Casa de Campo
Several years ago I was introduced to Casa de Campo, through word of mouth from a friend who owned property there. He couldn’t stop talking about the lovely grounds, but he was particularly effusive about how he’d take his boats, a 121-foot custom yacht and a 43-foot sportfisherman, there to enjoy the peace and quiet he couldn’t get in most cruising spots in the Caribbean. And considering he lived in Puerto Rico, he did a lot of Caribbean cruising.
I knew exactly how he felt: Having cruised around several spots in the Caribbean, ranging from the U.S. and British Virgin Islands to the Leeward Islands, I often noticed that my cruising companions and I were rarely alone. In fact, in some cases I joked that we should stick our heads out a port and call to the dozen or so neighboring yachts, “Excuse me, but do you have any Grey Poupon?” As beautiful as the waters were, and as majestic as some of the mountainous terrain was, the picture-postcard promotional materials didn’t match the reality. I wanted to get away from the crowds, not join them, especially working in the midst of New York City’s congested concrete jungle.
Over the years I’ve met many an owner, crewmember, and even charter broker who shares these sentiments, both when it comes to getting away from crowds and to the Caribbean specifically. They were all disappointed by the experience, and even when they ventured to other islands in the region, thinking things would be different, they ended up feeling they’d been there, done that.
Thankfully, however, that doesn’t apply to the Dominican Republic—specifically, to Casa de Campo. If you’re an avid reader of travel magazines or follow travel trends, then you’re probably already somewhat familiar with the DR, as the tiny country—about twice the size of New Hampshire—is often called. You’ve probably also heard of Casa de Campo because of its highly publicized (and highly rated) Pete Dye-designed golf course, Teeth of the Dog. Interesting enough, while the DR benefited from the overall upswing in travel to the Caribbean during the 1980’s, with a good number of hotels and all-inclusive resorts opening their doors, it wasn’t until more recent years that marinas such as Casa de Campo’s were developed. Add to that an expansion within the past year that was completed specifically to address the megayacht boom, and you have a spot that boasts something other Caribbean locales can’t: an anything-but-overrun, calm retreat.
In fact, located on the southeastern portion of the island, which itself is bordered by the North Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, Marina Casa de Campo is relatively sheltered from the trade winds that blow from the east (and which create challenging conditions on the northern portion of the island). Due to this as well as its colorful, Mediterranean-style port, the marina has been welcoming yachts ever since its official unveiling by the president of the Dominican Republic on November 21, 2001. Besides the slips and amenities specifically reserved for your needs, no doubt that if you’re a sailing enthusiast, you’ll want to take your turn at the helm of one of the four J24s the Casa de Campo Yacht Club, in the center of the marina, has on hand.
If you wish to send your yacht ahead and join her there, you can fly via commercial jet or private plane into La Romana International Airport, which is less than ten minutes from the resort, or take a helicopter to Casa de Campo’s own heliport.
And above all, look forward to what you won’t see: yachtsmen packed cheek to jowl asking to borrow Grey Poupon from one another.
This article originally appeared in the October 2006 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.