The Good Life Guide may not have been born until shortly before Cigar Aficionado’s 10th anniversary, but the pursuit of excellence has been part of our DNA from the get-go. The section started with just seven categories and soon Time, Places and Gourmet joined the regular roster. On the occasion of our 25th anniversary we tapped the archives of some of our favorite Good Life Guides from the past.
How do you improve on one of the greatest golf destinations in the world? You go on a spending spree of $40 million to refurbish the hotel’s rooms, build a new reception and pool area overlooked by a completely redone restaurant and then add a spa to compete with the top facilities around the world.
That’s what happened in Casa de Campo, with the finishing touches completed by the winter 2010 season. An additional complex of new guest rooms will also be ready for the 2011 winter season.
The Sirio Maccioni family, of Le Cirque fame in New York, oversees two restaurants on the property: The Beach Club by Le Cirque, an open-air eatery overlooking Minitas Beach, and Le Cana by Il Circo, the fusion cuisine restaurant in the main hotel building. But there are other fine dining places to eat on the property too: La Casita at the Marina is a great seafood palace surrounded by the sizable yachts that make ports of call there, and La Piazzeta, in Altos de Chavon, which is a replica of a Tuscan hillside village, sitting high above the Chavon River with sweeping views of the entire 7,000-acre resort and the Caribbean coastline.
The Cygalle Healing Spa in the main hotel complex is as fine and completely outfitted a modern facility as any you will find. Each treatment room is a private oasis with a shower and a sitting room as well as complete services for the relaxing vacationer or the weary golfer.
That brings us to the golf, a series of courses built by Pete Dye. There are few golf resorts anywhere in the world that have more outstanding courses. The Teeth of the Dog has six oceanside holes that give it the name, but it is a challenging test of golf for all of its 18 holes; it consistently ranks in the top 50 courses in the world. Dye Fore, the latest addition to the group reminds some of Kapalua on the front nine, and a windswept Scottish links on the back nine. From the tips, it stretches out to a mammoth 7,700 yards, a challenge for the most accomplished or most foolish golfer. The Links course, while less challenging, is a welcome respite from the other two courses.
If there’s a downside to this property, it is simply how large it is. You have to be ready for rides in a provided golf cart to get just about everywhere. The beach is about 10 minutes by cart from the main hotel lobby. But if you’re looking for a true retreat, and the feeling that it is never crowded, Casa de Campo is for you. And, if you want a real getaway, rent one of the Villas with up to six bedrooms; the houses are fully staffed and most have private pools.