Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Review of the new Sunscape the Beach Spa & Resort Punta Cana

Finally here it is, my review of the new Sunscape the Beach resort. Me and my wife were lucky to stay at this brand-new resort in the Dominican Republic from December 6th to 20th 2004.

After a taxi ride of about 45 minutes from Punta Cana Airport we arrived at the Sunscape Beach at about 7.30 pm.

We were immediately impressed by the lobby which was very clean, spacious and beautiful, on first sight no construction was going on in this part of the resort and we were relieved that we wouldn't have to spend our vacations on a construction site. At the reception desk we were greeted by Eusebio who seemed to be very nervous about making a good impression... and he was very nice and professional. Check-in was done without hurrying but within a couple of minutes and we were welcomed with drinks, refreshing towels and cookies.

We were assigned room number #3121 which was on the ground floor with a partial ocean view. Building #3 is halfway between the lobby and the beach and we thought that this is quite convenient. Buildings #1 to #5 are all very close to the pool with #1 being closest to the beach and #5 closest to the lobby and main building with the buffet. Buildings #6 to #9 are a bit further away from the pool and were not yet finished and occupied during our stay. Once we arrived at the room (our baggage was brought there quickly as well) we started exploring it: nice bright colours, not very big but OK. I had booked a standard (deluxe) room so we got one with two double beds a nice large TV and enough space for storage. However the room was dusty, the bathroom was a bit dirty and there were used cocktail glasses in the room. The bellboy wanted to show us the safe but didn't manage to open it so I suggested that he could call someone from the room to come to fix it but nobody came until the next day when I called again. The air-conditioning in the room was not working but at that time Ididn't think about it because it was not too hot. After we were left in the room without a working safe I found out that the sliding door to the terrace didn't close correctly, you could open it anytime from the outside by just pushing it. I called reception to have someone come over to fix it but nobody came until about 1 hour later when I had to call again (I think I went to the lobby to request a room change because of the door problem but that was refused). Finally the door was fixed and we could finally go out and have something to eat. After one night without sleep because the bed was just too small for me and my wife and I didn't want to sleep in a seperate bed I decided to go to the lobby in the morning to request a room with a king-size bed. After several calls to the reception and visits to the lobby it became clear that everything really is slower in the DR and so we had to keep the room for another night. On the next day I made some more calls and visits to the lobby and finally spoke to Kätlin from management and finally we got an arrangement to get a free upgrade to a premium room. During the afternoon we changed to room #3308, which was on the 3rd floor with a pool view. The room was more what I had expected with a nice large king-size bed plenty of storage space the same big TV plus a small sofa and table. The balcony was nice as well with an overview of the pool and hotel grounds. In this second room the air conditioning didn't work either but I called once to have it fixed and by the time we got back from the beach everything was OK. The bathroom was the same as in the first room, it had a tub with a shower, nothing special here. What was very nice is that they provided plenty of toothpaste, toothbrushes and even sunscreen lotion in the bathroom! This room was very clean, sheets were changed daily and the room was made twice a day. Never any shortage of towels and the maids always made sure that we were not missing anything.The minibar was stocked daily with plenty of water, Coke, Fanta, Sprite, local Bohemian beer, Budweiser and Bud Light. On one day we even found a plate of very good sushis in the minibar along with a bottle of white wine in the room. This room had an additional door and after checking it out I found out that I could just open it and walk into the neighboring room (there were someone's baggages so this is quite bad, the doors should be locked from both sides by default). That third evening we were tired and wanted to sleep early (because of two bad nights before) and at midnight the alarm clock in the next room started to ring without ever ending. After knocking on the door for a while I just walked into the room to put out the alarm (it seems that all the alarms were set to 12.00 by default). The next morning I advised our neighbours about the door problem and managed to lock it from both sides. I heard from at least two other couples that they just walked into other rooms with people in it through the connecting door and one that was given a room which was already assigned, this should be taken care of because it is a security problem. Noise levels in the room were OK, however noise comes quite easily through the connection door between two rooms, which was a problem once when our neighbours were still out and the maids had left on the television in the rooms (it seems they did this in every room), after calling reception this was solved rapidly, someone came to switch off the TV after 10-15 minutes. Several times there were electricity or hot or cold water outages but this was not too bad as it happened mostly during the day when we were at the beach anyway.

Food & Restaurants:
The food was generally very good. The World Café (buffet) had a very nice selection of food for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The El Patio mexican restaurant was OK, but the taste not as good as expected. The japanese-asian style Himitsu was just excellent, whereas the Oceana restaurant was good for seafood lovers and the Seaside Grill for meat. Overall everything looked fresh, clean and nicely presented, the meats and seafood were very good everywhere. Once a week there's a big buffet on the beach for dinner, which is a good way to meet new people. We tried almost everything and had no serious stomach problems. The service was very nice and friendly but a bit disorganized it seemed, sometimes at the Oceana or at the Grill we had five or six different waiters kind of fighting for our table which was a bit strange. During our second week the service level went down for a few days because large groups of local people arrived for four days and the resort wasn't really prepared to handle the amount of guests. Waiting times became really long during this time but were back to normal once the large groups had left. A big plus over most of the other resorts in the area is that they have 24h room service, you can order a nice meal to your room anytime.

Beach & watersports:
The water sports equipments was very nice and better than I had expected, windsurfing equipment, two Hobie catamarans, some kayaks and plenty of bodyboards were available. The beach was very nice, white/yellowish soft sand and plenty of fun waves, so no turquoise-transparent water here - this is not the caribbean but the atlantic. The water was very warm though but right in front of the resort there a quite a few rocks in the water that you don't see easily. It is better to walk down the beach a bit to the right or left where you can walk for miles (the next resort, Sirenis is about 45 minutes to walk to the left, followed by the Secrets and to the right there's absolutely nothing for over an hour).

The animation team was very nice, they sometimes had a hard time finding people to participate in their games. The resort has a nice theater but we didn't get to watch a show. Once a week they show a movie on a big screen on the beach.

Other facilities:
The pool is really, really huge and easily accessible from most parts of the complex, however I found it quite shallow. At the pool and the beach you will find plenty of comfortable beach chairs and palapas for shade. The resort has a nice large gym and the SPA is very nice as well but was not functional for most days of our stay. We used as well the two tennis courts and game area with pool tables and lots of other games. There is an internet café, some (very expensive) shops and a nightclub which we didn't try. The landscaping is very nice and will certainly only get better with time.

Overall impression:
Arriving there only four days after the big opening I expected some glitches, but our vacation at the Sunscape The Beach was a really excellent overall experience. We think that once the staff is fully trained this would be a really awesome five star resort. Most of the staff speak english and there are no big communication problems for those who don't speak spanish. The construction noise from buildings 6-9 was hardly noticeable and no problem at all. I would recommend this resort without a problem considering that they just opened they really did a good job.
I posted some pictures of the resort as well so that you can get a better idea of what it looks like.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hey Ohotos!

Thank you very much for the comprehensive review and photos. Us fellow sunscape travellers really appreciate you taking the time to put these up!