The infinity pool stretches out before you, cool and inviting. You light your cigar as a waiter brings an icy cocktail, and peruse the day’s menu, pondering your next move. At Casa de Campo, the choices are considerable. The resort is vast—7,000 acres—and all guests are assigned a personal golf cart upon check in. You may be here for golf, but the cart is not for the course. You’ll use it to get around the property.
The resort has a little bit of everything, first and foremost some of the finest golf in the Caribbean (see page 86). Casa de Campo opened in 1974 as an executive retreat for conglomerate Gulf + Western. If you stayed here many years ago and think you know Casa de Campo, you don’t. A $40 million renovation in 2011 resulted in better rooms, a better pool and a stunning new lobby. In 2017, more money still was invested. And while there are the things you would expect—beach, pool, tennis—there are also the items you just won’t find in most other places. The equestrian center allows for everything from a simple, pleasant ride with the family to expert polo lessons. Casa de Campo’s 245-acre shooting center is set up with Beretta shotguns and expert guides. Of course, one of the best choices may be to do nothing. Recently renovated and redesigned, the new Minitas Beach Club has the look of a restaurant in St. Barths or Miami. The food here is quite good, the wine list is short but workable, and the cocktails are better than one would expect in the typical resort setting.
While the rooms are superb, for extra luxury—or for larger parties—Casa de Campo has a vast selection of villas, ranging in size from three to 10 bedrooms. Each has a private pool, some are on the ocean and others overlook one of the golf courses. All of them come with maid service and breakfast prepared in the villa.
The resort proper has several restaurants. In addition to the fine dining at the beach, there is La Caña (right off the lobby), which offers a pleasant meal in a beautiful setting overlooking the main pool, and for ambiance it’s hard to find a more gorgeous spot than La Piazzetta, a traditional Italian restaurant overlooking Altos de Chavón, a quaint village with the look of a European city.
For cigar smokers, the resort is quite cigar friendly. Most rooms have balconies where you can relax with your evening smoke, and most of the dining facilities have outdoor areas where your cigar is welcome. There’s also no shortage of places to buy a cigar at Casa de Campo, and if you’re interested in seeing how great cigars are made, tours can easily be arranged, for you’re next door to Tabacalera de Garcia, one of the world’s largest cigar factories.
Home to such iconic brands as Montecristo, Romeo y Julieta and many others, tours to Tabacalera de Garcia are handled by Cigar Country Tours. The operator will arrange for you to see all the aspects of cigar construction from the preliminary steps of sorting raw tobacco to the actual cigar rolling, and even the final packaging stages.
Two tours are available: the extensive Tabacalera de Garcia factory tour and the smaller Vega Fina Experience, which focuses on Vega Finas. Keep in mind, you can’t take any photos at Tabacalera de Garcia, and there’s even a dress code: long pants, and no sandals or open-toe shoes of any kind.
Looking at all those cigars will get you in the mood to purchase one, no doubt, and the tour operator also owns a store complete with a smoking lounge in which to puff. Cigars are available for purchase, duty free, at the Cigar Country Megastore.