My husband and I just arrived back from a 5 day/4 night trip to Excellence Punta Cana for our honeymoon. Overall, we were very pleased with the resort. There were a few things we would like changed, but for the price you really can't beat this place. Here are more specifics:
Arrival: I highly recommend using the private transportation arranged by the resort. Email them ahead of time and they can arrange this. There will be someone waiting for you at the airport when you arrive and you do not need to haggle with the other cab drivers or get on the super crowded shared transportation. While the resort is only about 30 miles away, most of the ride is on two lane roads so it takes almost an hour to get there. Excellence is the last resort along the coast so if you take shared transportation, you will be the last to be dropped off.
Room: We had the garden view excellence club room. We were extremely happy with it, it was quiet and the view of the garden was lovely. More about excellence club later in the review. Our room smelled as if someone had been smoking in it, but we opened the back door and it aired out by the next day. However, if the smell of smoke bothers you, ask for a non-smoking room. My real complaint is we didn't have hot water the last day we were there, so we were taking a cold shower right before we were ready to check out.
Amenities: The beach and pool were great, staff came by regularly to see if you needed anything. There always seemed to be chairs available so this was never an issue. We always went to the main pool because it was closer to our room, but we saw the cascade pool and it looked really nice as well. The beach was pretty rough the entire time we were there and I suspect its like that most of the year. This is because of the side of the island its on. It you are big into snorkeling or swimming in the ocean, you may want to pick somewhere else.
Food: We thought the food here was pretty good considering it was an all inclusive. We ate at Toscana, Agave, Las Olas, The Grill, and Lobster House. I highly recommend Agave, it was very good. Order the empanadas, they were some of the best I've ever had. The only place we did not care for was the lobster house for dinner. It was not good, we went and got other food after we were done here. I would like to let everyone know we ate a LOT at the excellence club. I read some other reviews where people said it didn't seem worth the extra cost. I couldn't disagree more, the upgrade to the excellence club is the best decision we made. Our room was literally right next to the excellence club so we ate here quite a bit. They are open 7am to 11pm and they have food available all day and most importantly, you can wear whatever you want and no one will ask you to change clothes. One complaint I had about the restaurants was the dress code for men. It's rather strict, men absolutely cannot wear shorts to a majority of the restaurants for dinner. This was rather annoying because my husband only brought the jeans he wore on the plane so he had to wear these the nights we went to the nicer restaurants. The restaurants that men did not have to wear jeans fill up very quickly, so I highly recommend men bring several pairs of pants to wear.
More on excellence club: In addition to the great food at excellence club, you also get a private check-in, private concierge, and an exclusive area on the beach. They also said we got top shelf liquor, but since I did not ask about what the other rooms get I can't verify if what we got was different from the regular rooms. I will say we got better booze in our rooms than we get at most restaurants here in the US: Bombay sapphire, Absolute Vodka, Johnnie Walker Black were a few of the bottles we had in our room. We also had free wi-fi, not sure if that is for everyone or just excellence club.
Service: The staff was wonderful, everyone was really nice. However, I will say we did not encounter anyone who spoke English REALLY well. When you are asking simple questions, everything was fine. But if we had a more complex question, we could not get the answers we were looking for. But overall, we did not have a problem communicating most of our needs to the staff and we received prompt service for everyone.
Excursions: The resort itself only offers two excursions, a horseback ride on the beach and a bike tour. If you want to do either of these, sign up for them as soon as you arrive. We waited a day and by the time we asked about them, they were booked up for both the entire time we were there. There are private companies at the resort you can book with for other excursion. A word of warning- these companies send people throughout the resort and ask you to sign up for their excursions. When we were at the pool, they would come over and bother us every single time we were down by the pool. We found this very annoying, this is my biggest complaint about this resort.
Activities: My husband signed up for a cigar tasting and he enjoyed that very much. It was informational and they gave you a discount at the cigar shop when it was over. It was only $25 and they would light up as many cigars as you could smoke in an hour. I went to a flower workshop, (it was free) taught by Yazmin who does all the flower decoration for the resort. It was very educational and she made a lovely flower arrangement that one of the attendees got to take back to their room. We were leaving the next day so I declined to take it myself.
Overall, we were happy with our stay, we did not have a lot to complain about. I will say the resort itself was very beautiful, they really did a good job with decorating and the lay out. The last thing I would like to mention is on Monday night, they let vendors come in to sell jewelry and what-not. Since we did not leave the resort, I did want to look at what they had to offer. However, they are extremely pushy and start yelling at you if you walk within 20 feet of their table. In fact, the one table I did start looking at, he was so dang pushy that I didn't get to look at everything I wanted to because I just wanted to get away from him as soon as I could. I did end up buying some stuff, but wish I could just look at everything in my own time. Also, the vendors expect you to haggle. I really hate this as I am not a haggler. I think we paid too much for some of our stuff, but I remind myself that I probably make more money in a month that these people see in a year. I would just recommend not going overboard with the souvenir shopping.
I hope to one day return with my parents and in-laws, as I think this would be a nice place to take a group. There were a bunch of weddings as we were there on 12/12/12 and everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves.