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Sanctuary Cap Cana by Playa Hotels & Resorts
Ranked #34 of 112 Hotels in Punta Cana
Reviewed April 27, 2011

We booked a week at Secrets Sanctuary after reading all the wonderful reviews on Trip Advisor. it was bliss! The staff, with the exception of the odd confrontational waiter, were extremely courteous and helpful. The food was great, our room fabulous, the grounds were beautiful, clean pools, soft beach towels, lovely location and the week just melted by. Definitely recommended to those seeking relaxation away from the throng.
Now for those planning a trip, here is all the information that I would have appreciated before I arrived....
Room categories: Basic accommodation are the Castle Junior Suites and the Beach View Junior Suites. Hardly basic. The majority of Castle Junior suites look inland and some unfortunately overlook the Japanese restaurant, below which is not my idea of getting away from it all.. We upgraded to an Ocean View Castle Suite at the time of booking which, when we eventually got it, was truly fabulous and blew the 'basic' suite out of the water. For some reason, the hotel tried to fob us off with a Castle Junior Suite that just happened to have a side view of the sea but also was directly located over a plastic corrugated roof where staff were sat talking loudly as we unpacked. I thought the room was dark, cramped with furniture and was a little disappointed that it was not 'Ocean Front'. We had spent 14 hours travelling so one could argue we were too tired to appreciate it all when we were bombarded by the sound of drills, hammering and sawing that seemed to be going on directly outside our room. We phoned to say we did not like the room and were told the hotel was full which we later found to be untrue. When we complained about the noise another room was found and finally we were exactly where we needed to be - enormous open plan suite, great bathroom (the bath was in a bad state so we settled for the wonderful shower) big, walk-in wardrobe and expansive balcony overlooking the ocean, palm trees and a little plot of grass for the guest below. The bathroom toiletries are great and the towels which are often a disappointment abroad, were soft, fluffy and plentiful. There was a turn down service and if you had used any towels they were replaced. Sadly, the 'silk' robes provided were a little bit of grim polyester. Come on Secrets Sanctuary, cotton towelling or waffle or nothing. There is twenty four hour room service but it can take a while so patience is needed. An expresso machine is provided but being British, I like an early morning cup of tea so the absence of a kettle was a big minus. We rang room service each morning to request a thermos jug of hot water and tea bags because it takes so long to bring. Sometimes a teapot with luke warm water would arrive and any extras like fruit or croissants ordered would most likely be forgotten. Normal wait was half and hour but sometimes this was much much longer. Just in case anyone else has a problem with room categories, our first room was 2061 which is where the Castle Junior suites begin. Our new room was 2056 so we worked out you'd be good up to 2060. Incidentally, we met another couple on their honeymoon who had also been 'down graded'. So be warned. The hotel did get in touch with us after the holiday to ask us to leave our comments here but to address any complaints to them first in the hope they could rectify/explain any problems. I did. In full. Still waiting for them to get back to me. That's over three weeks ago.
Rooms aside, the restaurants are fabulous. All wine by the glass is part of the AI but they may be the odd waiter who pushes those on their first night to BUY a bottle. There really is no need. Their house wine is good. My partner said the red was perfectly acceptable and if you like a Sauvignon Blanc, the white will suit. People always have their own favourite eating place and so I won't bore anyone with mine except to say that lunch at the Blue Marlin (open to the sea air, on stilts out in the ocean) was worth it just for the view even if the food was a bit hit and miss. Everywhere else, the service was impeccable and the presentation truly five stars. Last comment on the food, we had a candlelit dinner for two on the beach and though I din't expect great things, it was the best meal of the holiday. Such thought had gone into it and the sound of the ocean lapping close by was really lovely. Highly recommended.
There is a wonderful spa and I went twice but it is expensive, especially by British standards but they may offer you a discount voucher part way in to your week and worth hanging on for. The therapists are very skilled and the ambience is so restful.
Lots of lovely soft towels by the pool and beach, lots of sun loungers (all the best ones are bagged well before breakfast) but sadly a lack of shade. We preferred the cool breeze on the (tiny) beach but ended up clustered under the shade of the few trees. Some parasols down there would be a bonus. It does get awfully hot in the sun.
There are two large pools in the central area that are beautifully clean but half way in to our stay we discovered the Ocean Club in the Castle which was very quiet and had a pool that was hardly used and refreshingly freezing cold. Also they make great cocktails in the bar there.
There is nightly entertainment and music and dancing in the Love Bar every night. We met some really great people there. It's noisy but it doesn't intrude on anyone outside who would just like a quiet night under the stars.
Sorry if I highlighted my grumbles - it is always of worth to someone - but in the balance of things, I really loved this hotel, the people and if I am truly honest, it was one of the best holidays we have ever had.

  • Stayed: March 2011, traveled as a couple
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6  Thank Queenserene
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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3,922 - 3,928 of 4,918 reviews

Reviewed April 26, 2011

Our first room was extremely musty with damp sheets on the bed. Asked to change the room and was told they full to capacity but they did change the room. The coffee stir was used and that area was not cleaned at all. It was gross. Our room was never cleaned before 3pm. Most days we had to wait until 4pm. It was terrible because we were at the pool or beach all day wanted to relax before we went to dinner. Our mini bar was never stocked daily and had to ask 3 times to have it restocked. On the third time of asking, someone was supposed to come that night and no one showed. We had no water available in our room. Breakfast was terrible. The casino was closed and we were not informed of that prior to our arrival. We chose this resort for the amenities that were not provided i.e. casino, 24 hour concerige service, no mini bar refilled. Most of the hotel staff was not friendly, no greetings with smiles. My husband and I travel alot to the caribbean and will never return again. We paid a lot of money for this trip and we feel it was a waste.

Room Tip: choose another resort
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  • Stayed: March 2011, traveled as a couple
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10  Thank NewYork1153
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 25, 2011

I absolutely loved this hotel. It's clean. The food was delicious. The service is wonderful. We fell in love with all the workers. They will make anything happen for you and are always smiling!! Willie Wonka and Usher, you're the best!!

Room Tip: Express it and/or ask for an upgrade
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  • Stayed: April 2011, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank farino3406
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 24, 2011

It's taken a while to write because I want to be fair and think it through. As always backgound is important. We travel to Mexico and the Caribbean often and stay at 5 star resorts. This is not a five star resort. It is good in many ways but the other Secrets in Mexico are much better.I will make the review brief. The food is average. Blue Marlin and the Steakhouse were better. The lunch and breakfast buffets were just average, not much variety. Service can range to superior to poor so spotty is the word. Celestino and Miami and Willy Wonka were the best. I wish people would not tip the bar staff in advance to get preferred service but that is what happens so you can be ignored at the pool bar. The places we have traveled to mangement absoutelry fobids it.. Not a big deal. The resort is beautiful, Our room was good. Housekeeping is not great. There are some parts of the resort that have not been painted. Very odd. Concierge were not as helpful as they could be. They are trying to get the staff to learn more English so don't be surprised if the staff does not understand you.

  • Stayed: March 2011, traveled as a couple
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5  Thank Erv L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 24, 2011

Start of Trip Advisor - holes for you to start filling

We stayed at Secrets Sanctuary Cap Cana from April 12th through the 18th. We have traveled to many of the Caribbean Islands and stayed at a number of different All Inclusive Resorts. Secrets Sanctuary is the most beautiful of all of these resorts. Here is a quick review of our trip.

Reservations: There is a wide variety of room choices at the resort. After booking the room (directly through the Secret’s Website) I wanted to make sure that I had made the right choice. I emailed Marco Pena and after a series of informative emails we changed our room to one that he felt better suited for what we were looking for in a vacation. The room was perfect. Provided privacy and a beautiful view of the water.

Check In: Check in was done in a matter of minutes. We were quickly loaded into a golf cart and taken to our room. The service at the front desk was professional and personable. We were greeted with cool towels, a refreshing drink and plenty of smiles. The Bellmen were very helpful and courteous.

Room: We were in the Honeymoon Junior Suite with Private Plunge Pool. The room was large and very well decorated. There was a private patio that included lounge chairs and excellent views. The bathroom was huge with a wonderful shower, separate bath and separate toilet area. We always had great water pressure and plenty of hot water. The room was kept exceptionally clean and it was always done by the time we returned from the beach.

Beach and Grounds: From our room is was a very short walk to the public beach (Juanillo) and about a 2 minute walk to the private beach in the resort. We did not mind the walk because the grounds were so beautiful. We found ourselves stopping constantly to look at the different bushes, trees and flowers. The Secret’s beach was small but not crowded at all. There were always plenty of chairs and at times the beach was almost deserted (early morning). There is some coral and the gentle waves kick up the fine pink/white sand but the water is crystal clear and beautiful. Juanillo beach is expansive and one of the most beautiful you will find anywhere in the Caribbean. It is almost deserted and you can walk almost a mile before coming onto the next property.

Pools: The Pools were great. Water was a perfect temperature for cooling off. It was clean and well maintained. The main pool bar was excellent and always well staffed. There are four pools and each one of them is as nice as the next. We were taken care of very well by the pol and beach staff. There was always someone close by asking if we needed anything.

Food: Excellent with a wide variety of choices. We ate primarily at the Blue Marlin and the Steak House for dinner and the Casa Bella for breakfast and occasionally for lunch. Several times we had lunch provided directly to our lounge chairs on the beach. The food chice were plentiful and delicious. The presentation of the food was great and we just don't see how anyone could complain about the food or food service.

Activities: We took a 3 hour Beach Buggies tour that we set up through the concierge. It was a great trip. An adventure that had us riding on part of Juanillo beach and ending at a cave on the side of a mountain with crystal clear water.

Staff: I saved the best for last. I can honestly say that the staff was the best we have encountered at a resort (and we try to take a vacation like this at least twice a year). Every encounter we had with the staff was friendly, professional and helpful. Yes, there is the occasional language barrier, but that should be expected as we are guest in their country. We did tip the staff but we noticed that the staff was just as friendly and attentive to the people who did not tip as they were to the ones who did. Here are a few of the people that we looked forward to seeing every day. Willie Wonka, Kayla and Usher. These are three of the Beach/Pool area activities personnel. We took 30 minute Spanish lessons on the beach every day, played bocce ball, horse shoes, aerobics and other pool games. You can tell that these three love their jobs and love to entertain. They worked the beach and pool during the day and hosted the entertainment activities at night. Oscar at the beach. Oscar greeted us each day when we arrived at the beach. He spoke very little English but he knew what we wanted when we asked and he helped us each morning set up for the day (brought us towels, arranged chairs and checked on us from time to time). Our hostess at the restaurants seemed to be Vonyaon most days. She greeted us with a smile each day made you feel welcomed. All of the waiters were very attentive and worked hard to ensure we were pleased with our food and service. There are too many to name and we do not want to leave anyone out, but it is safe to say that they were all great. ADD CONSIERGE and others. The people working here make a great resort EXCELLENTE.

We will return to this resort in the future and will bring our three adut daughters. There was a great mix of people - lots of young honeymooners, 30-50 year olds (lke us) and some older adults.

Thanks again to the great staff at Secrets Sanctuary Cap Cana for an Excellente getaway!
Mark & Mary

Room Tip: Cont. the resort a week ahead if you have concerns
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  • Stayed: April 2011, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank mandmwill
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 23, 2011

I cannot understand how anyone could have a negative review of the Secrets Cap Cana resort. The resort is beautiful and the staff could not have been nicer. Marco was an excellent host and Perla, our personal concierge was wonderful. The staff at the pool/beach and restaurants were always very friendly and accommodating to all our needs. While the beach is not as long as perhaps other resorts, it was always kept very clean and free of the seaweed that washes ashore. The pool area was also kept clean and the pool waiters were always ready to ensure your rum drink was never empty! The food was average but that is to be expected with an all-inclusive resort. The golf at Punta Espada is World Class and not to be missed and is one of the most beautiful and challenging courses I have played. I will definitely add Secrets to my list of resorts to visit again.

  • Stayed: April 2011, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank LADIII
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 22, 2011

My husband and I made the trip to Cap Cana following our April 9th wedding. We stayed from April 11th - 18th. From the moment we arrived we were greeted by smiling faces and the most pleasant staff members. When we checked into our room it was beautiful however not exactly what we had in mind, Kary the head concierge immediately found us a villa that was available and beach front! It was perfect. She came to our old room and picked us up and took us to our new room so quickly!

During our seven nights - we never came across a staff member that was not smiling, they are always "excellente". The resort is beautiful however it is the people that work there that make it truly wonderful. The food was great to us - we have never been to an all inclusive resort so we have nothing to compare it to but we thought everything was great! Our favorite spots were Wok for dinner - the sushi is to die for and the hibachi is delicous as well.

Some people that we would like to recognize would be Jesus - working at the various restaurants at night and poolside durning the day, Kayla and Willy Wonka with entertainment. Cesearn - he took care of us at dinner almost every night and was so attentive to all our needs!!! Kary - head concierge is an amazing women who loves her job and it shows! These people all deserve a raise. We love them like family and hope to see them all again in the future.

It was truly a trip to remember.

Love,

The "PEACES"!!! (Stephanie and Eric)

  • Stayed: April 2011, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank spease9
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:
#4 Family Hotel in Punta Cana
#13 Romantic Hotel in Punta Cana
#30 Spa Hotel in Punta Cana
#31 On the Beach Hotel in Punta Cana
#32 Luxury Hotel in Punta Cana
Price Range: $271 - $713 (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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