Casa de Campo

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You’re going to need a map when you visit Casa de Campo. Spread over 7,000 acres on the Southeast Coast of the Dominican Republic, the property hosts three world-class golf courses, seven hotel-operated restaurants, a marina, an airport, a re-created historic village, a 5,000-seat Grecian-style amphitheatre, polo fields, 13 tennis courts, hotel rooms, nearly 2,000 private villas, and more—it is luxury on a behemoth scale. Developed in 1975, Casa de Campo pairs resort living with lavish villas for a community dedicated to experiencing the good (and very full) life.

You’re also going to need a golf cart—that’s the way the “locals” get around at Casa de Campo. Putting the cart in drive, the first activity to cross off the itinerary is the famed Teeth of the Dog golf course, designed by greens legend Pete Dye and boasting more seaside holes even than Pebble Beach. Views are numerous and spectacular, a due reward for those willing to take on the notoriously difficult course. (For those more familiar with pop culture than golf stats, the green may be recognizable as the backdrop from the popular French Montana and Drake “No Shopping” music video; Drake also filmed the video for his Canadian rags-to-riches classic “Started from the Bottom” at the resort.) Vistas are in no short order at the property’s second course, Dye Fore, its 27 cliffside holes overlooking the Chavón River.

The Chavón also runs through the nearby Altos de Chavón, a town within the resort that was inspired by a 16th-century Italian village. The concept is perhaps a bit hokey, but the result is charming nonetheless. Walking down cobblestone streets, visitors are met by throngs of feral but friendly cats lounging on hot rocks. Some shopping can be done from a local woman selling antique Dominican sterling silver and stone jewellery, much from the 1960s and ‘70s, a unique and authentic piece of history. A glass of Italian white can then be enjoyed at La Piazzetta restaurant while taking in the expansive view of the river and lush jungle.

At the centre of the town is another Italian recreation, this one from an entirely different century. The amphitheatre at Altos de Chavón is done completely in stone and is recessed into the ground. Inaugurated in 1982 by Frank Sinatra, the arena has since hosted numerous international musicians, including Latin superstars Ricky Martin, Marc Anthony (who owns a villa here), and Jennifer Lopez.

A 15-minute golf cart ride away is the Marina. Lined with yachts, it’s the most urban experience at Casa de Campo, complete with a grocery store and movie theatre. International fare such as Miami Beach’s popular Pubbelly Sushi can be found here, where creative but fresh rolls are served alongside fusion dishes like tuna pizza (which is better than it sounds) and hotly trending Hawaiian poke bowls. To wrangle your own catch of the day, Casa de Campo offers fishing excursions at the Marina, with marlin and tuna populating the warm local waters.

More activities abound at the northern edge of the property, where 245 acres are dedicated to a shooting centre. The clubhouse, lavishly decorated in the colonial style, is the perfect place to suit up—earplugs, and vests heavy with shells—before heading out to the bush. The range has something for shooters of every level, from beginners looking to knock down a few clay discs, to seasoned experts ready to take on the centre’s 110-foot tower (one of the world’s largest) that expels sporting plates. A handsome and nerve-restoring cocktail is then offered back at the clubhouse.

Casa de Campo is built for long stays, and that includes lazy ones. Exclusive beach access is available at the numerous and luxurious waterfront villas (such as homes favoured by Beyoncé and Jay-Z). For those without private sand, Minitas Beach is welcoming for lounging days. Bonus: The Beach Club is a flip-flop toss away, whipping up delicious custom cocktails made with local Brugal rum and daily seafood specials. A dish worth ordering twice is the warm quinoa and shrimp salad, nourishing and light. Casa de Campo also offers two resort pools, one equipped with a swim-up bar for those avoidant of sandy swimsuits and empty glasses.

From tennis courts to teeing off, there is no shortage of activities at Casa de Campo. Just be sure to also book in some time to do nothing—it’s a noble pursuit.


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November 25, 2017