Sunscape is spectacular.
Since August 2002 I had heard and read all the reviews about Sunscape...more than 95% were raves and the few negatives were to be expected. There is no doubt in my mind that Sunscape has found a niche in the resort industry of rehabbing smaller and more compact resorts and Americanizing them for the North American trade. A vacationing British gentleman at the resort said that "he came to Sunscape because Americans have higher standards". My reason for booking Sunscape was not because it was Americanized, but because it was not a mega sprawling resort. Twice we had been to the Casadel Mar in La Romana for that particular reason and it is now called Sunscape Casa del Mar..yipee.. Many people we have met also avoid larger chains that require trams, jitneys or long walks to take them place to place. Three times in the past we had been to the city of Santo Domingo, once to Puerto Platta which I hated..lol. Twice to the! Casa del Mar in a Romana and two years go to the Catalonia Bavaro which we liked very much except it was another sprawling resort. So, we aren't any strangers to the Dominican Republic and our expectations of the newer all inclusives and we do our homework way ahead of time before booking a resort. Let me tell you about our incredible experience at Sunscape In Punta Cana. If Rod Gahr, General Manager of Sunscape had ever gone to a hotel and restaurant management school he would have been told....you can't do what you want to do!! As a result of his working his way up he has learned what guests really want. He is a "hands on" person and is available to guests, he loads luggage as guests depart and thanks each and every one of them. He walks around giving out red gummy bears to guests and staff alike.. Rod doesn't hide behind a locked door.ARRIVAL: On Sunday, February 9th at 12:45 p.m.: We were greeted with s!miles and welcomes by the frontdesk staff and as reported it is true with warm chocolate chip cookies and rum punch with Caren, the Director of Public Relations adding rum for those who wanted it. Many people from our GWV group received their rooms immediately. We were told as others that our rooms would be ready at 2:00 p.m. so we went to lunch at Windows and had a drink. Two o'clock arrived and everybody received their room except us and we were told a great room was being prepared, but we would have to wait until 3:00 p.m. We had been up since 3:00 a.m. and I was not a "happy camper". I happened to talk to Jessica, the Guest Relations person, and she promptly talked to the front desk and assured us the room would be ready in ten minutes....thank you Jessica....it was. When booking the room we had asked for a second floor and king sized bed. We were taken to what I judged was the most wonderful locat!ion...Building #3 and Room 3220 which overlooked the pool and beach. The new mahogany four poster king sized bed (with two swans made from the towels and flowers) and the furniture represented the mahogany wood the D.R. was famous for. In the bathroom there were huge white fluffy towels and lo and behold not one, not two, but three facecloths and the amenities of large week sized shampoos, conditioner and bath gel. How many times have been to resorts and have had to bring my own face cloths . I do bring my own shampoo and conditioner and bath gel as a rule. On the large balcony was a sturdy pull out clothes dryer (I always bring clothespins and liquidsoap) Yes, we were off to a great start. Sunday night about 7:30 we headed towards Da Mario's. There were people waiting outside and we put our names in. When we asked about how long the wait was the young man told us to "keep coming back and checking". This from what I had read was n!ot the Sunscape Way. We headed to the Tex-Mex Restaurant where I had the ribs which were delicious. MONDAY... we were up early and as I had read almost all chairs in the shade are hard to come by, but we lucked out as all the other chairs in the shade under the palapas had been taken by 7:00 a.m. In mid-morning I spotted Rod Gahr and Johny Mendez, the Food and Beverage Manager walking around. early in the morning. Not being the bashful type I told him as far as I was concerned I would like to be moved to the Catalonia Bavaro down the road I was quite unhappy and told him why. He turned to Mr. Mendez, the Food and Beverage Manager and told him to take care of the problem at DaMario's and he apologized profusely for our inconvenience and long wait for our room. He guaranteed we would love the resort and that evening we received a lovely fruit platter and a personal letter of apology from him which was the proper way to handle an!unhappy guest. The rest of the week was filled with pleasant suprises beyond my expectations.."Things" happened that we had never seen at any other 4 star resort and let me tell you about them. POOL AREA: The pool is divided in two by a woodenbridge and on the "deeper" side was the very activepool bar and little kiddies pool which was actually being used. On the activities side was the palapa withthe towels and bulletin boards noting activities for that evening and movies. We never ever had a problem with replacing our towels, probably because we took the dirty ones to the room and replaced them in the a.m. Around the pool where we sat from 8:00 a.m. to at least 4:30 p.m. there was always something going on. Music was not loud and obtrusive as we have found in other places. There was the usual volley ball, wateraerobics, kayak fights, dance lessons, spanish lessons, step aerobics etc. etc. Large yellow floats! were put in the pool in the a.m. One morning I noticed several children hoarding one or two of the floats under their chaises.. I don't know who, but somebody from the staff nicely (I heard him) ask the children to use them or put them back in the pool and they did. Adults and children alike took turns sharing the floats and it was never a problem..nice to see Because this is a family type resort there were many children and it was wonderful to see them playing with their new friends. One little girl from Holland was included with two American and one British girls and by hand gestures and whatever they made a happy quartet. I even heard one girl thank three others for being her friends for the week, wasn't that sweet. The children I knew through their families would go off with Paulina doing kids stuff and one morning they had a volley ball game in the pool and another a treasure hunt and their team came back with T-shirts. Another afterno! o!n we noticed a little fake Dominican Hut beingput up and decorated with palms. They had brought in coconuts and had a Coconut Party around the pool. They broke them open and filled them with a coco loco drink and Caren again was there to add rum for those who wanted it. Dominican dancers were there to provide the entertainment and dance with the guests and give lessons. There were plenty of coconuts to go around and everybody seemed to enjoy this wonderful event..One afternoon chocolate chip cookies were passed around and another day or two although bars were just steps away drinks were served to guests by staff members. The Animation Staff under the direction of Adrian Gutierrez is always there working and one in particular draws my praise..Chookie (I hope that ishow his name is spelled)., the first day I saw this plus sized man start to do water exercises I thought..wow...the hospital isn't that faraw! ay..Surprise...he gave a great work out..at least 30 minutes and never faltered. One day he walked around talking to all the guests around the pool and with us was a new guest, a little girl. Chookie welcomed her with a chuck under the chin which brought a smile. Amazingly, a few days later when he walked around he asked where the little girl was, now that is amazing..Tuesday and Fridays the parrot men come around to take pictures of the guests posing with the birds. Since my name is Parrot Mom and I do own parrots I was quite anxious to meet the parrots and learn how and where they came from. Eduardo the photographer did not just take any old picture and was quite creative and is an excellent photographer. He told me about the birds that they rent per day and how they are taken care of. For whatever reason I adopted the charming Eduardo as "my son". There was a different photographer with the handler on Friday and it was a one two three deal and the developed pictures that were for sale showed the difference. Yes, I bought a cute silly candid picture from Eduardo. Now, I must tell you the negative side of the pool area. if you want shade you must get up before 7:00a.m. to reserve your spot. There was ! gentleman who had a small baby and little toddler and he explained he needed the shade for them. There was a woman in a wheelchair whose palapa was saved by her family. Personally, I've had basal cell and also need shade and I had to get up early and do the same thing. The last full day were were going to be there I was determined after being out in the sun too much to reserve a special spot. The spot the family with the baby had used this spot for several days and had left the day before. On the whole we found people very respectful of the reserved spaces and the morning I knew they were gone I happened to be up at 5:45 and in the pitch black of the building and pool area I groped my way downstairs with towels and cover-ups to reserve the much desired spot. I moved the lounges into the area only bumping into the security guard coming and going and I wonder what he thought. Interesting enough the some of the same spots were ! c!overed with towels early in the a.m. day after day and privately I think I know how and why, but my lips are sealed. There was an incident where a husband had reserved one chair for his wife near us under a palapa at 7:00a.m., she had developed sun poisoning. When she went out to get the chair it had been pushed out into the sun by four non-english speaking guests who gestured they knew nothing about it. Two other chairs under a palapa with towels of guests I had met had their chairs pushed into the sun also by other non-english speaking guest. I do understand that people from other countries do not require the "space" around them and felt they have the right to "share" your space. Sadly, many of the saved chaises were not utilized until late afternoon. A woman told me that her chair and her friends chair under a tree on the beach had the fate of having her items dumped and the people know knowing a thing about it. Managem! ent is definitely aware ofthe problem and it was mentioned at the Cocktail Party. This problem is not unique to Sunscape and the solution maybe easy. At the Casa del Mar around the pool are four huge canopies that hold at least two dozen chaises so there is never a problem getting a place in the shade. There has to be a solution whether there are more palapas installed or perhaps one or two canopies on either side of the pool.. Guests on vacation should not have to get up at 6:00 or 7:00a.m. to find a place in the shade. Since we are retired I resent having to rise at least two hours earlier so we can find a bit of shade..Another request I've heard from other guests is that additional ladders be put in both sides of the pool. and or a set of steps. There is only one ladder on the bar side and one on the activities side. Small children needed boosts and a woman I talked to with bad knees had a definite problem getti! n!g in and outand needed assistance. BEACH--Don't know what the complaints about the beach were about a little seaweed and the marina off to the side. The boats added to the scenic beauty. We walked the beach daily down to the Allegro Resort and past returning by the way of the vendors. They can be persistent, but telling them I was "just looking" and they took it well. When we did go back to buy and to look for a particular item they were helpful. These vendors are not self-employed and work for a company that puts up the booths so the prices are a tad higher, but they need to make their money too. Between the pool and the beach over the wall is a young man hand painting T-shirts personalizing them. There is a kiddie playground with slides. and other adult games available. RESTAURANTS: WINDOWS; On the first day we had lunch in Windows and were very unhappy. The restaurant is cavernous and dark at the breakfast and lunch we had t! here. One of the joys of a winter vacation is eating on a deck under an umbrella. No complaints about the food being offered or the staff. TEX-MEX: Ate there the first night, great ribs. AMERICAN GRILLE: We never dined there...sorry...it was downstairs from the Tex-Mex restaurant and the same building as the Beach Grille BEACH GRILLE: The next morning we heard about the Beach Grille and headed to there at 8:00 a.m. to sit overlooking the beach under an umbrella. it was pure joy. There is an regular breakfast menu which were able to order from and that was fine and we also had lunch there. There is a waiter who deserves special attention.. I don't know remember his name, but hecomes from Puerto Platta and is easily recognizable because he is bald..Very experienced and delightful..he is also a head waiter in Da Mario's. DA MARIO'S: We spent much time eating there because of the excellent food and service. The secret is to go bef! o!re 6:45 and we usually arrived about 6:30 or 6:15. The food was wonderful, especially of note were their mashed potatoes. It got so that I would order grilled shrimp and instead of pasta requested the mashed potatoes. The food, presentation and service was excellent. I could barely get to the desserts, but if I did...they had a design of a spoon and fork outlined with cocoa powder....nice touch SURPRISES: This is what sets Sunscape apart and above other resorts we have ever been to......MANAGERS COCKTAIL PARTY: Wednesday Night there is a Manager's Cocktail Party in the Lobby. I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw Rod personally passing around appetizers as was Adrian head of the Animation Team, the Food and Beverage Director and the Chef's. In real champagne glasses bottles of champagne flowed freely. Cruise style Rod introduced his entire staff and the people behind the scenes. He also included two men who were responsible for the sa!nitation and cleanliness of the resort and restaurants. Rod proudly announced that Sunscape had the highest rating of any resort in Punta Cana for sanitation and I didn't hear of anybody getting sick. On the plane a woman told me her husband was hospitalized for two night with foodpoisoning...she was at one of the mega resort..BEACH PARTY: Early on Thursday morning the staff started setting up for beach party in the evening. At least two hundred tables with blue glassware, candles and white tablecloths. The staff had made an lovely arbor of palm leaves to enter the area... I looked around in disbelief and wonderment at the buffet tables set up. Even on cruise ships have I never seen the selection and displays they had. We wondered even at the huge selection of cheeses...all sorts of items being grilled like whole fish and steaks. In the very, very early morning as I enjoyed some air on the balcony I heard the staff cleaning up...The gi!gantic effort of Food and Beverage Manager, Johnny Mendez and his staff in the many man hours of putting up this buffet and then having to break it down and clear the tables, chair and clean the beach for the morning has to be be a Herculean affair..POOL PARTY: Friday morning lo and behold the staff is setting up again around the arbor and pool area for apool party...another incredible buffet. ANIMATION STAFF/SHOWS: Every evening there were great movies on a large screen for kids and have to and many adults alike. Harry Potter, Star Wars, Scooby Doo, 102Dalmations and Shreik. The shows for the adults were fun some of them judged by the staff as "adult"..The children were asked to come to the front of the stage where they were marched off by the staff to have their own party. Before several of the shows the chiildren put on little shows...one was a fashion show..another was the "movng hat".. and seeing Chookie try to explain this game to the children who spoke several languages was funny enough. HOUSEKEEPING: Since our long wait the first day we would put the card asking for the room to be made up immediately..and it was. One morning we forgot and when we returned out room had still not been made. It!'s very possible with the constant coming and goings of guests during the week that additional housekeeping personell should be added. GROUNDS: Since this is an older resort the bushes and trees are lush and kept well trimmed. STAFF: By having the management team that they do at Suncape it is obvious the rest of the staff are "happycampers" and as a result reflect it in their attitude towards guests.