Traveling in class & style, this is the fifth in the series of 5 articles on true luxury experiences by our readers!
By: Liz Palmer and Robert Roland
Posted on: May 5, 2015
Casa De Campo, a legendary Caribbean resort in Dominican Republic boasts three award-winning golf courses - one being the top golf course in the world, the Teeth of The Dog. That’s just the beginning. The Casa story tells the tale of constant evolution and corporate contribution.
Casa de Campo means “homes from cropland” and it began in the late 1960s with the success of the Gulf + Western sugar mill operation at La Romana. Alvaro Carta operated the largest producing mill in the world at the time, and was interested in investing profits into impoverished parts of the island. Alvaro Carta decided to bring in designer Pete Dye in to design a hotel and golf course. Originally the plans were drawn up for an area just outside Santo Domingo but Dye focused on an area near the La Romano Sugar Mill.
Dye started building an Executive Course for the employees of the Sugar Mill and while walking the Caribbean coastline realized that a course along the shore was something special. This course was hand-built by over 300 Dominicans. Coral rock was chipped by sledgehammer and soil was carted in by wagon.
Originally called Cajielies, referring to the cashew trees in the mountains, the name was changed to “Teeth of The Dog” when Dye heard locals refer to the sharp coral rock, which looked like canine teeth, as “diente del perro” (teeth of the dog in Spanish). Teeth of The Dog officially opened in 1971 with seven of the most spectacular holes in golf along the shore of the Caribbean. It is something to be seen!
By 1974, the Casa De Campo resort opened as an executive retreat for Gulf + Western Employees and a private airport was built at the resort to accommodate CEOs and other executives who arrived by private jet.
Over the next 10 years, Casa evolved into a brilliant resort. Prince Maharajah Jabar Singh helped start organized polo, breeding and training. Tennis was added. Altos de Chavon, a village showcasing Dominican art and culture, was completed and features many cafes, restaurants and a 5000-seat Grecian style amphitheatre inaugurated by a Frank Sinatra HBO televised special on August 20, 1982.
In the mid-1980s, the property was sold to the Central Romana Corporation and Carta’s dream started to take off in a whole new dimension which is still expanding to this day. In many ways the story of Casa de Campo is being rewritten in 2015.
Casa de Campo is spread out over 7,000 immaculately manicured acres which includes the main hotel, guest rooms, world-class spa, riding stables, polo, tennis, an immaculate private beach, marina, Altos de Chavon, seven restaurants and several neighbourhoods of privately owned villas with many pampering amenities. Casa de Campo has its own real estate brokerage onsite and helipad. This sheer size is class and understated.
There are two ways of moving around the resort. The first is to keep checking the large maps, which are posted throughout the property. Become familiar with them – we’ve been lost a few times. The second is, you receive a key to your own personal golf cart when you check-in. While the resort does provide a 24-hour shuttle service, it’s much more fun to go exploring in your own mini cart. Just remember to keep an eye out for the speed bumps, unless you actually want to catapult your bags or kids off the back! And remember, you are walking in the footsteps of powerful visitors such as Bill Clinton, Elizabeth Taylor, Carolina Herrera, Shakira, Marc Anthony, Enrigue Iglesias, Jimmy Carter, George HW Bush, Mikhail Gorbachev and many more who stayed at this property. Michael Jackson and Lisa Marie Presley were married at Casa de Campo.
The staff is friendly and courteous and was extremely helpful in explaining all of the resort’s amenities, and the baggage handlers were cheerful and prompt. Just 20 minutes into our arrival, we were already enjoying our first cocktail from our balcony. Our elite guest room, which was conveniently a two-minute golf cart ride from the main building, faced out onto one of the greens. The 42-inch flat screen television, marble vanities, iPod/iPhone docking stations, an espresso coffee machine, and L’Occitane products in the bathroom added to our comfort!
Hidden away in the tropical foliage of Casa de Campo is Casa de Campo Spa - it’s a true sanctuary for renewal. Everything at the spa speaks to the body, spirit and mind being one and being in total alignment. It is delivered by exceptional practitioners, in world-class facilities and one client described the spa as “an incredible spa experience that truly lifted my soul”. There are seven spa suites, each with a private shower with a Zen garden. With a local twist, indigenous ingredients are used such as Dominican Coffee exfoliation, Fruity-Herbal Body Wrap and Choco Body Mask. The cold plunge pool is no joke and worth the experience!
The three main dining experiences are La Caña by Il Circo – think Spanish cuisine, steak, seafood with a good selection of wine overlooking the pool and spa area; Lago Grill, a full-service restaurant with alfresco dining: and Beach Club by Le Cirque – one of our highlights. The Beach Club restaurant is an outpost of the Maccioni family’s famous New York restaurant featuring Le Cirque-trainedchefs. It serves fish fresh daily, savory risottos, perfectly grilled meats, and heavenly desserts—all set to the tune of softly breaking waves. It was truly a beautiful elegant beachfront dining experience.
Other popular restaurants include La Piazzetta, a gourmet Italian dining experience at Altos de Chavon, La Casita at the marina, where seafood and tapas are the draw and Chinois with breathtaking views of the marina serving pan-Asian flavors, Cantonese specialties, Japanese sushi, sashimi and other Oriental dishes.
Our top two were the Beach Club by Le Cirque with two outstanding signature dishes: Lobster Salad and Grouper, and La Piazzetta both for their top service, wine list and over all dining experience.
The excellent equestrian center with staff is on hand for lessons in English or Western-style riding and jumping. For ages seven and up, three ponies rides are available on Anita, Juanito or Miguelito. The center did an excellent job matching us with a horse and our riding ability. We did a one-hour trail ride around the polo fields and along the way watched some teams at practice.
World-class polo has come to the Caribbean – there are three polo fields: one practice field and two for matches. And of course we had to try Teeth of the Dog. One of the golf pros told us “most of the world's great oceanside courses play along high cliffs. The Teeth of the Dog is ocean level and you'll feel the spray of the waves on a couple of holes”. We wanted to get a true sense of the course, so we drove our golf cart at the end of the day around the Teeth of the Dog. This stunning seaside course certainly offers fine strategic challenges along with the impact of constant trade winds from hole to hole. There are beautiful vistas that can’t be beaten.
Apart from golf, Casa de Campo offers water sports such as boating, fishing river sailing, ocean sailing, kayaking, snorkeling and Scuba. Indulge in some heavy-handed tennis at La Terraza Tennis Center with 13 Har-Tru Courts. Bicycle rentals, fitness center, shooting center and a 150-slip Marina & Yacht Club facility with upscale shopping should take care of the rest of your time.
At Casa De Campo you have the very best of everything... fabulous accommodations, gourmet dining, world-class sporting adventures, pampering spa treatments and personalized guest services. You might even bump into an international celebrity or dine under the stars besides one of the world’s financial moguls or politicos.
Ph: 1-800-877-3643 or (305) 856-5405
This is an opinion-based piece written by a luxury consumer or appreciator who enjoys the nuances of luxury, and is a part of LuxuryFacts 5 Year anniversary activities!