Just got back from Sanctuary Cap Cana. I took my wife there for a surprise birthday trip. I, like many others, read the reviews that made this a bit of an anxious trip: low occupancy, restricted restaurant availability, the lack of a proper website, the change in management, etc. While Sanctuary isn't the perfect spot for everyone, I think it is a WONDERFUL destination as long as you understand what it is, and what it isn't.
SCC is probably the most beautiful property I have ever seen. The grounds are lush, well manicured, and a joy to look at. The attention to detail is amazing, as it is with all aspects of this property. The buildings look elegant and very Old World but are modern in every way.
The pool areas are very well kept. The primary pool nearest the ocean is gorgeous and basically the focal point of all activities. The swim-up bar is nice and the bartenders are terrific. The staff taking orders from around the pool are also very good.
The pool furniture is excellent and there are plenty of umbrellas, which was an important point for me.
The vast array of housing options is almost mind-boggling. Even the most basic rooms are terrific, with 600 sq ft of stone, tile, modern bathrooms, excellent beds, and ocean views. Many of the suites have private pools, or swim-up pool decks. Some are high up with expansive views of the ocean. The sunrises each morning are world-class. Gorgeous is not a good enough word to describe them.
Every room in the resort faces the ocean with the exception of the swim-out units.
For our stay, there was usually only one dining option for each meal... although you'd have to add the pool-side ordering to that equation. While this sounds bad, the fact it, that's about all you need considering how the resort operates. The food was almost always excellent. Breakfast was usually in the Casa Bella restaurant where you could sit inside or outside under beautiful arbors. The buffet of fruit, pastries, and other breakfast food was outstanding. Fresh squeezed juices included orange, grapefruit, passion fruit, and watermelon. An omelet and waffle station was manned and the cook did a great job. Coffee? World-class.
The steakhouse was good, and the strolling singers were terrific.
The crown jewel of the restaurants, though, is the Blue Marlin restaurant. Thatched roof, open air, built right on the ocean, with eclectic lighting makes for an incredible setting during day, and even more so at night. Again, the food was excellent during out stay.
Do not visit SCC unless you are ready to be treated to possibly the best staff I have ever met at a resort. From the concierge desk to the pool-side staff, each was friendly and worked hard to meet our expectations. Personal thanks go out to Chantal, Robert, Rolando, Wendy, and many others who we got to know and some of who learned our names and greeted us by name when we came in.
There are negatives to SCC. First of all, the beach, which scenic, is not very good for swimming or walking. You can get to Juanillo beach easily, which is better for walking, but still not what you'd think of as a gorgeous beach like that in the Carolina's or Florida. The beach does tend to collect seaweed which is routinely raked up and carted off by staff. In addition, there is a surprising amount of small pieces of glass in the sand, most well worn, dull, and harmless, but it does give one pause. Bottom line, the beach is for looking at, not walking or swimming.
The Casino was not open.
There are a large number of lounges on the beach for those wanting to be away from the pools, and they are very nice, but not shaded.
Wireless Internet is not available in the rooms, but there is excellent ethernet. Do yourself a favor and take along a Zyxel travel router (http://amzn.to/XyGhI1). Plug it in you've got great secure Wifi for your room. Ours worked flawlessly for our entire stay.
Take a flashlight if you plan on walking the grounds at night. The walkways are not brightly lit (beautiful, but not bright). You'll appreciate having a flashlight with you.
Very poor cell signal. Some people could call out, many could not. My wife and I are on Verizon. She has an iPhone 4s and I use a Droid X. Neither of us could call out. Use Skype, instead.
No enclosed Bar. The Love Bar is cool, and there is seating both inside and outside, but there is no AC. Most of the time this is not a problem as the breeze off the ocean is great, but if you should have a hot sticky night with no breeze, you'll have a hot sticky night at the Love Bar.
Mosquitoes. There are mosquitoes on the grounds, but you only tend to deal with them if the breeze is not blowing... and you are near heavily planted areas. Bring bug spray or just move. We actually never resorted to bug spray as it was pretty easy to deal with. When choosing lounges at the pool, choose the side towards the less planted side. This is NOT a deal breaker, at least it wasn't for us.
Very few dining options outside the resort exist. When you visit SCC, you're probably gonna stay on SCC for the duration. You don't have to, you can go to the two restaurants at the Marina, or have a cab take you back towards the airport, but we never felt the need. We enjoyed the setting, the food, the staff, etc. enough that we were happy staying put.
Odds and Ends:
There are plenty of excursions available with transportation leaving SCC if you want to go snorkeling, zip lining, sailing, fishing, etc. No worries there. The concierge desk makes it easy.
If you stick with a Junior Ocean Suite, request an upper floor so you can see the sunrises.
Take the flashlight and travel router.
Take your own sunscreen. Very expensive in the resort shop.
Take something equipped with Skype for calling home.
The white "house" wine is a Spanish Sauvignon Blanc. We thought it was excellent.
The burgers are not very good... everything else is great poolside. Grouper "burger", the ceviche is awesome, as is the Cuban sandwich. Almost all main dishes are great. The gazpacho and flan are surprisingly good.
If you want a truly upscale experience, far different from the hectic buffets and crowds of Bavaro, strongly consider visiting Sanctuary Cap Cana. We loved it.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.