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Sanctuary Cap Cana by Playa Hotels & Resorts
Ranked #30 of 112 Hotels in Punta Cana
Reviewed April 8, 2011

My wife and I spent our honeymoon at Secrets Sanctuary from 3/27/11-4/3/11. We were very pleased with our stay!
Check-in: Upon check-in we were greeted with all smiles and cool towels. We arrived at the resort at 2pm and were in our room by 2:20pm (check-in is at 3pm). We were driven to our room and given a great overview of the resort. *A small disappointment was that we were not contacted by our concierge until our 3rd day there. While other staff are helpful and the concierge is only a phone call away, it would have been nice to contacted our first day.
Room: We stayed in swim-out room in the Fortress. As advertised, the room had direct access to a swim-out pool. The swim-out pool is not a slim “channel” of water like most swim-outs. The pool is pretty expansive. PLEASE NOTE, while the room was beautiful, most of the swim-out rooms have a ledge that extends out into the water our room however did not. We had direct access to the pool but in order to lay out in the sun you had to get in the water. Most of the other rooms have the ledge. We tried to get another room but they told us they were filled to capacity. We were a little disappointed but it wasn’t a major issue. *I should note, when we requested a room change, Alexandra was very attentive and responsive to our concerns. She came over personally from the main lobby to meet us and offered us other options that weren’t in the Fortress.
We had fun in the swim-out pool and my wife actually enjoyed laying out on the floaties on the water. Our room was 1047. PLEASE NOTE, the swim-out room is on the side of the resort by the parking lot however you cannot really see it. If you stay in rooms 1045-1042, you’ll actually have a swim-out with a nice view of Juanillo beach in the distance (best of both worlds). Grounds/Décor: The grounds are very well kept. There are beautiful flowers and the grounds are well manicured. This place is absolutely breath-taking. Everywhere you turn is a photo opportunity. There are plenty of picturesque water views. The view from the Blue Marlin restaurant is phenomenal. It really feels like being trapped in a screensaver! The architecture is a Spanish colonial theme and the Fortress is quite a sight. The décor is contemporary and tasteful.
Food: We tried all the restaurants at the resort. I’ve been to other AI’s and I know food is often the Achilles heel for most of them. I thought the food here pretty good for an AI. My best meal was at the Steakhouse. It wasn’t exactly Smith and Wollensky but I wasn’t expecting that. It was a great cut of steak and prepared very well. We found the Italian restaurant underwhelming. (Why all Caribbean resorts insist on having Italian restaurants is beyond me. I’m yet to have had a good one). The breakfast is buffet style. Apparently reviewers have major issues with “limited breakfast options”. I’m confused with all the negative reviews about the buffet. The buffet has an expansive selection from bacon, eggs, and pancakes to fruits and pastries. They also have an omelet and waffle station. Breakfast also has a small menu option if you don’t want the buffet as well as a great breakfast room service menu. I found breakfast to be great. There are plenty of options. They even make fresh shakes “batidas” upon request.
Other than breakfast, I did not enjoy the room service food. Most of it tasted bland and microwaved. I would stick to the restaurants.
Activities/Atmosphere: The only activity we tried was the buggy tour. Its lots of fun but not for the faint of heart. The fitness center was on par with most other resort gyms. They did have a smith machine which was a nice plus if you’re into weight training. The evening entertainment was small scale but fun. This is a small resort (which is what makes it so special) so there is no grand theater or huge productions but they the entertainment team does a great job. There were dancers, singers, and magicians that all put on enjoyable shows. There is music and dancing at the love bar in the evening but don’t expect a nightclub atmosphere. Willy Wonka and Usher get people involved during the day with activities at the main pool. My wife and I stayed mostly at the Fortress pool where it was peaceful and relaxing. Whenever we did venture to the main pool we always met other friendly guests.
This resort is great but what really makes it great is the staff. You will see lots of rave reviews about the entertainment team and managers but the unsung gems are the waiters, hosts, housekeepers, and all the other support staff. Even the grounds and maintenance people will smile and say hello! The staff overall are simply topnotch. We had to put the “Ssshh” sign-up on our door only because staff would knock all day with fresh fruit, fresh flowers, chocolates, etc! Many of the waiters you see for breakfast are the same waiters you see for dinner. They work very hard! Tips are not necessary (and no one will ever gesture for a tip) but a few dollars from you is a huge blessing for them.
There are only 176 rooms at this resort. During our stay the hotel was at capacity but you could not tell by looking at the pools, beach, or restaurants. We never waited for a table and there were always empty places to lounge around.
SSCC was everything I wanted. They gave me the greatest honeymoon I could have ever asked for. We chose wisely. Thank you SSCC.

  • Stayed: April 2011, traveled as a couple
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6  Thank Lucas07
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed April 8, 2011

Overall this is a very good resort and was very similar to resorts in the Cancun Area. The resort is located south of the Punta Cana Airport, not more that 15-20 minutes. The Cap Cana area is secured and seems to be growing. The resorts sits on rocky beach front and is separated by 2 beaches from other resorts. Checkin was easy and most rooms had an ocean view, but request the 2nd level if you want a better view. The resort is very spread out and has the charm of a small village. Overall our room was large but had a small issue with the AC, it would get down right cold in our room. But the bathroom and walk in closet were large. My biggest complaint with the room was it was difficult to watch TV from the bed. Most rooms were an easy walk to the small beach area in the resort or the main set of 3 pools. All of the pools were nice and the resort was constantly cleaning the beach area (mostly seaweed). The restaurants were a little hit and miss, but we enjoyed the Itialian and Steakhouse the most. Most of the time we got good service at the restaurants and bars, but don't expect it to be fast (they are on caribbean time), so relax and enjoy. The entertainment area at Secrets is fairly small and not the best. The adjacent beach Juanillo was huge and great for walks and swimming in the ocean. The water is quite shallow and great for kayaks and paddle boats. There are a couple of small beach clubs, but we just took a few drinks with us from the resort. If you are looking for a resort to relax (very quiet), stretch your legs (beach and walking paths), get some sun (very little rain and clouds), have a few drinks (only had a few top shelf liquors) and a good meal (Not always great) this is a very good resort. I would personally stay there again or recommend it to a friend.

Room Tip: Ask for 2nd story ocean view room (best view)
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  • Stayed: March 2011, traveled as a couple
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Thank dt12201
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 7, 2011

We thought this resort was as beautiful as everyone describes it. It is the perfect resort if you want to go and just lay by the pool for your whole trip. Our room was fabulous! We stayed in a Honeymoon Suite which had it's own pool which we enjoyed so much we never actually went in any of the other pools. The meals were great. Our maid did a wonderful job keeping our room clean and was always very friendly. All the staff was very friendly and eager to please. The guy on the omelet station (Danny, I think) made amazing omelets and always asked how you were doing every morning. When we asked the concierge to set up a fishing trip, we got exactly what we were asking for and had a great time.

There were however a few things that stick out in our minds that we were not happy with.

The first being the Unlimited Vacation Club presentation. It was explained that we would get a tour of the resort and the rooms and in exchange for the 90 minutes of our time would receive a "surprise" gift. We agreed, having been through timeshare presentations before we knew there would be a sales pitch. However when we had all their paperwork completed we were told that the room tour (not the resort tour) was unavailable and we were given a tour of the spa which we had told her we had already seen when we booked our spa appointments. They then proceeded to try and get us to buy in by continually dropping the price for an hour and a half even though we continually told them we weren't interested right now but maybe in the future. In hindsight we never would have done the presentation because we didn't get to see anything and never did receive anything for our time.

Our Romantic Dinner that we purchased. It was described to us that it would be dinner on the beach and turn down service with rose petals and champagne. Our dinner was not on the beach, the meal wasn't great (we had way better meals and more romantic at our other meals we didn't have to pay for) and we didn't get any kind of turn down service. When we expressed our disappointment they did try and fix it by rescheduling the special turn down service and doing a breakfast in bed. We did receive a turn down service though there was nothing special and no champagne and when breakfast showed up 1/2 hour later then what we requested it was a fruit plate and cold toast (though we did get the champagne then with orange juice). We were left pretty disappointed and would not in the future pay for a dinner like this.

We wanted to go shopping where you can deal for your purchases. This is what we told the concierge and the first trip they sent us on was a free travel trip where they take you to a location, you watch them roll a cigar and can smoke one if you wish and then they take you to their gift shop and you are there for 2 HOURS till the shuttle comes back. Truly a waste of time!! When we got back we expressed this to the concierge that we wanted to go to a place where there were stores and you can get great deals and barter for your purchases. She then said they had a mall and yes you could deal. So we paid the $80 US cab ride to go to this mall which turned out to be a bunch of American stores with no deals and even the couple of t-shirt kiosks wouldn't give you any deals. A waste of $80 as we could have just bought the t-shirts we got at the hotel gift shop.

Though our maid service was always EXCEPTIONAL it usually wasn't done till 4:00, we received turn down service only a few times (was it because we forgot to leave the tip, which we did remember to leave the 3rd night but they never came back so they didn't get it). Also the guy who stocked the mini bar was hit and miss whether he showed up (and we did tip him when he showed up) and he had to be asked to replace the coffee. These are small things but something that we think they definitely need to work on.

This is just our opinion of our trip and we think that everyone should try it for themselves as you can see in the reviews experiences vary. Even though we had some issues we still had a great trip and enjoyed our time at the resort. We will definitely be going back to Punta Cana though we will likely try a different resort that is not so isolated to see if location makes a difference.

  • Stayed: April 2011, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank RumseyTravelers
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 6, 2011

We really enjoyed our experience at Secrets Cap Cana! Incredible, friendly staff, luxurious accomodations, impeccable food/restaurants, a diverse selection of outdoor activities, gorgeous rooms, etc. We will be back for absolute positive! Hightly reccomend this resort as its very clean, and the staff is "muy excellente" and really makes you feel at home! Welcome drink upon arrival, views of the gorgeous ocean from our room, wonderful pools, white sands, blue ocean, lots of nearby excursions, candlelight dining for two on the beach, internet access from their Love Bar, music daily and LOVED the Coco Loco cocktail! Great job to all the staff there---must go destination!

Room Tip: We booked a junior suite with an ocean view
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  • Stayed: April 2011, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank LGubler
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 5, 2011

Part of a superb chain known for its fabulous locations and rooms, this resort is vastly overpriced, and need more than a little attention to so many things. First, the good. The conceirge staff, pool staff and restaurant staff try, very hard to make the resort what it should be. They simply cannot overcome the shortcomings of a resort open too soon, understaffed, under occupied and unfinished. We had a swim out suite. It should have been a delight. Multiple days it wasn't cleaned, or turned down. There were NO elevators in the 3 story building. We were told that the shafts we saw in place would someday be finished. In the entire resort there is ONE working elevator. It goes from the Casabella restaurant to the main lobby (1 level). The same staff works each of the evening restaurant in rotation so that there are 3 open of the 5 each night. The staff does not know the menu and several cannot speak english. On two occassions the restaurant ran out of the items ordered and rather than tell the diner, simply made up something to serve on the fly. As for "top shelf" alchoholic beverages, read some brand names. All house provided wine is from Spain. Spain has some great wines, but this isn't what was advertised. All beer (2 varieties) is Dominican. The best meal of the day is breakfast where Carolina waits to great you and the grill is manned by a true omelet genius. The white sand beach at least was white sand, trucked in and dumped. Once off the beach the surf and undertow remove the sand and leave very sharp rocks and uneven footing. The whole beach is less than 5 yards long and bounded by breakwaters that do little but provide habitat for crabs.
The pools are lovely, clear, clean but FREEZING. The bartender is the enterainment at night. No kidding.

Room Tip: Spend the money on their Mexican resorts.
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  • Stayed: March 2011, traveled as a couple
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8  Thank Jumb0Traveler
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
MarcoPena, Manager at Sanctuary Cap Cana by Playa Hotels & Resorts, responded to this reviewResponded April 10, 2011

Dear Guest,

Thank you for taking the time to post your experience on Trip Advisor. Our ultimate goal is to always to meet and exceed our guests’ expectations, so please be assured that we take your comments very seriously.

I have shared your concerns with our Housekeeping staff, Executive Chef,Food & Beverage Manager and Maintenance Manager to discuss your concerns to ensure that they look into this matter and find methods to improve upon. Also, please know that although our main beach is not as large but we do have two additional beaches available for our guest to enjoy, known as Trump Beach and Juanillo Beach.

Once again, please accept our sincerest apologies, I would welcome the opportunity to discuss this matter further, please contact me via email and send me a telephone number.

Sincerely,

Marco Pena
Rooms Division Manager
mapena@secretsresorts.com

Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 5, 2011

We just got back from our week long trip for our honeymoon. We had a great time. The majority of the reviews we read were right on with their reviews. The grounds and views are amazing. Everywhere you looked there was something beautiful.
Overall I would say this is a great resort. This is the first all in clusive we have visited and will probably do again in the future. The drinks were continually flowing, and you had many options to choose from. The food was hit and miss. We liked the room service for breakfast. The Blue Marlin had some really good food, I got a lobster dinner the first night and was impressed, along with the calimari (which was very good). The Wok restaurant was probably our favorite as we ate there twice, once at the grill, and then once outside. The Italian restaurant was probably the worst out of all of them, not that it wasn't edible, but just wasn't up to what I would consider 5 star quality. The same could be said for the Steakhouse. The salad we got at the steakhouse (with jalepnos, chipolte dressing, etc) was excellent. We were disappointed in the quality of the meat. I got a ribeye and it was ok, but my wife got the sirloin and it was really tuff. I guess coming from Texas we know what good beef can really taste like. The dessert wasn't the best either. She got a brownie with ice cream, and it tasted like one of the little Debbie brownies you can buy, definetly wasn't made there.
We were luck to be upgraded to a honeymoon suite with the private pool on top of the castle. Loved the view and the private pool. The room was spacious. Only had two issues with the room. The bed really really squeaked. Not sure if it needs a rug under it or what, but it was kinda bothersome. Also for a king size bed in a honeymoon suite, it would be nice to have a king mattress, and not two twin mattresses put together. The bed slept well though. The only other thing I noticed was that the bathtub need a really good cleaning, had rust spots around the drain. We only used the shower, which was very good.
We only did one excursion, the buggy ride. It was fun riding in the dune buggys. And it was worth it just to see the cave and swimming hole at the end of the trip.
We did use the spa, which was very nice. She had several treatments, and we had the couples massage on the beach which was nice, although a little strange to walk across the resort in nothing but a robe to the beach area.
Our only other issue came at checkout when we went to pay for what we had charged. We were given a 200 resort credit to use toward certain things (wine, meal, spa, etc). We were also supposed to receive a 15% discount on all spa services as a result of our honeymoon package. We didn't receive the 15% discount, and when I brought it up I was told we couldn't use it because we had used the coupons given to us to use at the spa and they couldn't be used together. I went back and forth with them saying we were never told that, and why would you give two different things for the same service but only allow us to use one? They couldn't give me an answer. They kept saying it was on the back of the coupon, but couldn't show me one saying it. I found one of our coupons we hadn't used and showed it to them showing nowhere on it did it state that, but they still refused to give us the discount.
Overall it was a great resort, the service from waiters, bartenders, etc was exceptional. They were always willing to help. The beaches and views were amazing! Would go back if we can get a good deal!

  • Stayed: March 2011, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank TexasQ
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 5, 2011

This property is absolutely gorgeous. The room and view were spectacular and exceeded our expectations. The staff is eager to please and goes out of their way to help. Kari Gomez, the chief concierge, made our stay even more special with unusually attentive, helpful and friendly assistance. If you want to get away, relax, and enjoy a serene Caribbean setting, this is a place to consider. We look forward to our next trip to the "sanctuary."

Room Tip: Stay in the
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  • Stayed: April 2011, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank NeedMoreVacations4Me
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Sanctuary Cap Cana by Playa Hotels & Resorts

Address: Boulevard Zona Hotelera, Playa Juanillo, Punta Cana 0809, Dominican Republic (Formerly Sanctuary Cap Cana by AlSol)
Location: Caribbean > Dominican Republic > La Altagracia Province > Punta Cana
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#13 Romantic Hotel in Punta Cana
#27 Spa Hotel in Punta Cana
#28 On the Beach Hotel in Punta Cana
#29 Luxury Hotel in Punta Cana
Price Range: $315 - $666 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:5 star — Sanctuary Cap Cana by Playa Hotels & Resorts 5*
Number of rooms: 174
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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Also Known As:
Sanctuary Cap Cana Hotel Punta Cana
Sanctuary Cap Cana Resort

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