My husband and I visited Sanctuary Cap Cana for a week-long vacation about two weeks ago. Overall, we greatly enjoyed Sanctuary and would recommend it. The superior service, quality food, and beautiful scenery can't be beat for the price.
This was our second trip to Punta Cana, DR. We love it there because the beaches are beautiful and the Dominican people are extremely friendly. It's a relaxing and beautiful place without all the pomp and circumstance of some of the other Caribbean islands; thus, we could fully relax and let our guards down. The island itself is still developing so it's not a place to do a lot of sight seeing. It is a great place if you love the beach and you plan on staying mostly on your resort.
This was our first time at Sanctuary. The Room: We had a slight hiccup on the first day due to our room not matching that of the description (& pictures online). Also, our room was not ready at check-in time, but this was not a problem for us. It's vacation and an all-inclusive place. Hit up the bar and relax until your room is ready if this happens to you. Unfortunately, we couldn't get into the room we believed we booked the first night because the hotel was at capacity. However, the staff gave us a nice upgrade to a private villa. This gesture made up for the mishap, but we were a little disappointed because we wanted an unobstructed ocean view. When we were put in our final room, it was fantastic and we had no other issues from there.
Other Observations on Rooms/Layout: There is an older part of the resort that has been updated it seems, but it is still noticeably older, at least in the parts we saw. Our driver said "Sandals" when we told him we were going to "Sanctuary" so perhaps a Sandals was bought out by the new ownership. That's a negative to me, as I am not a big fan of the cookie-cutter all-inclusives; however, this resort is clearly working hard to distinguish itself. That said, the first room we were in had some upgrades as far as linens, decor, and paint, but the room smelled moldy, the couch was torn, and there were clear signs of wear to the floors, walls, and cabinets.
When we moved to the Villa, it was very spacious and private. In fact, all of the villas we saw had a very private feel to them. They are separate and unattached structures. They have thatch roofs however, and that lent itself to more bugs and lizzards coming in. The villa was air conditioned but the showers were open to the outside yard of the villa by a screen window and although there was a fence outside blocking the view in, I felt overly exposed. The villa we were in also showed signs of wear such as duct tape of the screen in the shower (i'm guessing to keep out bugs) and broken blinds.
The seemingly newer part of the resort is where we ended up, in the "castle." The castle is more like a standard hotel in that the rooms are all encompassed in the same building so you don't get the same privacay as a villa. The views from the castle, however, are amazing. I think all of the rooms look directly onto the water, which is what I wanted. I loved our room, but there were still a few things that could have been updated (i.e. the TV stand, which supposedly turns the TV to be seen in different rooms was sitting on top of the cord and didn't truly swivel so if you weren't careful you'd rip the cord out). There are also rooms in the castle with private plunge pools. If you stay on this side, there is a pool on the 3rd floor that is very private and quiet. There are bathrooms close by and the Ocean Club Bar. When we first arrived in the castle there were not enough chairs by the castle pool, but someone must have requested them because this was remedied by the second day. Also, the workout facility and spa are located in the castle. There is another private beach on the other side of the castle that we didn't discover until near the end of our trip. If you are going without children and are looking for something more refined and quiet, I'd recommend the castle.
The Food: This is the best food we've had at an all-inclusive. In fact, the food is better that a lot of non-inclusive places too. I found that quality to be a huge value added to the price we paid. 24-Hour Room Service - We took advantage of this a couple times. Except for one night when our food didn't come for almost 2 hours, the rest of the time it was delivered timely and was delicious. I would recommend the club sandwich or the chicken quesadillas. In Room Bar/Fridge: We noticed all 3 rooms we were in did not have a fully stocked fridge right away. Instead, it was set up with a couple beers, a couple sodas, and a couple waters. At other resorts, I've noticed the staff usually fully stock the fridges upon arrival. However, I left a note the first night requesting what I wanted (with a $2 tip) and we were well serviced the rest of the week. Blue Marlin: Our favorite for lunch. Ocean views are spectacular. Even if you don't like gezpacho, I highly recommend it. I usually don't like it, but it was amazing and refreshing. Casa Bella: Also, fantastic for lunch. It is buffet style, but done in a stylish, chic way. The plates, silverware, and presentation of dishes, make this better than your average buffet. I loved this place for fresh salads. And if they have kebobs... yum! Capriccio: Our favorite place for dinner. Our favs were the penne ala vodka, red snapper, and veal. The lighting and vibe in here make for a sexy, romantic dinner.
Service: The service is what sets Sanctuary apart. While there were some things that came up during our stay, they were handled to our expectations, and that's what matters to us. We felt the staff took our concerns seriously and handled any issues expeditiously. This is a very busy resort and I understand that things come up; the difference was made by the superior and attentive staff. In particular, Enrique Ventura, the manager on duty, helped us with changing our room and even gave us a very personalized tour of the castle. That personal touch meant a lot to us. Also, Alexander, at the front desk was very attentive during our room change. At the restaurants, it seems the servers rotate restaurants depending on the night, so I'll just note a few of our favorite servers. Francis at the Ocean Bar (in the castle) was exteremely friendly and hardworking. He checked on us numerous times throughout our time at the pool without being intrusive. Junior at the Pool Bar was fantastic. He was even patient enough to let me practice my Spanish with him. Kelvin was at multiple restaurants. He was fantastic, friendly, and entertaining. Lastly, there was a lady bartender at the Love Bar on our final day. Unfortunately, I can't remember her name, but hopefully saying she was there around 2 p.m. on a Friday (March 1st) will get her some credit. She was extremely friendly and attentive. It made having to leave to catch our flight a little less painful.
Golf: Punta Espada is right next door! It is a $2 cab ride from Sanctuary and if you're a golfer, I highly recommend it! It is a little pricy but well worth it. Also, if you can request a caddy, ask for Franciso. He was so much fun! After watching me warm up on the driving range, he knew what clubs I'd need throughout the course (even better than my own instincts). I think his tips took 10 strokes off my game! Also, if you go, please tip the caddies. Those guys leave their families for long periods of time to try and make money at the courses and they work extremely hard for you. I read a review before we went that it's polite to let the caddy hit a drive for you so I'll pass that tip along as well.
Other tips/recommendations: The Airport: There are bag guys at the baggage claim that will fight each other for a chance to take your bags to a taxi or car service. The first time we traveled to the DR, I was put off by this. Now, I realize it's another opportunity to employ Dominican workers. In hindsight, I would just allow them to carry my bags and tip the $2 for it. But if you don't like that, just be direct and unwavering in saying no and taking your own bags. If you have private transportation, they may try to tell you, they don't allow signs with names (as this was how we were "tricked" into letting someone carry our bags the second time), but as soon as you get through the taxi and tour stands, the private drivers are right outside and do have name tags. We used DMC Sunny-C (booked through the Sanctuary Concierge for $45) and we were happy with the service. On the way back, we used a taxi (for $30). This arrangement worked well as we had set transportation at the airport and used a taxi that Sanctuary arranged for the way back to the airport.
On Tipping: I realize it's an all-inclusive, but I think tipping is appropriate. The servers and house keeping are providing a service beyond just the room and food. Along those lines, you DO NOT NEED TO CHANGE DOLLARS into Dominican currency. Instead, they are happy to accept American dollars. Indeed, some of the stores will bargain with you if you have cash dollars. On our previous trip, we were told the DR people like American dollars because it's more stable currency.
On Spanish: Spanish is the main language. It is polite to at least try to speak Spanish with them if you can. Almost all of the workers can speak English, or can find someone who can, but if you can say basic words, at least try; you are in their country after all.
Again, overall, we had a fantastic week. The service, food, and price make Sanctuary a no-brainer.
- Also Known As:
- Sanctuary Cap Cana Hotel Punta Cana
- Sanctuary Cap Cana Hotel
- Sanctuary Cap Cana Resort
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Its inspired design combines the charm of a Spanish colonial village with the laid-back sensuality of the Caribbean and the stylish sophistication of streamlined, modern design accents. Bougainvillea-lined pathways lead guests through the resort grounds to 176 expansive, private suites housed in replicas of a tower, colonial buildings and fortress. Within the resort are 5 exceptional restaurants, 5 bars, an elegant casino, a half-mile private beach with sugar-white sand, and meeting space for up to 500 guests, while just minutes away lie all the world-class recreational appeals of Cap Cana. ... more less
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