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“New management definitely knows what they're doing!”

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Sanctuary Cap Cana by Playa Hotels & Resorts
Ranked #30 of 112 Hotels in Punta Cana
Reviewed November 25, 2011

My wife and I enjoyed our honeymoon here for 7 days. Prior to arriving I was very skeptical of the new management since we had originally booked our reservation via Secrets. However, once I learned that Secrets wasn't willing to provide us with any additional compensation or perks to potentially switch to one of their other resorts (which none of them appealed to us) I realized it was better off that Secrets lost the management contract because they clearly didn't care enough about customer service.
I emailed back and forth with the new management, and not just the staff at the hotel, I was communicating with senior management for the company regarding our stay and ensuring all of our originally booked details (all-in-inclusive and honeymoon package) were included because the last thing I wanted was additional charges when we checked out. The management was incredibly helpful and prompt with their responses. My wife also has a celiac and cannot have anything with gluten in it. I was directly communicating with the head chef, Pascal, ahead of time and when we arrived we met both Pascal and the sous-chef to ensure every meal would not provide any problems to us. They were extremely accomodating.
As for our room, we originally booked the Castle Junior Suite Swim Out...however, when we were taken to our room we were extremely surprised to have been upgraded to the Imperial Suite. I can thank the Chief Concierge, Jarlin Gonzalez, for taking extra care of us. The room was incredible. At little extra cleaning was needed in the bathroom but when we made the call (for any service) we always received a quick response.
The food for an all-inclusive was definitely better than what you expect. The staff was extremely helpful and took good care of you. We always kept a few singles on hand to tip the staff when we felt it was warranted. The pools are incredible and there isn't a bad view in the place.

We'll definitely visit again. We'll also try to bring some friends with us as we know we would have even more fun.

  • Stayed: November 2011, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank Tony L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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3,725 - 3,731 of 4,957 reviews

Reviewed November 22, 2011

We spent a week at Sanctuary and had a great experience. Sure the room had a little bit of a smell (you're in a tropical environment) and the food was not the same as 5 star restaurants in the US, but there were many things that we loved about the resort. We really enjoyed interacting with the resort staff and we received excellent service all week. We did not have any major communication issues and actually learned quite a bit of Spanish while we were there. The food and drinks were all better than expected - relative to other all-inclusive experiences. The pool area was beautiful and never crowded, it was always easy to get service, and there were plenty of fun little activities to join if you were interested. Lastly, the view at lunch from the Blue Marlin is hard to beat. Overall, we were very pleased with our visit and would certainly return.

  • Stayed: November 2011, traveled as a couple
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3  Thank Sean S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 21, 2011

We just left after 9 days. I read the last few reviews and agree with all of them. The good and the bad. They have a gorgeous property and potential to be grand. But too many issues and inconsistent staff will keep them a 3 or 4 star resort. The desk and concierge staff is awful. I dont thinknthe concierge staff has been off the property our room key did not work one night at 10:30 the Castle bat tender called down to have them send up another afyer waiting 15 minutes we walked down to the front desk only to find 5 of them standing around talking doing nothing

But the entertainment staff and regular bar tenders are great. They are a bright spot, Eddie Murphy and all of them were a bring spot.

We never actually got the room we reserved, one excuse after another. Our room was nice, but smelled musty or moldy. The passive aggressive desk staff always promised it to something but never did.

It was the basics that drove my husband nuts. Each day we had to call for coffee and drink refill in our room refrigerator. For 9 days room service never once arrived correct. It got to be a joke each day, Wondering what they would bring.

As an Interior Designer I can not figure out why the blinds are all heavy wood and way too big for the windows and did not work. We had no privacy in the bathrooms since the blinds were non functioning.

  • Stayed: November 2011
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4  Thank pbharvey2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 19, 2011

I just wanted to share with you how wonderful my daughter's destination went... Everything, except for the weather cooperated - it was perfect. They truly understand how to service their guests. In particular a very helpful young lady, Ethel Bartolini went far and beyond what a guest would expect. Trust me, they're good because they work at it.

JD Mackin

  • Stayed: November 2011, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank 6JDM
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 15, 2011

We have just returned from the Sanctuary Cap Cana. After reading all the reviews I am amazed at what people find to complain about. bugs and seaweed. Really??? This was a beautiful resort, the rooms were very nice the service and staff were VERY helpful. There is like many said not a lot of beach area, but the hotel has a sandy beach area set up with chairs and loungers that is just like being on the beach. We had a great time here. The food overall was good, not outstanding but good. The spa area was nice, and the massage I had was outstanding. The resort itself is very quite and tranquil, so if you are looking for a place to be on the go nonstop this may not be your place. Although there were several things offered that we did not take advantage of. While I don't think I would consider it a 5 star resort it is easily a 4.

  • Stayed: November 2011, traveled with friends
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1  Thank starla l
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 14, 2011

First time in DR and if this is a top rated resort this will be the last. There is a lot more negatives with this resort than positives. The beach was not used by the guests. Seaweed all over the beach, it was cleaned up but not until around 1 or 2 in the afternoon, well after the guests did not want to use. I realize that the resort can't do anything about the seaweed coming in but thought they may have cleaned up the beach in the am so guests might find the beach appealing.

I believe the staff are taught to say "my pleasure" for anything you ask for even though I found many times they had no idea what I was asking for. There were some staff that were able to converse. One thing I did find very helpful was one of the concierge. She was very helpful with anything we needed.

Rooms were nice size but smelled. We had to change from one room b/c it was so bad. It had old musty mold smell. If you have respiratory problems bring your inhaler as we were with many people and all rooms had musty smell but one was really bad.

Restaraunts were ok. Went to the Italian one twice b/c the second night we were there it was the only one opened.. This was surprising since they had 200 guests come in that day. Felt that carry out food in the states is better. Italian Desserts were terrible. Ate at Wok was better than Italian but Panada Express is better. Blue Marlin again was ok. The best places for food and service was either the buffett or room service. And speaking of service- was not impressed at all. Found a handful of good workers.

Read the review from OttaMoney Love she hits it right on the head. Everything she states I have to agree with except the excursions since we did not do any. The resort is not kept up very well. Found many places with peeling paint on the walls.

I would not reccommend this as a vacation resort to spend your money on.

  • Stayed: November 2011, traveled with family
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4  Thank czme
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 13, 2011

So we returned from our honeymoon and I must say that we, as well as all the couples we spoke to (4 in total) agreed they would NOT be returning. The resort is a ghostown, food was like a 2.5/5 stars (they have scales in the room and I lost 3 pounds at an all-inclusive resort!) and what made the honeymoon great was the positive attitidue of my husband, meeting some lovely other couples and the the excursions (which is an out-of-pocket expense). Although this is our 1st time travelling, for all the other couples who have been to Hawaii, Cabo, Cancum, Costa Rica, they all agreed their other vacations were more superior. We are scratching the DR off our list. If Grand Sanctuary is considered one of the best in Punta Cana, then no thanks!

I wanted to clarify, the only reason we chose this place is because in the DR, you don't need a pre-approved Visa to visit the country. My husband who has a foregn passport, did not want to go through the hassel of submitting his passport to an embassy for an unknown amount of time, and DR allows you a $10 visa on admission. Otherwise, we would not have come there.

My suggestions to the resort and prospective visitors:
1) WiFI in all rooms, this is a standard in all luxuary hotels
2) Train staff to speak some basic English. We could not obtain transportation, proper room service and housekeeping was a complete disaster to try to get anything from them!
3) Bring your own Shampoo/Conditioner - the ones in the room are of very poor quality
4) Bring Anti-bacterial wipes. I'm very clean and could tell the toilet seats and bathtup were not cleaned well, let alone sanitized. We never touched our tub because we were afraid of the potential germs.
5) Bring air freshner. Our room smelled of mold/must and I was spraying my body spray everyday to rid of the smell. Housekeeping could not understand what I was saying.
6) Avoid that Italian restaurant like the plague. Best bets for food is Casa Bella for Breakfast & Lunch, the Wok (inside) or Steakhouse for dinner.
7) Service is spotty, I was not impressed
8) Don't bring large items like laptops that can't fit in the safe. Nothing was stolen, but just to be on the safe side.
9) Out hottub was unsanitary, the jacuzzi in both the main pool and spa was broken with no other options.
10) The beach is useless. No one ever went into it. You have to walk to the LEFT of the beach where it is much better and you can actually get into the water (no seaweed/debris)
11) Room Service Food (avilable 24 hrs) is a joke and will leave your tummy feeling weird. Don't eat and wait until the morning until Casa Bella opens.
12) There are vendors that come to the resort and have some nice things to sell. Whatever price they offer you, divide by 5. It's unbeileiveable what they charge you!
13) The casino they offer to drive you to is a joke - avoid
14) Resort Credit they offered us as part of our deal was a ripp-off. You have to spend more money on mediocre stuff to get the savings. Massages were over-priced and you could tell they were not professionally trained.
15) Champagne breakfast really was "Sparkling Wine Breakfast" with gross food. Avoid.

PROS:
1) Beautiful Landscaping - we loved walking through the lush greens. Grounds are well kept.
2) Main pool was always clean (no bugs or debris)
3) Casa Bella was nice at giving us "To-Go" boxes which we would use to take with us on excursions, eat in our room or eat by the pool.
4) Warm towel and punch welcome was a nice touch
5) Mediocre-Good entertainment at night, I just wish there more people at the resort.
6) Take advantage of the excursions, they were all fun.

Room Tip: Swim-outs are more affordable and you don't need much more.
See more room tips
  • Stayed: November 2011, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
3  Thank OttaMoneyLove
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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