The Dominican Republic: Discovering
The island has a diverse variety of areas that are worth considering when planning a visit:
Santo Domingo, a city of 2 million, is the nation's increasingly cosmopolitan capital city with thriving theaters, a dazzling variety of restaurants and entertainment, and diverse cultural opportunities. Like many cities in the U.S., it is enjoying a renaissance, in part because it is so attractive to young people.
Santiago is the Dominican Republic's second-largest city and its former capital.An inland city, it is set against a backdrop of lush mountain ranges. Like Santo Domingo, it offers the appeal of diverse and exciting cultural opportunities. Part of the area's appeal is that, while it offers the amenities of city living, it is located in the popular Puerto Plata region.
Samana is a peninsula on the country's northern coast, and its most popular area is Las Terenas, which features beautiful white-sand beaches and coral reefs, lush mountains and tropical rain forests. Whale watching in the clear waters is a favorite activity, and the pristine surroundings make the area appealing for people who enjoy getting back to nature. More and more, it is a top destination for people interested in owning a second home.
Located near the Santo Domingo airport is Juan Dolio, a burgeoning resort area. Juan Dolio is well known for its casual, rustic ambiance, reflected in the numerous open-air restaurants and shops. Those looking to hit the links will want to head for the nearby golf course, which was designed by World Golf Hall of Fame member Gary Player.
One of the best-known parts of the country is the southwestern quadrant of the Dominican Republic, in part because of the popular Casa de Campo complex. Located between Punta Cana and Santo Domingo, Casa de Campo has enjoyed mounting popularity over the past 30 years. In fact, now second and even third generations of visitors make it a regular vacation destination, many spending several months a year.
In 1492, Christopher Columbus came ashore on what is now the Caribbean nation of the Dominican Republic. He was immediately struck by the island's sheer beauty. That same beauty has made the Dominican Republic increasingly popular with vacationers — that, and a wealth of golf courses, including some designed by the game's most celebrated architects.
An Island Treasure
Clearly, part of the Dominican appeal lies in the island's outstanding golf courses. Celebrated architect Pete Dye designed the Teeth of the Dog,Dye Fore and Links courses.Teeth of the Dog is routinely ranked by golf publications as one of the finest resort courses in the world, and, given its location along the sea, it is also one of the most beautiful. Dye Fore is equally stunning. Not long ago, Pete Dye completed a thorough makeover of the seaside Teeth of the Dog. He added length to some holes, renovated the greens and bunkers and generally added some "teeth" back to the course. Meanwhile, the Links features a parkland design with beautiful ocean views, while Dye Fore is built according to an open, links-like format. Dye Fore runs along a bluff overlooking the Chavón River gorge,where the panoramic views of the ocean to the east and the mountains to the west quicken the pulse. The course lies near the resort-owned Altos de Chavón, a replica of a Renaissance Italian village marked by narrow, pedestrian-friendly streets, shops and restaurants.
Located in the city of Macao, some 20 minutes from the Punta Cana Airport, Roco Ki is an area of singular dramatic beauty.Half the coastline is comprised of over three miles of stunning white-sand beaches, while the other half features stark cliffs that rise sharply from the Caribbean, creating vistas of infinite beauty. A special bonus is the succession of breathtaking sunsets set against a backdrop of tall mountains in the west, the highest in the Caribbean. For sports lovers, Roco Ki features a challenging Nick Faldo Signature golf course as well as superb deep-sea fishing excursions.
Cap Cana is becoming familiar to golfers in the U.S. as the site of The Cap Cana, a Champions Tour event played at the Jack Nicklaus Course at Punta Espada Golf Club, the first of three planned courses designed by Nicklaus. Nine holes are directly on the Caribbean, and the sea is visible on 16 holes.
Easily the most spectacular hole is No.13, a 249-yard par-3 that is generally considered the course's signature hole. It presents golfers with a challenging tee shot over the ocean into a picturesque green guarded by the roiling waters of the Caribbean.The hole does offer players a bailout—but what's the point of facing such a beautiful challenge and taking the safe route?
A Focus on Puntacana Resort & Club
Located on the island's east coast, PUNTACANA Resort & Club offers the ultimate in luxury, service and adventure. From the PUNTACANA hotel to the exclusive private villas of Tortuga Bay, a secluded enclave with impeccable service and dècor designed by Oscar de la Renta, travelers will find an array of amenities sure to satisfy even the most discriminating tastes. There are three golf courses (one open, two in development), tennis courts and one of the finest stretches of beaches on an island that is famous for the way the land meets the sea.
The development of PUNTACANA Resort & Club dates to 1971, when Dominican businessman and hotelier Frank R. Rainieri teamed up with Theodore W. Kheel, a prominent New York attorney and labor mediator, to construct a resort community rooted in the natural habitat of Punta Cana while offering a world-class vacation experience. It has since grown to encompass over 15,000 acres, and now includes Tortuga Bay; Six Senses Spa; the PUNTACANA Ecological Foundation; a full-service marina; seven restaurants; a shopping village; a P. B. Dye-designed golf course and another created by Tom Fazio, which is scheduled to open in the winter of 2009; and the modern Punta Cana International Airport.
Also set within the larger PUNTACANA Resort & Club is an elite residential community: The Estates at PUNTACANA Resort & Club. Seamlessly incorporated into its paradisical setting, The Estates is comprised of four private neighborhoods, including Tortuga, Hacienda, Arrecife and the most exclusive community, Corales, which is home to Julio Iglesias and Mikhail Baryshnikov, among others. Prospective buyers can choose among elegant homes perched above the Caribbean Sea or overlooking scrupulously manicured golf greens. As members of this illustrious community, residents of The Estates are treated to a VIP service that speeds them through customs upon their arrival at the Punta Cana International Airport. They also receive privileged access to championship golf courses, Six Senses Spa and countless other activities and amenities.
For residents of The Estates and visitors alike, PUNTACANA Resort & Club offers a wealth of aquatic activities such as windsurfing, kiteboarding, whale watching, waterskiing, canoeing, deep-sea and shallowwater fishing, and snorkeling and scuba diving. In addition, the PUNTACANA Resort & Club and the PUNTACANA Dive Center worked with the Dominican Navy to sink an antiquated 220-foot cargo ship near the reef.This artificial reef protects the existing reef in addition to presenting an exciting diving challenge for guests.
If all that activity leaves you a bit weary, you can restore yourself at Six Senses Spa, which offers a wide range of holistic wellness, rejuvenation and balance the senses, administered by expert therapists from around the world. It has eight indoor private treatment rooms and four outdoor palapas with expansive beach and sea views. Six Senses Spa offers innovative and traditional massages as well as an array of specialty treatments, facials and acupressure. Yoga, Pilates, Reiki and meditation classes round out the menu.
For all that, the main attractions are the two courses designed by P. B.Dye, son of the respected design team of Pete and Alice Dye — one of which is currently under development — and a third course designed by Tom Fazio, slated to open in late 2009.
P. B. Dye's existing championship La Cana Golf Course is available to all PUNTACANA Resort & Club guests, while Tom Fazio's new Corales Golf Course will be available exclusively to private club members and residents of the Corales community. Dye's Hacienda Golf Course is scheduled for an early 2010 opening.
The Corales Golf Course is laid out between rocky cliffs and coral reefs with beautiful views of the Caribbean. Six holes overlook the sea and others play along stunning canyons. The 18th hole requires a challenging carry over the Bay of Corales, a fitting ending to a glorious golf experience.
The La Cana Golf Course is, quite simply, a thing of beauty and one of the finest resort courses in the Caribbean. It has four holes along the ocean and 14 others that offer sea views. The property is protected from storms by a coral reef.
One of the local legends surrounding the course is the time President Bill Clinton joined Dye for a round. On the par-5, 504-yard 8th hole, Clinton struggled to clear the vegetation between the tee and the fairway. After Clinton ran out of balls,Dye produced a new dozen and kept supplying balls to the President until he finally reached the fairway.
Being an ex-President does have its privileges, but then everyone who visits PUNTACANA Resort & Club comes away feeling very privileged indeed.