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Natura Cabañas, Cabarete 

5 Paseo del Sol
Perla Marina
Dominican Republic
Tel: 809 571 1507
view web site ›'s insider take:

Cabarete is full of windsurfers and resortgoers, but you'll never know they're there if you stay at Natura's beachfront bungalows. Removed from the town's bustle by a few miles of shoreline, the compound features 11 eco-friendly cabanas, each unique and constructed from natural and local materials such as caoba, coral, and eucalyptus (a natural insect repellent). Even the furniture is handcrafted from the bamboo and coconut palms that were cut down to make the winding paths among the palapas. But it's not all rustic: How often do thatched-roof accommodations come with walk-in closets? Creature comforts and idyllic beach setting aside, Natura's middle-of-the-woods vibe couldn't be more different from the typical Cancun-like resorts that dot the island. Instead of body shots and buffet lines, expect a yoga temple for hatha classes and spa treatments like "after sun" wraps that use fresh aloe from the resort's garden. The Swiss chef whips up a small, wholesome menu that draws people from around the coast, served in the open air (under yet another thatched roof). Breakfast (included) has you slicing and toasting your own homemade bread, supplemented with fresh mango, papaya, and strong Dominican coffee. The only hint of disillusionment here is that Natura is buried in the back of a gated community. This is the kind of place that feels like it should be at the end of a woodsy rutted road instead.

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I stayed here over the week of Thanksgiving 08 and had a wonderful time, despite catching the tail end of a tropical storm (!). Despite the fact that it's so... more