Notes from Casa de Campo in the Dominican Republic

Last weekend golfers from all over the world flew in to the Dominican Republic for Alfy Fanjul's 17th annual Sugar Golf Tournament and Bren and Mel Simon's "Safari Gala" in the gardens of their spectacular house, "Casa Luna" in Casa de Campo.

Bren Simon
The Simons, in from Indianapolis, and Emilia and Pepe Fanjul flew down from Palm Beach with Pauline Pitt, Jamie Niven, Lillian Fernandez (Alfy's daughter) and Jim Mitchell, and gave a dinner at "Casa Grande," the Fanjul compound at Casa de Campo. Rolando Gonzalez-Bunster gave a fundraising dinner for former President Bill Clinton, at his house in Casa de Campo, which benefited President Clinton's AIDS foundation and the Clinton Library. Emilia and Pepe and Rolando Bunster's dinner started the week-long festivities. President Clinton played golf with Mel Simon and George Hamilton and then flew to Haiti for a fundraising dinner for his AIDS foundation.

There was a tribute to Bren Simon from the city of La Romana at the city hall, where Bren was presented with a citation honoring her work with the children of the Dominican Republic. Bren and Lian Fanjul Azqueta started an orphanage for boys called "Campo Nueva Esperanza.”

Lian Fanjul Azqueta donated the land for the orphanage and the Simons support the orphanage from the Max Simon Foundation, which they created in honor of their late son Max Simon, who died a few years ago. The orphanage houses 75 homeless boys from the ages of two through high school where they are taught by a religious order of Catholic nuns. Just this year Bren and Lian built a library (Parker Ladd has helped Bren and Lian get books for the library) and a vocational school for 500 girls where they are taught homemaking, sewing, the arts, cooking and are educated so they can better serve the Dominican Republic.

Bren is also building a nursing school, a dental school, and a laboratory for the girls which will be finished in the fall of 2003.
The orphanage that Bren Simon and Lian Fanjul Azqueta started, called "Campo Nueva Esperanza."
Bren Simon, Lian Fanjul Azqueta and children from "Campo Nueva Esperanza."
There was Alfy Fanjul and his fiance, Lourdes Gutierrez' dinner at "Casa Grande" for the golfers, their wives and friends and a Calcutta. Lourdes Gutierrez looked as beautiful as Grace Kelly in "Magambo." Lourdes daughter, little Lourdes is already in the family, married to Pepe Fanjul, Jr. Jamie Niven did the auctioneering for the Calcutta for the 20 golf teams. He raised thousands of dollars for the MIR Foundation (Mission International Rescue). The MIR Foundation also helps support the orphanage and the vocational school.

Bren Simon, Alfy Fanjul, and Lourdes Gutierrez
Then on Friday night, the Simons staged their spectacular costume "Safari" dinner and gala for 600 at Casa Luna. There were specially built pavilions with thatched roofs in the gardens for the seated dinner. All of the waiters were in African costumes. There were lights, sounds of the African jungle and a performance by the National Ballet Company of the Dominican Republic, with all of the dancers in African costume.

The dinner menu featured beef, African stews, fish, rice, vegetables and small pineapples filled with pineapple sorbet. Alfy Fanjul presented her with an engraved silver tray, in thanks to her for helping make the Sugar Cane Golf Tournament such a success each year, and for the wonderful work she does for the children of the Dominican Republic. After that there was dancing until dawn under a full Dominican moon until the wee hours and even the break of a new day when some of the golfers headed off for the golf tournament, some still in African costumes.
At the "Safari" dinner and gala for 600 at Casa Luna.
A performance by the National Ballet Company of the Dominican Republic, with all of the dancers in African costume.

The Duke of Marlborough flew over from Palm Beach. He and Duchess (Rosita, who is an accomplished painter), have an apartment in Palm Beach, and are leaving for Blenheim Palace at the end of April. Baron Thierry van Zuylen (his sister was the Baroness Marie-Helen de Rothschild) was with Carol Holmes. The Baron had flown from London for the tournament. Jerry Goldsmith, Laddie Merck, Rene and Dr. Mason Goodman, (Mel Simon's doctor), Marie Claire and George Broadbent, Janine Smulyan and Jim Budden, Muffi and Jim James, all from Indianapolis, (The James’ have a house in Casa de Campo); Bobbie and Bruce Burrows, who has the Mac Golf Company in Los Angeles, Donna and William Acquavella, lots of Azquetas, Lian, Norberto, Jesse and Alfonso, Kane Baker, Pauline Pitt’s brother, Carmen Tonanni, the sugar heiress from Brazil, Alexander Marchessini, Fred Barry, George Hamilton and Michelle Marias from London.

George Hamilton has a golf villa at Casa de Campo, big enough for his vast collection of blue jeans. Howard Clark, Jr., Averil Fisk, lots of Fernandez', Larry, Lillian, Luis A., Luis F., Luis J., and Ted “Teddy” Forstmann, Tom Glover, Michael Kempner, Lance Mahaney, Bob Leidy, Gregg Palmer, Gail and Harry Thedoracopulos, J. J. Arteaga, Jim Budden, Serena Boardman and lots of world class golfers enjoyed the Sugar Golf Tournament in Casa de Campo.

At Casa de Campo for the 17th annual Sugar Golf Tournament
George Hamilton, Michelle Marias, and Jamie Niven
Alfy Fanjul
Bren Simon and the artists
Bren Simon posing in front of cigar box handbags

The Simons staged their spectacular costume "Safari" dinner and gala for 600 at Casa Luna.
Thierry van Zuylen and Carol Holmes
Bren Simon and Carmen Tonanni
Bren and Mel Simon
Muffie James
Alfy Fanjul, Bren Simon, Pauline Pitt, and Jamie Niven
Alfy Fanjul and The Duke of Marlborough
Lourdes Fanjul, Bren Simon, and Serena Boardman
Bren Simon, George Hamilton, and Michelle Marias
Mel Simon, Jamie Niven, Pauline Pitt, and Bren Simon
Marie Claire and George Broadbent
Carmen Tonnani and Alfy Fanjul
Bobbie and Bruce Burrows
Lian and Norberto Azqueta
Pepe Fanjul, Jr. and the boys
Bren Simon and Alfy Fanjul
Jim Budden


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© 2006 David Patrick Columbia & Jeffrey Hirsch/