It comes with a trained staff of 11, six kitchens and a Range Rover.
(Bloomberg) — When Stanley and Conchita Meek visited a roughly 1.7-acre property inside the Casa de Campo Resort in the Dominican Republic, the house “hadn’t been lived in in 18 years,” Stanley says, “and had been on the market for five years.”
Despite its position on the water and its giant lot size for the area, the ground was uneven, he explains. A steep drop in the middle did not appeal to prospective buyers.
The couple was undaunted: “It was a gold mine opportunity,” Stanley says, which they bought in 2017.
After tearing down the extant building, they spent more than three years building two structures that measure roughly 25,000 square feet, working with the architect Arturo Despradel to solve the uneven land by building the main house into the dip to bridge divergent property levels. In total, the compound has 10 guest bedrooms and 13.5 bathrooms. There are also three staff bedrooms and three staff bathrooms.
The Meeks, who say they built this to be their “last house,” recently encountered a new opportunity: Conchita’s son, Sergio Llach, a broker with Dominican Republic Sotheby’s International Realty, showed them a slightly smaller property around the corner.
“I said, ‘Why don’t we buy it and build a smaller one,’” Conchita says. “Instead of living in a 25,000-square-foot house, why don’t we live in an 18,000-square-foot house?” That’s now the plan. They’ve put their nearly new home on the market with Llach for $45 million—a record price for the country if it secures that amount, according to the broker.
Building the House
This was neither Conchita’s first home on the island nor Stanley’s first home outside his native Canada. (The two retired entrepreneurs married in 2016.) “Casa de Campo has been my second home for 40 years,” Conchita explains, saying she’s bought and remodeled multiple houses during that period.
For this property, she continues, the giant lot necessitated a house of similar scale. “You can’t build the house really small,” she says. As construction progressed, the couple kept making additions, adding to its footprint. “We said we’d like to have a theater,” Conchita says. “We gradually made the house bigger and bigger.”
The broad strokes of the project, though, were articulated from the start: The couple wanted an L-shaped building with beds in one wing and social areas in the other. They wanted copious amounts of wood—mostly a type of cedar—used on doors, ceilings and walls, and they wanted massive windows for views.
Conchita says construction began in 2018: “We had 130 people working here for three years, building this place.” For the stone patio, some 12,000 pounds of stone was cut in Muskoka, Canada, and shipped down to the Dominican Republic. “Every piece of the stone had to be carried by four men,” she says. “Each is two inches thick.”
Once the house was completed in 2022, Conchita filled it with furniture shipped from around the world, as well as decorations by local artists. Then they hired “hotel consultants to train all the staff, from food and beverages down to the housemaids,” Stanley says. “That went on for three months, so they know what their job is, how to treat guests—and so, when people come down, they feel like they’re in a boutique hotel.”
Currently, the house has 11 employees, including an executive chef; they’re prepared to serve the next owner.
By December, the property will have what Stanley calls “a disco,” with a stage, lounge and bar on the first floor of the guest house.
Living in Paradise
The couple has multiple residences to choose among. “I have a condo in Toronto, a lake place in Muskoka, and one in Puerto Vallarta, and Conchita has a place in Coral Gables,” explains Stanley. “And we travel a lot.” Yet the draw of the new house was such that they’ve spent four months a year in the home.
The house is mostly on two floors perched over the ocean. (In addition to staircases, there’s an elevator.) The main house has three kitchens: a “display kitchen,” should guests want to cook; a chef’s kitchen, where the main work is done; and an employee kitchen. The guest house has two additional kitchens, and the disco will soon have one.
A 4,000-square-foot primary suite can be closed off from the rest of the house; inside is an office, bedroom, spa with jacuzzi, gym, his and hers bathrooms, and a sauna. “We can actually just live in that place,” Stanley says.
The main house contains six bedrooms. The guest house has an additional four. The grounds contain a variety of entertaining areas, including a heated infinity-edge lap pool.
The couple has used the place for small parties. “We’ll have cocktails on the patio, go to the gazebo for dinner, and end up in the fire pit for liqueurs—that’s kind of the flow,” Stanley says. Given its vast size and multiple entertaining areas, though, they’ve used it to host plenty of large gatherings.
“On Friday, we just had a beautiful party for 200 people,” Stanley says. “We had a band that was a duplication of Queen—it played the music of Freddie Mercury,” he explains. “A week before, we had an engagement party for our good friends, and they had 50 people for that, so Conchita is quite the entertainer.”
They’ve also rented it out for what the couple says is from $15,000 to $20,000 a night. For Christmas 2022, they say, the entertainer Bad Bunny spent 10 days on the property. (“He spent most of the time in the theater, playing games,” Conchita says.) They’ve also rented it to island residents who wanted to use it for their daughter’s wedding.
“This property is a wonderful income producer,” Conchita continues. “We’ve almost made a million dollars in rentals.” (In an email, Llach added that the basketball player Christian Wood also rented the house, as well as “top executives from Google.”)
But now, Stanley and Conchita plan to restart with a clean slate. Everything, aside from some sculptures, is included in the sales price, they say. This includes 10 sets of dishes, the bedding, the furnishings, a Range Rover, a Nissan Pathfinder and even the property’s two golf carts. “All you have to do is bring a toothbrush,” Conchita says.
Stanley adds that, for an additional fee, he’s willing to throw in his 1929 Bugatti. “If someone wants it, they can have it,” he says. “I’m 86 years old. I’m saying: How many years am I going to use that Bugatti? So if someone wants to move an asset around on my balance sheet, I’ll accept it.”
More stories like this are available on bloomberg.com
©2023 Bloomberg L.P.