Golf in the Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic is known for many things: Christopher Columbus’ entrance to the Americas, baseball superstars, sugarcane and cigars. But soon it will be known as one of the premier golf destinations in the Caribbean as well. With four (soon to be six) Dye-family courses and two Robert Trent Jones Sr. tracks, the designer-holes-per-capita count here makes this country a veritable golf powerhouse. And in a country twice the size of New Hampshire, the beauty is that you can play them all.
The majority of the courses are found along the coast in the country’s burgeoning resorts, each with its own distinct identity. But it’s worth dragging yourself off the splendor of the country’s world-class greens to sample some off-course activities, which are as diverse as the warm and hospitable Dominican people themselves. This is a land of contrasts with towering mountains and rocky cliffs, rain forests and cacti-studded desert regions.
Santo Domingo, the seaside capital and the oldest city in the New World is a must see. Old meets new in the charming Colonial City, where Columbus’ remains are housed only blocks away from designer boutiques and gourmet restaurants. Enjoy the nightlife at one of the cobble stoned plazas where the merengue-the national dance-is performed until the wee hours.
The mountain region of Pico Duarte is the highest in the Caribbean and is a hotspot for adventure travelers. Guides will lead you on a variety of tours through the jungle, canyons and 18 waterfalls. Windsurfing off the north coast town of Cabarete is among the best locations in the world and it is not too far from the spot where thousands of humpback whales migrate every year to breed and care for their calves.
With numerous non-stop, daily flights into three international airports, you should migrate to the Dominican Republic, too. For a free brochure, call 1-888-374-6361 or 1-888-368-1015
The courses are breathtaking. The service is impeccable. The accommodations are sublime. And the activities are world class. In short Casa de Campo is what it has always been: the jewel of the Caribbean Isles.
Two Pete Dye-designed courses (and one more in 2002) lead the way. Headlining is The Teeth of the Dog.
The 6,461-yard Links Course can take a bite out of your confidence, too. One look at the small greens, pot bunkers and the tall native grass- bordering the course and you can almost hear the Scottish bagpipes in the background. The soon-to-open Altos de Chavon course on a bluff overlooking the Chavon River is destined for greatness, too.
Choosing off-course activities is almost as difficult. The Equestrian Center, Shooting Range, Tennis Center and beach are all top notch and provide days’ worth of entertainment themselves. Not to be missed is Altos de Chavon, a replica of a 16th-century Mediterranean village.
All of the 300 oversized rooms were redecorated to the tune of $24 million after Hurricane Georges ravished the resort almost three years ago. They start as low as $263 per person, including golf, all meals and drinks at the resort’s 14 restaurants, and unlimited sports. Villas are also available for families or groups.
With daily non-stop service from Miami to La Romana Airport (just 10 minutes from Casa de Campo), it’s a gimme. Call toll free 1-800-877-3643 or visit www.casadecampo.cc for more information.
Coral Costa Caribe Beach Hotel & Casino
Nestled in the heart of Juan Dolio, a former fishing village just 20 minutes from the airport and 40 minutes from Santo Domingo, the all-inclusive Costa Caribe is quintessentially Caribbean. The beach is just as you would imagine: covered with shady coconut trees leading into the sparkling azure sea. And, when it’s time to trade in the sand for a cerveza, the swim-up bar is only steps away. The local shops and open-air taverns add a colorful flavor. And if you want to tee it up, Metro C.C. is in the neighborhood, and Guavaberry G & C.C., a new Gary Player course, is under construction and soon to be opened.
Call toll free 1-888-942-6725 or visit www.coralhotels.com for more details.
hether you want to visit for a week or buy a vacation home for a lifetime, Metro C.C. has something for you. At the center is Los Marlins G.C., an upscale residential community in the Santo Domingo suburb of Juan Dolio.
The lots, comfortably set back from the course, start at $45,000.
|Situated on a three-mile stretch of pristine white sand and coconut tree-covered beach sits Punta Cana, a resort where paradise can be found both on and off the course. P.B. Dye landscaped the flat oceanfront layout into a voluptuous Course reminiscent of a Matisse sculpture. The water’s visible on 14 holes and you’ll feel like you’re falling into it on four. Taking advantage of the natural splendor of the country’s eastern most point, this regenerating retreat offers all of the amenities of a 400-room resort but has a more intimate feel.
Its ecological consciousness is evident from the thatched-roof buildings to the nature path to the Paspalum grass carpeting the course.
|Daily non-stop flights from five U.S. cities to the resort-owned airport just three miles away, you can tee off by 2 p.m.
For more information, call toll free 1-888-442-2262 or e-mail the resort at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If bigger is better, then the all-inclusive Catalonia Bavaro has to be considered among the best. Set on more than 160 acres with 711 rooms, eight restaurants, five bars, two tennis courts, a shopping center, a casino and live nightly shows, this resort allows you to be as active or inactive as you want. The magnificent pool complex features lush islands, fountains, a Jacuzzi and the requisite swim-up bar. Just steps away is the sugar- white sand beach where you’ll have to choose between kayaking, windsurfing, sailing and snorkeling, or indulging in a palm-tree-shaded massage. Then again, you could do it all!
The tricky 9-hole course and a soon-to-be-built 9-hole pitch and putt provide a friendly and affordable option for families interested in exposing their kids to golf. To book your vacation, call (809) 412-0000 or visit www.cataloniabavaro.com.
It is said Robert Trent Jones Sr. cried when he was awarded the job of designing Playa Grande. You may, too. With 11 dramatic Oceanside holes and views of the azure sea from the rest, if the scenery doesn’t get you, your ball replacement costs will. Opened in 1997, it was one of Trent Jones’ last designs. Though he never saw the exquisite result, his signature is everywhere, from the sprawling tee boxes to the large, sloping greens. From the tips the course plays 6,852 yards and requires intimidating carries over craggy gulches on six holes. Owned by the Central Bank, the course – as well as land for two more courses and a real estate development – is for sale. Perched above 100-foot cliffs on the island’s north coast, it is the Caribbean’s best kept secret and could be yours.
Meliá Tropical / Meliá Caribe Beach, Spa & Golf Resorts
Starting with the grand 60-foot, opened aired lobby all the way through to the pool, this two-year-old suite, all inclusive resort is decadence defined. With 1,100 spacious rooms, two casinos, 12 restaurants and two discos between the side-by-side hotels, navigating this uber resort might take a while, but the search is half the fun.
A tour of the immaculate grounds leads you through lush gardens bursting with bougainvillea and other native flora and past the spa where a variety of pampering treatments are only a reservation away. Keep going and the resort’s two voluptuously shaped pools-where bellying up to the swim-up bar takes on completely new meaning await you. Reality seems more than a world away when you’re waist deep sipping a luscious adults-only tropical concoction in a freshly picked, coconut. Just a chip shot away is the beach, which is known to be among the finest in the world. Walk for miles along the endless , stretch of powder-white sand or enjoy unlimited access to a wealth of water sports.
And then of course, there’s the golf. The Cocotal G. & C.C., consists of two courses set among a luxurious vacation community. Palma Real Villas offers free membership to the course as well as access to all of the hotel’s facilities. The 18- hole championship layout doesn’t give anything away, thanks to strategically placed palm and mahogany trees fronting greens and splitting fairways. The 9-hole course, opening in the fall, is designed more for beginners.
The course is home to the International Golf Academy, which offers a variety of lesson and playing options. And speaking of options, the resort offers cuisine from around the world, ranging from casual beachside barbecues to more formal fare. It’s a great prelude to the entertaining nightly shows performed by local talent. For more information, call toll free 1-800-33- MELIA.
Puerto Plata Village
Puerto Plata Village is true to its name. With almost 400 rooms and suites, five restaurants, four bars, two pools, four tennis courts and one breathtaking beach, calling it anything less would be misleading. The lively pool area serves as the center of this Victorian-styled, all- inclusive resort. All beachside activities are included. Call toll free: 1-800-753-8260 or see for yourself at www.ppvillage.com
Located just a 9-iron from Playa Dorada, the Robert Trent Jones’ layout, this all-inclusive resort is the closest of all
the area’s resorts to the course. The bright, oversized rooms (remodeled just two years ago) overlook the course and feature fully stocked mini bars for no extra charge. The tranquility pool aside the 18th fairway is one of two pools on the grounds and does not allow children. Call (809) 320-1200 or visit www.victoriahoteles.com.do.
Playa Naco Golf 8 Tennis Resort
Located in the heart of Playa Dorada, this affordable, all-inclusive beach front resort has access to Playa Dorada G.C. and is one of only four resorts in the region offering suites, making it perfect for families. The main area of the hotel wraps around the oversized pool. Activities on the coconut tree-covered beach range from water skiing to horseback riding. For more information, call toll free 1-888-339- NACO or visit www.naco.com.do.