Escape to Sunscape

Breaking in the palapas at The Beach

By: Janeen Christoff

The beaches of Punta Cana are a maze of varying all-inclusive resorts. During my one-hour drive from the thatched-roof airport in Punta Cana to Sunscape the Beach, I saw but a couple actual hotels. Around every bend of the windy road, however, a new sign revealed directions to another group of resorts.

Although Sunscape is not the closest resort to the airport, the journey is a pleasant one and affords the traveler a first glimpse of what life in the Dominican Republic is really like. For some, this may be the only time they see the indigenous atmosphere after all, when resorts say all-inclusive, they mean it.

Upon arrival, I was greeted by a friendly staff and given a welcome cocktail and a sugary chocolate chip cookie. I was directed to my suite and my luggage was delivered before I could finish admiring my Jacuzzi tub. Rooms at Sunscape are beautifully decorated with garden or ocean views and swim-out pool rooms. Mine came with an ocean view, a private balcony and the aforementioned in-room Jacuzzi.

At the center of the resort is a “lazy river” swimming pool winding through the grounds and divided in two by a waterfall. Swim-out rooms line one side and palapas line the other, with a swim-up bar and the beach at the end.

The beach is speckled with coconut palms and various forms of watersports’ apparatus like sailboats and kayaks promising to keep guests entertained. A long stretch of beach to the right of the resort offers a lovely morning or evening walk.

Food is an important part of any all-inclusive experience and with six restaurants, including Japanese, Italian, Mexican and American, there is no lack of variety. The World Cafe offers a wide variety of dishes and their outdoor patio was my favorite breakfast spot. My second night, we dined at the Japanese restaurant, Himitsu. The atmosphere is modern and decoration is minimal. The shrimp and lobster tempura with plum and ginger sauce was very tasty and our dessert of fried ice cream with honey and chocolate sauce was a definite treat. Visitors can dine at private tables or Tepanyaki-style where entrees are prepared by personal chefs.

By far the most outstanding restaurant of the ones we tried was the Mexican restaurant, El Patio. Spicy salsa and homemade tortilla chips were complimented by margaritas made with freshly squeezed limes. After an assortment of appetizers members of our group agreed that the seasoned shrimp and taquitos were the best, however not a morsel of food left on the table. Other restaurants include Beaches for a more formal atmosphere and Bella Italia, serving Italian cuisine.

Guests also have the option of leaving and dining at nearby Secrets, another luxury all-inclusive in the AMResorts collection designed for adults only. There guests can also take advantage of the casino. Shuttles to and from Secrets are free.

Although Sunscape is a family-friendly resort, the designers didn’t skimp on luxury when they conceived the spa. After dropping children off at the Kids Explorer Club, parents can escape to the relaxation and serenity of this peaceful oasis. The landscaping is simple and serene with calming music playing quietly in the background. Small docks lead to 10 private treatment rooms where visitors have the a choice of body treatments, many using indigenous ingredients like rum and molasses. There is also a full-service salon. In the waiting room, a little shop sells beauty products, and orange juice and water infused with chlorophyll are in seemingly endless supply for rehydration.

A whole day can be spent luxuriating in the whirlpool and “hydrotherapy circuit,” which consists of a series of showers, a steam bath, a sauna, hydro-massage and an ice plunge. Although it sounds gruesome, the ice plunge was my favorite part. After eight minutes in the sauna, the plunge into cold water is refreshing. You can actually feel the heat radiating off your body after you sink into the near freezing pool. After two minutes, you are ready for the sensation shower, the final phase of the circuit. With the purchase of a spa treatment, access to the whirlpool and accompanying accoutrements are free. You can also pay $20 to use the facilities for the day.

Apart from lounging at the pool, the beach or in the spa, other activities include sailing, snorkeling and scuba diving. The resort has a fitness center with free-weights and several different exercise machines. There are also daily yoga, aerobics and water aerobics classes.
Guests can take in-pool scuba lessons or try ocean kayaking. There are tennis courts and the resort offers lessons. For the intellectually minded there is a giant chess set overlooking the ocean.

Should visitors want to broaden their horizons, Amstar, the official destination management company, offers a host of off-site activities as well. Excursions include day tours to various cities, the Manati Park, swimming with dolphins and the Marinarium. Our group took a day trip to La Romana where we toured a Dominican cigar factory. Along the way we stopped in the Dominican city of Higuey to see a cathedral and Alta de Chavon, a replica of an Italian city that was built in the 1980s. Here, tourists can shop, dine and admire stunning vistas of the Chavon River below.

For lunch, we took a river cruise on board a floating restaurant on the Chavon River where the jungle-like scenery makes visitors feel like they are riding through a scene in “Apocalypse Now.” On board, the food was delicious and the rum plentiful. The crowd favorites were yucca fries and sauteed eggplant. Merengue music played in the background encouraging diners to get up and dance, something we all needed to work off our lunch.

Commissionable packages to Sunscape the Beach can be booked through Apple Vacations (


Sunscape the Beach
Punta Cana
Playas Uvero Alto, Provinicia La Altagracia
Dominican Republic

Hits: El Patio, the resorts Mexican restaurant serves tasty margaritas made with fresh lime juice and served as you walk in the door. The appetizers were also top-notch.

Rooms are comfortable and clean. Housekeepers add a personal touch by folding towels into swans. Towel folding classes are offered at the resort.

A gorgeous spa with an excellent whirlpool.

Misses: A disappointing room-service menu. The breakfast menu didn’t consist of any of the usual hearty breakfast foods. Instead options were fruit, yogurt and pastries.

Be Aware: Although the resort is perfect for families, couples may want a little more privacy. Some rooms are located on a service road where you can see trucks and overhear road noise.

Plugging In: The hotel has an Internet cafe for those who can’t resist their E-mail.

Clientele: Mostly families and groups from the U.S. and Europe. Some couples.

Rates: $130-$300 per person

Commission: 10 percent