Casa Bonita is a hidden gem in the otherwise undeveloped province of Barahona. The former Schiffino family summer home, it is now a luxurious lodge in lush tropical foliage, with unforgettable views of the Caribbean Sea.
Run by the third generation of the family the hotel is run on a sustainable basis encouraging visitors to discover the beauty and biodiversity of this unique region.
We approach Casa Bonita through the green mountains of Barahona with the sea sparkling in the distance. It is a surprise to find this peaceful but stylish property designed by Dominican architect Rafael Selman using natural regional materials such as mahogany. There are 12 deluxe rooms here, each with its own balcony offering sea and mountain views. There is an infinity pool, tennis courts and a zip-wire tour over the treetops. Guests who can prise themselves away from blissful hotel itself can follow hiking trails through the forest, go horse-riding or mountain-biking or arrange tours to local caves, coffee plantations or the fabulous Bahia des Aguilas.
The Tanama spa offers massages and treatments using local products including coffee, chocolate, coconut mango and larimar. Barahona is the only place in the world where they mine larimar, a semi-precious stone the colour of the ocean. Locals say larimar can heal a broken heart. Masseuse Miranda at Casa Bonita’s Tamana Spa uses it as part of a unique experience where she stands with her feet in the river as you lie on a bed with the water rushing beneath. An unusual and relaxing experience.
The 12 rooms each feature crisp white double or king beds, balconies, Wi-Fi, and TV. Huge bathrooms have locally sourced toiletries. The suites have Jacuzzis.
Cuisine here is based on produce grown in the hotel’s own organic garden and locally sourced food. The menu includes local seafood with a fusion of international cuisine, served in the airy restaurant overlooking the pool and out to sea. A collection of oversized sofas are arranged on the terrace for drinks pre or post dinner.
Casa Bonita also has its own brick pizza oven where guests can make their own pizza, and a barbecue area. Breakfast includes juices from the lodge’s own fruit trees.
I found the staff to be extremely charming and helpful throughout my stay. And it’s worth noting that Casa Bonita Tropical Lodge is a member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World.
Casa Bonita Tropical Lodge, Km. 17 Carretera de la Costa, Bahoruco- Barahona, Dominican Republic.
Tel: 809 540 5908 / 1 800 961-5133
Casa Bonita Tropical Lodge is in the heart of Barahona province; about a 3-hour drive from Las Americas international airport Santo Domingo or the centre of Santo Domingo city.
Type of Hotel: 4-Star Luxury Boutique Lodge
Number of Rooms: 12 rooms and suites
Price Band: Medium with double rooms starting from £191 including breakfast.
Insider Tip: Escape to the huge cavern known as Cueva de la Vergen with its emerald coloured pools and two chambers. You find it by hiking for about 30 minutes through the rainforest. It’s truly magical.
Reviewer’s Rating: 9/10
Judith Baker is a London-based freelance travel writer.
Photographs courtesy of Casa Bonita Tropical Lodge