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When in La Romana...May 1, 2008 By: Jerry Soverinsky Home-Based Travel Agent
This southeastern Dominican Republic destination offers world-class golf, four- and five-star resorts and unsurpassed natural be
La Romana is served by three international airports. La Romana International Airport (LRM), the most convenient at less than a 20-minute drive from all La Romana resorts, is served by American Airlines (www.aa.com) and USA 3000 (www.usa3000.com). Santo Domingo International Airport (SDQ) and Punta Cana International Airport (PUJ), each a 90-minute drive from La Romana, offer additional carrier options, including Delta Air Lines (www.delta.com), Northwest Airlines (www.nwa.com), United Airlines (www.united.com), Jet Blue Airways (www.jetblue.com), US Airways (www.usairways.com) and Spirit Airlines (www.spiritair.com), among several international airlines.
For elite clients arriving by private jet, contact Servair Aero Base ([email protected], 809-813-9018) or IAS International Aviation Services ([email protected], 809-813-9114). For those arriving by yacht, visit www.marinacasadecampo.com for more information.
If your clients suggest renting a car, talk them out of it. Dominican roads are poorly marked, full of potholes and teeming with motorbikes.
Taxis and pre-arranged transfers are the best bets. All resorts offer airport transfers and taxi reservation services. Advise clients to negotiate taxi fees prior to their transfers—and via their hotel's concierge or other representative if possible. Official taxis are yellow and display a Ministry of Tourism-approved "Taxi Turistico" logo.
Tropical Tours (www.tropicaltoursromana.com.do, 809-523-2028) is the dominant tour operator in La Romana, with more than 25 years of experience. With a fleet of nearly three dozen vehicles and relationships with all DR tourism contacts, they're well prepared to look after your clients with a bevy of services and established excursions. They pay agents 10 percent commission.
Casa de Campo (www.casadecampo.com.do, 800-877-3643) offers visitors round-the-clock, five-star pampering, with more than 7,000 acres of resort paradise teeming with every conceivable luxury and indulgence. Its 300 immaculate guest rooms and 150 private villa homes offer unequaled comfort. Its facilities are world-class, too: three championship golf courses, a beach, tennis, shooting center, equestrian center, fitness center, spa, watersports, upscale shops, boutiques, and supervised children's areas are all on-site. Packages are both all-inclusive and à carte; if choosing the latter, lunch and dinner are available at the resort's numerous dining venues.
Sunscape Casa del Mar (www.sunscapecasadelmar.com.do) caters to a predominantly American crowd. Service and facilities are first-rate—not as luxurious as Casa de Campo, but suitable for four-star clients. More than 50 percent of its 751 guest rooms have been recently renovated and offer clean, comfortable spaces with modern conveniences. Although the all-inclusive resort provides bountiful, delicious meals at eight onsite restaurants, romantic couples should opt at least once for its beachside dining experience. For $90, they'll get a private candlelit dinner at a seafront table, the perfect romantic setting. Facilities are also top-notch here: watersports, tennis, a fitness center and supervised children's activities are all onsite.
Viva Wyndham (www.vivaresorts.com, 800-WYNDHAM) offers two adjacent resorts: the Dominicus Beach (DB) and Dominicus Palace (DP), which, combined, provide nearly 900 rooms, bungalows and suites that serve a primarily European clientele. Many of the resorts' facilities are shared by guests at either property, including tennis courts, archery, spa, non-motorized watersports, evening entertainment and several restaurants. DP's rooms are noticeably superior to those of DB, where the rooms are dated and in need of renovation. DP also offers complimentary à carte restaurant dining to its guests, while DB patrons pay a supplemental $10 fee. Both resorts are kid-friendly, though couples will also feel at home here. Take note: Based on my recent stay, Viva's customer service was at times lacking, an oversight that might leave your clients frustrated. Additionally, guests staying at DB might become tired of the nightly entertainment offered in its otherwise attractive theater. Although the acts are enthusiastic and well-attended, those seeking romance or solitude in the privacy of their hotel room or bungalow might become annoyed at the show's bass-intensive music, from which there is no escape.
Casa de Campo, Casa del Mar and the Viva resorts all offer ample dining choices. If you're sending clients to La Estancia for golf, recommend that they dine at the nearby Vecchia Caserma (www.vecchiacaserma.com, 809-813-6405), an authentic Italian restaurant that serves Italian fare in a beautifully rustic setting.
Attractions and Excursions:
Altos de Chavon (www.altosdechavon.com) is a replicated, 16th-century Mediterranean village within Casa de Campo that offers restaurants, shops, a gallery and an archaeological museum. Check out the concert schedule of its amphitheater, an impressive 5,000-seat venue that was christened in 1982 by Frank Sinatra and continues to attract world-class acts.
Book tee times for your golfing clients at any of Casa de Campo's three Pete Dye championship courses (players need not be guests of the resort to play). The Teeth of the Dog, with many of its holes hugging the rugged Caribbean coastline, consistently ranks as one of the world's 50 best golf courses. Nearby is the brand new La Estancia Golf Resort (www.legr.com, 809-689-7027). Its championship course has been carved strategically to take advantage of breathtaking natural vistas, and its expertly trained staff will tend to all of your clients' needs (overnight lodging is available, too, in full-featured golf cottages and villas).
Extra-resort excursions abound in the DR and can be booked through incoming tour operator Tropical Tours (www.tropicaltoursromana.com.do, 809-523-2028). Among the more popular: privately guided ATV tours chug through sugar cane fields and stop in sleepy Dominican hamlets; full-day catamaran tours provide festive outings to nearby Saona Island, where guests enjoy a scrumptious picnic barbecue before jetting back to their starting point via motorboat; snorkeling and scuba diving excursions offer up-close looks at the more than 120 species of tropical fish; and the nearby Maravillas Cave (www.cuevadelasmaravillas.com, 809-951-9009) offers guests an extraordinary subterranean peek at centuries of stalagmite and stalactite formations.
At night, send your clients to the new Dominicus Casino (www.casinodominicus.com, 809-554-8917), a bustling venue that offers high rollers the chance to challenge Lady Luck.
Vegas-style shows kicked off in February, and three restaurants offer friendly dining options. The casino is open daily from 4 p.m. to 4 a.m., with complimentary shuttles serving all major La Romana resorts.
Entry Requirements: Visitors must pay a compulsory $10 fee prior to passing through customs (where only a passport is required).
Other Tips and Notes: If your clients plan on spending their time exclusively at a resort or on guided excursions, they can get by just fine with U.S. dollars. There's no need to convert money into Dominican pesos, a closed currency that's difficult to convert once back in the U.S. Major credit cards are accepted at all resorts, golf courses and most restaurants.