My wife and I booked this as a quick getaway from the kids (we're in our mid 30's), and I had never heard of Excellence until a colleague recommended it. After some research, we picked this given the easy travel (direct from NY) and the fact that we were catching the end of the "off-season" and the price was right. After reading the reviews I must say I was a bit skeptical given some of the horror stories, but they proved unfounded.
Resort- clean, clean, clean. There is literally an army of people constantly cleaning this place day and night. It's unbelievable. The pool area is kept meticulous, the beach is kept immaculate- on two separate days I watched staffers go out into the water to pull in some sort of fishing net that was washing up close to shore (they could've let the tide take it and chose not to. And I watched another staffer rake the beach for palm debris, etc. and then pick up the piles with a sifter in order to sift clean sand back on the beach! All you need to do is walk down the beach off-premises to appreciate how clean they keep the beach! Our room was cleaned well everyday, and the only incident we had with bugs were that some decorative flowers in the room attracted a few tiny ants. It's the Caribbean- not New England- there's going to be some ants. Once the flowers were gone, so were the ants.
Service- I cannot complain about a thing. Requests that I made to the concierge before arrival were taken care of without a problem (room location, transfer, spa reservation), waits at the restaurants were reasonable if non-existent, waiters and waitresses were super-friendly and gave us anything we asked for- want seconds of something? Their pleasure. Couldn't decide which lobster to get? They let us have both. Drinks were fast and just the right strength- Mario took care of us every night at the main bar for the evening show- it got to the point where he knew what we wanted and kept the drinks coming without even having to ask (and we tipped generously in return). With dinner- better wines are an extra charge but reasonable (by NY standards), but there's house wine if you don't wish to pay.
Location- it's about a 40 minute drive. If you've been to other islands, it's pretty much par for the course- windy roads, sometimes aggressive passing, traffic chaos in urban areas, but the trips there and back were fine. We splurged for the car service there and back- it was great because it was one less thing to worry about. One thing to note- if it's your first time in the DR, keep your bag check ticket handy, you need it to get your bag, and if you arrange for a car, keep walking towards the exit, past the taxi drivers who come up to you, past all the desks for the different hotels and travel agencies, and the person who is meeting you will be outside holding a sign....took us a little bit to figure that out.
Room- we got the honeymoon suite with the rooftop pool. It looks just like the picture. Room had just been redone, plenty of space, great roofdeck, fun pool up there (not heated) and jacuzzi in the room (we didn't even use it). Everything is marble in the room, so be careful coming down the steps when you're wet. Also, it rained our last night there, and after the show, a woman walking back to her room slipped on the tile and hit her head pretty bad. Be conscious of your footwear if it's wet out.
Food- When people would ask how the food is, my response is "it's all inclusive". You need to use common sense when you order something- this isn't your favorite italian restaurant, thai restaurant or french restaurant at home- and you didn't have to make a reservation to go there- level-set the expectations accordingly. Some things are better than others, and if you don't like it, everyone was more than willing to give you something else. We typically ate a big breakfast, small lunch, early dinner. That routine seemed to work well. Portions were fine- and if you wanted something else, you could simply ask for it....Room service took some time, but I think we ordered at peak post-show drunken rush hour, so I had to call to get a status update- and then they only brought half the order- but they quickly remedied the situation with profuse apologies.
Beach- we spent most of the time on the beach- and then hit the pool for afternoon/happy hour drinks. We took advantage of the Excellence Club- nice cabanas to lay in, full-service on the beach with food and drinks, and magazines to read if you didn't have something. I got up early to put our things on a cabana each day- many others did the same. Some people from Georgia tried to "buck the system" but the concierge very quickly and diplomatically remedied everything getting our cabana back from the cabana thieves, and then attended to their faux outrage by plying their ample gullets with champagne. My thanks to the staff once again.
Spa- we did a couples spa- very nice, very clean- waiting area his a bit funny- lots of couples waiting in cabanas trying to keep their robes over their privates. :) Sauna is interesting as well- two shelves- and a little weird if you're in there with people you don't know. Upper and lower levels are in a 6-9 position and the people on top can't get down if the people on the bottom are laying down. We cut out quickly and let the other couple sweat it out.
Other- Floats are a treasured item in the pool- I followed the advice of some other posts and packed our own- it's one that folds down in to a circle (I don't remember the name)- which was perfect. We'd bring it into the pool for afternoon happy hour and didn't have to worry about securing a float. Leave a note for your maid to tell her what to restock- or just order it with room service- if you don't know Spanish figure out how to ask it before you go. We didn't use the Excellence Lounge much- just to grab a martini one night and to arrange our car back to the airport. There's tons to do off-site, but we passed on all of that- those who were arranging tours weren't as aggressive to us as I read in some other posts. Watch out in that casino- the dealers were relentless- they hit blackjack regularly. When ordering drinks, you need to ask for the top shelf, otherwise you get the bottom shelf, and keep a close eye- some bartenders need reminding mid-drink. Ocean was rough while we were there, but we still went it anyway- just not too far. Keep the pool, shower, tap water out of your mouth to avoid stomach issues....
Kasandra is the best! She has non-stop energy and made every day/night so much fun!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- This quaint, colonial-style resort is the ideal destination for couples seeking secluded romantic getaways. Nestled among palms on a perfect white-sand beach on a remote stretch of Punta Cana's Caribbean shoreline, Excellence Punta Cana provides the perfect All-Inclusive playground for adults only and is also home to a world-class spa, state-of-the-art fitness center and an exceptional range of activities and services. ... more less
- Reservation Options:
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- Also Known As:
- Secrets Excellence Punta Cana
- Excellence Resort Punta Cana
- Excellence Punta Cana Resort
- Secrets Punta Cana
- Excellence Punta Cana Dominican Republic
- Excellence Dominican Republic
- Punta Cana Excellence Hotel
- Excellence Punta Cana Hotel
- Secret Excellence Resort Punta Cana
- Punta Cana Secrets Excellence