Sublime Samana Hotel & Residences
Las Terrenas, Dominican Republic
The Proposition: Twenty-seven private suites and casitas (starting at $445/night for a one-bedroom suite) are nestled into the dramatic, lush jungle of the Dominican Republic. Each of the modern suites (with floor-to-ceiling windows, marble floors, and white walls) boasts a private balcony or terrace and a fully equipped kitchen stocked daily with freshly tapped coconuts and adult beverages. Those pristine white beaches you’ve been looking for? They’re populated with more hammocks and white-cushioned lounge chairs than people—promising all the peace and serenity you need to escape the daily grind.
I’m on a desolate farm with Sublime Samana’s wunderkind chef, Cristian Baéz. A man is hoeing soil about two feet from me. (I’m about 98 percent certain we’re trespassing on his property.) I’m waiting for him to chase us off the field. Instead, he points to a patch of green sprouting from the earth. Baéz bends down to pick some out. “Ah, arugula,” he says. I smile uneasily. “This will go well with the fish we’ll cook,” he tells me.
This is all part of a culinary demonstration offered through the resort. Once we’re back in our van, Baéz tells me how the hotel pays local farmers for fresh produce—a sort of farm-to-table deal—and how we were picking the ingredients we’d need for the cooking lesson. (How many vacations get you that up-close-and-personal with locals?)
As the van winds its way back down the curvaceous hills to the gates of Sublime Samana, we catch a glimpse of what makes this resort so special. It’s in a quiet, less-explored corner of the country, far removed from tourist destinations like Punta Cana. Yet a mere 10-minute taxi ride gets you to nearby Las Terrenas, where you can stroll the beach, shop for local art, or go dancing in one of its many nightclubs.
Back at the resort, we finish our cooking class with a dinner of mahi-mahi—which is, of course, accompanied by all the produce we picked earlier in the day. I grab a Piña Colada from the bar, pull up a lounge chair and relax in the solitude of this Dominican paradise. (www.sublimesamana.com)
Do: Whale Watching
Between January and March, the concierge arranges boating excursions to view the humpback whales that make their way to Samana Bay for the annual mating season.
Dine: Beachside Grill
This casual eatery straddling the property’s beach serves light bites, such as fried potatoes with chipotle salsa and fresh ceviche, plus expertly prepared Piña Coladas.