Barahona, Dominican Republic
My dear friends,
I drove about three hours, from Santo Domingo, to get to paradise. I know that sounds like an eternity to get to a destination, but along the way I saw the sites, the natural sites, of the Dominican people. Driving out of the city to the east, as congested traffic gave way to smaller towns with vendors selling fresh produce along the edge of the road, framing a picture perfect scene of real life on the island. I was so happy to be able to experience this. The organic nature of a place I was finally seeing for the first time.
Having visited the extremely popular portions of the island, many times before, I drove, mouth agape, staring at the real, raw, beauty of this island and her people. I knew that Casa Bonita, my home for this island escape, was “perched between tropical blues and luscious greens.” The combination of adventure and relaxation was tugging at every cell in my body. The year has been a whirlwind thus far and we are only at the beginning of March, as I write this letter to you. Pulling up to this Jungle lodge held the promise of everything I needed. I chose a river suite, so that I could hear the river rush by in the morning as I ate breakfast and then fall asleep to its hypnotic magic. After approaching the gates and being greeted by the staff , I bumped into the owner, who was on property, as he often is. This was his childhood vacation home, turned resort some years ago. His passion for adventure, adrenaline, and introspection intersect here at Casa Bonita.
He was kind enough to invite me to share my time at the lodge with him and his friends. We hiked a trail that took us from gravel paths to lush foliage where we picked cherries along the way, then got a peek at the Caribbean Sea just before ascending all while plotting our next adventure around the hotel. Believe it or not, none of our plans included leaving the grounds, although there were even more adrenaline inducing activities within minutes of this hidden gem. Here, we had enough to fulfill the goal of having the best few days in contrast to my typical island escapes. One day we actually had a spa day that was totally over-the-top without it being orchestrated and every second of it took place entirely outdoors. We started with yoga high above the river, which like Vinyasa, flowed to our next event–effortlessly. Have you ever had a massage with the massage bed in the center of a flowing river? I have, and now I can’t envision having a better massage anywhere else. The combination of the elements and the skilled massage therapist, was the epitome of a luxury that can’t be duplicated in a manmade setting. After feeling every bit pampered, I sat in a temazcal that elevated my spirits and drew any remaining toxins out of my body and mind. This unscripted experience flowed like the river and lead to friends gathered around the brick pizza oven where we made pizzas for each other, as the chef prepared the real meal.
I could go on and detail the suite for you. My outdoor shower and views to the sky as I laid in bed listening to the water and staring at the stars, but I want you to come and feel it for yourself. Yes, there are ocean view suites with infinity edge pools. Yes the dining area has fabulous views of the hillside, undulating downward towards the sea, but I preferred to look inward and experience Casa Bonita from that vantage point.
Subscribe to Swanky Retreats Magazine’s DIGITAL version. Read the latest issue online or download it to your computer.