My boyfriend and I stayed at Excellence for 5 nights. I would say that it fell short of "excellente". This resort is definitely not a 5 star resort. I am unsure as to why it is ranked so high. We vacationed in Punta Cana last year and stayed at the Iberostar Grand so we had high expectations going into this trip. You can read my review for that resort as I highly recommend it. If we ever returned to Punta Cana we would stay at the Iberostar Grand for sure.
Location: if you have never been to Punta Cana, there are two sides to the island - the Caribbean side and the Atlantic side. Excellence is located on the Atlantic side. We have visited both and the beaches are very different. On the Atlantic side the waters are a little rough vs the Caribbean side which is very calm. Both are equally beautiful with clear turquoise water. We did not mind the rougher water at all. Coming from
The northeast we are very used to waves and it didn’t bother us at all. Another thing to note on the location is that it is about an hour from the airport. We made sure to book a private shuttle ahead of time so we did not get stuck on a shuttle with people from other hotels and we could just go right to the resort. We used Dominican shuttles (about 150 USD) and the ride was not as terrible as everyone else describes in their reviews!
The Resort: At first glance the grounds are well kept and clean. You are greeted with a glass of champagne and a cold towel. The lobby area is big and this is where all of the shows and restaurants are located for the most part. The rooms are situated parallel to the beach and pool so basically every building is close to both. However, if you prefer to be close to the lobby and restaurants I would choose buildings 6 or 7. We were put in 14 which is the farthest building from everything and adjacent to the Dominican shops that are not on the resort property. I emailed prior to our stay to request building 6 and they did not honor my request. Not a huge deal because we were a hop skip and a jump to the beach but it was a long walk to the restaurants, the gym, the spa and the lobby.
The rooms: There are 3 floors in each building and our room was on floor 1. We had a little patio with a hammock. None of the rooms on the resort are oceanfront so I would not recommend paying extra. There are ocean view rooms that you can see a little bit of the ocean over the pool and through the palm trees. Again I don't think it is worth it for the money. The staff told us the room was renovated but I wouldn't say they were renovated like I would have expected. The room smells musty but I think that is the norm for the Caribbean. There is a jacuzzi tub and a Stand up tile shower in the same room with a toilet and a glass window so you can see in from the bedroom (weird if you are not traveling with your spouse). The bed might be the most uncomfortable thing I have ever slept on. It is really bad. The mini fridge is re stocked sporadically (sometimes not at all). We never spend too much time in the room so we aren't too picky but the uncomfortable bed was disappointing.
The Food: really bad (most of it anyway) and it isn't because the ingredients are from here instead of the US. I can appreciate different ingredients but it was because it seemed like the food was prepared the day before and sat under a warmer for 24 hours. We ate at the Grille, lobster house, and agave and opted for the grille the rest because it was the best. Agave is the Mexican restaurant and it was absolutely terrible. For breakfast we ate at the buffet. By the end of the trip I found myself opting for Toast as it was the only thing that was edible! How do you mess up breakfast? Even the eggs were bad most of the time. Room service is Terrible!! We often found ourselves still hungry after dinner because the food was so bad, so we would try to order something from room service and it was even worse!! Bottom Line, the food quality really disappointed me. I don't expect a 5 star meal like in the states, but the meals should at least be edible!
Outside Vendors: This hotel allows outside vendors to come onto the resort property and set-upb shop to sell nick nacks and other various things. I couldn't believe this. When we would be walking around the resort we were being approached by various vendors to try to get us to purchase their goods. I thought this was unacceptable.
The Service: Inconsistent. Some of the servers were fantastic. But again, in comparison to Iberostar Grand, Excellence does not compare. The first night it took 1 hour to get me a glass of champagne at dinner. I have to say the service on the beach was great. I drank champagne most of the days, but friends that ordered mixed cocktails found that they were inconsitent with pouring top shelf. My recommendation would be to make sure you ask and watch to see what they pour.
Nightlife: There is basically one bar that is open late (the discoteca) it was quite a walk from our room and had a TERRIBLE smell. We sometimes went there to order drinks but hung out at the tables outside. We still had a blast but I wish they would make it smell better!!
TIP: BRING BUG SPRAY. I had welts ALL over my body from the mosquitos. The resort has a "jungle" type walk through area with ponds that must attract bugs. Some people we traveled with didn't get bit at all, but my bites were terrible. There are also tons of sand mites.
Overall, I feel like I may have made the trip sounds worse than it was. We had a wonderful time, but in key areas that you expect a "5 star" resort to excel, Excellence fell short. Overall if you don't mind very bad food, inconsistent service and mediocre rooms this place wouldn't be bad when they run their special rates. However, if you are well traveled and expect high quality and top notch service - look elsewhere. Again - read my review on Iberostar Grand Bavaro if you are looking at other resorts in Punta Cana. We also have friends that stayed at the Majestic Elegance and had a wonderful time so I would recommend that as well. I hope some more people start giving Excellence the rating it deserves (3-4) because the ranking is very misleading to people researching resorts in Punta Cana!
Feel free to inbox me if you have any more questions.