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Travel to the Dominican Republic, Cigar Country

Visiting the Dominican Republic
Michael Frank
From the Print Edition:
George Burns, Winter 94/95

(continued from page 5)

The Hamaca is an all-inclusive resort, which means that some restaurants have á la carte meal service, and a few "gourmet"-style places are cash only. Naturally, it's necessary to drive downtown to find more dining variety.

Hotel Santo Domingo and Casino Hispaniola
Avenida Independencia and Abraham Lincoln
P.O. Box 2112, Santo Domingo, RD
Phone: (809) 423-3333, (800) 877-3643
Fax: (809) 523-8394
Room rates: single and double: $105 to $125; Excel Floor: $135 to $155
Three restaurants, two bars, pool, sundeck, sauna, three tennis courts, conference rooms and helipad

 

In the heart of the city, the Santo Domingo is the Oscar de la Renta-designed prize of the capital. But it is starting to look just a bit too funky (it was designed in the '70s), with lots of red and black lacquer which should be replaced. Nonetheless, a few excellent restaurants and very quiet rooms make this one of the best hotels in the city. Each floor has a concierge desk and the VIP floor has secretary, fax and copy facilities, as well as an open bar.

Standard rooms are huge, with two queen beds and a clean, bold decor. Each room has been decorated in a different style, so ask in advance if you want (or don't want) your room to look like a bordello. Fortunately, some rooms are homey, and a dogmatic insistence on using natively produced materials has led to some very beautiful interior spaces.

Across the street at the Hispaniola Hotel (a lesser property) is the casino. It is no secret that this is not a thrilling casino atmosphere, but because they know that they can avoid tourists (poor gamblers who sour the pot), Dominicans come here in droves. The slots offer better odds (blackjack slots have wild jokers, increasing the possibility of winning an average hand), and the minimums at tables are lower, so more people can afford to bet. Five roulette tables dominate the center of the gaming room, while the slots are set aside in another room to keep the noise down for the card-playing gamblers. There are also tables for craps, baccarat and poker, as well as a "Texas table," which allows poker players to bet against each other (the house gets a modest share of the winnings).

LA ROMANA

Casa de Campo
Excel Club Villas
P.O. Box 140, La Romana, RD
or: 2600 S.W. Third Avenue, 3rd Floor, Miami, Florida 33129
Phone: (305) 856-7083, (800) 877-3643
Fax: (305) 523-8548
Room rates: deluxe three-bedroom: about $815 to $1,080; deluxe four-bedroom: about $1,015 to $1,308
Jacuzzi or pool, maid, butler, chef, bar, golf cart, VIP concierge and sports guide and all standard guest services

 

Everyone who's been to Casa de Campo knows what it's about--size. It may be the largest resort complex on the planet (7,000 acres). Where else can you find a private town, a 5,000-seat, Roman-ruin-style amphitheater and Altos de Chavon, a Mediterranean-style village and privately owned design school? New at Casa de Campo (see review, Cigar Aficionado, Winter 1992) are Excel Club Villas for rent, complete with butler, maid, cook, babysitter, unlimited bar, private golf cart and use of regular hotel facilities such as the fitness center and safari skeet range. The new homes are huge, with high ceilings, excellent, well-conceived amenities and a very Dominican, relaxed atmosphere.


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