Casa de Campo
Family-friendly, activity-filled, sprawling resort
Carretera La Romana Higuey +809 523-8364 www.casadecampo.com.do
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At a Glance
The hotel at one of the Caribbean’s legendary resorts boasts no fewer than six restaurants, three award-winning golf courses and hundreds of hotel rooms and villas spread out over 7,000 acres.
- Excellent equestrian center including instruction in jumping and polo
- Myriad dining options including two Maccioni restaurants, Le Cirque and La Caña
- Multiple activity and socializing options make the property popular for families with teenagers
Casa de Campo, the Dominican Republic’s most storied resort, remains a place that people either love or don’t. Since its founding in the mid 1970s, the 7,000-acre enclave on the southeastern coast of the island has had loyalists and detractors. There are those who could spend time anywhere in the world and who expect the best service in hotels and restaurants, such as billionaires, professional athletes and entertainers, who choose it as their regular warm-weather getaway. And there are others who arrive at the hotel, find that it resembles a sprawling Florida conference center and return home with horror stories about the service.
Owned in large part by the Fanjul family, whose empire includes Domino sugar, Casa de Campo began as an exclusive retreat for wealthy Latin families and Americans who snapped up beachfront property just over a decade after Trujillo’s brutal reign ended. In the early days, there was just one restaurant at the old sugar mill and prospective villa owners stayed with friends or off property. Over the years, the resort has expanded to encompass six restaurants, 185 hotel rooms and more than 2,500 villas, some of which are available to rent.
The lobby building, a soaring glass pavilion, overlooks a pool, bar and outdoor restaurant. Accommodations range from the Golf Lodge rooms, which should be avoided due to their resemblance to dated Florida condos with tile floors, ugly furniture and bad lighting, to palatial waterfront villas that come fully staffed. The Elite rooms are on the casita’s first floors (patio rooms) or second floors (balcony rooms) and have more modern amenities and furnishings, including large marble bathrooms and plasma screen TVs. While they are definitely a step up from the old rooms, there is still a corporate blandness to their design and very little sense of place or personality. Standard rooms are on the small size, so guests who like to spread out during beach vacations should consider a more spacious deluxe room or suite. Families will appreciate that there are many connecting room options.
Overall, service and the beach are the drawbacks here. Yes, it’s the Caribbean but on other islands higher expectations have raised the bar in the past decades. Not here. Security is at once impenetrable and also disorganized, staff can be unhelpful and wait times for things like shuttles (necessary in a 7,000-acre resort) can take a long time to arrive. As it tends to be throughout the Dominican Republic, there’s an easy going-ness to the staff that must be accepted. If you are not willing to go with the flow, you could be seriously disappointed. And beach lovers, who are used to lovely expanses of soft sand will not find it here; there is a manmade beach that gets very crowded in high season, which may be why the golf courses and other activities are so well developed.
The best restaurants are the two run by the Maccioni family, La Caña by Il Circo at the main hotel building and the Beach Club by Le Cirque at Playa Minitas; both are open for lunch and dinner. In La Marina are two excellent restaurants that are not owned by the resort, Peperoni and Limoncello. At Alta Chavon the Mediterranean style village, La Pizzeria is the best restaurant. If you have the concierge make restaurant reservations, do so at the hotel lobby desk and request a print out confirmation.
In terms of activities, the property is probably best known for its three superb, Pete Dye-designed golf courses (including Teeth of the Dog, which is considered by many to be the top 18-hole course in the Caribbean), as well as The Links and the Dye Fore. Other recreation options are seemingly endless, ranging from the classic: tennis, polo, watersports, deep sea fishing, to the wild: merengue lessons, tie dye workshops, cave-exploring and dune-buggying.
Who Should Stay
Those who seek perfection in paradise should avoid a visit, but those who appreciate the choices of a very large resort—multiple restaurants, dozens of shops, a trio of golf courses and centers devoted to golf, riding, tennis, even shooting—and can forgive inept, but always hospitable staff, may decide that it’s just the place for an activity-filled holiday—and one that doesn’t come at exorbitant prices. Be forewarned that hotel rooms can be so-so and house rental experiences have historically been hit-or-miss. A group of friends or families who want to rent houses for a good price and can risk iffy service can get access to great facilities for a reasonable price.
Indagare Plus Amenities
- One $200 Credit for Spa Treatments or Golf (one per room booked). Credit for Golf valid only at Links or Dyer Fore Golf Courses.
- Daily Breakfast at Lago, up to 2 persons (applicable delivery charge if ordering by room service).
- Upgraded Room Category on Availability at Check-In
- Late Check-Out on Availability
- Complimentary WiFi Internet Access