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Rocking the Casa

Like all guests, I have been offered the keys to a juiced-up Ferrari-red golf cart so I can bop around the resort, which sprawls over a whopping 7,000 acres. Opting to put off golf for a day and somehow resisting the siren song of the sixteen stunning swimming pools, I jump in my cart with the ambitious intention of seeing every last inch of Casa, which bills itself as "the Caribbean's most complete resort." This may be underselling the point. The experience is so all-inclusive that guests rarely leave the grounds.

My first stop is at the shooting center, which has 300 skeet stations and a 110-foot-high target tower. Opened in the mid-eighties, the shooting center is one of the many spectacular new additions to Casa that have come under the Fanjul family ownership. I have arranged a lesson with Michael Rose, a jolly chap by way of England who happens to be one of the premier shooters and instructors in the world. Live quarry is available (game killed is given to local townspeople), but I opt for clay pigeons. Rose pretends to be impressed with my marksmanship, but, on parting, he says, "Better aim tomorrow," a nod toward my impending round at the Teeth of the Dog.

From the skeet area I shoot over to the sprawling equestrian center, home to more than 100 horses and a patchwork of pens overgrown with Technicolor bougainvillea. There are rides available for all levels of interest and experience—everything from short jaunts through sugarcane fields to all-day affairs following the Chavon River to its mouth at the Caribbean. Still saddle-sore from the plane trip, I pass on the rides and mosey over to the polo fields, where a spirited match is under way. The late Indian prince Maharajah Jabar Singh introduced polo to the Dominican Republic in 1954, and it is now a staple of resort life.

From there I saddle up my carrito and motor over to La Terraza tennis center, which Travel + Leisure long ago called "the Wimbledon of the Caribbean." La Terraza has thirteen composite Har-Tru courts bordered by lovely stone walls. Thirty-two ball boys in crisp white uniforms ensure that you'll never have to bend over, except, perhaps, to catch your breath. In the process of borrowing a racket I meet a sleepy-eyed French woman who happens to be seeking a hitting partner. Though she looks like she should be smoking an extralong cigarette in a stylish Paris bistro, Mme Virginie runs me ragged around the court.

By now I'm clearly ready to flake in the sun, so I point my cart toward Minitas Beach, Casa's private oasis, where the piña coladas are served in hollowed-out pineapples and masseuses are standing by. Kayaks, sailboards and paddleboats are available, but the piña coladas seem to have a strangely demotivating effect. In the distance I can see one of the resort's four sportfishing boats, which Casa de Campo guests can use in hopes of landing wahoo, marlin and barracuda. Also available are day trips to Catalina Island, with its excellent snorkeling, as well as guided scuba expeditions. If fresh water is more inviting, there are trips up the Chavon River, with its terrific snook fishing and scenery lush enough to have been the backdrop for much of Apocalypse Now. Beached at Minitas, my head spinning with all the possibilities, it is all I can do to mutter to myself, "Mañana, mañana, mañana."

When tomorrow finally comes I find myself on the first tee of the Teeth of the Dog, being introduced to my playing partners for the day, Wendy and Jerry Fingerhut, Manhattanites who have been resort regulars for more than twenty years. When I begin raving about Casa de Campo and its myriad charms, Jerry flashes a thin smile. "It is becoming too much of a good thing," he says.


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