DR Dreaming

A new marina makes Casa de Campo a perfect pit stop for superyacht owners.

Now the marina condos, a new dockyard and chic shops are making this the perfect tropical country home.

Casa de Campo

Let's build paradise. Start with the 7,000 seaside acres of a former sugar plantation on the eastern side of the Dominican Republic where fresh Caribbean breezes rustle the palms. Build an enclave of 350 elegant villas (think open Indonesian-style living areas, light breezy fabrics and dark woods). Get Pete Dye to build Teeth of the Dog, what has been heralded by Travel & Leisure Golf and many other magazines as "the best golf course in the Caribbean. Throw in British niceties like a shooting center and skeet, trap and sporting clays and two polo fields. Host an art colony. Create a yacht club with J/24s for rent and import a staff of instructors from Sardinia's famous Costa Smeralda Yacht Club. Dot liberally with charming restaurants serving top cuisine and you almost have it: paradise.

To complete the picture, you would need a fabulous marina, capable of docking and servicing your large yacht, of course. Now Casa de Campo, the resort that put the Dominican Republic on the luxury travel map 12 years ago, has that too. On March 8, President Leonel Fernandez himself arrived at the Casa de Campo Marina for the opening of its second development phase.

From the original 350 slips that opened five years ago, the marina is expanding to include 167 new slips capable of taking yachts up to 250 feet, making it one of the largest in the Caribbean. Slips are selling for about $300,000 per 50 feet or you can stay overnight for $3.90 per foot, high season. There's also a new breakwater and drydock yard for yachts up to 140 feet. Working with the Azimut-Benetti group, Bertram, Magnum, Caterpillar, Mase and Simrad, the new IBC shipyard will be like a tropical pit stop for superyachts.

All well and good if you want to base your yacht here and cruise the Silver Banks in search of the annual migration of humpback whales or find some of the north coast's many deserted, palm-lined beaches.

But you may also like Casa de Campo so much that you want to settle in. The new marina will have 14 luxury apartments and 60 condos that are selling for $1.5 million to $2 million. Designed by Italian resort architect Gianfranco Fini, the multicolored buildings form two semicircles around the harbor with luxury shops and restaurants serving everything from Dominican-Chinese (try Chinois) to haute Italian fare and boutiques selling Burberry. Pucci and other hot brands are slated to move in. Rumor has it Ricky Martin has bought a marina condo and with singers such as Marc Anthony and Sting performing at the nearby amphitheater, there's no shortage of musical talent.

Villas on the golf course start at $650,000 (yup, right on the greens) and go up to about $6.5 million for an oceanfront estate. There are no restrictions of foreigners buying here and one of the nice things about owning a villa (or a marina condo) is that the resort takes care of the somewhat thorny title searches and maintains tight security. Plus, the villas come with maid and butler service. If you want to test the waters, you can rent a two-bedroom villa off-season starting at $577 a night, with maid service and breakfast prepared for you each morning.

With direct flights from Miami and San Juan into the Casa de Campo/La Romana airport (just a 15 minute drive from the resort), and real estate prices that are skyrocketing, more and more Americans are starting to think of Casa de Campo the same way the Dominicans have: as the "country house its name implies.

Contact: www.marinacasadecampo.com; for marina and condo information; www.costasur.com.do; for villa or hotel stays, www.casadecampo.com.do