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“Excellente (with some caveats)”

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Excellence Punta Cana
Ranked #14 of 112 Hotels in Punta Cana
Reviewed January 17, 2013

Was here from January 6th-13th in a honeymoon suite. It's an hour from the airport but an interesting drive. We did not know until we arrived that on the Atlantic side in January and February there is a strong wind from the north making the ocean way too choppy for any kind of watersports. The wind was enough that it was difficult to sit on the beach without getting sand blown in your face.

Pros: The service was excellent. There is cleaning, mini-bar, and turn-down service in our room and they did beautiful things with towels and rose petals for our room daily. Everyone was happy to see us and serve us. I tipped a lot so maybe that helped. Poolside service, which was sometimes a little bit slow, but there are something like 10 bars on the premises so easy to go and get your own.
The beach was nice and cleaned up every day. They drove a tractor around to clean up some of the sand all the time and picked up the seaweed.
The Sport's Bar area is a nice secret, kind of tucked in one corner of the resort. We were able to watch football back there, they have outdoor pool, table tennis, tennis courts, etc.
Theme bars, lots of tropical drinks. The entertainment shows at night were basically themed dance numbers and we weren't sure what we were in for, but we went and were entertained regardless.
There's booze in your room in case you didn't get enough by the pool. They have tons of activities going on all of the time - texas hold em, games by the bars, volleyball, language lessons. There's spotty wi-fi in the rooms in case you need an internet fix.

We did the 30 minute horseback ride through El Rancho Diferente. They take your photo, then take you through the waves and up the beach and back. It was fun, after having never been on a horse before. When you get back, they've printed out your picture, taped it to a music CD and a bottle of rum and ask you for $25.

Cons: I'm really sensitive for anyone trying to pitch or sell anything to me. There were a few guys roaming around all the time trying to talk with us and sell excursions that were rather annoying. Islandsun, who set up the rides to and from the airport, sold them, as well as two other companies. In the end you had to try to avoid them. Also if you leave the resort on the beach on either side, people would hassle you to come to their shops. You get the same crap in the airport.

They close the pool at 6 which doesn't make much sense to me. It's lit up, they could leave one of them open a bit longer.

We were in building 11 which was pretty far from the rest of the properties. It was quiet though. Many of the first floor rooms have a hammock.

Food was hit or miss. The best meals by far were the breakfast and lunch buffets in the Toscana restaurant. The beach grill is alright for lunch, since we had our swimsuits on and often didn't want to go and change to eat in one of the sit-downs. We tried every place once - the best option of the theme restaurants was probably Oregano. At least to an american's eyes, the food portions were small - for example when you ordered sushi in Spice you would get only one piece per roll instead of an entire roll. We could tell they would try to make do sometimes with local ingredients but you have to be aware of where you are and the remoteness. There was a point for a few days where they were out of mint for any mojitos. The only beer is Presidente but I think some people had Coors Light in their rooms.

The excellence club doesn't seem worth the extra expense. I did not get it, but there really wasn't anything special about the private beach (I could go there myself and nobody would stop me), and they got a little private lounge to eat in. It just seemed like a way to differentiate you from the other guests and for the resort to cash in a little more.

  • Stayed: January 2013, traveled as a couple
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10  Thank theloniouszen
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed January 17, 2013

We stayed at Excellence December 4th thru the 8th and had a great restfull time . We were upgraded to a 2 room suite because we used them before in Mexico , and we were cellebrating my birthday . The resort is really beautiful and well manicured and the staff is amazing . We got alot of rain when we were there so we didnt sunbathe that much but we partied alot instead . We met alot of people from all over and had alot of fun with them . One thing i did not like about this resort was the food . I thought the quality of the food was alot better at both Excellences in Rivera Maya . The beach here also is not as nice as in Bavaro , and the water is alot rougher . Overall we had a great time , but a probably would not go back to this property , ill stick with Iberostar Grand

  • Stayed: December 2012, traveled as a couple
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4  Thank 5hanover
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 17, 2013

Just back from my 6 th visit and it just keeps getting better! I can't say enough of how great the service is!!! All the staff are just do happy and will do anything for you with a smile!! Ocean view rooms our favorite, love to leave the door open at night and hear the ocean. Very clean and nice improvements every time we go. Franklin at the dive shop a true professional ! Nice new touch this year was the pool side appetizers served, all yummy!! Special thanks to Roberto for everything he does with a giant smile . Can't wait for my next year!!

  • Stayed: January 2013
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1  Thank robinsnest10
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 17, 2013

my husband & i stayed here for a week late last summer and it was fantastic! worth the extra money to upgrade to excellence club. activities included were awesome-horseback rides, snorkeling, etc. food was great and drinks even better

  • Stayed: August 2012, traveled as a couple
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4  Thank Jessica C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 17, 2013

I am in the travel business, and have gone to many, many tourist spots. My first impression upon arrival at the Excellence Hotel in Punta Cana was terrific, a large property, beautifully maintained landscape and what a lovely greeting after what turned out to be a longer travel time than I had anticipated. The hotel is FAR from the airport, approximately 1 hour drive, it is situated ON the Atlantic ocean so the water's undercurrent are strong, and impossible to swim in...the hotel also had a red flag the entire week I was there- when I go to the Caribbean, I expect to be able to swim in the sea/ocean...what a surprise. Back to the incredible greeting and service...
The people I encountered, each and every one of them at the Excellence were incredible, could not do enough for you, and always wore a smile, with some laughter thrown in.
The room- I booked a club ocean view room, the club rooms are in buildings 8.9 and 10, possibly 11 as well. This property is pretty spread out, so the lower number rooms are near the entrance of the hotel - it is kindof separated into two areas with two large nice pools, a swim up bar in the center. The club lounge afforded us the priviledge of a private beach which had upgraded lounge chairs, and what I believe to be better drink service as well...but, too much wind and angry ocean, only was on the beach part of the time. A BIG downside about lounging, is that people get up by 7 am to reserve their seating by the pool....if you want an opportunity to be in a bed or in shade, you better be an early bird. There was no time limit on the chairs people reserved and were not sitting at, so they would walk away, and leave their things for the entire day, leaving the one who did not get up at the crack of dawn, without seating not only in the shade, but chaise lounges anywhere around the pool were hard to come by.
The food: I think they try, but they are not cutting it. We ate at the mexican restaurant, store made chips and guacamole, and salsa, the fajitas were just passible. We ate at Barcelona, want to know who is creating that menu??? Bizarre, sirloin tips in blue cheese? the steak was inedible, a bad experience to say the least. speaking to others there, they suggested the asian place, that was passable, overcooked dumplings, but all in all edible. Lunch at the sit down place, wow...how can you mess up a burger? they did....thought to try some dominican food, how can they get that wrong? they did, also inedible, kalamari???? wanted to spit it out! totally for the garbage. Finally last night we did go to the french restaurant, because everything was so salted, asked for the chateaubriand no salt, so...tasteless....saw someone eating onion soup, looked pretty unappetizing.
The drinks...if you like to drink, this is your place, the coco loco's were delicious as were the margaritas and mojitos... I think that is where your value lies with this place, they keep you drunk, but unfortunately, I do not drink that much to take advantage of what appeared to be a fabulous drink package for all. Lastly, I used the spa, overpriced, and did not have a good experience, my neck hurt for the next 24 hours having to take Advil to alleviate the discomfort. When I went back the next day to complain, they offered me another massage, why in the world would I want another massage if these were my consequences? They did NOT offer to refund me. The room and services; the first day of arrival we had beach towels, after that no...
the bed was incredibly uncomfortable, was it the mattress? the rough sheets? Had to ask for extra pillows which they brought, but shouldnt those already be in the room? The hot water maker did not work to utilize the french press....when I am on vacation, do I really want to sit and use a french press???? Thankfully I was on the floor of the club room, to which I darted in the morning for a cup of coffee.
Bottom line...the people that work there are great, if you like hanging at a pool on vacation and not utilizing the beach, you are in business, if you dont care about quality of food, excellence is for you...the only good meal there would be the breakfast, loads of fruit, juices, omelet chef, etc...
would I go back? NO.

Room Tip: if you choose to go, you should go club room, deeper into the hotel grounds with the private access...
See more room tips
  • Stayed: January 2013, traveled on business
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4  Thank Barbarita58
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 16, 2013

My partner and I stayed for 8 days over the Christmas break. This is my second visit to an Excellence property (my partner's 4th). Overall, this was an amazing experience and we would not hesitate to return.

So - with that said - I will outline a few of the areas that were worth noting (either good or bad). But, please - if you are reading this review, NOTHING was so bad as to even consider another resort. The Excellence was excellent. Go!

Overall, the hotel is a little older than the other resorts - and there is a little wear here and there. However, the company is steadily upgrading the rooms. We had a room with the window in the shower (a nice and romantic feature) but our friends did not have a renovated room - so just beware that not all rooms are equal at this point (but all equally nice).

A small complaint was that there were few pillows for sleeping. During the day the bed is *covered* in display pillows - but for actual sleeping - only three thin pillows (of which I had to give the second pillow to my partner). If you like extra pillows - be prepared to ask!

The grounds are spectacular and very well maintained. Yes, the ocean is *very* rough and the lifeguards do not want you to venture too far out in the water. That being said - the beach and the ocean are the cleanest I have ever experienced. In Cancun you will have sea-grass on the shore - not so in Punta Cana - it was a *very* beautiful beach and we had no trouble finding loungers.

As for the food - we were happy with all the food choices. We ate at all the restaurants and the food was consistently very good. The service however was a little spotty. In Cancun, *all* the staff are friendly and nice - in Punta Cana, it was a little more mixed. That being said - there were absolutely some standouts (in a good way). Overall, I would say the service is a little less pleasant than at the Excellence in Cancun - but that is a very high standard to maintain.

I did want to compliment the resort on a job well done on New Years Eve. WHAT.A.PARTY. We had an absolute blast! The hotel even had fireworks at midnight - wow.

Overall - we had a terrific trip.

A few things to note if you decide to visit. Firstly, the hotel is a bit of a ways away from the airport - so expect a long drive (1 hour) each way. We anticipated this - so it wasn't an issue for us, but you might want to get a bottle of water at the airport before you leave (or use the washroom) as it is a long drive.

Secondly - there are vendors on the beach. Generally, they leave you alone once you listen to them the first time - but it can get a little annoying when you just want to chill. Not much the hotel can do about it though...

Finally - it is an 'adults only' resort - so expect a few topless women, or thong-clad bikini sunbathers (men and women). It didn't bother us any - but some of guests seemed surprised/upset.

Overall - we would *highly* recommend returning to the Excellence!

  • Stayed: December 2012, traveled as a couple
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8  Thank cheshiremackat
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 15, 2013

We went over the Christmas Holidays (Dec 23rd to 30Th) and we based ourselves on the reviews to chose this hotel. Last year we were in DR and enjyed it tremendously.

What a mistake this year, though the accomodations are great, the liquor top shelf, the staff is very helpfull and the setting is very nice....THERE IS NO FOOD TO BE EATEN. As to those who give great reviews, i think there is more than drinking on vacations, the site, ambience, and the food should make a difference.

From the first day, at dinner it was all down hill. Anything we ate was in very small portion, frozen and re-heated.There was a lack of fresh fruits ( this is the carribean, land of the bananas and pineapple? where were they?

I compalined to customer service and the chef made a special plate for us that night, the rest of the trip was miserable and we had to compensate my meals with junk food i had in the room.

Deserts were frozen and small, the fruit plates at breakfast was noen-existant ( i have more fruits in my house at breakfast than what they had on the buffet and they had to serve 900 people). We ate at the lobster house and the lobster and the fish were rubbery. The restaurant at lunch had 2 or 3 choices of salad and a bowl of lettuce that would not be considered an entree at the "olive garden".

For the money i spent and the experience has thought me a valauble lesson. Next year for the holidays i want to be somewere i can make choices, choices on were i eat, what i eat....so i will go to Florida, at least when a meal or service is not up to MY standards, i can get up and go elsewhere but here we were trapped.

Never ever again and if you decide to go here, pack some extra snacks

they offered a voucher to shut me up but decided to take the travel agent to court over this..this was a pure and simple rip-off.

  • Stayed: December 2012, traveled as a couple
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22  Thank JB1308
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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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
Amenities:
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
#9 Casino Hotel in Punta Cana
#12 Spa Hotel in Punta Cana
#13 On the Beach Hotel in Punta Cana
#13 Top resorts Hotel in Punta Cana
#14 Family Hotel in Punta Cana
#14 Luxury Hotel in Punta Cana
Price Range: $275 - $618 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:4.5 star — Excellence Punta Cana 4.5*
Number of rooms: 464
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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