay ageing and hydrates skin or you could have your chakras realigned – that will definitely leave you feeling a bit zen.
There is a nanny and babysitting service for young children while for older ones supervised programmes include basketball, musical games, face painting, puppet shows, story times and ice cream parties – what kid could resist?
Address: Higuey Hwy., La Romana 22000, Dominican Republic
Phone: + 855 559-0806