We stayed at the Excellence Punta Cana from March 17 thru March 27, and we had a fabulous time! We are both in our early 30’s, and were looking for a nice all inclusive, adults only resort to just sit back and relax at! We found that with Excellence Punta Cana! Hopefully this review doesn’t get too long, but I do want to try to cover all the areas that I can remember.
Airport Arrival: The arrival into the Punta Cana airport was pretty easy and seamless. This was the first time that we had actually exited a plane right onto the tarmac, which was interesting. When you get off the plane, you basically just have to follow the heard of people into the airport; there is always airport staff directing you where to go. When you get into the airport the first thing that you do is fork over your $10/per person for the tourist card. Then it’s pretty funny because 10 seconds later you hand in that tourist card to a gentleman standing at a computer. All he does is scan the card, tear it up, and ushers you onto to the customs agent. Once at the agent, he checks your id credentials, and off you go to pick up your luggage. Many have talked about the porters at the airport. We found them to be very friendly, but if you do not want their services a simply “No, Gracias” will suffice.
Transportation: As part of our package, we chose to have a private van transfer to our resort. The company that provided the transfer for us was Turinter. As with all of the companies, their booth was located just beyond the baggage claim; you cannot miss all of the booths. We simply walked up to the Turinter booth, showed them our voucher for the transportation, and within minutes we were in our van ready to go.
The roads: We had read many reviews prior to going, so we kind of knew what we were in store for. As many have said, the roads are not in the best shape! However, we treated it as an experience, and had fun with it. Some of the potholes are enormous; however, the drivers seem to know where most of them are and do try their best to not shake your bones loose!! If you do have any kind of motion sickness, I would highly recommend taking something to ease that before taking the ride.
Arrival at Excellence: As soon as we pulled through the gates, we could immediately tell that we were going to have a great vacation. The drive up to the front lobby area was beautiful, and you could tell that the resort is well maintained. Upon exiting the van, we were immediately greeted by the bell hops, given a cold towel, and a refreshing glass of champagne. The bell hops ushered us to the front desk, where we presented our papers. Upon seeing that we had booked the “Excellence Club,” we were told to wait on the couch for a brief moment, and someone from the Excellence Club would come to get us.
Excellence Club Check-In: Ana from the Excellence Club picked us up, and escorted us to the Excellence Club area. Normally from what others had posted it seems that the Excellence Club check-in process should have taken only 5 minutes or so. Our process took about 45 minutes; however, let me explain. During check-in at the Excellence Club, we could tell there was a problem but we didn’t know exactly what. Instead of having us sit down at the computer waiting, Ana had us go upstairs and enjoy the amenities that were available while they continued checking us in. What we found out after the long 45 minute wait was that there was a problem between our travel company, CheapCarribean, and the reservation that Excellence had on file for us. We had upgraded through CheapCarribean to the Excellence Club after our initial booking because of the great reviews we had read on TA. However, that reservation never made it to Excellence. The resort still had us down for a basic room. In the end, Roberto, who is the Excellence Club manager, took care of us and made sure that we got the room that we were expecting even though it was basically CheapCarribean’s fault for not sending through our upgraded reservation. Roberto was absolutely amazing, and made sure that we were happy! Starting off on a note like this may have put a sour taste in some people’s mouths; however, Roberto and his staff made sure that they did whatever it took to ensure we were taken care of. Hats off to them!! We couldn’t thank them enough!
The Room: We stayed in room 7111, which was an Excellence Club Junior Garden Suite. The room was very nice, and very clean! There were never any major problems that we had with the room. We did have the power go out a few times, but we learned it was because of my wife using the hairdryer. All that we had to do was flip the circuit breaker switch, which for us was in a panel just behind the minibar. Note: to prevent this, just make sure to turn off most all lights before using the hairdryer. We didn’t have any more problems after doing this! Building 7 was in a great location for us since it was centrally located to the pool and the restaurant/plaza area. I’m not sure if I would have like being in building 12, 13, 14 because of the distance. However, others that we talked to that were in those buildings did like it because it was very peaceful and quite!
Maid Service/Staff: As others have said, the maid service was good but on some items it was pretty hit and miss. Don’t get me wrong, the maid service came twice every day and the minibar was stocked daily! However, items such as bar soap, and washcloths were always a mystery. For the first few days, we never had washcloths and then all of a sudden they arrived. Not a big deal to us, but it was pretty funny! If we needed anything at all, we would simply ask a maid in the hall or a simple phone call to the Excellence Club would get our request taken care of promptly! The rest of the staff at the resort were always very friendly with a “hola” every time we passed them, and were always willing to help if asked.
Food: We found the food at Excellence to be top notch, and honestly did not have a bad meal the entire time that we were there! We tried all of the restaurants (8 of them) plus we did have room service as well. The only thing that we did not do was The Lobster House for dinner because were not a huge fan of lobster to begin with, and the lobster is quite different from lobster in the US. Breakfast at the Toscana buffet is excellent; you will find practically everything under the sun for breakfast items! We enjoyed the cooked to order eggs, omelets, and pancakes! Also, the breakfast at The Lobster House is wonderful! For dinner, our favorite restaurants were Spice (Asian), Chez Isabelle (French), and The Grill (Steakhouse). The food was prepared perfectly at all of the restaurants, presentation was excellent, and all of them had wonderful taste. The food is much different that in the US, so if you are expecting 5 Star American cuisine then you will be disappointed. We went there knowing that we were in a different country, and that the food would be a little different as it was when we traveled to Mexico last year. However, “different” doesn’t mean bad. It was “different” in a good way, and we enjoyed all of our meals. You will definitely not go hungry at this resort. Beyond the restaurants we did enjoy several meals at lunch on the beach, a few buffets in the plaza during the evenings, and the pizzas around the pool at lunch were amazing!! My only suggestion would be that the desserts at the restaurants need to be revamped! The desserts were just okay at the restaurants. In my opinion, a great meal needs to finish with a great dessert! We found the desserts at the buffets on the beach/plaza to actually be better than in the restaurants! Also, the Excellence Club generally had some good dessert snacks as well!
Drinks: Simply excellent! A great variety of drinks for everyone, and bars are accessible throughout the resort. It seemed that we were always very close to one! All of the bartenders are wonderful, and aim to please! Coco Locos are fabulous!!
Pool Area: Now I know why this pool was rated as one of the best! It is huge, and there’s plenty of room. You don’t at all feel crowed, and there are plenty of lounge chairs for everyone. I did generally go down and save a spot in the morning (we really liked our spot), so that it would be there waiting for us! Sorry to the people that hate that! However, you can always find a spot open if you didn’t “save a spot.” The only thing that I thought was rude is when people save a spot and then never showed up or didn’t show up until 3pm in the afternoon! What’s the point? We would save our spot, but would always be there by 9am or so! Towels were always available that we could tell, and we never had a problem finding a floating raft if we wanted one!
Beach Area: It was a beautiful, well maintained beach! There were always a ton of empty spots out on the beach, and again plenty of chairs. The beds out on the beach were always being used, and did seem to get reserved early. If you want a bed, you will probably need to get out there early! Also, if you are part of the Excellence Club one of the perks is that you can have them reserve a bed/chairs for you if you like! Nice touch! The ocean is pretty rough as many others have stated, and if you love swimming in the ocean this resort would not be for you. Most days were black flagged or red flagged. We enjoyed walking in the ocean, and taking a quick dip in the ocean.
Excellence Club: For us, the Excellence Club was well worth it. We liked having the snacks available to us from 7am until 11pm. It was a quite place to relax, check some emails, and enjoy the company of others. We also took advantage a couple nights of the free DVD rentals.
Entertainment Crew: The entertainment staff at Excellence is absolutely wonderful. My hat goes off to them for the energy that they bring everyday to work! They do their best to get people involved in the activities, and make sure that they have a good time. With that said, they are not pushy if you don’t want to participate! I would recommend participating though! You will have fun! A special thank you to “The Black Angel” who was one of a kind, and who was a lot of fun!
Nightly Shows: We went to the 10pm show almost every night that we were there, and found them all to be quite good. I would highly recommend going to the Michael Jackson show, and the Circus show. Others that we enjoyed were “The Perfect Couple” show and the “Stars” show. There is also entertainment many nights in the plaza, and at the piano bar. Just sitting back and relaxing listening to the music some nights was excellent!
Disco/Night Club: We went to the disco only one night basically because we were just too tired from being out in the sun everyday! The disco opens up nightly at 11pm. It is a basic night club with a bar, dance floor, and DJ. Nothing amazing, but still fun. The disco always seemed to have some type of “theme” going on and the entertainment crew made sure that people had a good time!
Casino: We did visit the casino a few times while at the resort, and found it to be satisfactory. It was small, but it was a good time waster for something to do a night. They have 20 or so slot machines, blackjack, Caribbean poker, and roulette from what I saw.
Shopping: There are several resorts in permanent shops that are located towards the front of the resort. These shops are nice because they are located right on the property; however, they are a little bit pricier than other shops off the resort. They would be perfect for picking up a couple quick souvenirs if you didn’t have time to venture out. There are also several local vendors located just off the Excellence property to the left of the resort if you are looking out towards the ocean. These vendors can be very pushy, but they do have much better prices if you are willing to do a little negotiating! As others have said, “Nancys” is a great place to go for a slightly less pressure environment. The resort also allows on select nights for local vendors to come in and set up in the plaza area. I believe the hours that they are there are 4pm-9pm, but only on select nights. These vendors can be very pushy as well, but they are just trying to do their job and sell their stuff. A simple “no, gracias” will suffice if you do not have any interest. If you do buy anything, again….negotiate a price!!
Resort horseback riding: A 30min horseback ride was included in our resort package, so we decided to take advantage of it. It was a lot of fun going up the beach, and we did get some great pictures! The horses did seem to be a little underweight, and just didn’t seem to be real happy. However, they were very well trained and practically led themselves down the beach and back. Being an animal lover, you hate to see animals not happy but we never saw them being mis-treated or anything. When asked the trainers did say that they were well kept, fed daily, and groomed quite often. I just hope it’s true!
Photo Souvenirs: We did learn that there is a professional photographer right at the resort, and you can book them to take pictures of you for great memories. We did end up taking advantage of this, and it was fantastic! Fran, our photographer, was excellent and had many wonderful suggestions for pictures. Depending on the package you choose you will get so many photos taken, and have the ability to have multiple outfits if you choose. When finished, you can either have prints made or pictures can be put onto a CD. We also loved one of our pictures so much that we had an artist there put it onto a canvas painting. This was of course an additional cost, but the results were truly spectacular! The cost for these services is not cheap; however, if you want some wonderful professional pictures to remind you of your trip then this would be well worth your time and money!!
Taxis: We did take a taxi to the Palma Real Shopping Center, which is where the Hard Rock Café Punta Cana is located. The taxi ride in total cost $96, and took about an hour to get there. The taxi driver did wait for us while we did our shopping, which did take about 2 ½ hours. The taxi driver was more than willing to wait though! By the way, the shopping center was very nice! We picked up several souvenir items while shopping there!
Excursions: While at Excellence we did end up booking two excursions off the resort. The first was a zip line tour, and it was a lot of fun! It took about an hour to get to the place, and the zip line tour lasted about 3 hours or so. If you like this sort of thing, I would highly recommend it. We had never done it before, it was easy, the instructors were fun, and it made for a great day of memories. Price per person for this zip line excursion was $85. We also booked another excursion which included horseback riding and riding dune buggies. This was an absolute blast even though it was pouring rain the day we did the excursion. Actually the rain probably made the dune buggies even more fun because of the pot holes filled with water! Note: no matter if it’s raining or not you will get dirty on this trip…don’t wear your favorite clothes!! We took the dune buggies on the gravel roads and on the main paved road. We stopped at Macao beach, which was amazing and then stopped at a cave where we could swim in the cave itself! Amazing, and again very much recommended! Price for this excursion was $65 per person.
All in all, this resort was everything we imagined it would be and it exceeded our expectations because of Roberto and his Excellence Club staff! I cannot thank them enough for making our vacation wonderful, and for taking care of us the whole time that we were there! If you have the extra money to spend, the Excellence Club option is great! I would highly recommend it; however, don’t worry if you cannot do that option. You will still have a great time, and the staff will ensure that your needs are met! We are definitely looking forward to returning very soon to Excellence Punta Cana!
If you have any questions at all, please feel free to contact me! Happy Travels!
- 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