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GETTING TO KNOW: It's a Tough Job, but. . .

Sure, he's the Director of Golf at one of the Caribbean's most beautiful resorts--Casa de CampoTHC in the Dominican Republic. And sure, occasionally he has to get out there and play a round of golf on one of the resort's three spectacular Pete Dye-designed courses: Teeth of the Dog, The Links, and Dye Fore. But Gilles Gagnon, a native of Montreal, has a really tough job, living in paradise and having to hobnob with other golf aficionados. He's even played a round with former presidents George Bush and Bill Clinton. Hey, somebody has to do it!

Here's the inside scoop on the golf experience at Casa de Campo.

Hideaways International: What is your golf background, and how did you become Director of Golf at Casa de Campo?
Gilles Gagnon: I actually played hockey at Michigan State and learned to golf during that time. From there, I played professional hockey and amateur golf. In 1975, I became the Assistant Hockey Coach--and Golf Professional--at Colgate University in New York. That's where I earned my professional golf accreditation. I headed to Casa de Campo in 1981 on a friend's recommendation, and I've been there ever since!

HI: With all the golf destinations in the Caribbean, why would someone want to choose a golf vacation at Casa de Campo?
GG: We have the best weather, three different and outstanding Pete Dye golf courses, a nice hotel, gourmet restaurants--and the Dominican people are wonderful! I've traveled all over the Caribbean, and nothing compares.

HI: The award-winning Teeth of the Dog course has been ranked as the top golf course in the Caribbean for years. What makes it so memorable?
GG: During a period of 30 years, I've played the course more than 1,500 times, and I can't wait until the next round. Many courses say they have ocean holes, but not like Teeth of the Dog. You are almost part of the ocean on the Teeth. You can see, feel, and smell the Caribbean Sea on 11 of its holes. But I have to say, Dye Fore is growing on me.

HI: Across all three courses, what is your favorite hole?
GG: The par 3 holes on all courses are spectacular. Hole # 5 on the Teeth is my favorite, though. Because of the wind, sometimes you have to start your ball over the ocean, and it's like trying to land it on a beach towel. Scary, but fun.

HI: Does Pete Dye--or any other member of the famous Dye family--ever get to Casa de Campo to relax and play a little golf?
GG: Pete and his wife, Alice, spend at least two months a year here, one week at a time. And their sons, Perry and P.B., also get here often to play. According to Pete, this is his favorite place to be.

An Italian in Paradise

LalunaTHC is an elegant and serene hideaway on the island of Grenada (pronounced Gre-NAY-dah), one of the Caribbean's most lush and untouristed destinations. We asked owner Bernardo Bertucci--a native of (where else!) Italy--about his little slice of paradise, where he lives with his wife, Wendy, and their two daughters, Luna, 8, and Charlie, 5.

Hideaways International: What was your original vision for Laluna?
Bernardo Bertucci: When I was living in New York City, I actually had a dream that I was living in the Caribbean in a big house with lots of friends coming to visit me. The day after, I bought an open ticket to the islands and started to look for my own special spot in the sun. I was very lucky to find our place on Grenada--but I was also courageous.

HI: What makes Grenada such a spectacular setting for your resort?
BB: Grenada is the perfect match for Laluna because it's sexy, serene, and magical, like the island, and the people here are incredibly friendly and generous. I could never imagine Laluna on an island like Barbados or Antigua, which are more exposed to tourism. And we own 25 acres of land--basically the entire area called Portici Bay--so we're protected from any future development.

HI: What were you trying to accomplish with your excellent restaurant and wine cellar?
BB: Well, don't forget, I built Laluna for myself first and then for my guests, and since I eat here every day with my family, I wanted the best and freshest foods possible. And of course, I like to drink good wine!

HI: Have any celebrities stayed with you?
BB: Yes, we've hosted Morgan Freeman, Kate Moss, Giorgio Armani, and Mick Jagger and Jerry Hall when they were married, along with their kids. We made an exception for them, since we don't normally accept children under 14 years of age.

HI: What makes Laluna the ideal romantic destination?
BB: I'd say it's the beauty of our natural setting, and the feeling of being in a friendly home rather than a hotel. Our service is simple and refined, not formal and stuffy. And our staff is wonderful--Daniele, our executive Italian chef, and our infamous bartender Kiles, with his secret potions. All of these combine to make Laluna a very intimate and romantic destination.

January 2010

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