|Early evening at the Fanjul guest house at Casa de Campo in the Dominican Republic.|
|by Hilary Geary Ross
Wilbur and I love every single minute of our time spent in PB, but oh, my, my, it was my lucky day when the letter from Emilia and Pepe Fanjul arrived in the mail inviting Wilbur and me to their “Big Weekend” at Casa de Campo in the Dominican Republic.
The “DR” is about as close to nirvana as you can get with a gloriously perfect tropical climate and so much more. The 7,000-acre resort is not only beautiful, but is truly a sportsman’s paradise, the ultimate “summer camp” with a newly renovated hotel, four fabulous really top notch golf courses (The Teeth of the Dog, Dye Fore, The Links, La Romana Country Club), plus pristine tennis courts with ball boys which makes you feel as if you are on centre court at Wimbledon (well sort of), a vast fitness center, an Equestrian center with polo too, a shooting center for skeet and trap, and even a world class marina that has 250 slips with shops and restaurants to boot!
|Blaine Trump and Steve Simon in the DR.|
|Paul Wilmot in the DR.|
|For the less sporty there are divine little boutiques, great restaurants like Le Cirque at the beach, the Cygalle healing spa, the charming Altos de Chavon village, a replica of a 16th-century Mediterranean Village with grand views of the Chavon River, and a 5,000-seat Grecian style amphitheater for performing arts and concerts where such legends as Gloria Estefan, Julio Iglesias, Andrea Boccelli and more have preformed.
Well you know we said YES immediately as what could be more fun than a visit to the Fanjul’s “Casa Grande" in the La Romana in the DR. The Fanjuls are the most delightful hosts you will ever come across and they generously handle 30 houseguests with grace, humor, and style.
|The pool at Casa Grande.|
|Casa de Campo hotel pool.|
|Sitting area at the hotel.|
|Spa at Casa de Campo.|
|Emilia Fanjul and Sirio Maccioni at the Casa de Campo gym.|
|First night we dined at “Le Cirque" at The Beach Club, al fresco with a band serenading us right by the water, sooo romantic! We sat at one long table and feasted on a Le Cirque caesar salad, followed by a choice of veal tenderloin or risotto with porcini mushrooms or snapper fillet carpaccio, plus all kinds of desserts and cookies.|
|Le Cirque on the Beach in the DR.|
|Music on the beach at the Fanjul's dinner at le Cirque.|
|Dixon Boardman, Blaine Trump, and the Duke of Marlborough.|
|Lord Charles Spencer-Churchill and Sirio Maccioni.|
|Mary Matthews, Hilary Geary Ross, Duke of Marlborough, and Debbie Loeffler.|
|Fanjul dinner table at Le Cirque at the beach.|
|Dixon Boardman and Blaine Trump.|
|Blaine Trump and Pepe Fanjul.|
|Prince Michel de Bourbon and Princess Maria Pia.|
|Next day we toured the newly renovated hotel and took a peek at the marina while some of the guests played golf and others took a chopper to go shoot or go horseback riding.
We then had a scrumptious lunch under the open-aired thatched roof beach house overlooking the beach and clear aqua water; then headed to the tennis courts.
|Emilia Fanjul at breakfast before our tour of the new hotel and marina.|
|Emilia Fanjul, Blaine Trump, and Steve Simon touring the beautiful new hotel at Casa de Campo.|
|Pathway to cottages at the Fanjul's compound.|
|Off to the marina, first stop: the Casa de Campo Yacht Club.|
|Inside the Yacht Club.|
|The Yacht Club's porch.|
|The newly renovated marina.|
|Exploring the marina and its big boats.|
|Shops and restaurants at the marina.|
|William Astor on his way to go horseback riding, via the chopper.|
|Lunching at Casa Grande: Sally Metcalfe, Charles Spencer Churchill, Emilia Fanjul, Annette Tapert, and Wilbur Ross.|
|Bob Colacello, Aileen Mehle, Pepe Fanjul, and Sally Metcalfe.|
|Bob and Aileen.|
|That night we dined at Casa Grande under the stars while a fabulous bad played away. What fun is that! Amongst the lucky guest were Annette and Joe Allen, Viscount and Viscountess Astor, Arriana and Dixon Boardman, Countess Christina de Caraman, Sunny Marlborough aka the Duke of Marlborough and his brother Lord Charles Spencer-Churchill, Bob Colacello, Prince Michel de Bourbon and his wife Princess Maria Pia di Savoia, Blaine Trump and Steve Simon, Aileen Mehle, Debbie and John Loeffler, Shirley Lord Rosenthal and Peter Heywood, Sally and David Metcalfe, Sharon and Archie Sterling, Paul Wilmot, Mary Matthews.|
|Setting up the dinner party at Casa Grande.|
|Our host Pepe Fanjul.||The dinner centerpiece.|
|Buffet at Casa Grande.|
|Charles Spencer Churchill with David and Sally Metcalfe.|
|Back to Palm Beach which is warm and sunny and in full swing with everyone heading south as they just want a bit of sunshine or it is spring break or just for the fun of it. Even charities come on down too as most of their supporters are there basking in the sun.|
|Bikinis at the beach.|
|Scooters in PB.|
|Steven Murray collecting the papers in the AM.||Tom Zacharias with Baron Clifford Klenk and Clelia Zacharias on Worth Avenue.|
|I popped into Saks Fifth Avenue to say hello to famed designer Reed Krakoff and his wife Delphine as they were there to introduce his spring line and to kick off the “Old Bags” benefit for the Center for Family Services programs for children.|
|Delphine and Reed Krakoff.|
|Reed and me.|
|Christie’s Auction house along with the three belles Nathalie Kaplan, Karin Luter, and Lourdes Fanjul hosted a scrumptious dinner at Café Boulud and showed us some of their fabulous paintings from an upcoming auction.|
|The menu at Café Boulud.|
|Roz L'Esperance.||Shafi Roepers.|
|Dana Hammond and Karin Luter.|
|Another memorable fete was the Valentine’s dinner Mila Mulroney and Tom Quick gave at Tommy’s beautiful house for about 30 strong to celebrate that sweet day. The round tables had red, pink, and white flowers, plus goodies such as Valentine's-themed heart necklaces, adorable little stuffed animals, chocolates and more.
Most of the gals wore short red to celebrate this special day, of course! Amongst the group were our houseguests Deborah Norville and Karl Wellner plus John and Lauren Veronis, Lucy Musso, Ambassador Nancy Brinker, Former Palm Beach Mayor Lesly Smith and Dr. Jim Walsh, Emilia and Pepe Fanjul, Grace and Chris Meigher, Eileen and Brian Burns, Cynthia Boardman, Kate Ford, Frank Chopin, Ambassador Earle Mack and his wife Carol, Audrey and Marty Gruss, Percy Steinhart, Pauline Pitt and Jerry Seag, Michele and Howard Kessler, Llwyd and Diana Ecclestone, Barbara and Conrad Black, and more.
|The centerpieces at the Valentine's dinner. The round tables had red, pink and white flowers, plus goodies such as Valentine's Day-themed heart necklaces, adorable little stuffed animals, chocolates, and more.|
|Ambassador Nancy Brinker.|
|Tom Quick, Mila Mulroney, and Pepe Fanjul.|
|Karl Wellner and Diana Ecclestone|
|Mila Mulroney, Lauren Veronis, and Lesly Smith.|
|Conrad Black and Frank Chopin.|
|Barbara Black and Frank Chopin.|
|On another perfect day I jumped into my favorite Michael Kors dress to head to Club Colette for lunch plus a Michael Kors fashion show benefiting the Boys Club of New York. I actually spotted dozens of Michael Kors dresses, really the majority were dressed in Kors!
Muffy Miller and Ginny Burke were both in the aqua zipper dress, Binkie Othwein in baby blue, Mila Mulroney in beige and brown python, Grace Meigher in leopard, Emilia Fanjul and Jamee Gregory matching in belted taupe with brown leather trim, Mary Ourisman in silver grey, Pauline Pitt and Eileen Araskog in crème linen with contrasting brown trim, Alexandra Papanicolaou in peach, and her sister Tanya Gardner in black and white plaid, Karen LeFrak in powder pink, Arriana Boardman in navy blue, plus Darcy Gould, Barbara Smith, Ellen Niven, Eileen Araskog, Katherine Bryan, Shafi Roeper, Caroline Dean were all in Kors, wow!
In fact by the end of this year, Michael will have 175 boutiques worldwide, with the latest one on Rue St. Honore in Paris.The luncheon was kind of a family affair with mothers, daughters, and grandmothers and even some husbands attending. Don Miller even hosted a men’s table filled with brave souls such as my husband Wilbur Ross, Billy McKnight, Marvin Davidson, Christopher Orthwein, Alfred Morgan, Peter Gregory, and Denis Coleman.
|Darlene Jordan and Muffy Miller.|
|Ann Johnson.||Karin Luter.|
|Christina Araskog with her mother Eileen Araskog.|
|Jessie Araskog with her granddaughter Christina Araskog.|
|Ellen Niven.||Nathalie Gerschel Kaplan.|
|Arriana Boardman, Ana Cristina Alvarado, and the Duchess of Marlborough.|
|Lady Churchill, Kate Gubelmann, and Jamee Gregory.|
|Merrill Hanley Curtis with her mother Ali Hanley and sister Nicole Hanley Mellon.|
|Grace Meigher, Michele Kessler, and Karen LeFrak.|
|Shafi Roeper and Jamee Gregory.|
|Another highlight was The Preservation Ball chaired by Michele Kessler and held at the Breakers Venetian ballroom. I just love this dance as it is just like a private party, filled with pals, practically no speeches, and just good fun for a great cause! As the theme was a Venetian Carnival, the very talented designer Scott Snyder brilliantly transformed the ballroom into a Venetian fantasy with mimes, a blue "lagoon," even an antique gondola.
The ballroom was draped in aqua fabric with six large Venetian chandeliers and aqua lampshades, round tables covered in aqua with yellow and peach roses as centerpieces, plus fabulous Venetian carnival masks with streaming ribbons attached to each table with silver chairs. Venetian images by the artist Giovanni Ospitali were projected onto the walls, and the dance floor miraculously looked like a cool blue pool with rippling water beside which a gondola was parked.
|The mine.||The menu.|
|Jimmy Valli orchestra at the Preservation ball, decorated by Scott Snyder.|
|Had to pinch myself as I thought I had flown to Venice. The menu was pure heavenly delicious Italian: we started with panzanella salad in reggiano crisp basket, prosciutto and melon, Grana Padano, gorgonzola dolce and honey comb, followed by an entrée of beef Tenderloin roulade filled with pine nuts, spinach, roasted peppers, Italian parsley and fontina cheese, marsala and truffle cream sauce, grilled artichoke with cured tomatoes, Chianti braised cipollini onion, asparagus, red and yellow baby carrots, and four cheese and spinach lasagna spiral.
The spectacular dessert was tiramisu with chocolate sauce, fresh strawberries, chocolate dipped macaroons and an enchanting “chocolate mask," yum!! We then all danced the night away to the Jimmy Valli orchestra. All the ladies put on the prettiest dresses you have ever seen and brought out the jewels, oooh, what a glamorous evening that was!
|Michele Kessler, Chairman of the Preservation dance, with with her husband Howard Kessler.|
|Scott Snyder, who decorated the PB Preservation party, with his beautiful niece Abigail Kuklia.|
|Former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney with Shannon Donnelly.|
|Tom Quick and Pauline Pitt.|
|Freddie Melhado and Audrey Gruss.|
|Brian Mulroney with Emilia Fanjul in a long Oscar de la Renta dress.|
|Brian Mulroney and Pepe Fanjul.||Kit Pannill.|
|Clo Cohen and Howard Cox.|
|Darcy Gould and Joan Schnitzer Levy in a JAR necklace.|
|Harry Benson dancing with Kate Ford.|
|Barbara Smith dancing with Bill Pannill.|
|Pauline Pitt and Chris Meigher.|
|Next night we popped into Candy and Bill Hamm’s book party at the Society of the Four Arts in PB for Karen LeFrak’s enchanting new children’s book, Best in Show. Amongst the guests were Richard and Harry LeFrak, Ann and Charlie Johnson, Muffy and Don Miller, Jessie and Rand Araskog, Jacky and Rod Drake, John Loring, Ali and Lee Hanley, Lily and Sunny Marlborough, Ginny Burke, plus her two glamorous show dogs Mikimoto and Gem.|
|Karen and her pooch at the Hamm book party.|
|Candy Hamm and Karen LeFrak with pooches Mikimoto and Gem.||Grace Meigher.|
|John Loring with Ann and Charlie John.|
|Afterwards, John Mashek had a casual beach party, no jackets or ties, a delightful compliment to the black-tie bejeweled dinner dance the previous night. As it was a tad chilly, the beach party was moved inside and after sipping drinks we headed to a buffet and in-between bites danced away to a fabulous Calypso band.
Amongst the guests were John’s houseguests Jamee and Peter Gregory, Audrey and Martin Gruss, Amanda Haynes-Dale, Jessie and Rand Araskog, Darlene and Jerry Jordan, Barbara and Randy Smith, Lis and Richard Waterman, Susan and Philip Warner with houseguests Scarlett and Bill Robertson, Annabelle and Denis Coleman, Joan Shnitzer Levy and her husband Irvin, Kitty and Billy McKnight, Grace and Chris Meigher, Darcy and George Gould, Ginny and Freddie Melhado, Gillian Fuller, and more.
|Our beautiful hostess Kristy Clark with two musicians at a party for the Perlman music program, hosted by Kristy and Jim Clark and Pepe and Emilia Fanjul.|
|Jim Clark and Wilbur Ross.|
|Joanne de Guardiola.|
|Last weekend we headed to Kristy and Jim Clark’s stunningly beautiful lakefront house, as they, along with Emilia and Pepe Fanjul, were treating us to an evening in honor of the Perlman Music Center with a concert, cocktails, and dinner to boot.
This was a trifecta of a party as the music was magical, the house and the paintings were all equally dazzling ... oh my my, just another glorious couple of weeks in paradise!
|Photographs by Hilary Geary Ross|