Seeking Sanctuary in the Dominican Republic

Online editor Monica Poling blogs from Secrets Sanctuary in Cap Cana By: By Monica Poling
Secrets Sanctuary Cap Cana // (c) 2010 Monica Poling
Secrets Sanctuary Cap Cana // (c) 2010 Monica Poling

The Details

With only one night left on my three-night stay at Secrets Sanctuary Cap Cana — a five-star, all-inclusive property in the Dominican Republic — I found myself in a bit of a dilemma. Although I only had a few hours left in Cap Cana, there were still two resort restaurants I hadn’t yet sampled.

Cursing my bad time management skills, I contemplated my choices: Asian dining or the resort’s signature Blue Marlin seafood restaurant.

In reality, it wasn’t so much bad time management that had me in this dilemma, but rather a packed schedule that didn’t allow for much free time. The main reason for my first-ever visit to the Caribbean, was to learn about Secrets Resorts & Spas’ major expansion that will be taking place over the next 18 months.

Secrets Sanctuary Cap Cana, the company’s first resort outside of Mexico, is currently Secrets Resorts & Spas’ only property in the Dominican Republic. Not content to rest on its laurels, however, Secrets has announced that it will be introducing four new properties in a resort complex known as the Gems of Capa Cana. Comprised of the Zoetry Gems at Cap Cana, Secrets Gems at Cap Cana, Now Gems at Cap Cana and Now Preferred Gems at Cap Cana, the new development will offer a combined 1,100 suites and create 6,000 new jobs. The all new-build properties are slated to open in late 2012.

Needless to say, this is big news in the Dominican Republic, whose economy is heavily reliant upon tourism. The news is so big in fact, that the president of the Dominican Republic, Leonel Fernandez Reyna was in attendance at the press conference to give John Mullen, chairman of Apple Leisure Group an award of merit.

Much of the itinerary during my first two days at the resort was related to “official business,” including a hotel site inspection. The 175-suite property is located on the eastern coast of the Dominican Republic and bills itself as offering the largest selection of unique suite types of any hotel in Cap Cana.

The Fortaleza // (c) 2010 Monica Poling

The Fortaleza had me wanting to sing
"yo ho, yo ho" // (c) 2010 Monica Poling

During the site inspection, there were so many different buildings and room types, I lost track of just how many options clients will have here. I personally enjoyed my own room, an Ocean View Villa in the Fortaleza (fortress) building. Although the building’s exterior looked like a set directly from the “Pirates of the Caribbean,” the inside was ultra modern and my two-story loft included a lovely plunge pool on the lower level and two-story views from the bedroom upstairs.

The Ocean View Villa features a private plunge pool // (c) 2010 Monica Poling

The Ocean View Villa features a private plunge pool // (c) 2010 Monica Poling

Higher-end clients will probably enjoy the 5,550-square-foot Island Suite, which is situated on its own private island. No matter which room class your clients decide upon, all of them will enjoy Secrets’ Unlimited Luxury (all-inclusive) options.

For me, Unlimited Luxury meant that I could make the most of my dining options at the resort’s steak restaurant. My group happily shared a large variety of appetizers, side dishes and desserts, but the entree, a Kobe beef rib eye was all mine. Admittedly, as a total carnivore, I can wholeheartedly say that this is the best meal I’ve ever eaten at an all-inclusive resort and probably ranks among the top 10 best steak dinners I’ve ever enjoyed.

None of the meals at the resort disappointed, and even the buffet-style breakfasts and lunches came with plenty of prepared-to-order items, including hand-blended fruit smoothies.

The overall quality of the food was exactly what had me so stressed over the decision of where to eat my final meal. I knew there would be no bad choice, but which would be the better one? Fortunately, Secret’s Unlimited Luxury plan meant that I could very easily plan my own “dine around.” It was no problem to enjoy a small sushi appetizer before heading over to the seaside Blue Marlin for the main course: chowder and lobster.