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Excellence Punta Cana
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Reviews (14,105)
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Reviewed April 22, 2004

This lengthy, but I think it covers everything. My husband and I were at Secrets from March 26th to April 2. We are in our late 40’s and have traveled rather extensively to several Caribbean islands over the years, staying mostly at all inclusive resorts. Secrets was our third stay in the Dominican Republic, our second in Punta Cana.

Yes – the resort is a one hour and fifteen minute ride from the airport. We were on larger bus from Prieto Tours, so the road conditions did not affect our ride. If you are in a smaller van, it will be a curvy and bumpy ride– nothing is going to change that. We did sit at the airport for more than an hour, waiting for guests from other flights, but that was not a Secret’s problem – we booked through American Airlines Vacations.

Check-in was seamless – we were greeted with Mimosas, our rooms were ready, and our luggage arrived promptly. They have a very good system for tagging your luggage as it comes off the bus – you take the tags with you when you check in. The front desk then gives the tags to the bellman with your room assignment. This was one of the smoothest luggage transfers I have seen. The room was clean and neat. The tub was wonderful!! What a nice added feature. The shower was fine – water pressure and temperature. We did hit one day where the temperature fluctuated, but that was the only time we experienced any issues. The bar was restocked daily with Presidente, Coke, Coke Light, Sprite, bottled water, orange juice, and sparkling water. A bottle of rum was also replenished as necessary. We were on the first floor – absolutely no problem with that. Actually, we enjoyed the hammock for two on our patio which the upper floor rooms do not have. I honestly cannot think it would have been worth it for us to pay the extra money for the Excellence Club.

The resort itself is pretty compact, though there are a lot of rooms. It is situated very well, actually – even if you are in the group of buildings furthest away from things, you were not far away. The only building that was way out there was the disco, located at the entrance. This minimized the noise levels to the accommodation area. We occasionally heard people returning to their rooms late at night (or early in the morning), but the outside noise was minimal.

Pool: Pools were cleaned every morning – when walking at 7 a.m., it was not unusual to be greeted by the pool guys, up to their shoulders in the water, vacuuming the pool. Yes, some people did get up early – or leave things out all night- to reserve their special chairs, but you could find chairs available most of the day – they just weren’t right next to the bar!! Many of these people were just coming out to the pool when we heading back to our room AFTER lunch. Judging by the unspoken for floats in the pool, it certainly appeared that there were enough floats available – even with the ones people were hiding under their chairs.

Beach – we had no difficulty finding our spot on the beach each day. We were generally out there by 9:30 and off by 1. But when we walked the beach during the morning hours, there were plenty of palapas/chairs available. It is a great walking beach; it feels like you can walk forever in either direction. It is not a great swimming beach. The resort is located right on the Atlantic Coast with no coral reef to break the waves. The water is rough – it looks like a New England coast, but warmer. There was only one day during our week’s stay that people were actually allowed in the water. Like other posters have said, if you want to swim, just walk past the property a few hundred feet in either direction and you will be all set. There is nothing the resort can do about this situation – it is what it is.

Spa- I had two massages – one aromatherapy and one hot stone massage, which started with a steam bath. That was wonderful. The staff was extremely polite and the prices were average for a resort spa (roughly $70 for 30 minutes and $90-100 for 50 minutes). The brochure has a whole list of services and prices. It would have been helpful to have preparation instructions for the various spa services posted in the locker room. While I was in there, quite a few women were trying to figure what they should or should not wear under their robes!!!

Gym: My husband used it daily and said it is one of the better equipped facilities he has seen in the Caribbean. There were a bunch of bikes and elipticals, which were set up by the windows overlooking the entrance, one treadmill, a limited number of free weights and several weight stations. The gym was busy on a regular basis, but access to the various equipment was adequate, except for the lone treadmill.

Food: In general it was all very good. The breakfast buffet had enough variety that we were able to have a breakfast we enjoyed daily, and we were able to vary it throughout the week. Lots of fresh fruit and fruit juices. The same with lunch – I can be a picky eater, but lunch situation was quite satisfactory. We could eat as light (salads and fruits) or as much of a full meal as we wanted. The pastas and sauces were excellent and the pizza bar, set up in the back, was pretty darn good. We had burgers/fries at the Texas Steakhouse for lunch; we definitely gave them a passing grade! At the sit down restaurants, the portions were not huge, but after everything we ate and drank all day, that really wasn’t a problem. Besides, if you got the soup/appetizer, main meal and dessert, it was more than enough food. The Seafood menu does not tell you much – there is a reason- there is nothing to tell. We are used to menus telling us about the preparation – well it is a Seafood Grill – everything is grilled. So, if you order calamari, it is grilled. If you order the fish or shrimp – they are grilled. Plain and simple – but very good. The Mexican restaurant was great as was Quisqeya. The Italian Restaurant gave you the option of the buffet or a plated meal. We chose the plated menu – I had farfalle Bolognese and my husband ordered the Seafood a Diablo…both good choices. Interestingly, all the shellfish in his dish was all shelled – made for much easier eating. The biggest surprise was the Asian Restaurant, which was EXCELLENT! The sushi chef explained all the selections to us (we have never tried sushi before) and my husband enjoyed his choices. The food was excellent - from the soup to the appetizer to the main courses. They were all done extremely well. We weren’t sure what to expect and were pleasantly surprised! We did try the Dominican menu at the Mexican restaurant (there is not a separate restaurant). THIS was a challenge. The menu is not printed (though we have been told it will be in the future) and the lack of command of the English language on the waitstaff’s part (and our lack of command of Spanish) made it very difficult to figure out what our choices were. It took three people before we all understood each other – and believe me, it was not for lack of trying on either side. That was the only downside to our dining experiences.

They have a pretty comprehensive survey for you to fill out when you are checking out. When we got home, I took the opportunity to email the resort, stating that while we thoroughly enjoyed our stay, there were a few key items and relatively simple changes that I felt could be addressed to improve the overall quality of the hotel. I received a prompt reply, thanking me for my input. Some issues were already in the process of being addressed and the others were being taken into consideration. We generally do not return to a resort – we have many more places to travel to and enjoy before we start repeat visits, but I would certainly consider this resort again and would have no qualms considering one of their Mexico resorts for our next trip.

9  Thank lou
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
A TripAdvisor Member
Santa Margarita, CA
16
Reviewed April 21, 2004

My husband and I had an absolutely fantastic time at Secrets Excellence on our recent Honeymoon. We were thoroughly impressed and pleased by how warm and hospitable the Dominican People were, and we enjoyed meeting many of the other guests at the resort as well. The excursions were fun-in particular, the Outback Safari. We really loved that one.
Our guide, Jose, was fantastic. His knowledge of and pride in the Dominican Republic was contagious. We spent 2 whole weeks at Secrets Excellence, and we never once got bored or wished we were someplace else. Between swimming in the wonderful ocean (although rough, but we're swimmers so we loved it) and snorkeling, sailing a 2-person Hobie Cat through all the rough raves of the Atlantic, exploring shops on the beach and in the resort, sailing on a large Catamaran and exploring a Caribbean Island with an excursion group, looking at huge Star Fish 6 feet under water, watching entertainment nightly, eating in many different restaurants, driving individual speed boats in the ocean, playing Ping Pong and checking out several excursions on different days, we never had a dull moment. If we weren't out exploring and playing, we were in our room with a bubble bath, sitting poolside directly outside our room, reading a good book, or watching one of the many cable stations, including Playboy 24 hours a day. To say the least, it was a perfect Honeymoon spot. Our room overlooked the smaller, more private pool with a beautiful cascading waterfall, and we felt we had one of the nicest rooms inthe entire resort. We spewnt most of our time on the beach because it was spectacular. There was a constant (perfect!) breeze so that you never felt hot. The weather was wonderful. Warm enough to not wear much, but cool enough to be totally comfortable.

As far as the bars go, they are the BEST. All you have to do is ask for what you want, premium everything, and you are treated very well. If you are an impatient, judgemental person, then this is NOT the place for you. If you have a little patience and a bit of a heart, you will appreciate these wonderful, hospital people. I am fluent in Spanish so it gave me an extra opportunity to communicate and converse with many of the employees, and that only enhanced my enjoyment of the resort. We will definitely go back. Loved the French restaurant and the only 2 we didn't like were the Italian and the Mexican. The Sushi might be something to avoid. We did eat it and got sick, although we aren't sure exactly why we each got sick. It tasted wonderful! The bartenders are fantastic. They try so hard to please everyone, and tipping is very thoughtful and appreciated. We took $300.00 for tip $$, and it was nice to spread our "wealth". We loved so many things about Secrets; don't worry about what you read unless you are VERY hard to please. We were absolutely delighted. Can't wait to return!!

6  Thank A TripAdvisor Member
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
A TripAdvisor Member
Pittsburgh, PA
110
Reviewed April 20, 2004

I was prompted to write this review after reading some scathing comments regarding the Dominican Republic posted on this site. My wife and I spent our honeymoon (11/03) at the Secrets Excellence resort in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. We had the most fantastic, relaxing, and enjoyable stay. The resort itself was absolutely beautiful and matched only by the hospitality of the staff and the copious ammenities. At no time during our entire stay did I hear the word 'no' in response to any of our requests. Every request was met with "it's a pleasure" by the competent and gracious staff. The rooms were clean and layed out perfectly-and we only had the base package! I can't say enough about this wonderful resort. My wife and I plan to visit again as soon as possible.

10  Thank A TripAdvisor Member
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
A TripAdvisor Member
732
Reviewed April 19, 2004

I came to Secrets on my honeymoon in mid-November 2003. You are in for a 30-40minute drive from the airport. And yes they drive very fast with lots of potholes - I enjoyed it immensely! It was like a rollercoaster ride. So sit back & relax the drive was safe. When we arrived – WOW – the hotel lobby was stunning and the staff friendly. But you are expected to tip – all the time. I brought over $100US in small bills and it was all gone at the end of the week. At check out the clerk even ASKED for a tip. We went to our room and enjoyed the complimentary bottle of champagne and fruit. You will have to get to the Japanese restaurant early to get a seat – you will likely wait in line – and your fellow travellers will likely infuriate you as they elbow you back and push to the front (no joke!). However once you’re in it’s a fabulous 3-course meal with a bottle of good wine at the table & the most incredible beef I’ve ever had. Fabulous. The next best place for a good meal however is likely the buffet as you can choose what looks good. I found that my largest meals were there and otherwise I would just pick at the restaurant food. Frankly it was a too greasy. The honeymooner's speical dinner was incredible - I didn't know lobster tails grew that big!! There was complimentary horse back riding which you must sign up for immediately upon arrival or you may miss out. I also went scuba diving (they have PADI diving) the price was great – the diving was great – and they even gave a quick course to my husband in the pool so he could join us. I was very impressed with the experience and good nature of the dive master – even my terror stricken husband felt safe enough to dive for the first time. The surf is a bit rough so if you are a confident swimmer it’s paradise. We went boogie boarding and basically just surfed the waves. Great fun! They also have shows at night, which we found enjoyable. And of course midnight pizza via room service – fabulous. The ocean view was definitely worth the extra $’s and the Jacuzzi tub in the room was fabulous. Imagine enjoying bubbles in the tub – glass of champagne overlooking the pool/ocean at sunset – WOW! Enjoy Secrets – don’t expect too much from the food but you can’t help but have a good time here!

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A TripAdvisor Member
Phila, PA
17
Reviewed April 19, 2004

My boyfriend and I are fresh off the plane from Secrets Excellence and I couldn't wait to get back and post my review of this fabulous resort. Everything was just perfect. We had an ocean view room, which was very luxurious including 4 poster bed, marble floors, Jacuzzi and cathedral ceiling. The rooms were spotless and just about every day the maids left a little something special in our room. Champagne, fresh fruit, white chocolates, flowers etc..it was just enough to make you feel you were special. The weather was just perfect. It rained a couple of nights in the early am hours but, the sun was shining strong again by morning (don't go out without sunscreen, I was out for just 1 hour without and got really burnt, good thing it was out last day otherwise I would have lost a couple of days of fun in the sun). The restaurants and food were exceptional. Much better than I had anticipated. Our favorite meal was the grilled lobster in the Texas restaurant. The drinks never stopped flowing and believe me...they definitely were NOT watered down. Everyone other guest we spoke to raved about the resort and the fabulous time they were having. The staff speaks very little English so I recommend taking a English/Spanish dictionary along. All in all it was a very special trip for us and I would recommend it highly to anyone who is looking for a romantic and luxorious get away.

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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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