Casa de Campo in La
Romana is one of the country’s most luxurious resorts and a favorite of Bill Clinton and Sammy Sosa. The 7,000-acre property features 300 oversize guestrooms, private villas, a yacht-studded marina, nine restaurants, a large beach, and a spa (try the sugar body scrub) — it even has polo fields and trails for horseback riding. In fact, it’s so big, guests use golf carts to get around the resort. www.casadecampo.cc
Stay at the new Hilton Santo Domingo, located on the beach boulevard called El Malecon and 15 minutes by taxi from the Colonial Zone. There are 228 rooms, many with sea views, three restaurants (with bars), an outdoor pool, and the country’s largest casino. Paintings by Latin artists are featured in the lobby as well as in the rooms, and a Fernando Botero statue graces the entrance. www.hilton caribbean.com
Most visitors tend to bypass the capital city of Santo Domingo, but there is much to recommend about it. In the historic Colonial Zone, visit Alcázar, a palace built for Christopher Columbus’s son, Diego, who was the colony’s governor in 1509, and the Santa Maria Cathedral, the first church built in the Americas. Stop for lunch at El Conuco, which serves traditional dishes like chicken, rice, beans, and fried plantains.
The Dominican Republic’s 30,000-acre Cap Cana began opening in phases last May with the debut of the Caleton Beach Clubhouse. Once completed, Cap Cana will be the largest resort and residential property in the country. Coming this summer: miles of pristine beaches, water sports like scuba diving and deep-sea fishing, three hotels (as well as a marina), restaurants, and several Jack Nicklaus-designed golf courses. Sounds worth the wait to us. www.capcana.com
Be sure to visit Altos de Chavon, a replica of a 16th-century Mediterranean village, complete with cobblestone streets, flower-filled squares, and trickling fountains. Browse among the art galleries and craft shops and lunch at Café del Sol or La Piazzetta. The complex also features a 5,000-seat open-air amphitheater, where stars such as Carlos Santana and Julio Iglesias have performed.