My recent visit to the new hotel/real estate development called Cap Cana in the Dominican Republic has left me just this close to being speechless. I have been to many resorts in the world and many swanky, fancy hotels – but when I got a load of Cap Cana, and the Caleton Villas where I was staying on the property, my jaw dropped and it literally took me two days to get used to the magnificence of the place.
Not just the luxury, although there was a ton of that, but the sheer beauty and the ingenuity of the design just blew me away.
Where to begin… first, I had never been to the Dominican Republic before so my impressions were second hand ones and they lead me to believe that it was a cheap destination with all-inclusive resorts. You know the ones – the places where you buy your drinks with plastic bananas (the other impression I had of the Dominican Republic was based on what I have read about Christopher Columbus landing there as he searched for the New World).
So when I was driven from Punta Cana Airport to Cap Cana (no more than a ten minute drive) I really didn’t know what to expect.
Guests are greeted at an enormous open-air, thatched roof reception building with champagne and orange juice and a warm vanilla scented washcloth to freshen up. And it just gets better from there.
Then I was taken to my “villa” – yes, there are no rooms in the Caleton Villas hotel part of the complex – you get a villa. A villa with a huge fully stocked kitchen, a large open air, thatched roof living room and dining room area, to either side of the living room area are bungalows that contain the huge beds and fantastically modern and comfortable bathrooms (including a rain shower that was so big and luxurious and interestingly designed that it felt like you were standing under a waterfall in a tropical cove). There is yet another bedroom suite above the kitchen area. Steps from you open air living room is your private pool and hot tub.
Lest I forget – each villa comes with a butler who will make coffee, cook your meals, and see to it that your every request is fulfilled – and the villas come complete with your own golf cart for driving around the property.
Cap Cana sits on an astounding 30,000 acres of lush and beautiful eastern coastal area that has been undeveloped until now because of ownership issues and the sheer size of putting together a development like this. When Cap Cana is finished it will have several hotels, a giant marina with over a thousand slips, condos, private homes, beach clubs and some of the finest restaurants I have ever been in (eight of them are already fully operational).
If you are a golfer you will be in heaven at Cap Cana – it already has three golf courses designed by Jack Nicklaus and Donald Trump is also building there (his bluff top restaurant is already in operation and it was where I had one of the best seafood meals I have ever had in my life). In all there will be six major golf courses in the complex when it is done.
Beaches – there is a beautiful small beach behind the main reception building (where another fine restaurant called the Caleton Grill is located) that is safe and clean and protected with lifeguards – the water is crystal blue and warm and kept fairly calm by a reef not far offshore. But there is another beach not far from the Caleton Villas, Juanillo Beach – and that just has to be seen to be believed – over five kilometers of gently swaying palm trees, powdery white sand, and a lovely surf. Water sports like wind surfing and snorkeling can be arranged at this beach. This beach is in the shadow of a magnificent hotel that is just opening there called Sanctuary – it has that old Spanish Colonial look about it on one end, and the other end of the hotel looks like an old Spanish fortress protecting the coast from pirates.
Sanctuary is also home to a great restaurant called Blue Marlin that boasts a chef, Wilfred Dass that used to be a chef to the Sultan of Brunei! The food at Blue Marlin is astounding – you never want to leave, you just want to keep eating and eating.
Back to the villas – the extraordinary thing about them is that even though there are many of them they are designed in such a way that you feel like you are alone in your own private little tropical haven. Privacy and relaxation are at an optimum at Cap Cana and the Caleton Villas.
Is Cap Cana high end? It is the highest of the high end. But in the case of Cap Cana you truly do get what you pay for. I was staying in villa number four – a few months ago villa number ten, which is the same size as four only it affords guests a sea view rather than a golf course view, was home to J-Lo and Mark Anthony. Tom Cruise was also a guest at the Caleton Villas and virtually no one knew he was there.
This is not like going to just any resort – when you go to Cap Cana and the Caleton Villas it will take you a couple of days just to get used to the fact that this dream like environment actually exists and you are actually living there for your stay. And the complex is so secure I never had a key. Literally, I never had a key and never locked my bungalow door once – and there is no need to lock the front doors to the villa because you can just walk around to the side and the entire kitchen and living room area is wide open. It is a great luxury to know that you can just come and go and never have to worry about remembering your room key – one of the most unique hotel experiences I have ever had.
When the gigantic Cap Cana development is finally finished it will have completely remade the eastern coast of the Dominican Republic – and now that they are open for business with the early phase of the complex, of which Caleton Villas is a part, it will be no time at all before it becomes known as the destination for a vacation in the Caribbean.
Find out more about Cap Cana at www.capcana.com.