For many, the word “resort” brings visions of crowded pools, bland buffet dinners, and not-so-fun group activities. But along the Dominican Republic’s southeast shore awaits a 7000-acre retreat that redefines the word in the best way possible. Casa de Campo is an exclusive enclave of hotels and opulent villas, complete with the activities you actually like and countless amenities. If it isn’t already on your bucket list, it needs to be right now.
Named after the Spanish for “country house”, the community was started in 1974 by developer Charles Bluhdorn. For its first decade, Bludhorn shared the estate with very particular guest list of friends and business associates, including Oscar de la Renta, who also worked as interior designer for some of the original properties. Shortly after Bludhorn’s death, the resort was purchased and opened to the public. Yet the air of exclusivity remains. If you’re a traveler who doesn’t want to spend hours driving around then you’ve found your match at Casa de Campo. Everything from horseback riding to museum tours can be found just steps away from your ocean-view bed. Here’s a just a few of our favorite things to do there – you can find your favorites on your next visit.
Aside from the many sports facilities, at Casa de Campo you’ll also find the replica of 16th-century replica Mediterranean village. Arriving at Altos de Chavon feels like you’ve landed somewhere in between Dubrovnik and Florence, with added Dominican influence. The village, which took 7 years to build, is a haven for art and architecture lovers. Hand-carved stonework and ironwork decorate the buildings, and along the idyllic pathways you’ll come across everything from an archaeological museum, art galleries and high-end shops, all locally inspired. In fact, Altos de Chavon is even home to a design school of the same name, where a long list of courses mean visitors can put the inspiration from the town’s stunning environment to good use. If your little one has a knack for fingerprinting, they also offer programs for kids as young as four.
Avid golfers will already be aware of Casa de Campo’s three (!) world-class courses designed by Pete and Alice Dye. The courses – Teeth of the Dog, Dye Force and Links – are some of the best in the Caribbean. Palms stand high above perfectly maintained trees and shrubs, and white-sand bunkers press up against the shimmering sea. Home to the Latin American Open, the winding fairways, though beautiful, are not easy to play. If your stroke isn’t exactly up to par, you can spend some time at the resort’s Jim McLean Golf School before heading onto the course. With just a 1-hour private session you can see an immediate improvement in your golf game.
Decadent Spa Treatments
Ancient remedies and modern techniques combine here to create a spa experience that will transport you to a whole other dimension. Reserve a private slice of beach for a massage with built-in wave machine, or bring the spa to you: massage experts will come right to your villa if you prefer. There’s a huge range of treatment options, including specialized massages for golfers, tennis lovers and polo players. Post-massage, treat your skin to the Caña de Azucar treatment, where Dominican sugar cane is applied to your body for the ultimate in natural radiance.
Equestrian expert or first-time rider, Casa de Campo is the perfect place to saddle up and hit the trail. Their stable has dozens of horses, and you can take private guided tours through the beautiful pathways that surround the resort. If you’re a beginner, start with a private lesson from one of Casa de Campo’s instructors. Experienced riders can test out the world-class polo fields or sit back and watch a match, which are played regularly from November-April.
There’s no shortage of refined watering holes at Casa de Campo. Coco Mar has a relaxed, tropical Caribbean feel with tiki-style roofs and elegant canopies strung in between swaying palms. It’s right on the soft sands of Minitas Beach, and they serve their piña coladas in fresh pineapples. There’s no better way to end the day than with a sunset cocktail. Remember, sunset is over by 7pm most months of the year, so don’t be late!
Where to stay in Casa de Campo