Review of Casa De Campo, Dominican Republic

By Robert Roland + Liz Palmer

Casa De Campo, one of the Caribbean’s legendary resorts boasts six restaurants and three award-winning golf courses – one being the top golf course in the world, the Teeth of The Dog. That’s just the beginning and the Casa story tells the tale of constant evolution and corporate contribution.

Casa de Campo translated means “homes from cropland” and the real beginning started in the late 1960’s with the success of the Gulf + Western sugar mill operation at La Romana.

Alvaro Carta operated the largest producing mill in the world at the time, and was interested in investing profits into impoverished parts of the island. Alvaro Carta decided to bring in designer Pete Dye in to design a hotel and golf course. Originally the plans were drawn up for an area just outside Santo Domingo but Dye focused on an area near the La Romano Sugar Mill.

Dye started building an Executive Course for the employees of the Sugar Mill and in walking the Caribbean coastline realized that a course along the shore was something special. This course was hand-built by over 300 Dominicans. Coral rock was chipped by sledgehammer and soil was carted in by wagon.

The course was originally called Cajielies which refers to the cashew trees in the mountains, the name was changed to “Teeth of The Dog” when Dye heard locals refer to the sharp coral rock, which looked like canine teeth, as “ diente del perro” (teeth of the dog in Spanish). Teeth of The Dog officially opened in 1971 with seven of the most spectacular holes in golf along the shore of the Caribbean. We toured this and this is something to be seen.

By 1974 the Casa De Campo resort opened as an executive retreat for Gulf + Western Employees and a private airport was built at the resort to accommodate CEO’s and other executives who arrived by private jet.

Over the next ten years Casa has evolved into a resort for many reasons. Prince Maharajah Jabar Singh helped start organized polo, breeding and training. Tennis was added. Altos de Chavon, a village showcasing Dominican art and culture was completed and features many cafes, restaurants and a 5000-seat Grecian style amphitheatre inaugurated by a Frank Sinatra HBO televised special on August 20, 1982.

In the mid-1980’s the property was sold to the Central Romana Corporation and Carta’s dream started to take off in a whole new dimension which is still expanding to this day.

In many ways the story of Casa de Campo in 2015 is being rewritten again.

Casa de Campo’s resort community is spread out over 7,000 immaculately manicured acres which includes: the main hotel, guest rooms, world-class spa, riding stables, polo, tennis, an immaculate private beach, marina, Altos de Chavon – a cultural village with amphitheatre, seven restaurants and several neighbourhoods of privately own villas with many pampering amenities. Casa de Campo’s has its own real estate brokerage onsite and helipad. This sheer size is class and understated, in fact you actually get a golf cart to manoeuvre around the property when you check- in.

Accommodations are everything one would expect of from a world-class hotel and Casa de Campo did not disappoint. We stayed at one of the elite guest rooms, which was conveniently a two-minute golf cart ride to the main building and face out onto one of the greens.

Amenities include a 42-inch flat screen television, marble vanities, iPod/iPhone docking stations, an espresso coffee machine with L’Occitane products found in the bathrooms.

Hidden away in the tropical foliage of Casa de Campo is Casa de Campo Spa – it’s a true sanctuary for renewal. Everything at the spa speaks to the body, spirit and mind being one and being in total alignment. It is delivered by exceptional practitioners, in world-class facilities and one client described the spa as “an incredible spa experience that truly lifted my soul”. There are seven spa suites, each with a private shower with a Zen garden. With a local twist, indigenous ingredients are used such as Dominican Coffee exfoliation, Fruity-Herbal Body Wrap and Choco Body Mask. A true indulgence!

There are seven restaurants in and around Casa de Campo to indulge in. The three main dining experiences are La Caña by Il Circo (Steak, seafood with a good selection of wine) overlooking the pool and spa area, Lago Grill, a full-service restaurant with alfresco dining, and Beach Club by Le Cirque, an elegant beach front dining experience featuring Le Cirque-trained chefs.

Other popular restaurants include La Piazzetta, a gourmet Italian dining experience at Altos de Chavon, La Casita at the marina, where seafood and tapas are the draw and Chinois with breathtaking views at the marina views serves up pan-Asian flavors, Cantonese specialties, Japanese sushi, sashimi and other Oriental dishes.

Our top two were the Beach Club by Le Cirque with two outstanding signature dishes: Lobster Salad and Grouper, and La Piazzetta both for their top service, wine list and over all dining experiences.

At Casa de Campo we found an excellent equestrian center which staff is on hand for lessons in English or Western-style riding and jumping. For ages seven and up, three ponies rides are available on Anita, Juanito or Miguelito. We did a trail ride around the polo fields and saw some teams at practice.

World-class polo has come to the Caribbean – There are three polo fields: one practice field and two for matches.
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Casa de Campo is best known for its three Pete Dye-designed golf courses, namely The Links, The Dye Fore and considered by many to be the top 18-hole course in the Caribbean and one of the top in the world, Teeth of the Dog. This course has seven holes along the brilliantly colored Caribbean Sea. One of the golf pros told us “most of the world’s great oceanside courses play along high cliffs, the Teeth of the Dog is ocean level and you’ll feel the spray of the waves on a couple of holes”.

Other “Sporting Life” activities

Water sports such as boating, fishing river sailing, ocean sailing, kayaking, snorkeling and Scuba

Tennis at La Terraza Tennis Center with 13 Har-Tru Courts

Jim McLean Golf School

Bicycle rentals

Fitness Center with Cybex equipment, treadmills, stationery bikes, free weights with an area dedicated to improving golf performance

Shooting Center with more than 200 stations for sporting clays as well as three trap and skeet layouts

A 150-slip Marina & Yacht Club facility with upscale shopping

Supervised children’s programs


Power Patrons:

Bill Clinton – Former US President

Elizabeth Taylor – Actress

Luciano Pavarotti – Famous Tenor

Carolina Herrera – Fashion Designer

Shakira – Singer

Gloria & Emilio Estefan – Musical Icons

Marc Anthony – Singer

Enrigue Iglesias – Singer

Jimmy Carter – Former US President

Puff Daddy – Famous Rap Singer

George HW Bush – Former US President

Greg Norman – Professional Golfer and Course Designer

Jean Chretien – Prime Minister of Canada

Nick Faldo – Professional Golfer & Course Designer

Karim Ostreicher – Princess of Austria

Mikhail Gorbachev – Former Leader of the Soviet Union

Michael Jackson and Lisa Marie Presley were married at Casa de Campo.

At Casa De Campo you have the very best of everything… fabulous accommodations, gourmet dining, world-class sporting adventures, pampering spa treatments and personalized guest services. You might even bump into an international celebrity or dine under the stars besides one of the world’s financial moguls or politicos.

Casa de Campo

1-800-877-3643 or (305) 856-5405

Twitter: @casadecampo

Facebook: Casa de Campo Resort

Review of Serisso 47, Trapani Silicy + Saint Germain (Brut) Firriato

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Serisso 47 is located in the heart of Trapani’s historical center and it is interesting to note that it was formerly a Bourbon palace in the 17th century.

Serisso 47 has a wonderful cozy and elegant atmosphere. The cuisine truly interprets the traditional cuisine of Trapani – the catch of the day, which is brought to your table by trolley. I highly recommend you experience this as each fish is pointed out and explained  along with the cooking preparation.  There are other regional dishes including spaghetti with sea urchins.

I found the wine wine list to be large with a great selection of regional Sicillian wines.  Our choice was Firriato’s Saint Germain (brut) – these wines come from Borgo Guarini estate in Trapani.  This sparkling wine was the perfect accompaniment from our appetizer right through to dessert.

Tasting Notes:

Colour:     straw yellow

Nose:        notes of white fruit with some citrus

Palate:      varied and complex, the balance of acidity and freshness enhances the persistence through to a finish marked with mineral notes.  Persistent bubbles.

It’s interesting to note that Catarratto and Grillo’s individual characters are present and easily distinguished.

Overall with Serisso 47 you get tradition, innovation, wonderful local flavors and excellent presentation.

Serisso 47

Via Serisso, 47

91100 Trapani

T: (0039) 0923 26 113


Liz Palmer

Wine + Lifestyle Journalist


Results are in for Global Traveler’s 2014 Wines on the Wing Airline Wine Competition

Global Traveler
has released the results of its 10th annual Wines on the Wing Airline Wine Competition.

This year there were twenty-four judges who participated in the blind tasting of airlines’ white, red and sparkling wines. The judges consisted of various wine trade: sommeliers, wine shop owners and winemakers. With twenty-nine airlines participating and providing over 126 samples for tasting and rating.

The airlines are required to submit five different wines: two red wines; two white wines; and one sparkling wine/Champagne — to be eligible for the Best Overall International Business Class Wines on the Wing award or the Best Overall International First Class Wines on the Wing. This year, the overall winners were Brussels Airlines (for the 3rd consecutive year) and Asiana Airlines, respectively.

In the white wine category, Best International Business Class White Wine was: Domaine Thomas Le Chant du Merle Sancerre, 2012, submitted by Brussels Airlines. For first class, the winner was British Airways, with Domaine d’Ardhuy Corton-Charlemagne 2009, Grand Cru.

The best business-class Champagne was TAM Airlines’ Drappier Carte d’Or, NV. The best first-class Champagne was British Airways’ Laurent-Perrier Grand Siècle, NV. This year, the Best Sparkling Wine International First or Business Class winner was EL AL Israel Airlines’ Yarden Blanc de Blancs, 2007.

With respect to red wine, Brussels Airlines reigned supreme in the business-class category with Château A’Aurilhac 2006, Bordeaux. For first class, the winner is Jet Airways, with its Il Poggione Brunello di Montalcino 2009, Italy.

American Airlines took top honors in Best North American Wines on the Wing. The airline was also recognized for its sparkling wine, Gloria Ferrer Sonoma Caneros Brut, NY (first class); its Black Birch Mountain Sauvignon Blanc 2010 (first class); its The Climber Sauvignon Blanc 2011 (business class); and its Cline Syrah 2010 (first class). Delta Air Lines won recognition for its business-class red wine, Arrowood Cabarnet Sauvignon 2009.

The top airlines in each category are as follows:


1. Brussels Airlines
2. Etihad Airways
3. TAM
4. LAN Airlines
5. American Airlines


1. Asiana Airlines
2. All Nippon Airways
3. British Airways
4. American Airlines
5. TAM

1. TAM
2. Hainan Airlines
3. Etihad Airways
4. Delta Air Lines
5. Brussels Airlines

1. British Airways
2. All Nippon Airways
3. Asiana Airlines
4. TAM
5. American Airlines/Etihad Airways (TIE)

1. EL AL Israel Airlines
2. EL AL Israel Airlines
3. China Airlines
4. TAP Air Portugal
5. South African Airways

1. Brussels Airlines
2. LAN Airlines
3. Airberlin
4. Hainan Airlines
5. China Airlines

1. British Airways
2. Asiana Airlines/TAM (TIE)
3. American Airlines
4. American Airlines
5. All Nippon Airways

1. Brussels Airlines
2. Etihad Airways
3. Jet Airways
4. TAM
5. TAP Air Portugal

1. Jet Airways
2. Etihad Airways
3. China Airlines
4. China Airlines
5. All Nippon Airways

For more information on the competition, check out the August 2014 issue of Global Traveler or visit

Hedonism Wines….In a class of its own

Liz Palmer, Tatiana Fokina, Michelle Cartwright, & Ryan Ebner

Hedonism Wines has launched – this new concept in fine wine retailing is located in Mayfair where fashion and luxury meet at 3-7 Davies St. London.

CEO Tatiana Fokina gave me a personal tour of the store detailing each area, she said:

“We are aiming to become the pinnacle of wine retail, providing first of all an exceptional level of customer service and a personal, concierge-like approach to every customer.”

The Wines and Spirits

Specializing in the world’s finest wines and spirits together, CEO Tatiana Fokina and management have employed UK’s top wine buyers to carefully source 1,500 spirits and 4,500 wines from each region of the world through producers, importers, auction houses and private collections. As a result Hedonism Wines is now home to some of the world’s classics.

The Design

Aside from the exquisite fine wines and spirits, Hedonism Wines has generated a name for itself in terms of design.

They have created a contemporary, innovative space to showcase their wines and spirits while offering an easy to browse environment.

Interiors were created by design heavy weights Universal Design Studio; featuring exposed brick walls, floor to ceiling glass cabinets and light is an integral element in creating Hedonism’s character. The sources of accent lighting and perimeter shelf lighting are integrated into the architecture so as to be imperceptible, allowing the visual focus to be kept on the wines and spirits.

Delivery and Availability

Delivery within the hour to central London areas is available via electric vans; delivery is also available to the rest of the UK and overseas. Hedonism Wines has pledged that should a specific bottle be unavailable and it is requested, the team will do their best to source the wine.

Hedonism Wines
3-7 Davies St. W1K 3LD
London, UK

+44 (020) 729-078-70

Valentine’s Day – Pairing Wine with Chocolate

When pairing wines with chocolate for Valentine’s Day match lighter, more elegant flavored chocolate with lighter-bodied wines; likewise, the stronger the chocolate, the more full-bodied wine.

White Chocolate
White chocolate tends to be mellow and buttery in flavor, making it ideal for Champagne, Sparkling Wine, Orange Muscat or Sherry.

Milk Chocolate
The classic milk chocolate pairing is Port; other considerations are lighter-bodied Pinot Noir or Merlot, as well as Riesling, Muscat, and of course Champagne or Sparkling Wine.

Dark Chocolate
Dark or bittersweet chocolate need a wine that offers a slightly robust flavor itself, with a hint of its own chocolate notes. Cabernet Sauvignon and intense, in-your-face Zinfandel perfect the dark chocolate match, resulting in an unparalleled tasting combination. Also Pinot Noir, Merlot, Champagne and Sparkling Wine can handle dark chocolate around the 55% cocoa mark. Tawny or Vintage Port also offers a well-balanced pairing approach to dark chocolate dessert or truffles.

My Pick for Valentine’s Day
Billecart-Salmon Brut Rosé, Champagne (Mareuil-sur-Ay, France) This non-vintage brut rosé is delicate and is impeccably balanced and guaranteed to have your taste buds singing.

Both Champagne and fine dark chocolate are two of life’s greatest pleasures. There is nothing quite like a popping the cork on a perfectly chilled bottle of bubbly and digging into a box of exquisite dark chocolate in front of a roaring fire with your Valentine while the snow falls outside.

Liz Palmer
Wine and Travel Writer