01 of 04
Here Comes the Sun Club -- for Adults Only
The Puerto Plata region of the Dominican Republic has a new all-inclusive option for families — and for couples seeking some adults-only privacy, too.
Sunscape Puerto Plata Resort, opened in 2015, is part of the AMResorts family and specializes in offering all-inclusives for families, promising “Unlimited Fun” at attractive prices. I’d been to Sunscapes before and they can be rather spartan, so I was pleasantly surprised at the grandeur of the entrance … and then extremely impressed with the overall majesty of the entire property once I had a chance to explore.
All Sunscape resorts have a high-end wing called the Sun Club with all kinds of extras, but this one has two. The first is a family-friendly area with its own private cold-water whirlpool and a poolside terrace for private dining — both buffet and a la carte. The second Sun Club also has a giant whirlpool (this one hot), but what really sets it apart is that it’s the first adult-only enclave at any Sunscape property. The grounds are strictly off-limits to children, and personally, I think it’s a genius idea.
The adult-only addition might sound odd for such a family-oriented brand, but really it makes so much sense for big groups and multi-generational get-togethers like weddings and reunions. Both Sun Clubs are the only hotel wings with suites: mine was extremely spacious, with two balconies, a king-sized bed, and a dining nook that could easily sit 6-8 people. These are also the only parts of the resort where you can receive room service.Continue to 2 of 4 below.
02 of 04
Sunscape Remake Includes a New Pevonia Spa
The resort is not new: it was formerly a Barcelo hotel and an Occidental before that, but everything has been totally refreshed since the take-over. It’s a sprawling Spanish Colonial style complex, with spacious halls hung with grand chandeliers. The focal point is the main pool with waterfalls, an open-air theatre, and a plaza.
Hotel buildings are flanked by tropical gardens and a Robert Trent designed 18-hole golf course, and backed by the mountains. They’ve also added a brand new spa: so new I could still smell the paint. It’s a Pevonia brand enclave with a full beauty salon, modern treatment rooms, and a soothing indoor water circuit. They even do “fish pedis” in their lobby — a treatment where little fish nibble your skin smooth and clean.Continue to 3 of 4 below.
03 of 04
Protected Playa Dorado Beach is Part of the Package
Of course, the majority of visitors come to the Dominican Republic for the sun, surf, and sand. So my only real disappointment at this place was that none of their 585 rooms have an ocean view of any kind. But there’s actually a very good reason for that: the ancient mangrove forest that surrounds the resort has remained protected, a rarity for large tourism-driven projects. Plus, the walk to the water is short from any point and also leads to Castaways, the resort’s seaside bar and buffet, which morphs into a charming, candle-lit dining terrace by night.
Playa Dorado (“golden beach”) is touted as the best beach in Puerto Plata, and it’s easy to see why. The water was warm, ultra clear, and calm in a protected bay, and there was no sign of the pesky seaweed plaguing so many Caribbean shores these days. The sand, however, is hot: wear flip-flops to the water’s edge or you’ll end up doing a frenzied screaming hop/sprint like Dudley Moore in the movie “10”!
There are water sports galore (mostly included) and a large catamaran for excursions like snorkeling or pleasure sailing (additional cost). This is a public beach, so there are vendors: mostly they were offering massages and beach pedicures, and I found them far less aggressive than on many beaches I’ve spent time on.Continue to 4 of 4 below.
04 of 04
Great First Impressions on Food and a Friendly Staff
My stay was too short to dine at all the a la carte restaurants, though I did graze at the main buffet and little cafe. Mainly, the food I had was at Castaways — the first night for dinner, and the second night as part of a private party to officially launch the resort. If the food I had is any indication of the overall quality at this resort, then guests are in very good hands. In fact, I found it to be some of the best dining I’ve encountered in the Dominican Republic, and that includes many more upscale resorts than Sunscape.
Service was also first-rate. I chatted with staff (most spoke English) and sleuthed out that many original workers were kept on after the change to the Sunscape brand, and some employees had been there for decades. In fact, one young woman told me that she and her family used to spend Sundays on the property when it was a public botanical garden, long before development. Maybe it’s this intrinsic connection to the property that has staff making guests feel genuinely welcome rather than merely tolerated, but whatever the reason, I found their authentic friendliness extremely refreshing. I also appreciated the fact that the stores and full pharmacy on site offered “townie” prices rather than tourist prices.
Overall, the vibe throughout the resort was bright and lively, and though there were some children in the pool and on the beach, the kid’s club and the tween’s club seemed to be keeping the majority of the youngsters occupied so their parents could enjoy some lounging time. And the nightly entertainment brought everyone together for family friendly galas.
I really enjoyed this spot, and I‘d love to return for a longer stay and explore the town, the port, and the mountain: Mount Isabel de Torres in Puerto Plata has the only aerial tram of its kind in the Caribbean, for example.