The 86-villa Balcones del Atlántico opened two years ago in Las Terrenas in the mountainous Samana Peninsula in the Dominican Republic. This is one of the most postcard-perfect spots in the northern Antilles. The remote setting is mythical. The road to get here passes through lush, wet high mountain passes carpeted with thick palm trees and massive ferns. Rumor has it that ex-CIA agents often retire to Samana to escape into hidden homes high up in the mountains. It’s the stuff of spy novels, but for real. Maybe.
A perfectly idyllic, natural beach extends from one end of Las Terrenas to the other, with dozens of thatch shops, restaurants and seafood purveyors lining the sand. You're more likely to see a fisherman throwing a net just offshore than a t-shirt shop. The emerald water is calm and clear, and the only sound you can hear is the tradewinds coming off the tropical Atlantic.
The eco-luxe Balcones features 1- to 3-bedroom villas with gigantic balconies (hence the name), filled with plump pillows, modern Balinese-style furniture, thick hand-hewn wood tables and long fancy BBQs.
“When people want a real Dominican experience they choose Terrenas,” says GM Pedro Sanchez during our lunch at the seaside Porto restaurant. “Yet the area was built by the French, Italian, German and Dominicans who lived and worked here for decades. So it’s very multicultural, but at the same time lush and natural, so you feel very in touch with the soul of the Dominican Republic.”