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“Sanctuary is in safe hands now!!!”

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Sanctuary Cap Cana by AlSol
Ranked #38 of 112 Hotels in Punta Cana
Reviewed October 25, 2011

Whilst on a recent 21 night trip to Punta Cana we spent 12 nights at Sanctuary Cap Cana between 6th – 18th October after an initial 9 nights at Excellence Punta Cana and Zoetry Agua

This was our 28th trip to the Caribbean and our 10th trip to Dominican Republic. We have stayed in the North of the island twice and this was our 8th trip to the South so we like to think that we have a fairly good well calibrated holiday measuring stick

This was our second trip to Sanctuary as last year when we were on the island we spent 5 nights here when it was managed by AMResorts under the Secrets banner and we liked it so much we decided to come back for a much longer trip in 2011

I start by saying that we were a little apprehensive when we heard the news that AMResorts had lost the contract to manage the resort but after doing our research on Salamander and being reassured that all existing booking were being fully honoured we could see no reason why we should cancel. After all it was our fond memories from last year based on the wonderful staff and the property itself rather than the “name above the door” which lead us to rebook

Our only real regret and sadness was that Marco was no longer at the property but we did know this would be the case before we arrived

Our transfer from Zoetry took around an hour and was hindered slightly by a rain storm which luckily abated by the time we arrived at Cap Cana and Sanctuary itself. On our arrival after being taken to the main desk Kary came to greet us and take us to our Villa which we were pleasantly surprised to find was the wonderful Royalty Suite we stayed in last year so it did feel like we were back home

We never expect such upgrades and are always so humbled by the resorts generosity to us. As I have said many times before such sizeable upgrades do not influence what I write or comment upon as my integrity over the years on TripAdvisor has been built on my being honest and unbiased and resorts know and appreciate this

It was wonderful to chat to Kary about all the changes and to be reassured that many of the wonderful staff we had met last year whom we had become so fond of were still here at the resort. One great surprise was that when the bellhop was bringing our luggage, Pascal the Executive Chef whom we had kept in contact with, dropped by to say hello and welcome us home. It was also wonderful to meet the beautiful Jarlene again who looked after us so well last year and has now deservedly been promoted to Concierge Supervisor

After checking out the room we did spot a few things that needed attention and all of those were fixed or taken care of within the first 24 hours. As with last year you need to remember to let the hot water run for about 5 minutes to get hot water as amazingly it comes from a central boiler which sits under the main building

After unpacking and having our lunch in the Blue Marlin we had a walk around the resort and grounds. The thing that did strike us was that the resort had “aged” quite a lot since we were here last November. Lots of chipped paintwork here and there, dirty pathways and the gardens did not look anywhere as good as last year – big lack of blossom on some of the shrubs, many weeds and dead plants

We were lucky enough to meet many of the “key” Salamander team on our first day at the resort and have a chat to them about the changes and what they had planned for the resort – they are all very experienced people with an in depth knowledge of upmarket, 4/5 diamond resorts. They were very keen to hear of any changes we had noticed since our last trip and to get additional feedback during our trip. It was very reassuring to hear that they too had noticed the lack of maintenance and that a programme had already been put in place to address this on 1st October

The weed [Sargassum] on the beaches which many people had reported on was pretty bad but this is out of the control of the resort to a certain extent. During the first few days of our stay the weed coming ashore was relentless and even though the beach cleaner picked it up every day and took it away in trucks it was back the next day. I am pleased to say that by the end of our trip it was getting less and less each day. The weed problem is not unique to Sanctuary but rather the whole Caribbean has suffered from its worst year for a very long time and scientists are very puzzled by it

It was such a shame to see Trump Beach [to the right of the property as you look at the ocean] as we nicknamed it last year in such a dishevelled state in total contrast to how we saw it in November 2010. Juanillo Beach [Fortress side] was not much better and again nothing like last year but unlike Trump Beach the owners of establishment on the beach or Cap Cana Marina did clean it every day and it did improve toward the back end of our trip

I must say that over the 12 nights we were on the property as I reported in my “Live From” thread you could see things changing for the better each day and by the time we left the property and gardens were much improved. All in all I think it is totally amazing what Hendrick and his team have achieved in such a short period of time – they are so focused and dedicated to the task in hand both for the benefit of their guests and staff alike

After settling in and getting a few days under our belt we were so glad that we had not jumped ship as if we disregard the maintenance of the property everything was just as good – if not better. Pascal was worked wonders on the menus and the food was even better than last year and was another notch up on Zoetry as you will see from the photos. The staff are outrageously good – so well dressed and well-mannered and everyone we spoke to said how impressed they were with them. Even the “key” Salamander team said how lucky they were to have inherited such a great team whom they are empowering and looking to develop further

For breakfast you have the option of Room Service or dining at the Casa Bella which is open from 6.30 – 11.00. At the Casa Bella you have the choice of eating inside with AC or outside on the various terraces. The food on offer is a well thought out buffet [hot & cold] which does change slightly on a daily basis. You also have the option of cooked to order or a full a la carte menu

For lunch again you have the option of Room Service or

Casa Bella [12.00 – 16.00] – Buffet which changes daily and can have a theme such as Asian, Italian, Dominican, etc
Freshco Bar [11.00 – 17.00] – Poolside/Beach Food and Snacks
Blue Marlin [12.15 – 16.00] – a la carte

In the evening again you have the option of room service or dining in one of the restaurants which are open

Blue Marlin = 18.30 – 22.30
WOK = 18.00 – 22.30
Steak House = 18.30 – 23.00
Capriccio = 18.30 – 23.00

During our 12 night stay we sometimes had the choice of three or occasionally only two restaurants either due to occupancy levels or because some larger groups who were staying at the resort had arranged group dining

Of all our meals we only had one that went sadly pear shaped [Steak House] and they were very apologetic for that and one in the Capriccio where the service and the food just lacked something. I have never tasted food that has so much flavour packed into it and it not only tasted good but as you will see from the photos looked good as well. It is no surprise at all to me anyway that Salamander have kept Pascal on as their Executive Chef and have in fact broadened his remit to look after the Fishing Lodge as well. It was a pleasure to meet and talk with Ethras, his extremely accomplished and experienced Sous Chef, on several occasions – a great young lady who will go far

They were AC issues on a couple of nights in some restaurants and some power outages. Only major disappointment with regards to F&B was that at the outset of our stay they only had on offer one red and one white wine – full stop. We have never stayed at a resort in PC before that had such a poor wine offering. I did mention this to the F&B Director who said he would look into it and certainly by the back end of our trip we did see a couple of alternative wines on offer

The rest of the drinks on offer were what you would expect from an upmarket resort

On the entertainment front it was great to meet up with Bambino and the team again although you have to do a double take every time a golf cart whizzes by with a cheeky chap smiling out at you as only Miami can - he is a big loss to the Entertainment Team but a great asset for the bellhops /concierge team

I will say that Bambino has matured into his newly expanded role as he too will oversee the activities at the Fishing Lodge in his role as Entertainment Director. Great team and I must say we were very impressed by the majority of the shows – yes it is not as grand as some of the larger resorts but the style is much more in keeping with a boutique resort

The Shows start at 21.45 and during our stay the schedule was:

Monday = Sanctuary Got Talent – Karaoke Night
Tuesday = Show Tender on Fire
Wednesday – Dominican Tropical Show
Thursday = Black & White Magic Show
Friday = Boogie Dancing Show
Saturday = Across Dancing Show – a kind of 70’s & 80’s Show
Sunday = Chris Blizzard Show

After the show and up until midnight they have an After Show Party in the Love Bar. The shows themselves are either held in the Love Bar or on the main terrace outside the main building dependent of the show and the weather

During the day they have the normal range of poolside/beach activities with pool aerobics, volley ball, etc but it has all been toned down a little bit based on last year. It will all need to change once more when the resort reverts back to being a family resort

As I said in my “Live From” thread I personally think the new changes make sense. Salamander will be managing all three properties - Sanctuary, the Fishing Lodge and the Ocean Club when it is completed. They will run it as one large resort with three self-contained units as they are all a short ride away from each other. The same high level management team will oversee all three properties.

As of 31st October Salamander will reintroduce the EP and open Sanctuary to non-residents. Guests will be able to upgrade to an AI package if they wish to – all existing bookings will also be honoured so there are no worries there. Salamander are also going to introduce a multi-layered AI package which will include other items such as golf, fishing, etc

Guests staying at the Fishing Lodge will be able to dine at Sanctuary and vice versa and as I said earlier non-residents will also be able to dine at the various restaurants. All in all this should be a good thing as it means the restaurants will have more through put of clientele which will mean they can offer an even more varied offering. They will have shuttles and water taxis running between the three properties

Todd Gray of the renowned Equinox Restaurant in Washington DC is acting as a food consultant to Salamander and has been for a number of months working with Pascal on menus, etc which shows they are very serious about where they wish to position these properties

All guests will have the same menus and beverages available to them – the only major change will be that the items will be priced

As of 12th December the property will revert back to being a family resort but this time with a AO section – the Fortress - which is ideal as it has its own pool, huge bar area and there is also a two storey restaurant which is not used at the moment so IMHO it would make sense for this to be opened as an AO restaurant, so it will be interesting to see what happens. The more I walk around and look at the Fortress the more I can see its potential as it is just like a standalone boutique hotel

Sanctuary with all its different villa types is ideal for families and some of the larger ones with their own pools and/or gardens are like self-contained units. Generational travel is one of the fastest growing sectors of the holiday market just now so resorts such as this are well suited to take advantage of that trade. Sanctuary is also a wonderful wedding location and again being a family resort should enable Salamander to expand further into that lucrative market

The only issues we came across were as reported earlier the AC being off in the Steak House and the Capriccio on a couple of evenings which was no hardship to us and some power outage. The AC and power was also off in the gym and the spa for a couple of days but all these issues were resolved by the end of our trip – again I think it comes back to a lack of maintenance prior to Salamander taking over

All in all we had a wonderful 12 nights at Sanctuary Cap Cana and we are already exploring returning next year for another 21 night multi-resort trip where both Sanctuary and the Fishing Lodge will feature. My only regret is that Flipette was not 100% for the duration of our stay at Sanctuary as the poor AC at Zoetry set off a respiratory infection she is prone to – thanks again to Pascal for so kindly providing her with some special tea each day which did ease things a little. A very big THANK YOU to all the other members of the team that looked after us and made sure we had a great trip – you are a very special team of people

On the flipflop_man 360 holiday scoring matrix which measures 14 different parameters which are important to us Sanctuary Cap Cana scored an impressive 316 but is 11 down on last year. The lower scoring is a direct reflection on the resort not looking as good as last year and the beach area. I am absolutely confident that before we return next year Salamander will have taken care of these issues that they inherited

Should you be interested in seeing some photos please click on the link below:

http://travel.webshots.com/slideshow/581617299TgrOEi

Best viewed in slideshow mode

For photos and videos of other trips we have made feel free to check out

http://community.webshots.com/user/flipflop_man

Please note that any time you enter the happy world of flipflop_man’s magic moments and memories it is always wise to have a drink in hand as there are always a lot of them to see – we are very lucky people.

As always I am happy to answer any questions

  • Stayed: October 2011, traveled as a couple
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22  Thank flipflop_man
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed October 25, 2011

I will start this review by saying my trip to Punta Cana was not the average trip...as a matter of fact we should still be there now. My wife had to go to the hospital in Punta Cana and as a result we left Sunday afternoon once she was stable and we were able to get a flight. Her emergency had absolutely nothing to do with the resort...they actually helped make things better. So here we go:
Resort - The rooms were very nice constructed of mostly stone. We had a Jr. Ocean Villa. The shower had good pressure and hot water was always available. The room did not have a hair dryer when we arrived but one call and it was there in 5 minutes. Not a single bug while we were there. Mosquitos were out right around dusk but they go away once the sun was all the way down. No problem with them in the room or resteraunts. We even sat outside at the Blue Marlin one night for dinner and it was great! We spent most of out time at the main pool where the staff was friendly and helpful. Plenty of great activities with the staff to keep you busy. The beach was small but had plenty of chairs and was a great place to read a book and relax. San Juanillo beach was near by (walking distance) and is much bigger, great for kayaking or snarkeling as well.
Food - The food was good. The Konch Chowder and Calamari at Blue Marlin were delicious. There Hibachi resteraunt was also top notch. Room service was always prompt when delivering food. For less adventurous eaters (like my wife) they have good hamburgers, club sandwich, & chicken wings which all come with Fries. Only thing I wished I had there was some Tony Chachere's or other seasoning but most food had very good flavor.
Customer Service - This is where the resort excelled. As I mentioned we had a medical emergency while we were there. The resort Doctor, Dr. Olivo, was very nice and came up as soon as I called. We got an ambulance to the hospital (a little scary) which had good EMT who was very attentive. The resort also sent one of the girls from the concierge, Angie, with us in case we needed anything. She helped to translate everything and make sure we weren't taken advantage of while at the hospital. She was also able to stay with my wife to keep her company when I had to step out from time to time to call our Dr. back home. After the hospital when we returned to the resort, the room was totally cleaned up and the staff actually put roses on the bed for my wife to help her feel better. After the hospital trip it seemed like the entire staff knew who we were. The man who brought up room service the next morning even asked how my wife was doing. To wrap up I would say this resort took a tragic event and made it MUCH, MUCH BETTER just by taking care of us through a life changing event. I look forward to returning to this resort to finish our trip and see our new friends again.
The staff there is very friendly and will do their best to accomodate any requests you have. If your expectations are reasonable, you should find everything you want at this great hideaway.

Room Tip: We stayed in the Jr. Ocean Villas which were very nice. Ocean view and a nice balcony to sit out an...
  • Stayed: October 2011, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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4  Thank garner h
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 23, 2011

We traveled for our honeymoon in October 2011. After hearing about the transition to Salamander, we flip flopped on the decision to stay or move to Secrets Zoetry. The 1hr long cab ride to Zoetry did influence that decision but ultimately and thankfully we decided to remain at Sanctuary.

We couldn't have been happier! The property was absolutely breathtaking! After a very quick and personalized 15 minute ride from the airport, it seem we breezed through check in and we were on the beach drinks in hand within 30 minutes.

We stayed 4 nights in a Junior Suite villa and 3 nights over in the Castle in a Junior Suite. There were a few glitches here and there (power went out a few times and AC didn't work in the gym or spa for a couple days) but had absolutely NO PROBLEMS WITH BUGS or MOSQUITOES, NONE! They sprayed for bugs and mosquitoes, which helped and also the time of year helped. There is some seaweed on the beach but it's really not a big deal. Some people just couldn't handle it. There are several pools throughout the property and almost a private like pool up in the Castle with amazing views and the Ocean bar is right there as well. We chose to hang out on the beach most of the week because the chairs were very comfortable and most of the people at the resort hang out at the pool (never understood why you go to a beach resort and hang out at the pool). The beach is really relaxing and the covered beds on the beach are awesome. Also, the service on the beach is good. There is a bigger beach next door, Juanillo Beach but it's not associated with Sanctuary so you may encounter bugs over there. It's a nice beach to go for a walk or run on in the mornings. Also, they have kayaks and paddle boats over there you can use if you just tell them you're with Sanctuary.

If you tip a couple bucks to your service people after receiving drinks or after a meal, they truly do appreciate the gesture. I brought a couple hundred bucks in singles to tip servers, bartenders, bellman, and maids.

The restaurants were pretty good, appetizers at all the restaurants proved to be the best. Entrees were good, the steakhouse was definitely our favorite. The drinks at Love bar and Ocean Bar are excellent and the service is amazing. If you speak Spanish as I do, that helps with communication with some of the service people otherwise their English is quite good. Definitely try the Passion Fruit and the Passion fruit juice as it's something we don't have a lot of access to in the states and both were really good and refreshing. Also, for those drinkers the "Mamajuana" is a must. It's a Dominican alcoholic drink in a shot consisting of red wine, rum, amaretto, honey, cinnamon, and sugar. It's all prepared in a large bottle with wood soaked chips inside. It can taste a lot like Sangria or a little stronger shot depending whomever prepared the concoction. It was pretty stiff but good.

As far as excursions go, we chose to golf at Punta Espada, a short 5 min ride from the resort. It's a Jack Nicklaus designed course (he has a house on hole #12) and they give you a caddy during your round. If you play after 2pm, it's a $100 and it's worth every penny. Most of the course is right on top of the ocean and the views were truly awesome and priceless. The homes on the course were unreal! We took hundreds of pictures and the golf course was in amazing shape. We will definitely be back to play here. TIP: If you have the Delta Skymiles Gold Amex you can check your golf bag and an additional bag for FREE. We had 3 total checked bags and all were FREE. The $50 annual fee makes this feature well worth it especially since we travel several times a year.

Also, we chose to go Deep Sea Fishing and set that up through Daniel of Apple Vacations inside the hotel lobby. It was $120 a person for 5 hours and $20 for the cab ride to Bavaro where the boats were. The cab ride was about 25-30min over to Bavaro and when you venture off the property you realize you're in a 3rd world country and this might prove difficult for some to see the poverty and a man holding a machine gun on the beach. It's for our security so it wasn't a big deal to me. The beaches in Bavaro were gorgeous and there's scuba diving and a lot of other excursions over here. After a short ride off the beach, we trolled for Dorado or "mahi mahi" as they are called here in the US. The DR is well known for their offshore fishing and big game fishing so after a few hours of trolling and catching half a dozen mid sized Dorado, we headed out to deeper waters and within 40min, we had a major hit on one of the lines. I looked off the port side of the boat and saw the biggest fish I've ever seen. It was a beautiful BLUE MARLIN and after about 35 minutes, we managed to bring it to the boat. It was every bit of 200lbs and although we were thrilled with the catch, my wife and I were saddened to see them bring it into the boat rather than let it live to fight another day. However, these fishermen live and die for their catch and these are fish we catch and release here in the states. It was an amazing day of fishing for the most part as this was our first Blue Marlin. I can now say I've caught about every type of fish in the Ocean.

I hear the Dune Buggy excursion is pretty awesome as well but we chose to do a lot more relaxing back at the beach. If you are looking for a wild party resort, Sanctuary is probably not for you. The Sanctuary is truly a Sanctuary for those looking for relaxation, good service, and amazing beauty.

Room Tip: We stayed seven nights, 4 in the Junior Suite Ocean view then asked to be switched over to the Castl...
  • Stayed: October 2011, traveled as a couple
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5  Thank rdklomp
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 21, 2011

We had this trip booked for almost a year and were a little hesitant about the transitional phase, but we were pleasantly surprised and wouldn't have even known Salamander was the new owner. The property was just beautiful, and the service even more incredible! We couldn't understand how so many people knew the employees by name- and at one point saw that this property was accused of making false reviews. After our stay, we absolutely know these were not fabricated reviews-- the staff is just wonderful! You come to know them on a first name basis, and the property is quaint enough that they will know your names as well--- you are right at home here with every need taken care of in luxurious style! We stayed in the junior castle swim out suites for the first evening, then moved to the fortress ocean front rooms for the remainder of the stay-- both rooms are lovely~ the only downfall to the swim-out was there was not a view of the ocean where we were. All pools were heavenly and gorgeous! There is something for everyone. Ate at all restaurants and never had a bad experience. Room service was excellent- and some of the best food we had there. We loved the drinks- Frances makes THE best coffee concoction ever! The beds were very comfy as well as the pillows. Yes, the beach was disappointing, however the views were still postcard perfect! Sometimes you just can't do anything about mother nature! We would come back in a second! Thank you Grand Resorts!!

Room Tip: Castle swim-outs are excellent, but no ocean view-- Fortress ocean-front rooms are just a tad larger...
  • Stayed: October 2011, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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2  Thank jujuscorner
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 20, 2011

We booked this hotel a few months ago when it was managed by Secrets but 2 weeks before our arrival it change to be part of Salamander resorts so it's a transition period but for the most part seems to be going smoothly.
Pros:
-Beautiful grounds inspired by Colonial America with buildings with balconies and even a fortress. Full of little details. Multiple pools and lots of loungers. The resort is gorgeous every way you look.
-Good sized rooms with ocean views. Designer toiletries (bvlgari).
-Very delicious food mainly at a la carte restaurants (night). The Blue Marlin is a must!!! We also enjoy the steak house and the capriccio. They need more variety at the breakfast/lunch buffet but the food is still good. We didn't eat at the Wok.
-Room service is top notch. Fast. Hot food perfectly served. Smiling and nice people who take and bring your order.
-Great service mainly at the Blue Marlin restaurant (Carlos) and Love bar (Tomas)
Cons:
-We booked a few months ago when the resort was manage by Secrets and were supposed to have a King sized bed Ocean view room either main building or fortress. We were assigned a room in the main building with lovely views but it had 2 single beds... at that point no more rooms available for the same price so the beds were pulled together... not such a great way to sleep but we manage. I believe an upgrade should have been offer since it was not our fault and we booked this trip with advance.
-Very small beach with lots of seaweed and rocks. I don't really understand building such a massive and beautiful resort in a tiny/ugly beach.
-Horrible drinks at the pool bar and only one kind of white wine offer in the all inclusive package. Almost all the drinks were luke warm to somewhat cold. We used the Love bar which was better. This needs to improve ASAP (I think it was our biggest disappointment).
-All the restaurants/bar AC were either not working or turn off so it was really warm inside even at night with the caribbean breeze.
-Guests can only use the spa pool/jacuzzi/sauna if they either pay for a "day pass" or book a treatment. This is the 1st all inclusive resort that I have encounter and we travel to Mexico/Caribbean 5-6 times a year. This also needs to change is someway.

  • Stayed: October 2011, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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2  Thank JuliMS
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 20, 2011

This review should be helpful to almost all travelers. I have been to many places in the Carribean, however this was my wife and I's first trip to the Dominican Republic. I must say that at first we were very skeptical of the "Secrets" brand dropping from the resort and changing to "Salamander" or "Sanctuary" and wondered if we were going to be treated differently or if they would honor the all inclusive package we booked. From what we found out is that the resort will be separating from adults only, to making a portion of it a family resort later on in the year. Anyway, we arrived mid afternoon and the airport was a little strange as it was hut like everywhere. The locals were eager to help us with our bags, for a tip of course. Regardless we found our transportation kiosk and had a private shuttle to the resort, which was very close, and as we pulled up, it looked amazing. The weather was gorgeous and as we checked in, the staff said "Welcome Home" and we were greeted with a cool towel and a few minutes later a smoothie in a champagne flute. We were then taken in a golf cart to our room. We had the low end room or the Junior Oceanfront Suite. It was a great size and we were very pleased with the value, only suggestion would be to have the AC on and pumping upon arrival. We immediately changed and went down to the main pool. There was hardly anyone there, but we didn’t care as it was our honeymoon and were there just to enjoy each other's company and have a relaxing vacation. The pool staff, Bernardo and Carlos, made it a point to get to know your names, and really wanted you to remember them. For all inclusive, they had most liquors, nothing too fancy, but the basics, but only the local beer, which was not an issue as we filled up on coconut cream and tropical based spiked smoothies throughout our stay. We highly recommend the Fresca, Chi Chi, and Blue Sky. We had a few drinks at the pool bar and then ordered some food there, ceviche and sushi. We were pleased of how fast and how much care they took in making sure it looked and tasted fresh. Ok, so now to the heart of the stay. There are a few different restaurants, from casual and formal and they give you a choice of two per night for dinner to go to. There is a steakhouse, Italian, Seafood, and a Hibachi Wok. The other is the pool bar, or you can do room service. The steakhouse is by far the best. We drank wine to our hearts desire and ordered appetizers. Their soups were excellent. Now don’t compare the food to a five star place in the US as you just can't, but we were very impressed with the quality, temperature, taste, and presentation of the food. You will find yourself ordering more appetizers as you go on in the week as they are not oversized portions. What makes the restaurants is the service. The staff you will see throughout the week, day and night, working so hard to please you, refilling drinks just as you finished and by far were more polite than half the people in the U.S. If they really weren't that way, then they were great actors. The hibachi grill was a nice experience but they don't do any tricks with the food, but was still a nice experience. For breakfast, it is one place and it's menu or buffet, it does get a little tiresome over and over, but it's breakfast and the made to order omellettes and waffle stations are the way to go. For lunch you can do the "Seafood" place which I really enjoyed or the pool bar or you can go back to the breakfast restaurant "Casa Bella" for a buffet. There is the main pool and then a side pool with a waterfall that we hung out at most of the time. The staff also walks around asking if you're ready to drink and is fairly attentive with the rounds, and as they get to know you they come by more, (we did tip, a lot) because they were really working hard and genuinely seemed nice to us. A few of the days we even had the side pool to ourselves. Get a float early as they are scarce! As you might be thinking what about the beach? Well, there is a beach area and the water is crystal blue, but the beach and water is not like Cancun beach and water. I felt bad as some of the seaweed washes ashore and makes it hard to walk into, but it's not that big, but there are tons of nice lounge chairs to lay out there. But, as it is all inclusive, we spent the rest of the trip lounging by the pool, floating around, sipping on tropical and mixed drinks and eating every meal until we were stuffed. They even have a guy doing pool aerobic lessons with some club music in the background. As far as entertainment, they had a few different things at the "Love Bar" inside and out, was a cool piano lounge with a nice atmosphere, they had some tribal night dance show, a magic show, and just piano music during the course of the stay. Also another cool thing which you can not appreciate until you're there is they always put out little bowls of flavored peanuts as you are having a few drinks at the bars. As for amenities, I did not golf, but we did do a spa day, and got a couples massage. They had a power outage, which would be my only concern as the power flickered out at random times during the stay, but the massage was great and treated us like gold and had a private little hut where we got our massages. People seemed to be raving about the spa while we were in there. We did one excursion "Snubadiving" which was snorkeling, speedboat riding, and assisted scuba diving, it was amazing. This was in Punta Cana, so the trip was long but we got to see other resorts picking up various guests from there and we were happy to see how superior the Sanctuary was. As for the resort itself, there is a fortress which had another bar, breathtaking views of the ocean and villas which had Nikki Beach style beds on private islands, a private stretch river like pool surrounding the fortress which looked really cool, however we were happy where we were as we were close to the action. Everything was in walking distance but you could call for a cart to drive you if you were feeling lazy. Overall, the only concerns we encountered were, the random power outages, some AC units being out making it a hot at some places, and I would stay away from some of the dishes with chicken (but may be just my preference for just chicken breast) The positives were the food selections, drink selections, the pool, the spa, and most of all the staff, treating us with utmost respect and making sure we had a great experience. We would definitely go back and recommend the place to anyone. If you nitpick things that you should expect, bug bites, a minor wait for service, or just being negative and keep trying to compare it to something else then you are most likely stuck up and should just relax and enjoy the weather, eat, drink, and enjoy the company your with.

  • Stayed: October 2011, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
6  Thank John F
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 17, 2011

I travel with my employment and my husband and I travel extensively for pleasure. That being said, I have much to compare this property against both purposes of traveling.

We stayed at this property in Late October-early November of 2010. The property is very nice and a good value for the money we paid . We went on Luxurylink.com and bid on the stay at a reduced rate of about 2/3 of the rack rate. It would not have been worth the full rack price.

Now, if you are not a beach person and only do the pool area you will like this property. The pool area was very, very nice with lots going on to keep you entertained. If you are a beach person like us, then this property may not be for you and I will elaborate further down.

The service was excellent and extremely personable. I give it an "A++" with the exception of check in "C-". The front desk folks need a lesson in guest relations. The impression I got was we were imposing on them and poor first impression of the staff as a whole. The food was very good and we enjoyed the variety. I give it an "A-". The drinks were not watered down and the beach waiters were johnny on the spot. If you tip them a buck or two they will also pay closer attention to you.
You will like the beach cabanas which are at no extra charge. However, don't think to put your stuff out at 7am and expect it to be there when you came back at noon. The property frowns on hording the shady areas and guests are warned not to do this or risk their personal items to be tossed as we actually saw done on several occasions.
I highly recommend getting room service to bring you a pot of coffee and going out to the beach for a sunrise cup with your significant other. It was peaceful and a great start to the morning. The sun comes up on the horizon facing the beach and an excellent view.
We are not really pool people and go for the beauty of the Caribbean waters. This is where the trip took a down turn for us. The water was milky and the beach was full of trash and glass. The porters kept it pretty clean, but there was just no keeping up with the trash and junk that kept washing up. Old flip flops, baby carriage wheels, plastic water and pop bottles were intertwined with things i really did not want to identify. I collected a zip lock baggy of glass almost every day from the beach's water's edge. It looked like the garbage from the local's was just taken out to sea and dumped and the tide just brought it in.
We loved the people and the property, but the beach gets a "D" on my scale of Caribbean destinations. Now, if you are a pool person then this property is nice. We will not be back simply because of the disappointing water and unsanitary swimming conditions.

Room Tip: Carry LOTS of sun screen and bug spray. The mosquitoes are small but vicious! The on site store will...
  • Stayed: November 2010, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
2  Thank Susan R
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 AlSol

Address: Boulevard Zona Hotelera, Playa Juanillo, Punta Cana 0809, Dominican Republic
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
#34 Spa Hotel in Punta Cana
#34 On the Beach Hotel in Punta Cana
#36 Luxury Hotel in Punta Cana
Price Range: $319 - $714 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:5 star — Sanctuary Cap Cana by AlSol 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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