4.26.2010

Casa de Campo Marina | La Romana | Dominican Republic

Experience in La Romana, Dominican Republic (DR) has been an encounter that deserves a blog all to it’s self. I must confess I had concerns develop during our passage to La Romana regarding Casa de Campo Marina. Few of the cruising guides that we have on board as references mention the south side of the DR and the ones that do only write a paragraph. The main focal point is the north side of the DR since the mass of cruisers usually stops at Luperon and then head to Puerto Rico without stopping over on the south side. Due to this there is not enough information available regarding approaches and marinas. This was the grounds of my concern since we could not get a good visual on the marina and how to best approach. Unfortunately, I had injured my right hand on the passage and was not able to sufficiently assist the captain. We hailed the marina several times without success to obtain assistance. As we approached closer to the area that we believed to be the marina we ultimately received a weak response from the marina staff. At which point they gave us the lat/long for the approach. The captain entered the numbers into the GPS and relief was found when we noted that yes we were heading in the correct position. As we approached closer the radio strength improved and we were instructed to hail the staff when we were 3 miles out and they would send a staff member in a dinghy to assist us with our approach and dock lines. The Captain and I glanced at each other in amazement at what we just heard. They are sending a Dinghy to meet us?? Did we hear them correctly?? What the??!! This was a concept that we had never heard of from a marina. As we approached closer to the entrance we noticed a sailboat race to our port side, spinnakers were flying as the sun was setting! Beautiful!! The sight flooded us both with memories of our racing days. At 2 miles out sure enough we observed a dingy patiently awaiting our arrival. As we approached closer a second dinghy arrived to join the first. They pulled up next to us, introduced themselves and personally guided us in. Once we were safely in the marina entrance both boats disappeared. What the?? The Captain and I once again glanced at each other in amazement, “where did they go??!!” Within a couple of minutes they reappeared this time both young men in one dinghy. They pulled up next to Mary Rose and with grace and proficiency one of the young men jumped aboard. “I am here to assist you with docking since you have an injured crew.” Just like a super hero. “I’m here to save the day!” The captain and I were in wonderment at the service they were providing us! When we were safely docked we were then greeted by the “officials”. Immigration, Customs, Navy and Agriculture. They all arrived on the dock to take care of their officially authorized business. What the?? Once again the Captain and I glanced at each other in amazement. Our thoughts were “You mean we don’t have to hunt them all down??” Nope… now we have experienced personal escorts, dock handlers and an uncomplicated clearance! WOW this was amazing! Soon after we had completed the entrance paperwork and paying the fees we were greeted by the Harbor Master, Frank Castillo. He introduced himself and sincerely apologized for no being there when we docked as he had been tied up with the Farr 40 World Championship race. The sailboat race that we sailed past was the Farr 40 World Championship race??!! Too cool!! Frank inquired about my hand and offered to drive us to town the next morning to have it X-rayed. He told us about the marina facilities, local areas to be sure to visit, and then invited us to join the Farr 40 after race party. Be sure to visit the FARR40 web site for exciting photos and more. http://www.farr40.org/ At this point we have experienced personal escorts, dock handlers, an uncomplicated clearance and now FREE food and beer! Can life get better than this??!! Well let me say…Yes it can!! As Frank gave us his best wishes he informed us that he was going to bring us fresh coffee and pastries in the morning. Sure enough that is precisely what occurred, on Mary’s deck the next morning was a box of gourmet pastries that were fresh and delicious and 2 coffees! By 8 am we were in Frank’s personal vehicle in route to town to have my swollen hand X-rayed. The hospital wasn’t as high tech as what I am used but in my perspective it was more proficient and efficient than what we have available in the USA. I had 2 x-rays and saw the physician in less than 30 minutes for the cost of… are you ready for this?? Less than $100!!! One wonders what is wrong with the healthcare system in the USA? Luckily, my hand was only bruised with tissue injuries, no fractures or broken bones! Frank proceeded to drive us to the pharmacy to have my prescription filled and off we went back to the marina. Frank insisted on paying for the prescription! What the????? We have had many encounters with marinas but this has been by far the best. Frank and his staff went above and beyond in many ways that are not mentioned due to time but no less important. Now you may be thinking to yourself, I bet you had to pay the price for above expectations customer service?? No, the cost of our slip here was less than anyplace else that we have stayed. Amazing huh?!!
Frank manages this marina with the philosophy of customer service as the main principle. It doesn’t matter if you are on a multi million dollar yacht or a 32 foot sailboat everyone deserves equal treatment with the same great service. The staff is equally satisfied with his leadership. Frank is retired from the US Navy and brings a strong ability to lead and guide these young men and women who are employed by Casa de Campo. He is fair and promotes integrity amongst the staff. We spent some time chatting with a couple of the employees as they drove us all over the complex in golf carts and they referred to Frank as their “hero” and it shows in the attitudes and the service. Frank will bend over backwards to make sure each of his guests are delighted and satisfied with the service provided at not only the marina but the entire stay in the DR.
We would encourage everyone to visit Casa de Campo, to cruise the south side of the DR and enjoy the treasures that await you here. You will experience miles and miles of snow white sand beaches, friendly people and Casa de Campo Marina. I really can’t say enough positive things regarding the marina and the service.

http://www.marinacasadecampo.com.do/

During our stay here Frank recommended that we visit Altos de Chavon. He stated it was one of those places you just don’t want to miss. So a few days later off we went walking up the hill to find this magnificent place. We only had to walk a little while when we were picked up by a security officer and given a ride to Altos de Chavon. Altos de Chavon is a 16th century replica of a Mediterranean village perched high above the Chavón River. The village was designed by Dominican architect Jose Antonio Caro, and created by Italian master designer Roberto Coppa. The stone and iron work was done all by hand by Dominican artists. Each stone was hand cut, each wooden door frame was handcrafted and each wrought-iron detail hand-forged. Construction of the village began in 1976 and the village was inaugurated in 1982 with the concert of Frank Sinatra at the amphitheater. The amphitheater is Grecian-style and seats 5000. It is an amazing site. This place is amongst one of the most romantic places I have ever seen. It is like taking a step back in time. At the heart of the Altos de Chavon village is the Church of St. Stanislaus.




Please take time to view the Casa de Campo web site for more details of this wonderful complex.



Our plan is to leave here tomorrow and sail west along the south coast of the Domonican Republic and visit a couple of more ports and then head to Jamaica, Grand Cayman and Mexico.


We will update as we are able.

1 comment:

Rebecca said...

Hello!

I am a resident of Casa de Campo and I was thrilled to read your account of our Marina - as I do not sail myself I had no idea how wonderful their service is!

I write my own blog www.casadecampoliving.com, which is all about Casa de Campo and how wonderful it is. It would be an honour to publish some of your comments on the sight, so that even more people can read about how great the Marina is! Would that be possible?

Thank you so much for your visit and your kind appraisal!

Rebecca