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“Beyond any expectation!” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Excellence Punta Cana

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Excellence Punta Cana
4.5 of 5 Resort (All-Inclusive)   |   Playas Uvero Alto, Punta Cana, Dominican Republic   |  
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Ranked #12 of 100 hotels in Punta Cana
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“Beyond any expectation!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 6, 2005

My wife and I stayed at Secrets from February 28th through March 4th. I booked this vacation through Secrets 1 800 line and had absolutely no problem with setting up the reservation. We flew USA 3000 and even though its a charter flight we found that the plane, crew and ultimately the flight down and back were wonderful.

I had reserved a junior suite with a garden view. My wife and I celebrated our 10th anniversary on January 28th, but couldn't make the trip till the end of February. I had booked the trip at the end of December/ beginning of January and had made two emails and two phone calls to the hotel directly to ask about concerns or requests that I had. I wanted a 3rd floor suite for the cathedral ceilings, privacy and ocean breeze. I also asked for a king size bed. I explained about the anniversary being delayed and they noted it on our reservation.

When we arrived in Punta Cana we found the Amstar/ Apple rep that would provide transportation to the hotel. The ride was a little bumpy and approx. an hour, but its certainly nothing to complain about. Your on vacation and someone else is driving - ease up!

The bus passed several hotels and when it pulled into the Secrets complex you certainly felt that you were in the best hotel in the country. It was absolutely beautiful. Well kept gardens and pathways were picturesque to say the least. The variety of birds, domestic and wild alike were situated beautifully along a small pond in the front of the hotel.

We arrived at the hotel at 12pm. and certainly knew that there was a chance our room wasn't ready as check in wasn't until 3pm. Oscar at the concierge was very helpful with the rudimentary check in procedures and then gave us the good news that our room was ready and we could go directly to it. He explained that the bell boy would be bringing up our bags shortly. We were given a site map and showed how to get to our room, #3205. WEll the hotel had come through again giving us a third floor junior suite with an Ocean view. I was totally taken back as everything I had asked for was coming to fruition. The king size bed complete with rose petals covering towels in the shape of a snow man. It was wonderful to see that they cared as much as they did. The front desk actually called later that evening to make sure that everything was to my liking. This happened with room service as well. The morning after a late night snack (2or3 am.) the head of room service called to make sure the food was to our approval. Can you imagine how taken back we were that everyone on the staff really cared how our vacation was going. To Note - The hotel room was complete with an ironing board, new iron, Blow dryer, Coffee Maker, two (2) phones and a digital safe.

The first day we explored the extensive grounds. The ocean side of the hotel flows between the free form pool that never ends and the palapas along the beach. The pathways are clearly marked with what lies ahead, whether it be a restaurant, club house, or bar palapa. I'm more into the beach and spent considerable time sun bathing and swimming in the beautiful water. Many of the vacationers from Europe came down to watch as my wife and I rode wave after perfect wave into the beach. (We were using boogie boards the hotel supplied.) Most complained about the surf being rough, but that seemed hilarious to me. I have vacationed along the East Coast all my life and know what dangerous surf is. The waves and slight undertow couldn't compare to Ocean city, NJ. or Ocean City, Md. on one of their calmest days. WE did go snorkeling but remembered what others on this site said about walking down the beach to the right. It is much calmer there and there are plenty of fish to see. Take bread from the buffet and bananas. The fish love them and will seek you out. Alot of endless fun to be had.

The food that we had each and every day was wonderful. I still cannot understand how those that complain about the food here can honestly look themselves in the mirror. This hotel is self providing in every way. They put on wonderful displays of culinary art each day and back it up with the gourmet tastes that leave you smiling after each bite. Yes if you get to breakfast after 10:30 some of the food will be cold. Remember breakfast starts at 7am and lasts until 11 am. In the event you get there late have them fix you a freshly made omellette at any of the three omellette grills. They will also fix fresh pancakes and french toast if you ask. These cooks are always working to please. They'll ask how your vacation is going and what they can do to help. We went to the restaurant Quisqueseya ? on the first night and were blown away with the chateau Briand and the Mahi Mahi. It is probably our favorite of all seven. Go figure seven restaurants and some still complain.

I have to note we did the Star Light dinner. It seemed that it is a very special occassion and one that doesn't happen all the time. It costs $160, but it was the best money I've ever spent while on vacation- ever! WE were led down to a torch surrounded table approximately 35 yds from the crashing surf. Truly a romantic evening was ahead. There were two cloth covered chairs and an entire silverware setting for each of us. We were given our own single waiter to handle all the courses and wine servings. Murray was a wonderful fellow who made it his goal to keep up wanting for absolutely nothing. WE were given full service from specially made salads, to soups, through our lobster / filet mignon main courses. You are given two bottles of wine and a bottle of Champagne. It was a magnificent time we had that also included a trio of musicians that came down the beach and serenaded us with several songs. They were honestly very talented. The night lasted approximately 5 hours. Not once did our waiter or a hotel empoyee ask us to speed things up. It was a wonderful night we will never forget.

We had fun at the casino and got the chance to try our hands at Black Jack. WE were told to stay away from Dominican Keno, Roulette and progressive slots which we did. We broke even after a couple hours and really enjoyed our time there.

The shows were funny and got you into the act if you wanted. Trust me nobody will be seeing these revues on Broadway, but it was enjoyable. We won a bottle of Rum and a T- shirt on our last night there. It was a great time.

My wife likes to ride horses and I promised that I would see if we could run the horses on a seperate excursion. We did the Gallop ride which is not included with the hotel stay, but is also worth the extra $30. each to have a private ride through the jungle and along the ocean. Franklin was our guide for the morning run and was very helpful but did give us our space to talk and run the horses. Let me tell you that you will see horses on the way to the hotel - The horses at the ranch are much healthier and active. You can tell they are well taken care of and given special attention. The gallop ride was excellent as you can run the horses throught the jungle and then back along the beach. Several times the horses were running in the shallows of the ocean (6-8" deep) and it was like something out of a movie. This tour was only supposed to be a 45 minute tour but Franklin and the owner had told us we could have an extra 15 minutes for free, what a bonus!

We also did the included horse tour, but it was slow and crowded. Spend the extra dough and get yourself something to truly remember.

I booked a snorkeling jet boat tour through Scuba Caribe and wasn't really satisfied with our transportation to and from the location. Once there we had a great time. That would probably be my only constructive criticism, book through the apple rep, not through the Scuba Caribe. The Scuba Caribe hut was however helpful in the watersports at the hotel site itself.

I have been to Jamaica, Cancun, Grand Cayman, Cozumel, and several of the nicest hotels within US borders. This hotel and its many employees have to rank as the top combination my wife and I have ever had the pleasure to stay with. With out a doubt you will have an excellent time.

  • Stayed March 2005
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
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Powell, OH, USA
13 reviews 13 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
68 helpful votes 68 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed March 5, 2005

Here's a reposting of my forum comments about our recent stay at Secrets Excellence near Punta Cana. I've addressed a lot of the questions I've read before and after my visit to Secrets. I want to add that I agree with another reviewer that these reviews are subjective and based on a lot of the reviewer's previous travel experiences as a point of comparison.

BEACH: beautiful. The sand wasn't white and sugary as it is further south on the Caribbean part of PC, but we found the beach surprisingly better than described by some on the board. It was wider than I expected and the chairs were plentiful. There are shady areas if desired. Drink service on the beach was so-so, but our group was never too far from the nearby bar. It wasn't a problem for us to walk a few feet for a drink. If you enjoy sitting on the beach reading, sleeping, etc., this is a great one for that.

OCEAN: ROUGH. I'd read here that the red flags were always up during people's stays at Secrets--same during this past week. I didn't swim in the ocean but those with us who did said it was very, very rough. It's a swimsuit-losing, sunglasses-grabbing kind of surf. If you can't swim, don't go in. It is clearer than I expected, however. Since it's the Atlantic, I expected it to look like, well, the Atlantic, at least the one I know--VA Beach, Corolla, Hilton Head, Miami. It actually had some turquoise in it!

WINDY CONDITIONS: Daily. It felt very good, though, and it wasn't hard to get used to, especially by the pool. When the sun's out in between the occasional clouds, one appreciates the gusty breezes. Someone told us that the sand flies come out when there's no wind, so be glad for the wind. Don't know if that's true, but I didn't see a sand fly, either! Definitely bring a light jacket, sweater, wrap, etc. for the evening. Many in our group found the evenings cooler than expected and some were unprepared, clothing-wise.

JACUZZI: big enough for two. My husband and I are taller than 5'9 (each!). We didn't get rose petals, though :( Perhaps that's for newlyweds and people celebrating anniversaries.

HORSEBACK RIDING: sign up with your tour company, but don't wait until the last minute. We had to book two days ahead. It fills up fast, probably because it's free.

TOPLESS: On the beach and at the pool, all ages, all sizes, but certainly not everyone. The majority of the women at the pool weren't topless, and I didn't notice a lot at the beach when I was there. If it's your first time being exposed to the exposed, you'll definitely notice it. We practically expected it after several trips to the Caribbean.

CHECK-IN/-OUT: both were very quick; my only complaint (and not the hotel's fault) is that we were there before check-in and had to wait for our room to be ready. Pack your swimsuit and pool stuff in your carryon and be prepared to change into it if you get there early. You'll get your towel cards at check-in. Grab your towels, some drinks, and lounge by the pool or the on the beach while you wait for your room. I didn't pack the suit in the carryon--lesson learned!

RESTAURANTS: We were a large group of 22 (singles and couples) and we tended to break off into smaller groups and share restaurant reviews with each other, although most of us tried all the restaurants. A large group (maybe 7-9 people) went to the Japanese restaurant and had poor service although they said the food was good. I made it to all the restaurants except the Japanese, and my favorite was the international restaurant next to the long bar. I'm sorry I cannot recall the exact name as I type this, but it starts with a Q. We were told to wait 45 minutes (no reservations at any restaurant, no matter how large a group); we were given a pager and waited 20 minutes before we got paged. It was a lovely restaurant and the food was great. The restaurants aren't going to make anyone's Top 10 Best Restaurant list or is of the quality one might find at a Four Seasons hotel restaurant, but I thought it was good overall. My personal opinion is that service and quality as far as food goes in an AI resort is sometimes hit or miss.

ROOM: Our room was a first-floor junior suite located in the 6000 building. It was roomy and comfortable for the most part, except that I found the mattress to be too hard and the pillows too small and flat, but I'm very selective about these things. My husband found them to be fine. The toiletries, including sunscreen, were generous sizes and were restocked daily. I really appreciated this because I didn't have the hassle of requesting additional shower gel, etc. There was always more than enough. The bar included purified water, sparkling water, orange and apricot juices, water, domestic (Presidente) beer, diet and regular sodas (Coke products). Some people said they had snacks, too, but we didn't. There were no bugs of any kind in the room, although I always put a towel at the bottom of my hotel doors when staying in the Caribbean--just a weird thing I do as it gives me peace of mind that it'll keep the crawlers out!

TOURS: We took the Outback Safari which was absolutely wonderful. I highly recommend it for those interested in seeing a lot of the true Dominican countryside and spirit. I took the Isla Saona tour a couple of years ago; it's a long bus ride there and back, but the sailing/swimming experience was worth it to me.

For the record, Secrets is the fifth all-inclusive resort experience for me--I've stayed at Marival in Puerta Aventuras, Mexico (not called that anymore?), Royal Solaris in Cancun, Riu Palace in Playa Del Carmen, and the Iberostar in Punta Cana prior to my stay at Secrets last week. I hope you find my review helpful in your decision.

  • Stayed February 2005
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
A TripAdvisor Member
4 of 5 stars Reviewed March 4, 2005

We traveled to Punta Cana early January, The ride from the aiport to the Hotel was about 80 minutes. But are drivers talked very little English but knew when we wanted to stop for beers roads are not well paved and pot holes but the driver seemed to know how to avoid them. The hotel was well manicured and maintained. The resort is on the tip of the island and the ocean water is rough but we were not disappointed with the pools they are the best we have ever seen.(we have traveled to the DR before and stayed at the Bavaro Palace) The food was fabulous. we ate at all the restaurants the best was the Mexican. Employees are great and very helpful, but they just kept laughing at us New Yorkers.....The rooms were beautiful we had a swim out room and upgraded when we got there (cheaper then what we were quoted prior to the trip) Sign up early for horseback riding as it fills up quick. The hot tubs could have been alittler hotter, but they brought us champagne evrey time we were in it!!! Rained every day for a few minutes at a time!!! If you really want to relax this is the place to be!!! Drinks are the best at the hotel bar very strong..Also if you want to try it try the "momma jawana" its the Domenican Viagra (it made us feel ontop of the world) very potent stuff!!! We suggested to our friends and they are leaving Sat 3/5. The other people were from all over made for a nice varity of people. No rowdiness with having kids and teenagers. very couple orientated. We will be back next year!!!!

  • Stayed January 2005
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
A TripAdvisor Member
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 3, 2005

Stayed at Secrets 08/02/05 for 2 weeks. Have tried other all inc resorts and been highly satisfied, but this was the best yet. My wife and I enjoyed all the restaurants except the Italian , but that is because you can only get Pasta there and we are used to having meat or fish at Italian at home. Rooms, grounds, pools beach and hotel was brilliant. Staff couldnt do enough for us. Tried the helicopter ride which was fantastic and they even have their own helipad at the hotel. We did nothing all day but laze round the pool, drinking and having the occassional walk . Neither of us were sick or had any ill effects and we did not have any bites etc. Service at the bars was Ok esp Margarita at the beach bar who always greeted us with a smile
Benjamin also did a great job at the beach bar. Overall we loved every minute and would definatly go back there. This was one holiday we did not want to end. I f you want to chill out in nice surroundings, have good food , drink and service, meet nice people and have a good time this is the place
We met some great people and everyone was really friendly. Just a mention to some folk who were staying there at the same time, a please and thankyou does not cost anything, these people are doing their best to look after you, just because you tip them doesnt mean you can talk to them like dirt.
We thought it was the best yet

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1 review
53 helpful votes 53 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 1, 2005

We just got home from the trip. We are in are 30's and wanted a vacation alone, without kids and relax but also have fun!! We found it. We spent 6 days. We did not know much about the hotel only from their website and a brochure. They do not give the hotel justice. It was wonderful! We stayed in a Junior Suite and it felt like the best room in the resort. It was beautiful and had everything you wanted. I loved the little surprises left on the bed by the maid sevice!

The resort entertainment was a great mix. On one day it was a live band at the beach, later by the pool and at night during/after dinner. The following day might be just a band at the pool around 4:00 and a little slower. Just perfect for a vacation!

The food was good. Not the best I have ever had but you are in a different country..taste different! The Japanesse resturant was wonderful, the two resturants near the ocean was good. The bar by the pool during the day had great food and I am still craving! Also, the buffet for lunch out near the ocean was great!

Dress: we stayed in suits all day and casual dress in evening. You see a little of everything!

You have to try the spa. We had dual masages the first full day and it was a great way to kick off the vacation. We also tried the water-spa on the last day. We had the best time and it was a fun way to end the trip.

The best part about the hotel and what makes this vacation was the staff. They work so hard and are so friendly! They are the heart of the resort and what will make the lasting impression! Bring dollars for tip money..they derserve every penny.

We have been to many places..Grand Waliea in Maui, Ritz Carolton, The Breakers....Secrets belongs with these top of the line hotels!

Was this review helpful? Yes 53
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
A TripAdvisor Member
2 of 5 stars Reviewed February 28, 2005

To be fair I must admit I am a 'high maintenance' vacationer. I have high expectations and am happy to pay what it takes to have those expectations met. My boyfriend and I got back last week from Secrets Excellence. As far as non-Secrets issues, our drive to the hotel was a full, long hour on a dirt road (to be expected) with a taxi driver from hell. No exaggeration I was scared this man was going to kill us. His erratic driving and inability to speak a lick of English when we asked him to please slow down (he was going 80 miles per hour) made the trip extremely stressful. Once we arrived we learned we were not reserved for the VIP section of the hotel, as our travel agent told us we were. We used Meg at Liberty Travel in Manchester, CT - first and last time - her services proved to be less than useless. My boyfriend had to negotiate for the next 24 hours with the front desk to try to get our room right, we were fine with paying more money if that was the issue, but the issue ended up them being over-booked. The grounds are very pretty, I'll give them that. My two main issues with the hotel are 1) the food was really bad and actually made me sick - we paid additional money to get good bottles of wine which tasted like they'd been sitting on the shelf way too long and 2) the staff was hit or miss - some of them were polite and helpful but many (too many) were not.

Again, I say all this under the premise that I'm a pretty discerning traveler. My boyfriend is easier to please but also agreed the food was not good and the service definitely left much to be desired.

Beautiful beaches and weather - I'll give them that.

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A TripAdvisor Member
4 of 5 stars Reviewed February 27, 2005

We spent 5 nights here in February and enjoyed our stay. I think people who complain about the bumpy ride there probably haven't visited too many islands! This one is just getting in to the tourist scene and still doesn't have great roads, but hey, they are paved and that is better than some of the islands I've visited! Rooms were fine. Roomy and clean with nice towels and toiletries. We were upgraded to the Club room, but doubt it was worth paying extra for unless you want to drink a lot of top shelf drinks. Food they put out was nothing too special. I would have chosen to stay at a poolside room at the Cascade pool. Very lovely little spot away from the main pool and beach. Nice here when it was too windy on the beach.
The people are quite friendly and though many of them don't speak much English, they are trying to please. They were happy to help me (and very patient) with my Spanish. I didn't notice that tipping helped the service any (it was fine to begin with) but each tip was obviously appreciated and graciously accepted. Take some ones and spread them around just for the good feeling it will give you. One afternoon while sitting at the hot tub with another couple, a waitress brought out a bottle of champaign in a bucket and four glasses. No one had asked for it - they just brought it out. A nice touch!
The food was fine. The best restaurant was to the left of the casino, but it is small and you may have to wait if you get there later in the evening. We really enjoyed the Dominican menu and Maria Bonita (also near the casino). Other restaurnants, just okay, but never bad. This ain't no 5-star french hotel so don't go expecting food like one. Frozen drinks were too sweet for me, but otter drinks were fine - just ask for them the way you like them.

The pool was nice but a bit too cold in February and the ocean too rough for swimming. This is a function of where the resort is...during the winter the "Christmas winds" blow non-stop. This was nice when the sun was out, but a bit chilly if the occasional cloud passed. if you want to be in the water a lot and really want to do water sports, best to pick another place at least December - March. The beach is wonderful for long, long walks - not something you can do on the Caribbean side. Entertainment was about the same as on a cruise - okay to watch for a bit but not that great.

There is not a lot to do here. Everything is a long ride away and the tours seemed quite expensive. Don't go for an exciting time, lots of water timeor sports or to get in touch with the DR locals. Do Go here to get away from kids (all adults is the way to go when traveling without your own!), soak up some sun and rum and food. Take long walks, soak in your own hot tub (it was plenty big for two of us), read and relax.
I've done these trips in Jamaica, Cancun, and Antigua. I would go back to the DR rather than any of the others.

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Additional Information about Excellence Punta Cana

Address: Playas Uvero Alto, Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
Phone Number:
Location: Caribbean > Dominican Republic > La Altagracia Province > Punta Cana
Bar / Lounge Beach Business Center with Internet Access Casino and Gambling Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
#6 Romantic Hotel in Punta Cana
#10 Spa Hotel in Punta Cana
#10 Top resorts Hotel in Punta Cana
#11 On the Beach Hotel in Punta Cana
#11 Luxury Hotel in Punta Cana
#14 Family Hotel in Punta Cana
#28 Business Hotel in Punta Cana
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$
Hotel Class:4.5 star — Excellence Punta Cana 4.5*
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 
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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

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