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The Caribbean's Finest

Our panel of travel experts pick their favorite destinations across the region, and the best hotels, restaurants and golf courses on each island
Larry Olmsted
From the Print Edition:
Ernie Els, November/December 2012

(continued from page 6)

Casa de Campo: Just as it swept best golf in the Caribbean, Casa de Campo won this vote in a landslide—despite a rash of new, high-profile competition. Its vast facilities and choice of lodging remains unrivalled. “Huge and a world unto itself, Casa de Campo remains the Caribbean’s most complete and satisfying retreat,” says David Baum, while honeymoon expert Wallace concurs: “This resort has everything you’d ever need.”

Honorable Mention: Punta Cana Resort & Clubs. With three golf courses, two hotels and numerous villas, out experts were quite impressed. “Before I went I was doubtful about this sprawling resort that owns its own airport, has residences, several restaurants and primo golf—but I fell for it,” said Becca Hensley.

Best Small Resort or Hotel

Tortuga Bay: The new Oscar de la Renta–designed boutique hotel within the larger Punta Cana Resort & Club includes exclusive access to the resort’s otherwise private golf course. “Oscar de la Renta’s jewel in the Caribbean, Tortuga Bay. The property boasts 5 miles of beautiful beach and a Six Senses Spa…that’s a vacation worth taking!,” says travel agent extraordinaire Scully.

Best Golf

Teeth of the Dog—and the Rest of Casa de Campo: Voters were stuck between choosing all four Pete Dye courses at Casa de Campo and  singling out Teeth of the Dog, long the highest rated in the Caribbean. The choice was not hard for former Golf Magazine editor Brian McCallen who called Teeth of the Dog, “By far my favorite Pete Dye course.” Cigar Aficionado contributing editor Larry Olmsted added, “While Teeth of the Dog gets all the attention at Casa de Campo for its stunning oceanfront holes, the resort’s newer Dye Fore, on the river highlands, may be even better.”

Honorable Mention: Punta Cana Resort & Club. This is the most serious rival to Casa de Campo’s golf eminence in the Caribbean. Golf writer Shiels says, “Tom Fazio’s Corales course plays along the ocean and picturesque canyons. P. B. Dye, competing with his father Pete’s work at Casa de Campo, designed the La Cana and Hacienda layouts.

Puerto Rico

Best Large Resort or Hotel

TIE St. Regis Bahia Beach; W Retreat & Spa Vieques Island: While both are sprawling, full-featured resorts they have very different vibes, with the St. Regis capturing the bustling flavor of nearby San Juan, and the W being, as its name suggests, a retreat on an island long occupied by the US Navy. “The new St. Regis is a very welcome addition to Puerto Rico’s otherwise mediocre resort scene. It’s already drawing a celebrity crowd, and with time, this resort will be a ‘go-to’ in Puerto Rico,” says MoonRings’ Wallace. Our more escapist panelists including spa expert Ann Abel and Fodor’s editorial director Arabella Bowen chose the W for its secluded charm and outdoor activities.

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