Both are very nice hotels. I think if ten people were to visit each, five would prefer Secrets, 5 Excellence. This depends on what you are looking for.
Beach: Both very nice. Ample chairs/shade/beach service.
> Excellence has a long, long stretch of beach with very few nearby hotels, making it picturesque and beautiful for walking or horseback riding (hours!). Waves are plentiful, making it beautiful and risky at times to swim.
> Secrets: beach is nice but along a stretch of many, many hotels. Very commercialized. Jet ski, para-sailing, motorboats all easy accessible. Lots of people everywhere. Swimming good.
Rooms: both very clean.
> Excellence: classier. 4 poster beds. Full bottles and many snacks in room. Some rooms show age, but not bad. Beds: hard, but comfy. Bathrooms great. Not alot of water pressure, but usually hot. Our tub was filled many nights with rose petals/music,etc. Both have mini fridges filled daily.
> Secrets: plain, mod decor. Newer. Jacuzzi on balcony (make sure you get third floor for privacy & don't get 1st floor if you plan to use it). Some privacy panels would be a nice addition. Lukewarm water in shower/nice and hot water in Jacuzzi Good water pressure. Comfier beds.
Restaurants: much classier at Excellence. Restaurant food better at Excellence/ buffet better at Secrets. Both good. No reservations at either, but at Royal res are required for Japanese (we never were able to get in/ this restaurant is also part of Now (families). Excellence gives you a beeper, which is very convenient (ex: we would get one on our way up to shower & get dressed/ come down when it went off.) I got tired of eating breakfast/lunch/dinner at same place (buffet).
Pastry/deserts better at Royal. More selection at Excellence.
Bars: nicer at Excellence, by far. Drinks great at both (some served in real pineapples and coconuts at both) A little watered down at Royals. Service great at both.
Service: both great everywhere. Management a little stiff at Excellence, but everyone else wonderful. No upgrades after multiple times at both (always a nice bottle in room though) I wish there were some kind of loyalty points/program for both the Excellence and Secrets resort chain.
Healthclub: definitely Excellence. Very small and limited at Royal (to the point where it wasn't worth going)
Spa is wonderful at Excellence too. New/ smaller at Royal, but nice.
Proximity to airport:
Royal: 20 min/35.00
Excellence has great sax player, Secrets has the better band. (Excellence has shows/Secrets doesn't) Excellence had more to offer (beach parties includes kids at Royal) Entertainment team excellent at both, maybe a slight bit better at Secrets)
Horseback riding: hands down, Excellence. Cheaper (45 vs 80) and more convenient (they bring horses to edge of property daily. Rates include one 20 min beach ride for free.
Pools: both cold! As is Secrets st. James, I wish one were heated at both resorts. Both clean, beautiful. Perhaps Royal wins this category. Both have swim up bars and many chairs/shaded areas.
Hot tubs: Secrets:cold Excellence: hot
Grounds: gorgeous, pristine at both. Roomier at Excellence/ well laid out at Royal.
Communication: same at both. Sometimes good, sometimes limited due to language barriers. I respect that we are in a foreign country and expect this.
My preference is Excellence, but I think anyone would be happy with either. I would cost compare and go with the better price unless one of the above factors were a dealbreaker.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Ideally situated on the picturesque palm-studded, sugar white Playa Bavaro beach on the eastern coastline of the Dominican Republic, Secrets Royal Beach Punta Cana offers adults all the privileges of Unlimited-Luxury(R). Guests will immediately be embraced within an extraordinary environment where luxury illuminates every detail and our high level of personal service is unmatched. To ensure your romantic escape is everything you've imagined, every detail of your stay will be flawlessly provided and superbly attended to. From the fine quality linens to the daily refreshed mini bar and the unlimited premium brand beverages to the pool and beach wait service. You'll be immersed within a world of stunning architectural design coupled with resplendent views of the lush gardens, crystal-clear Caribbean Sea and dazzling swimming pools. This tranquil, romantic haven in Playa Bavaro is like nothing else you've ever experienced before. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Secrets Royal Beach Hotel Punta Cana