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
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
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
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
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 (www.applevacations.com).
Sunscape the Beach
Playas Uvero Alto, Provinicia La Altagracia
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
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