This weekend I zipped down to the Dominican Republic for a quick visit and my friends whisked me away by surprise to Casa de Campo. It had been one of the few things left on my Dominican Bucket List that was never accomplished (Costanza is still on the list) so it was amazing that they planned this trip.
About one and a half hours east of Santo Domingo by car, this resort town is a nice day trip, or weekend getaway if you have money to spend. We set out after a hearty Dominican breakfast of mangu with onions, fried cheese, fried eggs, avocado, and cherry juice.
Once we got inside the resort, our first stop was Altos de Chavon, a 50-year old section that was built to look like the 16th century. It has a church, restaurants, shops, and sweeping views of the Chavon River.
After having spent many days in Santo Domingo’s Zona Colonial, it was unbelievable to see this area that looked so historic, but actually wasn’t. I felt like I was in a Dominican Disneyland, where the experience was completely constructed. Compared to Zona Colonial, which is a UNESCO site, this area was about fifty years old. Therefore it was equipped with all modern implements (lighting, stair rails, wifi spots, and functioning bathrooms).
As it is completely secluded from the outside world and shut off from the Dominican population at large, the only visitors were tourists. A hefty admission fee by Dominican standards is required for entry to the entire Casa de Campo premises, as well as the travel that can be made only by car. The character and spirit that make Zona Colonial so truly Dominican were totally lacking in Altos de Chavon – no shopkeepers trying to sell their wares, no street musicians performing, no one offering to show you around on a tour. No vendors selling sweet island fruits on the street. We were almost the only people in Altos de Chavon, and it felt like we had stumbled upon an abandoned city. The views of the river were larger than life, however, and it almost made me forget where I was.
We wanted to see the museum, which was closed for renovations, so we just wandered around, popping into the little shops. A group was preparing for a Catholic wedding at the church. It looked gorgeous with a full band setting up, huge white flower bouquets and golden chairs.
We stopped for lunch Le Boulanger Cafe where we had typical American food (at American prices) such as hot dogs, french fries, sodas, tostadas (a grilled sandwich with cheese and sometimes meat). They didn’t have pizza that day but we still ate a good amount.
Then we took a look at the ampitheater, modeled in Grecian style. In November, Enrique Iglesias will perform… Wish I could see that! It was stunning.
The rest of the resort has private villas, a marina, a golf course, restaurants, and more shopping. There is a Supermercado Nacional for any food shopping needs. Coconut Mall has a movie theater and ice cream stand (and not much else). There seemed to be plenty of opportunities to shop and eat out.
The pristine Marina had an exclusive collection of yachts, docked in calm waters.
The weekend was perfect and I am so grateful that my friends planned this trip! If you’re looking to visit this resort, check out the Casa de Campo website for more details. Or have your Dominican friends help you.