Why did this hotel catch your attention? What’s the vibe? A sweeping resort on the Dominican Republic’s quiet southern coast, this iconic spot is a testament to the days when bigger was better. Built-in 1970 and opened as the country’s first luxury resort in 1974, it sprawls more than 7,000 acres. With 247 guest rooms and 50 private villa homes, you’ll be glad that every room here comes with a golf cart to help navigate the property.
What’s the backstory? The hotel has a reputation that glitters with VIP guests. Originally built as a lavish private island retreat, the resort was acquired by the Cuban-American Fanjul sugar baron family in 1983. Oscar de la Renta himself did the original interior design. Since then, it has hosted not only to some of the best golfers and golf championships in the world on its legendary “Teeth of the Dog” course (often called the best in the Caribbean), but also George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Kim Kardashian West, and even Beyonce herself.
Tell us all about the accommodations. Any tips on what to book? The decor features lots of dark natural woods and white furniture and an indoor-outdoor vibe that is luxe without feeling overly fancy. Entry-level rooms start with the usual amenities like free Wi-Fi, minibars, iPhone docking stations, and coffee machines—they feel comfortable, yet, somewhat forgettable. The real story here is the 50 privately owned villas, almost all of which are available to rent; these are exceptional for groups and for multigenerational travelers. The villas start at three or four bedrooms, then scale upwards in size (and price) to a jaw-dropping Oceanfront villa, which sleeps, 27 guests.
Is there a charge for Wi-Fi? Wi-Fi is fast and free throughout the resort—even down by the beach and in activity areas like the tennis courts.
Drinking and dining—what are we looking at? Eight restaurants and seven bars and lounges make it possible to sample something different each night of your stay. Just be aware that, as far as the Dominican goes, the food and beverage options here can be on the pricier side—that’s why many guests opt into the resort’s all-inclusive package, which covers meals, drinks, and most resort activities.
And the service? A property this large is inevitably going to have some hiccups. We remember having to wait more than a few minutes to have a cocktail brought to us poolside—but then again, if that’s the only service hiccup, a property is doing pretty well. Otherwise, this place is a well-oiled machine.
What type of travelers will you find here? Again, because of the size of this place, you get a little bit of everything: city slickers coming down for a long weekend, couples on honeymoon, families, and the occasional Kardashian.
What about the neighborhood? Does the hotel fit in, make itself part of the scene? Thanks to its own exit off the highway, the hotel really feels like a small city unto itself. If you need a break from golfing or fishing, or lounging poolside, be sure to spend an afternoon at Altos de Chavón, an on-property “village” meant to emulate a Mediterranean seaside town, with shops with souvenirs and places to grab a snack such as Chilango Taqueria. Pull up a chair, order some pulpo al pastor, and enjoy some margaritas and Mexican beers as you take in the “historic” architecture. It’s delightfully false, but it’s all part of the Casa de Campo experience.
Is there anything you’d change? Honestly, the resort can feel a little too big. That being said, its size is what makes its breadth of activities possible—there’s an on-site marina where you can charter fishing excursions, three Pete Dye-designed golf courses, a tennis center with 13 courts, an Equestrian & Polo Center that offers trail rides and jumping lessons, and one of the best-equipped shooting centers in the Caribbean. Oh! And to give you a sense of the resort’s scale—there is also a three-mile jogging trail that runs throughout the property.
Any other hotel features worth noting? The spa goes above and beyond typical Caribbean mega-resort treatments, offering a range of Ayurvedic massages and body treatments tailored to your distinct aura and needs. Ask for the Abhyanga oil massage, where the therapist selects a specific herb-infused oil based on your preferences. And, this being one of the Caribbean’s top sporting destinations, the spa also offers specific Golfer’s and Tennis Pro’s Massages.
Bottom line: Worth it? Why? If you’re looking for ultimate privacy, this might not be the place. But if you want something easily accessed from the East Coast, with a dance card of activities a mile long, there is no place better.