There is so much to say about this resort that it is difficult to know where to start. Let's start with a lot of the negative reviews we read before we went:
Musty smell: Not at all
Bad air conditioning: Worked perfect
Too far from airport: yes, but well worth the ride
Room service too slow: 1/2 hour every time
Poor service: Not a chance in this world
Poor food: Not fine dining but very good overall.
Bed too hard: Hard but fine with a pillow top cover available free.
Coffee pot broken: Call and it's replaced immediately.
Housekeeping comes too late: Let them know and they're glad to come earlier.
OK that should cover most of them. Those that complain about everything are never going to be happy and we did meet a couple of those. We found their complaints to be insignificant and trivial and they would complain about everything anyway.
Airport arrival: Contrary to some suggestions, we did use the baggage porter at the airport and are glad we did. He met us at the baggage carousel and quickly took us directly to our transportation rep. No muss, no fuss. It turned out to be quite a walk for us in our 60's. He waited while arrangements were confirmed and took us directly to our van. Friendly, courteous, and fast. Gave him a couple of bucks per bag and he was a happy man. You're on vacation. Splurge. A couple of bucks per bag, it's well worth it.
Transportation to Resort: We used VIP Travel and were very pleased. They attempt to put all going to the same resort in the same vehicle so there is no delay getting to the resort by having to stop at others. There were two other couples in the van and it was roomy, great shape and, well air conditioned. About an hour to Excellence and the ride was not bad at all.
Arrival at Excellence: Bellmen were in uniform and quickly removed the luggage and set it aside for delivery to our suite. Cold champagne and cool towels were offered to all. Everyone was extremely friendly and made it clear that it was our vacation and that the staff would take care of everything we needed.
Check in: Let the bellman know if you are Excellence Club members and you will be taken to the Excellence Club Lounge for check in by your concierge. This is the level that we chose and found it to be well worth the extra cost. Other reviewers have said that it's not worth the extra money but, we believe that's because they haven't experienced the Club amenities.
If not Excellence Club members then proceed to the front desk on the left as you enter the huge open air lobby to check in. Again, extremely friendly and knowledgeable staff.
Accomodations: We joked with our concierge, Ricardo, and told him that we were regular customers of another luxury all-inclusive resort and that we were comparing the two, which is true. We said that the other chain would gladly offer us a room upgrade if they were only half full as the Excellence was on our stay dates (prior to peak season). He very nicely said that he couldn't do that and assured us that we would be pleased with our suite. Ricardo then escorted us to our suite and, as he opened the door for us I could hear him chuckling. I guess the look on my face was apparent as he laughed and said "Welcome to Excellence Senor". He had given us a 2 room upgrade to a swim up suite and it was beautiful. Our luggage followed almost immediately.
We checked for anything negative that we had read about and found the suite to be absolutely perfect. Our in room bar was extremely well stocked with sodas, beer, water, snacks and, top shelf liquors (Club level only). The room was spotless and fresh smelling and everything worked perfectly. There were, a fresh fruit platter, fresh cut flowers and champagne on ice. The swim up suite had an absolutely beautiful view and a short stroll around or, short swim across the pool brought us right to the Sol Bar and Hector our favorite bartender. Just for reference, we were in room #10008. That's building 10 room 008 if you check the resort map. It took all of 10 minutes for them to deliver the bottle of Jack Daniels that I asked to be included in our room bar.
The front door opens to a small center courtyard full of vegetation and palm trees and ice machines are located there.
The room, while not huge, is large and comfortable and we found the shower to be standard size and not too small as others have mentioned.
An extra blanket, laundry bag, bathrobes (Club level) a tray to put shoes in if they need to be shined, iron and ironing board and large tote bag (Club level) were all in the spacious closet. More hangers would have been nice and, had we asked, I'm sure they would have been delivered.
Housekeeping: Housekeeping tends to come a bit late but all you have to do is ask and they will come earlier every day. Since both the housekeeping and nightly turn down service are on rotational basis, you are not assured of the same people all the time so, we left a few dollars on the pillow each day in the morning and in the evening before going to dinner and the show. They are outstanding and our room was always spotless.
Room service: We had room service for breakfast on 3 occasions. On each occasion the service was fast, the food was hot and exactly as ordered. Club level guests have a full service menu and 24 hour room service.
Dining: Now, this depends on tastes of course. Almost all agree, as we do, that if you are used to cold water lobster rather than warm, you're not going to care for the lobster at the Lobster House. We found the service there somewhat slow and a bit below the normal Excellence standard. I ordered the Tenderloin along with the lobster entree so I was OK. The other seafood on the menu seemed good and the seafood salad was very good.
The other restaurants were very good. A definite cut above other all-inclusives and in a couple of cases, a cut above any restaurant. Case in point was the ChateauBriand at Chez Isabel and, the filet mignon at The Grill.
I found the best breakfast buffet to be at Toscano and their gaucho sausage has to be tried. A very complete and, very good buffet with wonderful selections.
On the beach across from the lobby and behind the Kafe Cafe bar there is a grill which is open all day for hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken, etc.. All very good.
The pizza guy roams around the pool and the beach all day too. He has ready made pizzas or, will take your order.
All in all, very good food and something for everyone, morning, noon and, night.
Bars: Cocktails, beers, soft drinks, bottled water, etc. are in abundance wherever you turn. See Daniel at the lobby Martini Bar for the best in Martinis and almost everything else in your drink repetoire. Say Hi to Hector at the Sol Bar at the north end of the main pool and Dorling at the Kafe Cafe Bar at the south end.
For non smokers, use the Star Bar in the theater off the lobby. For a little more privacy, go to the Ciello Bar at the cascade pool.
The Sports Bar has a deli type buffet during the day and pool tables and table tennis. It's hard to find though. Go out the front of the lobby and keep left. Go down the street towards the shops. As you reach the cigar shop there will be a sign on the ground (all their directional signs are on the ground) pointing left to the sports complex. Follow the walk to an opening in the shrubbery on the right then a little further to another opening on your left. There it is.
Grounds: Absolutely fantastic. They have an army of cleaning crews and groundskeepers working constantly. Beautifully landscaped with more palm trees than I've ever seen in one place.
The main pool is amazing. It is a meandering pool that runs nearly the entire length of the main resort. Absolutely spotless with large island planters full of vegetation and palm trees. A very large swim up bar called Blue is a fun place.
The blue floats are at a premium and, the resort really should purchase a few dozen more. Ignorant people hoard them away whether they're using them or not and deprive others of their use. If you see any being hoarded, do what we did and throw them back in the pool.
Bartenders make rounds around the pool to take drink orders.
Beach: The beach was very rough so, we only waded once during our stay. It was in late October and there were a couple of Tropical Storms bouncing around so, that's to be expected. The beach at Excellence is not protected by a reef and, therefore, is a bit rough, afterall, it is the Atlantic Ocean. If you want calm blue lagoons, go to the Carribean side of the island. The south end of the resort has a small cove which is calmer. The sand on the beach is a very fine, tan sand which is cleaned to a fault by the staff every day. Club level guests have a private section of beach with covered beds along with the palapas with lounge chairs found on the rest of the beach. Club level guests also have a concierge shack on the beach with clean towels, games and daily drink special tables.
Shopping: While the resort has it's own shops, they tend to be very pricey. They might barter and they might not. While we did browse, anything we purchased we bought at Nancy's. If you go to the left while on the beach (enter the beach at the extreme North end of the resort just past the end of the pool and it's only about a 20 yard walk on the beach) you will come to a group of shops on your left. These shops sport handmade signs such as Wal-Mart, Sears, K-Mart. These shopkeepers will badger the heck out of you to come in. There are great deals to be had if you can barter very well. 50-60% off their original price is not uncommon.
However, the very first shop on the left as you approach (hidden behind the shrubbery until you get there) is Nancy's. Nancy is an absolute sweetheart. A pleasure to talk to, honest and very non-pushy. We did not barter with her and still got better deals than others did in other shops. Sneak her a cold Presidente Light or two from the resort and she'll love you forever.
Service: Nothing needs to be said except for perfect. From the Concierge to the groundskeepers and every single one in between. Not all speak English well but are persistent when it comes to understanding what you need. They will use hand signals, Spanish, broken English and, if all else fails, get someone right away that speaks better English. Out of respect for those wonderful people, I constantly tried to learn their language and, by the end of the week I could speak the basics and even ask where the bathrooms were. They greatly appreciated it and we had a lot of laughs.
Tipping while not at all expected (they never wait around for one) is a normal thing for me wherever we go. Here it was a major guilt trip not to because of the wonderful friendly service. If it can be done, the staff will do all they can to take care of it. We tipped often and well (by their standards), a buck or two goes a long way in their economy.
Change can be had at the Excellence Club or at the front desk. Don't expect 5's and 10's, you'll get most of your change in 1's. Break a 100 and you'll get 4 20's and 20 1's. That pretty much explains the level expected for tipping.
Entertainment: Above typical all-inclusive standards while not being Las Vegas level. Shows were for the most part energetic, well choreographed and the performers were very skilled.
All sorts of activities on the beach, in the pool and, in the theater are scheduled during the day and if lounging around the pool or on the beach are not your thing, there is plenty to do to stay busy.
Bugs - Brought bug spray but never saw a bug.
Sunscreen - Used an SPF 35 3-4 times a day and still got fried. 5 days later and I still peel and itch and I'm not one that burns real easy. The sun is just brutal.
Money - U.S. dollars are fine. Never needed or saw Dominican Pesos.
Casino - A joke to us as we live by Atlantic City but, friendly, very tiny, nice little bar. Tight slots.
Guests: Mostly American with a few Aussies and Brits thrown in to make the experience more enjoyable. It's very easy to meet people here and make new friends. Everyone is happy. We met some wonderful people, including a couple from Indiana who were on their 6 stay at Excellence. Unfortunately, they received a call that their home had been struck by a tornado while there and that put a damper on their spirits to say the least.
Language: While certainly not perfect, acceptable English is spoken by most front line staff. They give Spanish lessons too in the theater each day. Learning the basics is fun and appreciated by them.
Pools: pools close at 6 but if you're still in 45 minutes later they're not going to holler.
Shops: Go to Nancy's rather than the resort shops.
Mama Juana: Drink at your own risk. Good but, watch it. Their favorite aphrodisiac. I think it works.
Excellence Club: We found this extra to be well worth it. The 7AM -11PM lounge and buffet alone was worth it. Hungry, go up and have some quail eggs and smoked bacon, spring rolls, lobster salad, etc, etc. and, top shelf liquors, Black Label, Glenfidich, etc. Bathrobes and slippers, private beach, wonderful upgraded toiletries and a 42" flat screen TV (brand new the day after we arrived). Nightly turndown with fresh pastries left in your room and a fresh fruit platter with your breakfast. Oh Yeah, daily newspaper too. And, a helpful, efficient and, friendly concierge to take care of whatever you may need with just a phone call.
Sorry if this is long, I just tried to be as honest and complete as I could so folks can get a good feel for the place.
Overall, highly recommended, like it better than Sandals and it's half the price.
Feel free to ask if there are any questions we can help with. We did and Steve and Laura were kind enough to answer and, were a great help.
- 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:
- TripAdvisor is proud to partner with Expedia, Excellence Group LLC, Amex, BookIt.com, Tingo, Travelocity, Despegar.com, Hotels.com and Venere so you can book your Excellence Punta Cana reservations with confidence. We help millions of travelers each month to find the perfect hotel for both vacation and business trips, always with the best discounts and special offers.
- 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