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Excellence Punta Cana
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Reviewed June 5, 2004

Great vacation in the D.R. at Secrets Excellence.

We were there the week of Memorial Day. We were nervous about the weather from all the flooding and forecasts, but the weather was great - warm & sunny every day. It rained a couple of times in the late evening, but that was it.

The Excellence Club rooms are worth the extra money. It starts with a separate hotel check-in/check-out - very nice and personal. The Club rooms are all suites. There are DVD players in the rooms and they have a good selection of DVDs to check out. Club members get beach towels in their room - no hassling with tickets and exchanging at the towel hut. Mini bar is stocked very well and they will cater it to your taste. Ours had Absolut, Jim Beam, Miller Genuine Draft, Budweiser, Gatorade, Coke, Diet Coke, Sprite, Kit Kat, Water, OJ, and Presidente (local beer). The Excellence Club also has a private "club" area. The downstairs is where they do the check-in/check-out and any concierge service that you need. The upstairs is a small dining / bar area. They have hot and cold foods for breakfast & lunch, plus a stocked bar with a bartender (Juan) to get you a drink. They also have two computers with high-speed internet so you can check email, surf, etc. Non-club guests have to use the internet cafe on the resort and pay for access.

Satellite TV had about 20 channels, including ABC, CBS, NBC, ESPN, and Playboy (that one catches you by surprise when you're channel surfing!). Nice room turn down at night.

Overall we thought the food was good. We've been to numerous resorts and this one did a pretty good job. There was a nice selection for every taste. Guys do need to wear long pants for the Mexican, Dominican, and French restaurants. The rest you can wear shorts. However, we did see a lot of people sneaking into the Mexican place with nice dress shorts.

Depending on the night, there were long waits for some of the eating places - Mexican, Dominican, and French. They don't do reservations. So you have two choices. Go early, around 6:30, and you can get right in. Or, go about an hour before you want to eat, put your name in, and have some drinks until your time slot is ready. Most waits were 45-60 minutes.

Air conditioning is questionable in the restaurants. Mexican and Italian/Asian are supposed to be in A/C, but I don't think they were running it. I was literally sweating at both of them. French was decent - but that seems to be the most up-scale place to eat on the resort. The steak house and the seafood place are both outdoors and by the pool. They actually get a nice ocean breeze to help cool it off.

I know folks rave about it in some of the other reviews I read, but the Mexican place was our least favorite. Bad flavor in the foods. There was even vinegar in the pico! Our favorite was the French place.

There is only 1 swim-up bar. Its too bad that they didn't connect the entire winding pools and put a swim up bar at each end (something like Moon Palace in Cancun). The Cascade pool was nice as well, but no swim-up bar or ocean views. The bars can sometimes be under-staffed during peak times of the day. The have some coconut drinks that are made in real coconuts. Caution - coconut is a natural laxative!

Almost all staff was very friendly and eager to help. Oddly, bartenders seemed to be the worst - and they were the ones that I saw get the most tips.? English is not as well spoken as one would think. We found very few staff members that could speak English fluently - but they do know enough to get your basics done.

The Spa was so-so. I would not recommend it to first timers on treatments. The locker rooms are small and the staff is very abrupt with throwing open the door for the next guest that they escort to the lockers. Plus, the men's and women's doors are directly across from each other. My wife had a terrible pedicure. They didn't even clip her nails and then smudged the polish when trying to put on the slippers at the end. The massages were "ok" as well. I had several while we were there. All of the rooms had speakers, but some weren't playing any music during the massage. Also, they are very un-professional when it comes to towel use and having you turn over. I'm sure I was exposed a time or two, along with have the "privates" brushed a couple of times. I do believe it was accidental, but with proper towel use and experience, it should never happen. Also, the large mirrors on the wall are a bad idea for massage rooms.

There is no need to exchange currency. Dollars are freely exchanged and used for change back. Plus, the front desk can help get you change for larger bills as well. Tips for extraordinary service are gratefully accepted by most staff.

The beach was really nice. Wide with soft sand that they rake every day. Water is rough with strong currents, but if you're laying out its great.

There are local vendors at the ends of the beach selling stuff. In addition the resort has locals that come in on Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday to set up tables for market stuff. You can definitely haggle on price with these folks. There is a cigar shop on the resort, but the market folks also sell cigars - there was even one person rolling them for someone. Yes, they do have Cohibas.

The casino is small and not that attractive. Only open for around 4 hours in the evening. There were 5 black jack tables, a roulette table, and about 15 slots. We didn't hear of anyone winning while we were there. I'd save your money for Vegas.

There are numerous thatch covered huts around the pools and along the beach. People snag them early! So, if you want one, go before breakfast and throw down your towels and a book/magazine to occupy it. Rafts were not a problem. The staff would literally take rafts from guests that tried to keep them out of the water by their chair, and just throw them back in the pool.

Bugs only seemed to be a problem in the evening. Just take some insect repellent and you'll be fine.

The sun is extremely strong here. I would take a 15 SPF higher than what you are used to putting on.

Sign up early for the photographer(s). They fill up quick. They will take you around the resort and on the beach for multiple poses with your spouse. You can buy individual pictures or the whole roll. Plus, they will do color or black & white, or both. We did 24 color 5x7 photos with the negatives for $120. Great quality and we were really happy with how they came out.

Yes, the trip is right at one hour to get to the resort. But, you're on vacation and it goes by quickly. Plus, both buses that we were on had good A/C. You can do a helicopter to get to/from the resort and airport. I believe the cost is $250 per couple, 1-way.

Overall, it was a great, relaxing, and wonderful trip. We would go there again!

  • Stayed: May 2004
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
6  Thank David_in_Dallas
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
A TripAdvisor Member
Chicago, IL
14
Reviewed June 3, 2004

I have been suffering from "secrets excellence withdrawl syndrome" ever since i returned home. No that does not mean I have been suffering from diahrea. It means i miss the resort and vacation immensly. I, (like you), have been reading these stupid reviews for several months before my trip, and I, (like you), got a little nervous. My lovelly girlfriend and I, visited secrets from May 23, to May 30. I am 20 years old, and my girlfriend is 19. Let me just say that we were definetly the youngest couple there. I almost felt pressured to get married while i was there. I mean everyone else was, and everything was so romantic. We visited Secrets in search of a REAL vacation. One that wasn't Carson Daley's MTV spring break bash or some crap like that. Or one with kids peeing in the pool. Well we definetly found it. As you have read 5000 times yes the staff is extremely nice.. blah ..blah. Almost to nice. Room service cleans your room twice a day. The mini bar guy comes in once a day. and chocalates were always being brought to our door. One important piece of advise. Make sure you use the chain lock on your door. The staff always knocked once, and before we even had a chance to answer they would try to open our door. Well, the room service people almost got a free show of me and/or my girlfiend butt naked. This happened almost every day. Good food people. Your gauranteed to find AT LEAST one thing you like. and when you do you can eat as much of it as you want...... FOR FREE!!!! Honestly my favorite part of the trip other then the beach, are the pictures that we had profesionally done by the photogropher inside the hotel. We had Reno. He was good. The pictures are awesome. The best souvenier we could have gotten. Even better than the 10 t shirts we brought back. My girlfriend actually picked up a real cool painting. Oh, for those of you complaining about the bus ride to and from the airport, it sounds to me like your too old to be going on vacation and you should stay home. Seriously people get your noses out of the air and loosen up. We took the supposedly small "crappie bus" to the hotel. and the huge nice bus to the airport. neither was bad. We loved the ride, and so did everyone else who was on the bus with us. its differnet and intersesting. Mesqiuttos were out one night real bad and my girlfriend and i got badly bit. Bug spray costs something like 16 dollars there. and pepto bismo i saw for $20. Overall this trip was amazing. It sucks that we are home now, but we are young and have a whole life of disappointments ahead of us. Have fun, you made a good choice with this one.

4  Thank A TripAdvisor Member
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
A TripAdvisor Member
Staten Island, New York
12
Reviewed June 2, 2004

I just spent the greatest week on vacation at Secrets Excellence, Punta Cana. Every spot in this resort was CLEAN & BEAUTIFUL. The rooms were nicely decorated and clean. ALL the people (management to maintenance man) that work there were great. Pleasent & friendly. The food was great. Every resturant was unique. Some people complained about the Chineese food, but who goes to a Tropical Island for Chineese food?? We are New Yorkers, we know good food, and this food was good!! The shows were elaborate, the dancers were fantastic! The entertainment staff is always involved making sure you have a great time. We met so many great people. One thing I have to say, the air conditioning could be stronger. But I would 100% reccomend Secrets Excellence, Punta Cana to every one I know. This is GREAT! If you have anything really negative to say about this resort, you don't diserve a great vacation. STAY HOME!!

2  Thank A TripAdvisor Member
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 30, 2004

We have been travelling to All-Inclusive resorts throught the Carribbean twice a year since 1984. We stayed at Secrets Excellence April 16th thru April 23rd. We thoroughly enjoyed this resort and honestly believe that those that compain about Secrets are either just looking for something negative to say or simply have not travelled very much and don't know what they are talking about. We have stayed at some very nice resorts in the past...Couples (4 times) Sandals (6 times) and Grand Lido Negril (twice) in Jamaica; Sun Palace (4 times) and Aventura Spa Palace in Cancun...Just to name a few. We have also previously tried a Cruise (not for us),Aruba (5 times), Barbados, St. Lucia, Puerto Vallarta, St. Martin, St. Thomas, Puerto Rice....SECRETS EXCELLENCE was just as nice, if not better than the others for $1000 less U.S. for one week's stay .. The place is BEAUTIFUL, the rooms are very nice, the service is excellent, the food is delicious and plentiful, the variety was wonderful, etc.,etc.,etc. We met many nice couples and simply had an extremely relaxing and enjoyable vacation. And for those of you that are considering getting married in the Carribbean, this resort does it even nicer than other that we have seen.(excluding of course our wedding at Couples, Ocho Rios, Jamaica=19 YEARS AGO)
SO COME ON PEOPLE - LIGHTEN UP, STOP COMPLAINING AND LEARN TO ENJOY LIFE! IT DOESN'T GET MUCH BETTER THAN THIS.
A&F P.S. Hi Jim and Karen=THANK YOU FOR YOUR MIDWESTERN HOSPITALITY.

8  Thank AandF4ever
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 28, 2004

I use the phrase above to literally describe everyone's attitude at the resort. From the time my wife and I checked in (May 22) to our last room service meal before our flight (May 27) the entire staff was amazingly happy kind and helpful. I won't go into great detail becuase the fun of every vacation is experiencing something new and exciting. The ride from the aiport is a bit bumpy but nonetheless a unique way to get to the resort. Once you enter the gates you may hear a peacock in the background who elegently patrols the grounds. The bellman are helpful and you are guided to check in where a refreshing drink awaits. My wife and I were immediately helped and we checked into a 3rd floor room that I requested by email only a week prior to our arrival. Our room was HUGE and overlooked the smaller side pool with waterfall. The resort is large but its' design makes it less intimidating. We had one full day of rain but we made the best of it - Mar Carribes and Presidente beer (Jose at the Lobby Bar is GREAT); Ping Pong and Billiards; and a few movies on TV. Yes - there are English channels for those who, like myself, need some electronic entertainment. We went to Manite Animal Park on our 2nd full day and it was really good. My wife always wanted to swim with dolphins and her dream came true. The trip to and from the park is about 45 minutes (on the way back to the airport) but there are 2 shows which were really good (horses and dolphins/sea lions) and other animals along the way. It ended up being a great day for this as it remained overcast. Our last days we did take in free horseback riding on the beach (BOOK very early as the spots go quickly). Do not always believe the internet weather forcasts as it was quite wrong and predicted rain and clouds for our entire vacation. Our last 3 days were sun-filled and fabulous. The food is good to great depending on your tastes. There is always something new to sample. The Mexican restaurant was our favorite and the TEX-Mex/French restaurant a close second. Th Italian restaurant had a great dinner as well. There is a swim up bar and several "Palapas" scattered around the main pool and side pool. The resort is adults only and my wife and I both agreed this made the resort stand out. There were several people in there early 20s (honeymooners) but the resort had a nice mix of all age ranges. Our only negative was the Resort's nightly entertainment started at 10 PM and was not outstanding. Trust me that everything else was wonderful. You will have a great time and remember you're on vacation!!

5  Thank trp76
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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