Hughes and Silvestri have found themselves at dinner parties with the likes of Richard Branson and Vincent Cerf — you know, the guy who sort of invented the Internet. “At lunch one day, the conversation was about aeroplanes,” Hughes says in her British accent. “And not just aeroplanes, but about buying aeroplanes, and what a great investment they are, and how you can just buy them and flip them.”
One ocean-side property is being offered for $20 million. Just for the lot. No house included.
“You know the American dream is the white picket fence? The Dominican dream is a villa in Casa de Campo and a Mercedes,” Silvestri says.
The villa that Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington has identified as the possible vacation pad of Sen. Menendez’s pal, Melgen, perches on a winding street next to the private La Romana Country Club, an enclave within an enclave, open only to members. The salmon-colored villa sprawls beneath palm trees, an enviably luxurious residence but merely middle-class by Casa de Campo standards. A stone exterior wall provides extra privacy.
Just a few minutes away by golf cart, locals and villa renters saunter to the beach down a path lined by speakers disguised as rocks. Soothing spa music trickles out. Squadrons of attendants in white shorts and caps fuss over beach chairs, positioning them just right for the smattering of couples and families luxuriating in the sun. A svelte young woman slips out of her bikini top and stretches out on a cushioned lounge chair. A bodyguard in mirrored sunglasses keeps watch at a discreet distance, surely one of the easier assignments ever, since crime seldom occurs here.
Others sip prosecco at the edge of the sand at the Beach Club by Le Cirque, where the menu was designed by a chef from the New York original. At the bar, the club’s finest Montecristo cigar goes for $27.
Men in linen shirts and women in tasteful printed dresses are scattered about the tables on the veranda, some enjoying the perfectly grilled Patagonian toothfish encircled by a rich drizzled seafood sauce.
The conversations keep to a low hum until, at a tucked-away table, a dark beauty in Jackie O. sunglasses exclaims, “She’s just a trophy wife!”
The diners barely take note. They’re too busy relaxing.