DO­MINI­CAN REPUB­LIC IS­LAND UP­GRADE

Vanessa Craft lives la dolce vita on her hon­ey­moon.

Elle (Canada) - - Escape -

the Do­mini­can Repub­lic has changed since the first time I waded into its cyan-blue wa­ters. Back then, my va­ca­tion was fu­elled en­tirely by cheap (equally) blue cock­tails dur­ing a sin­gle-girls all-in­clu­sive party break.

My drink palate and re­la­tion­ship sta­tus have evolved since then, and so has the DR. With the slew of new five- star prop­er­ties cater­ing to se­lec­tive, luxe-lov­ing trav­ellers now dot­ting the di­verse is­land, it was dif­fi­cult to de­cide where to go for our hon­ey­moon. But my new hus­band and I chose per­haps the most ex­clu­sive spot: Eden Roc at Cap Cana Re­sort, a 34villa ho­tel that is part of the Re­lais & Châteaux group. It’s also part of Cap Cana, a gated com­mu­nity on the eastern tip of the is­land that is home to five kilo­me­tres of white-sand beaches, pri­vate vil­las, a yacht- filled ma­rina, an eques­trian cen­tre with polo fields, eco­log­i­cal parks and sev­eral award-win­ning golf cour­ses.

My heart leaped when I dis­cov­ered a long cedar walk-in closet off our suite’s bath­room, which had a coral-stone and mar­ble tub so big it took an hour to fill. My hus­band was so busy play­ing with the iPads used to con­trol all the set­tings in the suite that he didn’t no­tice we had a pri­vate pool and an al­fresco rain shower head on the back pa­tio. The per­sonal golf cart parked out­side the suite, how­ever, was in­stantly noted. Here, golf carts are a ne­ces­sity for get­ting around the sprawl­ing grounds or vis­it­ing the mem­bers-only Caletón Beach Club, a se­cluded palm-fringed cove.

At nearby Scape Park, we de­cided against our tour guide’s sug­ges­tion that we zi­pline from the cliffs. (I knew I had made the right choice of spouse by how fast my guy re­jected that op­tion.) In­stead, we took the Hoyo Azul eco tour, an easy hike through a jun­gle rich with en­demic plants and edged by rugged cliffs that ended at a pic­ture-per­fect swim­ming spot: a hid­den la­goon with Smurf-hued wa­ter.

On our last night, the concierge at Eden Roc booked us a pri­vate din­ner on the beach. But as we set out in our golf cart, the skies opened up. The rain was tor­ren­tial, and the cart’s plas­tic tarp did lit­tle to stop the sheets of wa­ter pelt­ing down on us. My hus­band drove while I screeched out di­rec­tions in the dark­ness. It was our big, ro­man­tic The Note­book- rain-scene mo­ment, but our pas­sion was soon di­rected at the help­ful wait staff at La Palapa—a stunning lo­cal seafood restau­rant—who rushed out with big golf um­brel­las to es­cort us to shel­ter. We ate din­ner over­look­ing the beach, lis­ten­ing to the waves crash­ing against the shore while the rain beat down on the roof above us. It still felt like a ro­man­tic Hol­ly­wood mo­ment.

Cap Cana’s fivek­ilo­me­tre beach; Eden Roc at Cap Cana Re­sort’s Gar­den of Eden pool (right)

The pri­vate pool at one of Eden Roc’s vil­las

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