Sanctuary Cap Cana; Dominican Republic | Hotel Review
Sanctuary Cap Cana Resort
Let me preface this review by stating that the Sanctuary Cap Cana wasn’t all bad. There were many staff members and parts of the resort that I enjoyed, but at the end of the day, the cons outweighed the pros. This resort has major potential to be a grand resort, but as it stands now, I’d barely give it three stars. Trust me, that’s being kind. I admit that I should have done a lot more research but this was a last minute trip and time was of the essence. This review is not negative; it’s a real. If you want to cut through all the bull-crap and get to what matters the most, then I’d advise you to read on. Most importantly, save your time, energy and money and book your trip at a much better property.
Staff: Most of the staff (75%) at Sanctuary Cap Cana were wonderful – they were friendly, courteous, and very helpful. However, there was a handful who should’ve stayed home or better yet, not even been hired in the first place.
Some of the absolute BEST staff members were:
Emilio Cruz – bartender at the love bar
Stanley – the lunch cook at the pool/beach
Danny – steakhouse bartender
Ricardo – room service @ the castle
Reyna – pool/beach waitress
J.T. – castle butler, (was not ours)
A few of the WORST staff members were:
Henry – He was supposed to be our butler as the rooms in the castle part of the resort came with that type of service. We stayed almost a week at this property and seen Henry all of three times at the most. There were times we asked for ice, and he didn’t even show up. Fast forward a day or two, and he’s walking about the resort helping other guests with no problem.
Will Smith – Nice guy but he wasn’t authentic and was clearly looking out for himself only and not the guests. He was on a mission to get reviews and to get mentioned by name on TripAdvisor. There were many times I saw him with cell phones of the guests. I’m not exactly sure what he was doing with their phones, but it doesn’t take a rocket science to figure out it had to do with reviews. By the way, he wasn’t the only one around the pool area using this tactic.
Front Desk Staff – All of the guys at the front desk area were a bit rude and arrogant, to say the least. As other reviewers mentioned, there were many times we passed by, and they didn’t bother to smile or speak.
Amenities/Activities: The gym was dated, but it got the job done. For a resort of that magnitude, you’d think they would’ve spent a little extra coin on the gym. There was a personal trainer who came out around lunch time by the pool daily for hip-hop water aerobics. The guests looked like they were having fun. Now for those thinking there’s going to be loads of activities to do at this resort, I’m sorry to disappoint you, but there will not be. To do anything remotely fun, you’re not only going to have to leave the compound, but you’re going to break the bank to get there. They will lie and tell you everything is close but believe you me; it is not. We took a ride into town for some local activities, and the trip was $55 each way.
Swimming with the dolphins turned out to be nothing more than another way for the resort to make more money as it was expensive. Get ready to spend half your day just to try and swim with the dolphins as it takes a little while to get there and back. When you get there, they get you to watch a Dolphins show, after that you get about a half hour with the dolphins. When that’s all done, they drop you off and leave you in the shopping area in hopes that you will buy even more crap you don’t want or need. Once you finally get back to the resort, half of the day has passed.
Value: For what we paid for this resort, we expected more luxury. As I stated at the beginning of this review, this resort is a three star at best. If you’re expecting the Ritz Carlton or something similar to the Four Seasons, you will be disappointed. In other words, don’t set your expectations too high. These rooms were not worth the money we paid.
Cleanliness: The resort, room, pool, etc. were all immaculate and well presented. The most beautiful part of this resort was the landscaping. It was exceptionally clean and well taken care of. The public restrooms were always clean as well.
The Room: This first room was a piece of shit (literally). I walked in and it immediately smelled as if someone had either just used the toilet, or it had a slow leak. Either way, it was not a good first impression. Guest services came to look at the toilet, and they also gave the room some aromatherapy. After using the toilet a couple of times, the smell came back, as well as a loud noise when flushed. After days of complaining about the bathroom, they finally gave me an upgrade.
The upgraded room was breathtaking. It had a private pool inside the room, as well as a private deck with a view of the ocean. Oh, and did I mention it was two-story suite? Apart from the TV being fuzzy on every channel, this upgraded room alone was four stars. However, why put a private pool close by a TV that can’t even get a clear signal? Ugh… Nevertheless, I enjoyed the new room.
Service: service at the pool was fabulous, prompt, and the staff was more than willing to accommodate me while I crammed in a few hours of sunshine and cocktails. As I mentioned previously, Reyna, one of the pool/beach waitresses, was incredible. The cook at the grill was funny, engaging and made sure everyone was satisfied.
Food & Entertainment: The food in most of the restaurants was delightful. However, there were a few they should just shut down and try again. I’ve listed the restaurants in the order from best to worst;
The Steakhouse (Classic American Style Steak House) – this was, without question, the best restaurant at the resort. It had dim lighting and romantic ambiance about it. There was live entertainment that came to the dinner tables to personally sing and play music while you eat. And the food… OMG, it will make you want to slap your mother (I wouldn’t advise that, especially if you have a mother like mine). After trying out all the restaurants, we ended up coming back to this one the remainder of the trip.
Blue Marlin (Seafood Specialties) – This restaurant is in the best location as it sits right above the beach. The views of the skyline and beach are fabulous. This restaurant is also the most expensive and there are a few things on the menu that are not all-inclusive. The food was exceptional, but the portions were small. Props to the chef, he did his thing in the kitchen. I would highly recommend this restaurant if you are with your significant other on the trip. It’s the most romantic out of all them. Side note- bring some bug repellent because the mosquitos by the beach will think you are on the menu. We ended up borrowing some spray from the staff.
Wok (Asian – Sushi/Teppanyaki) – This restaurant was the most fun and always crowded. They cook the food in front of you and other guests seated at your station. This restaurant was also the loudest. It’s not the best place to be romantic considering there isn’t much privacy, and it is noisy. The food was excellent though. We ended going back a few times. They give you a lot of food here so make sure to come with an appetite.
Capriccio (Northern Italian Cuisine) – If you like Olive Garden, then you will like this restaurant. In my opinion, it was just ok. It’s the worst location out all the restaurants, no views of the ocean or the anything for that matter. The drinks were better than the food but again, if you like the Olive Garden then you should be satisfied with this restaurant.
Casabella (International Buffet) – The worst of all the restaurants. Casabella was the only restaurant where they held breakfast every morning. Let me just say that the breakfast was ok. There were a few things they could’ve done better, like having more than one person to make omelets. They only had a few selections for meat, so if you’re hoping for a huge variety, you will be disappointed. I was over breakfast by the third day. The pancakes and French toast were mediocre at best, and I won’t even get started with the eggs. They don’t serve grits either.
The dinner at this restaurant was just ok. After eating at all the other restaurants, this one didn’t come close to a comparison as far as the taste. The location was great and some nights they had a live band.
Side note – To enter most of the restaurants, they require the men to wear long pants and shirts with sleeves. So you will find yourself hungry many nights if you don’t pack any. You’d think they would mention this on their website or let their guests know this policy before traveling. I think this policy is about the dumbest thing I have ever come across while traveling. You got people going to an adult’s only resort, located on the beach, and you expect them to pack pants? I understand shirts with sleeves, but the pants policy is absolutely bonkers. I mean one of the whole reasons people travel is to get away from having to wear work pants or any pants for that matter. We’re on a beach, not in Beverly Hills, California.
At any rate, bring your pants fellas. If you don’t, you will have to order room service. Oh, and about room service, let me give you the heads up on the menu (or lack thereof). After a certain time at night, there are only three or four options to choose from off the menu. I had to eat a burger a few nights until I was able to secure a pair of pants. You’d think they could have made an exception with the no pants considering I did not know the policy, but they were not accommodating whatsoever.
Drinks: I suppose the drinks were ok. A few of the bartenders(Emilio Cruz), were much better than the rest and knew what they were doing. The drinks are watered down for sure but for the most part, they were drinkable. Make sure you ask for top shelf liquor because if not, you will need to bring a bottle of aspirin for your morning hangover. Ask for a drink called the “Miami Vice,” it was muy bueno.
Entertainment: There wasn’t a lot of entertainment at the resort, but the little that they did have was great. The first night there they had a party on the beach with a live DJ and full liquor bar. It wasn’t many people there, but it was still fun. They also had a movie night. I forgot what movie it was, but I had already seen it so decided to skip it. They had a huge movie projector set up with beach chairs, snacks, fruit, and liquor. The set-up was near the pool overlooking the beach. It was great for couples.
Location: The location was ok. If you like being close to the airport, then this is the best place to stay as it is the first hotel/resort on the strip. It is great if you prefer a more private beach without much traffic. If you prefer to be around more of the locals and close to the casino and clubs, then this is not the location for you. We ended up having to take a cab 45-60 mins each way, and it wasn’t cheap either.
The Pool/Beach: The main pool area was exquisite, especially with the swim-up bar. It’s not a deep pool so you really can’t swim in it. It’s more for lounging in and drinking at the bar. There were many more pools on the premises as well. There was a rooftop cliff pool by the Casabella restaurant. I didn’t get a chance to get in it, but it was cool to see. The main pool was never over crowded which was great. As I mentioned earlier, at lunchtime they had a personal trainer giving water aerobics lessons which was pretty cool. There was also a third pool located next to the main pool. The water was shallow, so I’m assuming it used to be a kiddy pool. There’s another section in front of the main pool that also had water in it. Everyone kept thinking it was the jacuzzi, but it was not. Apparently to get into the only jacuzzi at the resort you had to walk all the way to the castle. No jacuzzi by the pool makes no sense to me, but I digress. We walked over to the jacuzzi only to find out it was no bigger than a Toyota Prius, and the water was barely hot. Epic fail!
Nightclub: To my knowledge there was no nightclub on the resort. We were told that there was a nightclub nearby the resort, but we ended up going into to town to party with the locals. It turned out to be the best idea because the locals were lots of fun. The music was good too! The name of the clubs we went to were called “Drink House” and “Airplane Drink.” Check them out if you happen to find yourself in the city.
Malfunctions: I mentioned this earlier about the TV having bad signals and having static – However, after 10 minutes or so, I cut it off and just turned my music on. The Wi-Fi in the room was just awful so don’t expect lightning speeds. We paid for the Wi-Fi for the whole trip, and it ended up being a waste of money. The Wi-Fi in the lobby and pool area seem to work just fine.
Ice: there are no ice machines in the hotel so to get ice you have to call down to room service. As I mentioned before, the butler assigned to my room took forever and a day to get ice to the room. I would’ve had a better chance taking a flight to Iceland. I’m just saying!
Language Barrier: The language barrier wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. The staff spoke English well, but now and then there were a handful of employees that had a difficult time comprehending. Now I now it’s not America, and we can’t expect the natives to know English like the back of their hands, but they should know enough to hold simple dialogue. There should be a necessary prerequisite that the staff must complete before dealing with guests. Being from Miami, I speak and comprehend Spanish well enough to understand the basics, so I was ok. However, there were other guests around who had no clue what was going on. If there are key staff members who are going to be working with guests, they should know Basic English. Not all guests will know how to comprehend Spanish.
The Reviews: So upon booking this hotel I noticed a lot of five-star ratings, and they were the driving force that eventually convinced me to break out the bank card. However, after getting to the hotel and witnessing first-hand what the some of the staff members were doing, I put it all together. As I mentioned earlier, Will Smith, one of the guys who worked at pool/beach area, took it upon himself to grab the phones of guests and put in reviews on TripAdvisor. Now, at first, I didn’t think much of this tactic. It wasn’t until I seen many of the other staff members doing the same as well. I immediately went back on TripAdvisor and started noticing all the five-star reviews that called out staff members by their name. That’s when it hit me, these reviews are all fake and not authentic in any way, shape or form. Don’t get me wrong, it’s an excellent tactic to go around the beach/pool area as guests are drinking, that way you have a better chance of getting their phone without much hesitation. Nice play guys, but, in the end, it’s very unethical and not fair to people who read and depend on real reviews when making trip decisions. If you’re reading this review, BEWARE of the phony and fake five-star reviews on TripAdvisor. You have been warned!
Conclusion: In conclusion, Sanctuary Cap Cana has major potential to become a five-star resort, but it is not there yet. Even though I have laid out my issues with this resort, there may be many who don’t care about such things. With that said, I say “have at it.” However, many people don’t have the luxury to waste money or time for that matter. There’s nothing worse than being out of your natural living environment and having to stay in some crappy hotel because you have already committed to it. Let me repeat by saying this is NOT a negative review. This is an honest and real review. You will notice I gave the resort credit in the areas they excelled at, and by the same token, I pointed out the areas they fell short.
Recommend: NO – Overall the hotel wasn’t terrible. I have indeed seen and experienced far worse. However, for what one pays for an all-inclusive trip, and considering how far they have to travel, a hotel issue should be the last thing a guest has to stress about. A handful of the guests were phenomenal as I pointed out above. However, you know what they say, “a bad apple spoils the bunch.” In this case, there were several bad apples. I would definitely NOT recommend this resort. I can 100% guarantee that you could find something far better and probably pay a whole lot less. In this economy, who has money to throw away? Make a wise decision and choose another hotel.
If you do bypass everything I have so exquisitely laid out in this review, and find yourself at Sanctuary Cap Cana, you can’t say you weren’t informed and warned.
Happy and safe travels!