After a few false starts - "I'm coming, yes, I'm coming" and "Thank you so much for your gracious invitation, but I don't think I can come right now". I went. Oh boy, did I ever go. Whooshed away directly by Jetblue from JFK to Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, I was met at the airport by the charming Victor and driven straight through the navy blue tropical sky, fringed by silhouettes of palm trees to The Peninsula House located at the north-western top of the Samana Peninsula. The Peninsula House ,owned by a dear, old friend, Cary Guy, and his partner, Marie-Claude Thibault, calls itself an "exclusive guesthouse". In fact, when you step foot into the luxurious Caribbean-style house, you feel as if you are arriving at the home of a 19th century French planter who made a fortune in sugar cane products then sent his new-found fortune back to Europe to purchase the most exquisite furniture, rugs, paintings, sculptures, crystal and china that those rum pesos could buy. You are comforted by the formal setting - not overwhelmed by it.
Actually, before you are allowed inside the house, you are obliged to coo coo and caress the house's two Rhodesian Ridgebacks, Dallas and Jake - and to tickle the tummy of the Dominican mutt, Bill - who's a girl.
There's so much to say about this award-winning spot (for 3 years in a row the readers of
Conde Nast Traveler have chosen it the number ONE hotel in the Caribbean and number TWO in the entire world. I'm breathless) that I think that I'll divide information and observations into a few entries.
Pool and the Atlantic Ocean
The Beach House. It's a few minutes away from the main house. Here, you can take the sun from a a comfy chaise lounge parked in the powder sugar sand and swim in the tepid, turquoise ocean. Lunch at the Beach always begins with a dish of warm coconut chips.
Make with shaved, fresh coconut meat, place on a baking sheet, toss with sea salt and cook at 350 degrees F until deep gold - a few minutes. Watch carefully or they'll burn.
Consume with a drink, invented on the spot, and made to order by Luca: fresh pineapple juice, a splash of campari and topped with sparkling water. Divine.SUSANSIMONSAYS:
It didn't get much better than my stay at The Peninsula House.
Coming - breakfasts and other food, and pink and green dwellings.