This month, I headed down to Punta Cana, an elite, glamorous, privately owned resort destination in the Dominican Republic for the launch of their new oceanside golf course: Corales
. I had the privilege of staying in a PUNTACANA Resort & Club Tortuga Bay
villa designed by Oscar de la Renta (above, see gallery for a peek inside), and even meeting Mr. De la Renta himself at his private Punta Cana home -- which was imaginatively designed and definitely curated with a touch of genius; more on that later.
Though I'm not much of a golfer, I was immediately issued my very own golf cart at Tortuga Bay and a parking space at my villa, as well as a splendid yellow bicycle for getting around the extensive resort grounds. Daily trips to various restaurants on the property and the discovery of natural springs and hidden beaches made the experience somewhat like living on your very own small island and having full rights to explore. There's plenty to do in Punta Cana for non-golfers, from kiteboarding to Segway tours (which I did for the first time and now totally understand what the fuss is all about -- those things are fun
!). There's a Six Senses
spa, tennis, and a lot of great food, as well as pools and white sandy beaches as far as the eye can see. If you happen to stay at PUNTACANA Resort & Club, you'll even get special, VIP treatment at the airport, the kind where you don't have to wait in any lines, as the resort actually owns the airport.
When I attended the launch of Corales, which was hosted by various Punta Cana officials as well as Oscar de la Renta, Tom Fazio, the designer, and the president of the Dominican Republic himself (who is charming), I was more than impressed by the overwhelming beauty of the course. We sat in an intimate ocean view pavilion right on the green as everyone gave speeches and a Catholic priest blessed the course. The residents of Punta Cana wore white almost universally, which is the custom not only for public events but for every day. Another thing I noticed is that though the weather is hot, they drink red wine, even at lunch. It turns out that a light bodied red pairs quite marvelously with traditional shrimp ceviche and conch salad, both of which were rampantly available. But I digress.