updated 1/13/2011 3:16:35 PM ET 2011-01-13T20:16:35

BARAHONA, Dominican Republic, Jan. 13, 2011 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Once the weekend retreat of the Schiffino family, Casa Bonita in Barahuco, Barahona has been nudged by nature to open its doors to outside guests and become an eco-lodge. A member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World, Casa Bonita consists of 12 cabanas, a spa and restaurant featuring naturally grown products from the area. 

Guests have the opportunity to experience nature as its neighbors are the Sierra Barahuco Mountains, Rio Barahuco and Riosito River, along with an array of flora and fauna. Casa Bonita is a testament that it is possible to live among nature peacefully. This is a place where the lush green mountains create the back drop for the perfect sunrise, the running rivers bordering the property sooth guests into relaxation and the microclimates keep the air crisp and fresh. Immersed in its surroundings, Casa Bonita staffs the local people of Barahona and maintains its own organic garden for use in the restaurant and the Tanama Spa (meaning butterfly in the native Taino language). 

Polibio Schiffino is the visionary and pioneer of not only Casa Bonita but has also taken on the challenge of putting the region of Barahona on travelers' radar. Schiffino's passion comes from his childhood memories of growing up in the area. "My most treasured times are of watching my grandfather work this land and teaching me to love its surroundings," said Polibio Schiffino, owner and project manager of Casa Bonita. Schiffino's vision is to grow Casa Bonita to 36 cabanas and lodges by adding 24 villas with private pools and a jeep in each as an amenity. He also plans to add a nature conscious real-estate project, all to be completed by 2014. One of the biggest challenges that Schiffino faces is educating international travelers on the region of Barahona. Normally people think of the Dominican Republic as an all-inclusive beach and sun destination. They completely overlook this area that is rich in nature and is privileged to have some of the most pristine beaches, such as Bajia de los Aguilas. "You can have it all -- beach, sun, adventure and nature all delivered in a relaxing environment," says Virginia Kennedy, General Manager of Casa Bonita.

Schiffino is conscious of his surroundings and gives back to the community as well as to his neighbors. To show his support to the Haiti cause, Casa Bonita is pledging a percentage of its revenues. "Haiti is in our backyard," said Schiffino, "and we need to do all we can to help." To incentivize reservations guests will receive a $100.00 lodge credit for bookings made from now until March 30, 2011, for travel between January 15, 2011 – April 30, 2011. Reservations can be made by calling (800) 961-5133 or locally (809) 540-5908 or emailing erosario@casabonitadr.com.

About Casa Bonita

Casa Bonita became a member of Small Luxury Hotels of the world in 2008. Originally the family retreat of the Schiffino's, a local Dominican Family, Casa Bonita and its surroundings consist of 700,000 sq meters and have been in the family since 1976. Casa Bonita consists of 12 cabanas, a spa on the border of the Rio Barahuco named Tanama Spa and a natural restaurant that is complimented by its own garden. Overlooking the Caribbean Sea and sandwiched between two rivers, Casa Bonita is a place for man and nature to merge in a rustic elegant environment. 

Casa Bonita is operated by ProHotel International of Houston, which also operates the celebrated Esencia Estate in the Riviera Maya, Mexico and Pico Bonito in La Ceiba, Honduras.

CONTACT: Media Contact:
         Laura Suttles
         Prohotel International
         1.713.528.7862
         pr@prohotels.com

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