Sanctuary Cap Cana – All Inclusive by Playa Hotels & Resorts
What We Love
- The ultra-private, natural design of the Monarch Villas
- Fresh seafood at the overwater restaurant, Blue Marlin
- Five outdoor pools nestled throughout the property
- The ever-changing daily activities menu
- Gorgeous views across the beautiful gardens straight out to sea
- The nearby Jack Nicklaus Signature par 72 golf course, which has dramatic ocean views
What To Know
- Less than 15 minutes from the Punta Cana airport
- Junior Ocean View Suites and Monarch Villas have an all-inclusive option
- Leave the kids at home—this resort is for adults only
- Free WiFi
- Parking On Site
- Room Service
The Dominican Republic’s Punta Cana region is far from undiscovered, but the secluded, sprawling Sanctuary Cap Cana by Alsol makes you forget the world beyond its 30,000 acres. With manicured gardens, stunning architecture, five pools, an enormous spa, not to mention a spectacular beach, the resort lives up to its moniker. Designed in three sections—Spanish Colonial, Caribbean Villas and the Castle—Sanctuary Cap Cana by Alsol has the feel of an exclusive small town. In the Caribbean area, Monarch Villas are a spacious 1,100 square feet and feature thatch roofs and coral-textured walls, plus beautifully polished wood floors. All of Sanctuary’s rooms and suites have huge walk-in closets and striking views of the Caribbean Sea. While the vibe (and appeal) changes dramatically from section to section, the stellar service and perfectly manicured public spaces never falter. The grounds themselves are marked by palm-lined pathways, free-form pools and an eclectic choice of restaurants. Of the five on-site dining options (pan-Asian fusion at Wok, Argentine grill at the Steakhouse, and low-key Italian at Capriccio), our favorite is Blue Marlin, a stunning seafood restaurant set in a romantic overwater dining room. If you like your days busy, check the resort’s long list of daily activities, like cocktail-making or dance lessons, or just hit the beach and relax.
In the Area
Get in 18 holes with the beautiful backdrop of the Caribbean at the Jack Nicklaus-designed Punta Espada golf course in Cap Cana. Afterward, unwind at the 20,000-square-foot adults-only spa for a massage or visit Juanillo Beach next door to the resort, where guests can rent kayaks or grab a drink. In the afternoon, head over to Sanctuary’s sister property, AlSol Luxury Village (formerly known as The Fishing Lodge) and wander around the bustling marina. When hunger strikes, head to one of the restaurants at AlSol, or try local favorite restaurant Jellyfish on the beach near Bávaro. Try the grilled crustaceans, calamari, and conch served in a palapa with views of the sea.
How to Get There
Let me start by saying I did a lot of research and spent the money on what I thought was going to be a luxury hotel. This is not a 5 star resort, and I am only writing this review so people know what to expect and don’t make the same mistake we did. We have been to other all inclusives before and enjoyed ourselves, but this experience left much to be desired.
Food- Not good. Mediocre at Best.
Drinks- Bartenders do not know how to mix drinks. AT ALL. Keep it very simple (I ordered a vodka and soda) but the vodka quality was so poor it still tasted bad.
The wine in the restaurants is barely drinkable.
Rooms- our room was musty. It was pretty, but had a distinct odor. Also, I had paid for an ocean view jr suite. I could see the ocean over the buildings in front of us but it was not a nice view. They should consider naming rooms of this type a “partial ocean view”
When I approached the front desk they took me to see ground floor rooms in another part of the resort and wanted $250 per night. How about just wanting happy guest?
Pool- very very crowded. People leave towels by 7am in order to get spots with an umbrella. The water is cold, it is refreshing but can’t stay in it for too long.
Beach- also crowded. Water is not clear. It is not their fault there is an algae issue but don’t expect crystal clear water.
Activities- if you don’t mind being pressured to play volleyball, dance, play darts, bingo or anything other than relax it’s fine. Personally- I want to relax.
Overall it’s all what you expect and what you sign up for. But thinking that you are paying for 5 star resort (listed as one of the best in Punta Cana) will unfortunately leave you disappointed.
We last visited Sanctuary Cap Cana in January of 2017. That was our first visit to the DR. We were completely blown away by every aspect of our experience so we decided to go back to Sanctuary for our 2nd visit. We were a little nervous since it had recently undergone a management change and thought maybe the first trip was just a fluke.
BOY WERE WE WRONG!!
Just as amazing the second time around! We pulled up and were greeted by Junior and Caesar who actually REMEMBERED us! From 2 Years Ago! Our check in was smooth and because we were returning guests, they upgraded us (for free) to one of their brand new premium suites. The gentleman who brought our bags (Rhemi I believe? I’m so sorry if I butchered your name!) was so wonderful and chatty, showing us what was new since our last visit. Sanctuary Town, the little area of small, more casual restaurants, across the way from the lobby was now fully functioning and delicious. It was still being finished last time we were there. Richard in the Love Bar took care of our drink needs each day and helped me improve my Spanish:) Wilkin, Pantera, and the whole activity crew were great at engaging anyone who wanted to have some fun day or night (thanks for the dance lessons Pantera!!) Sandro and Jeremy at Casa Bella and The Steakhouse were wonderful servers, it made you feel like you were in someone’s home as their guest, not in a restaurant. Bottom line, this place has something for everyone, if you’re into staying active, there is a gym, sand volleyball, dancing, you name it. If you want peace and quite, no worries there either. Plus you have the most genuine and beautiful people doing their best to make sure YOU are enjoying yourself. I will be back in January of 2020 for sure!
We went to Sanctuary Cap Cana for our honeymoon about a week ago, and it was one of the best vacations we have ever been on. We splurged because it was our honeymoon and got a monarch villa oceanfront room with a butler. Eric was amazing and spent time to ensure that we were taken care of well. He is such an amazing person! The food was great, and we spent a lot of time by the pool and on our porch as the beach was just a couple of steps away. By the end of the week, everyone knew who we were, and they spent the time to make sure we were comfortable. If you are looking for an escape from reality, come here. You won't be disappointed.
M50/F54....frequent Carribean travelers...first time to DR...8 days (Monday-Tuesday)...second time all inclusive; typically rent condos. I have read 30 reviews of this property and will now give you my experiences and thoughts...
Airport: We pre-booked our ride from the airport to the resort using Expedia/Travelocity...It was $40 total roundtrip on a group bus. We found this very reasonable and would recommend. We tipped $10 from the airport and $15 on the return as we were picked up very early, so a total of $65 for two people. Both trips were booked as NOT private, but both ended up as private rides. Your experience may differ. You will be pressed at the airport for car service...this eliminated that anxiety. Drive is 20 minutes and completely vanilla. 2 security stops get you onto the property. Honestly, you could be in Florida, Alabama, Etc. on the drive from the airport.
Arrival: Greeted with a towel and cocktail. Premium Luxury Junior Suite Ocean View was booked for 8 nights. One of the three new buildings recently opened. Initial reaction (3pm arrival) was the grounds were beautiful (cobblestone street, nicely lit and landscaped, statues, pools, etc.) and the staff were handsomely dressed. Check in process was relatively easy. Booked fee was identical to the bill presented. This is not a drop off your bags and run to the pool type of place. There are a few moving parts that you will need to have explained so you have to be patient and let the process happen. Depending on what room you book, it may involve a butler....
Butler Service: We had no idea there would be a butler. My wife and I are not high maintenance. We typically rent a condo, use public transportation, make our own reservations, book our own excursions, etc. We had no idea a butler would be assigned. If you read enough reviews, you will find out that the notion of this service is appealing to some. We were assigned Pedro, who promised to take care of all our needs and requirements. We had a room issue (see below) that Pedro did take care of. He was supposed to have made restaurant reservations for Tuesday night and Wednesday night...he seemed to appear out of nowhere our first day and then was gone. Neither of our reservations were made, which really was a minor inconvenience. We found out the next day through a fellow guest that Pedro was fired. I'm very happy that I did not tip him up front. I was happier that we were not going to have a butler. We found it intrusive. Management never mentioned it to us and we never mentioned it to management. It was a blessing in disguise. Were free from Pedro. My suggestion? It's your money. If you want this service, by all means enjoy it. If you don't want someone checking on you 3 times a day and making 2 phone calls for you, then tell them you don't want the service. If your room doesn't come with one, you aren't missing out, in my opinion. You may want it, and that's fine too. Live and let live.
Rooms: We were assigned a first floor suite in the 61 building new suites. The room had a bad odor similar to the pond odor by the water feature. Our shower didn't drain properly, so we requested a room change. We were moved one building over to a second floor identical unit. No smell and a better view. We happily report that the same bad smell by the pond was gone a few days later (maybe pump related?). We don't know if the room still smelled bad but the new room in the 62 building on the second floor was perfect and had a great view. The first floor views are obscured by the honeymoon suites. Request 2nd floor and up for the best views. Loved the room...nice changing area, modern shower (a little stingy on the wash cloths of all things), dual sink, big bed, plugs, nice balcony (don't waste your time with the hot tub), desk, mini fridge (turn down the temp on the mini fridge; they keep them warm) and a nice couch area with champagne on arrival. We read reviews that were negative of the Monarch Suites; we did not go inside one and can only speak to the new building. We cannot be certain that the odor issue in our first room was related to the problem with the pond, but the pond issue was cleared up before we left.
Grounds: This is where I'm going to get nit picky....this is not a very walk friendly resort. The beach is short, the walkways are cobblestone and quite often lead to dead ends. For those of us that might want to wake up and go for a nice long walk in the morning, this is not an easy place to do that. BTW, if you are near the edges of the castle area by the public beach at night, make sure you know your room number or have your room card...you will be asked to present one or the other for security. The grounds were constantly maintained by an army of workers who quietly and discreetly go about their job to maintain the property. If you read a review that says the place is run down, I would disagree. This is a nicely maintained place and the staff is friendly and work together well. The best thing about the grounds are that there are a hundred little places you can sneak off to...a hanging chair here, a wicker egg there....go to the pier and sit by the ocean....go to the beach and get a bed...so many great little escapes
Pools: Pools are great...some say they are cold...I say refreshing....We're not in our twenties any more so we don't want a disco environment all day. Then again, we're not dead yet and enjoyed the dancing and occasional aerobics in the pool. It was pretty even here. I guess if you want to lay by the pool and hear a pin drop all day long, this isn't your place. I didn't think anything was over the top and we even found the foam party to be silly fun...the 330pm dancing was something we looked forward too and some of those songs will burrow into your head after a while. Ay Ay Ay, but from 10am to 3pm, the pools were pretty quiet...There were so many options that if you wanted a more chill pool, you could find one. We enjoyed the pool at the bottom of the infinity pool by the bathrooms...plenty of places for peace and quiet. 7am starts the pool chair pre-claim....we moved around a bit from the pools to the beach but if you want a specific spot by a specific pool or a specific spot on the beach, better get out between 7-8am to claim your spot. Don't cry...you've been warned.
Beach: I would have enjoyed a bigger beach but you make the sacrafice here, privacy for size....water gets bluer the further out you swim; many detractors on the water color...there is a system in the water that may keep waves down and the beach in tact but the water near the beach is sandier....swim out to the blue...no hawkers, but if your a beach walker, its tough....there is a public beach next to the castle that is more expansive....The beach is very personal to people...if you want a big huge long beach and that's a deal breaker for you, then this isn't your place...I you don't mind having a private little beach of your own, then you'll find the SCC just fine....I'm not going to complain about the beach...I knew going in.
Service: Thank you Jenny, our server by the pool, first and foremost. She was sweet and cute and made our days by the pool great. Good luck in Law School!! The resort staff was very outgoing, except for whoever was in charge of the desserts at the buffet. Servers, hosts, groundskeepers, bartenders, one and all greeted you with an Hola...Does everyone fall out of the womb dancing in this country? Wow! Lots of talented people here. My wife still talks about the aerobics instructor, SM...The small shows that were put on were better than expected and not cheesy like you might find at a Club Med...dancing, singing, feats of strength, dancing, gymnastics and more dancing go on both at the old town area, on the beach or at the main building. Take your time to see some of them. We noticed even the macho beach guys sitting with their women watching the violin players or the circus.
Tipping...we made an expensive trip more expensive by tipping for nearly everything; you tip as you see fit but tipping is not included and will likely get your better service by the pools....You get a bill for all meals and we tended tip as we would for similar meals in the states vs. what the bill said....My tip is to bring lots of 1,5 & 10 dollar bills on your trip unless you want to sign tips and surprise yourself at the end of the trip. You will need dollars at the airport, coming and going, and for the numerous handlers...leave the wad of 20's at home and come prepared. you should tip as you can afford and as you feel the service warranted, but it would probably be misleading to say this is completely all inclusive, but you've been warned.
Food: Food was good to above average...Favorite meal for me was the Steakhouse, Fusion for the wife. I have sensative hearing and wore earplugs to Fusion and my ears still rang for 2 days. Fusion is fun but it is insanely loud and if I didn't have the earplugs that I had the foresight to bring, I would have lasted about 2 minutes. The seafood restaurant was always good and the Italian restaurant was beautiful to the point where I regret eating outside. We found the sushi restaraunt to be a dissappointment; we thought it would be better. We did not do the hibachi part of it...Did not do Tapas place....Burger place was fine; didn't care for the pizza/pasta but service was good. Cigar store is pricey but had nice things. Beer bar was a bit small and uninteresting. The buffet is the backbone of the operation and always had a nice selection for breakfast and lunch. Best to always check the sheet for the restaurants that are open for lunch and dinner as well as to get the drink of the day.
WARNING: We were told we each got 5 free beers in the beer pub at check in. At check out, we were charged for the 1 beer we did drink there. Didn't want to waste time over $6 but we did feel we were misled.
Drinks: Drinks were fine...I found the service to be nicely paced...You can get as liquored up as you want. I enjoyed the local rum but one beer choice, Presidente Light, was a bit of a bummer...how about Coronas or Dos Equis or at least Heinekin??
Swim up bar if your into that...beach bar was perfectly located....pool service was steady, though not heavily staffed. Love Bar was somewhat ironically named as it was the least friendly of all the bars on site...It was, however, the place to see and be seen and to have a highball before dinner. Look for live music and dancing outside by the steakhouse as a nice time to have a drink...Pub was more late night disco-y; we did not go. The small place by the castle was a lesser used option and a nice place to escape the crowds. The coffee shop in the lobby was the unsung hero of the whole place...need a quick shot of espresso? a little cookie pick me up? Need a little sandwich after the pool but before dinner? That will be your spot; when your at the bar, have a Brugal Extra Viejo for me please.
Shopping: Small store, jewelry store, art store and cigar store...service is a bit strong...my wife felt a little decended upon when she went inside. Hoping for a deal on DR cigars?...nope....they do have a nice selection but no deals to be had. Mall nearby will pick you up, if you gotta go to the mall.
Excursions: Resort does not book. Expedia has a rep from 11-2 in the courtyard who will have options or book them yourself online.
BTW...The gentleman from Minnesota in the wheelchair I spoke with talked of only minor issues with his wheelchair in the bathroom of his room and had positive to things to say about his specific challenges at the resort. We also found the resort to be very LGB friendly, which is not the case in every Carribean country. Sanctuary Cap Cana was truly a sanctuary for anyone and everyone.
Conclusion: To me, a vacation experience is about expectations. For the same reason I don't order fish at a steakhouse, I dont bash a place for what it doesn't do well, as long as I know what to expect. If my expectations are: 1. I want abundant and delicious food and drink. 2. I want beatiful rooms, views and pools. 3. I don't want to do anything for a week except worry at lunch where i'm going to have dinner, then Sanctuary Cap Cana is your place. It's not a beach resort. It's a resort with a beach....It's not "All Inclusive" as you are still going to tip another 10-20% of your costs in additional service tips, so it's not a value based trip. It's not a top 1% resort as it still has issues here and there. It's not a great place if you are super active because it's design just doesnt lend towards you getting out and about. HOWEVER, if you are looking for wonderful people to feed you and make you great drinks in a beautiful setting and to take care of you every need for a few days, this is the place for you. The Dominican people are lovely and will make sure you have a wonderful time, whatever that time may be. The resort is lovely and got better ever day. The food and drinks were delicious and the overall relaxation grade was a solid A.
Ill start with the property is gorgeous! They also have a sanctuary town which has a couple restaurants and places to relax. Loved it! The food was actually pretty good and they have a place called fusion which is diner with entertainment which was awesome. Very fun!
So we chose castle swim out for our room beautiful decor but no porch which i was suprised. So they did change our room to a swim out with a porch the following day which also was beautiful but 2 bad things the air condition when turning on had a weird smell as if it was mold and the second sink in the bathroom leaked so i couldn't use it. Other then that room was good. Most of the staff was awesome. Had a butler Emilio he was amazing and accommodating to whatever we needed. Fransheka went above and beyond for us especially planning my wifes suprise for her birthday. She is Definatley a great asset to this resort. Also Ginette the host for the various restaurants was also amazing and warm personality always knew our names and greeted us.Levis a waiter from the blue marlin also such a great man and went above and beyond . I had a not so good experience with Edward the supervisor of the castle. Ill explain why. I ordered room service for beer to come to the room i waited about 30 to 45 min and didnt come so i left to speak to Fransheka about the plan for my wifes birthday. I come back to the room after setting things up and my wife says to me room service walked into the room. That didnt set well with me that not anwsering the door they just walk in. Made me uncomfortable. Especially what if we were naked. Ive stayed at numerous resorts and ive never had that happen. I called Fransheka immediately and asked her is this there policy and she said no absolutely not. I also went to the supervisor Edward to express that our safety is my concern and i did not like nor appreciate that. Edward castle concierge supervisor stated thats there policy they knock and if no anwser they just come in. I stated to Edward I've never had that happen elsewhere and what if we were naked?. He responds to me with " that didnt happen did it" and that" this is the second time ive complained" and that" if i would like he can just cut off room service all together" Edward was extrememly rude and unapologetic with no concern at all. For him being a supervisor of concierge services i was shocked! Another negative would be some of the male staff for instance the representive of expedia. As we are having coffee in the open main area of the resort where you can sit outside and relax comes up to my wife while we are sitting down relaxing having conversation stands about 5 to 6 inches from my wifes face with his crotch directly in front of her while both of his hands are on his waist and he is literally thrusted forward. My wife had to lean away to create space. Felt it was extremely uncomfortable and rude. All in all beautiful property a good clientele but we would not stay here again.