.. for those seeking total relaxation from routine life.
We are so glad we cancelled our reservation at "The Reserve at Paradisus Palma Real" to stay at this dark horse located just 10-15 mins away from Punta Cana Airport ($30 Taxi each way). It turned out to be our "Dream Vacation" as we were able to upgrade to their highest up-gradable room at the price we paid for the least expensive room at The Reserve. Our experience here is less about the great upgrade and more about the quality of time we had. Great food, insanely beautiful views, coconut tees, pools, structures, pathways, etc. Even their parking spaces are landscaped at the Fortress section. It's more like a natural paradise than a concrete jungle!!
Don't expect to see a resort like the one's seen in Cancún or Bávaro resort strips that are crowded with cheap buffet's, overcrowded pools, wristbands, and beaches that have people taking up all decent chairs with towels and leaving those chairs wasted with towels more than real people. No pictures we saw online (Flickr, Smugmug, Google, YouTube, Pbase) can do justice to the beauty of this place. The moment the Taxi took us inside the gated Cap Cana region we could feel something special and unique about the region. Roads are wider and region has great landscaping that makes it look so beautiful with boards displaying directions to different resorts and attractions. We had broad impressive smiles on our face as we entered Sanctuary Cap Cana as we already could feel we made the right choice. The bell boy Santos greeted us with a warm welcome and is quite fluent in English. He tagged our luggage and took us to front desk. We were given nice fruity cocktails and juices for kids (11 and 13). I asked for upgrade option and took a tour of different rooms before we decided on the Island Suite located in the Fortress section. It's truly once in a life time experience for us! The gardens, water streams, structures, lighting, colored doors & windows, the stones used to construct the resort including the roads/walkways all added up to our experience of a great stay. Every staff we met only had a warm smile for us. Including the one's doing landscaping and everyone is ready to help if you looked lost.
Pool and Beaches
The resort's beach is very ordinary. Water is quite sandy for about 15-20 feet into the water. Once you go past the sandy area it's nice and still shallow. But what makes this beach still a wonderful place to hangout is the entire setup around it. Beautiful landscaping with a beautiful pool, lots of coconut trees, staff ready to bring drinks to you, Casa Bella buffet only few feet away so you can grab a plate filled with delicious food anytime and enjoy on the beach. Blue Marlin restaurant is open for lunch from 12:15 and it has great views and delicious food and equally good ambiance. Beach side massages are offered and several activities are planned around that area like beach volleyball, ping-pong, chess, etc during the day. The pool looks beautiful with a great view of the ocean and a nice little FreshCo pool bar located in it to hang out when you want to relax under shade with a drink. There is another pool up near the Italian restaurant which is hardly being used that is very beautiful and has great view of the Ocean.
Restaurants and Food
Blue Marlin is right at the pool so, it's our choice for daily lunches. Favorites for lunch were Grouper Sandwich and Pan Seared Red Snapper. Kids loved Chocolate Molten Cake. Unfortunately, we missed the dinner opportunity here as we went to Italian first night and on second night Blue Marlin was closed for wedding party. We tried Wok the second night which is located at the Fortress section next to walk-out swim suites. We liked the food there so much that we just had dinner there on our last night we well. Room service menu was decent and the food tasted good. Breakfasts are typical resort style at Casa Bella with the exception of fresh juices and coffee which tasted awesome. Casa Bella location is very beautiful with pool and ocean views and outdoor tables under vines. Casa Bella has buffet style meals rest of the day and an outdoor grill was setup for lunch. We tried room service breakfast and the service was fantastic. The food is setup on dining table like in a formal restaurant. They brought the food in hot-pack so everything stayed very warm. We are not much into alcohol drinks so, I am can't give my opinions on it. My daughter enjoyed the virgin Spider-man drink which I believe is full of sugary fluids and juices :-). We had dinner the first night at Capriccio (Italian) and it was very very good and the service was excellent. Didn't get to try The Steakhouse even though it was open two of the three nights we were there. The service at FreshCo pool Bar, Love Piano Bar, and Ocean Club are all excellent. We felt sympathetic to see a beautiful place like Ocean club almost having no one there. I liked how they had jars filled with plenty of iced water with lemon and cucumber slices in several sections of the resort. It helped us enjoy cool water whenever needed. At some places they also had a champagne bottle in wine cooler. Again, don't forget, the coffee & orange juice at the resort is very good.
Shops & Activities
We noticed every night around 9:00 pm they had something on daily flyers dropped in the room but we never walked that way around that time. They had things like Dominican Republic dance, some fire show, etc. In the lobby there is a Concierge service selling local tours, and also a photo shoot at the resort. There are several shops selling resort/beach style clothes to beach/pool items, daily needs, painting, etc. Nothing is of great interest but then, we never cared to shop at any resorts or cruise ships. They also had a kids club but didn't check into the details of it. The resort has lot of potential to improve if only it had good occupancy. In a small building in front of the lobby they have a nice lounge setup with computer and printer which was handy to print out boarding passes. Had no issues with WiFi as our room had it's own WiFi router and Ethernet ports. Also, all restaurants have WiFi.
We initially booked Junior Suite Ocean View but took the upgrade to Island Suite (Room 1039). Even after seeing Island Suite, Junior Ocean Suite looked very impressive. It had plenty of space with two queen beds, sitting area, balcony, nice size bathroom, and closet space. The top level suites have great Ocean views. Also, I had chance to check out Royalty Villa (Room 1026) and God that was one beautiful room. Two separate bedrooms, two huge bathrooms, closets, powder room, large living and dinning area, huge deck with a large patio setup and outdoor infinity view pool and steps down that lead into the ocean (rocky though). Villas are located in garden environment while Castle Suites, Terrace Towers, Island suites, Castle Swim-Out's, etc are located in one huge building (Fortress/Castle) which also has lovely Spa, Gym, Ocean Club with Pool, Wok restaurant, and Conference Center. Some sections of Castle will have quite a walk to the central part of the resort that has pools, restaurant, and beach. If you stay in Castle, find out the shortest way to walk to the place you want to go as we noticed three ways to get from our Island Suite and one is just about 250 steps to Blue Marlin from outside Fortress. Castle section has an exit to a deck area that leads directly to the Juanillo Beach. A stunningly beautiful beach with a restaurant, lots of chairs and coconut trees, showers, bathrooms and music.
Marina Cap Cana, Juanillo beach, Scape2Cana, Casino, and Golf are all in the Cap Cana region. While Juanillo beach is just next to the resort you can take taxi for $2 to get to all other places within the Cap Cana region.
Fortunately, we didn't have any. But, if I have to give one it will be that the elevators in Fortress section was not functioning.
For now, this is a secret gem of a place in Punta Cana region. Go for it before it starts to pick up as this is a top class resort that is in a different league than the standard resorts on the Bávaro strip.
- 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