Casa de Campo adds to visitor activities

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LA ROMANA, Dominican Republic -- Any resort that provides guests with a foldout map at check-in obviously has a lot to offer.

So it should be no surprise that Casa de Campo, a 7,000-acre resort on the Dominican Republic's southeastern coast, offers activities and amenities to please a variety of clients.

Guests zip around the grounds in golf carts for activities that include golf, dining, swimming and skeet shooting.

Last year, the property was rated one of the top 10 Caribbean/Atlantic resorts by Conde Nast Traveler and one of the top 20 by Travel & Leisure magazine.

However, the resort, which opened in 1971, is not resting on its laurels.

According to resort officials, more than $100 million has been invested in the last two years on new rooms and facilities, including restaurants and lounges.

That's not all. A new airport opened last December in La Romana, 10 minutes away.

The facility, which can accommodate wide-body aircraft, features an air-conditioned terminal, shops, a cafeteria, a bank and ATMs.

American Airlines has daily nonstop service from Miami and several flights a day from San Juan. Transfers also are available from Las Americas Airport in Santo Domingo, about 90 minutes away by car.

Golf, long a draw for visitors, continues to be a strong market for Casa de Campo.

A new Pete Dye-designed course will open its first nine holes by fall 2002 near the Altos de Chavon complex above the resort.

Another major development is the 150-slip Casa de Campo Marina and Yacht Club, slated to open in August at the mouth of the Chavon River and the Caribbean Sea.

An Italian plaza will anchor the new development, surrounded by restaurants, a piano bar, a travel agency, a gallery, gift shops and boutiques.

"Families have come to Casa de Campo for many years," said Claudio Silvestri, president and chief executive officer of Premier Resorts & Hotels, which manages the resort.

To entice the 13- to-18-year-old market, the resort unveiled Que Pasa 'n Casa, which features a clubhouse with a pool table, air hockey, karaoke, movies and e-mail access.

A disco and beachside hut are available, as are horseback riding and kayaking.

A family entertainment center has game tables and activities that include merengue lessons and Olympic-style competitions.

Families can kayak down the Chavon River to a picnic lunch; take a trail ride or travel by horse-drawn buggy to breakfast, and boat to Catalina Island for Casa de Campo's Survivors game. Extra charges apply.

Resort programs also offer activities for younger children.

'Tweens Fun is for 7- to 12-year-olds, with riding, nature adventures, tennis and water games.

Kidz 'n Casa, for the 3- to 6-year-old group, provides supervised activities, treasure hunts and creative arts.

Golfers have two Pete Dye-designed courses now, with a third in the works.

Seven holes of the 18-hole Teeth of the Dog course skirt the ocean. The course has been recognized as a top one by Golf magazine.

The Links is an inland course with hilly terrains and rolling vistas.

Guests also can opt for tennis at the 13-court La Terraza Center and sport shooting at the Sporting Clays Shooting Center.

The center's clubhouse opened in 1999 and includes the Safari Club restaurant, serving exotic game and other international cuisine.

Horseback riding, trail rides, polo instruction and international-level polo matches are held at the equestrian center.

Fitness nuts have a workout center with weights, exercise equipment, massages and beauty treatments.

Snorkeling, volleyball, football and beach Olympics are at the resort's Minitas Beach.

A snorkeling trip to an island and deep-sea fishing can be arranged.

Dining options include Lago Grill, with American, Caribbean and Dominican dishes; El Pescador, offering seafood; El Patio, which serves traditional and modern Dominican cuisine, and Cafe del Sol in Altos de Chavon, serving pizzas and antipasto.

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