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Excellence Punta Cana
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12,454 - 12,459 of 13,972 reviews
Reviewed March 21, 2006

Just returned from Secrets PC. We were there 3/16/06 for 5 nights. We are in our 40's and have traveled extensively to many ai resorts in Mexico and the caribbean.
Our Review
Arrival: Easy, grabbed bags and found a cab ($50) to resort over (somwewhat bumpy but not that much worse than atlanta streets) but beautiful rural scenery. Greeted warmly by Desk folks, offered a cold drink and given keys to room. Ten minutes later we are looking at our pool view, 3rd floor (as requested)standard room (jr suite). Perfect, large and clean.

Property: Very spread out which gives the feel of a quiet and tranquil property. Never crowded or overly noisy. Beautiful meandering pool-we floated around most days and never felt imposed on by anyone. The cascade pool by our room was also very quiet and intimate. Great for late day sunning. Beach is amazing. Yes, surf is rough but truly beautiful. No vendors to bother you. No children!

Food: Good. AS far as AI goes, we thought it was the best we have experienced. Loved the no reservation policy and we never waited more then 15 minutes for a table. Service is mostly very good and gracious with the exceptional sluggishness we have found in any restaurant no matter where it is located.
Bars were excellent with bartender Moya (the best) offering everything and anything and he also gave us a quick lesson in Spanish (depuis la cena). Cheers Moya!

Glitches-minor-on occasion you need to confirm reservations for taxis 2 times just to be sure that they are recorded correctly. No big deal. Very high prices for taxis to go anywhere (not the fault of this hotel) (ie, $100 roundtrip to play golf-great course but $300 per day for golf is a bit high). Even mentioning these issues seems a bit picky for us but you be the judge.

Overall. Excellent. Would we return? Yes and we plan to as soon as possible. It is a gorgeous hotel and a beautiful country and marvelous people!

  • Stayed: March 2006
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
18  Thank playalu1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 19, 2006

Hi my wife and i just returned from secret's on the 19 th we spent 10 days there and it was awesome..great food and service..the staff was great Benjamin the bartender at the beach bar near the s.domonigo plaza was great always clowning around with everyone..also Gertrudis the waitress who brought everyone drinks out to your chair all day long was soo nice..please tip the staff if you can because they work very hard all day and into the night. We stay in all inclusives around the carib. every year and this one is definetly the best yet..we will be returning next march.Very nice and large beach..was a bit wavy for some but not for us new england people.Cant wait to go back..Any ? you can e-mail us ..glennghntr97@hotmail.com..

11  Thank ghntr97
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 19, 2006

With all the five star reviews, I was expecting great things. Things were good, not great.
Food - average and repetitive for breakfast and lunch buffets. Nice to have 7 options of restaurants for dinner though. Wait time only bad for French restaurant where the food was usually better than the rest. Oceana, the fish restaurant, was a huge disappointment, especially on an island! Same menu and food in each restaurant each day. Desserts were exactly the same every day and were not good. Also, limited chocolate desserts sadly.

Rooms - we were supposedly upgraded to a "master suite" which just had a small, separate tv area. This particular one was cramped, dark and kind of creepy. We asked to be switched to a regular junior suite. After much hassle and delay they finally switched us. Liked the room much better, although there was a problem with bugs around our sink area. Despite complaining about this three times, it was never resolved. There is only a stall shower which is pretty small. The jacuzzi tubs are separate. The lighting in the room, especially by the bed, is very limited and dim. As a side note, the chocolates left at turndown are closer to brown wax than chocolate.

Pool - it's actually great - very long and windy, only 3-4 feet deep, and they provide very comfy things to float on which are supposed to be shared by all and remain in the pool (some people try to hog them, but at lunchtime you can find some free.) I wish they had put a little current into the pool to make it a lazy river type pool where the current moves you. It is true that you have to go out at 7-8am and reserve your seats, especially if you want a place in the shade. The beach was beautiful and great for walking. If you walked around the bend, the ocean was much calmer, warmer and delightful.

Service - mostly friendly, although there were certainly exceptions. Almost always very slow though (from bars to restaurants to problem resolution.) They do not work in U.S. time.

I appreciated reading all of the other reviews before we went and hope this helps you.

  • Stayed: March 2006
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
5  Thank catsamiNewYork
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 19, 2006

My boyfriend and I were there from 3/15 - 3/19. We are 39 and 41. Weather, perfect. Mosquitos, almost non-existent. I did get a few bites but only on day 3 and 4 for some reason. Boyfriend got none. I'm sweeter, that's why ;).

Getting there: Our flight connected thru Miami, which isn't bad going there, but coming back can be a nightmare. Going thru customs on a Sunday in MIA is prime time for all that beach traffic -- had we not been savvy on which line to get in here and there, we'd have really cut it close. I did see some people who appeared to not have made their earlier flights and were standing by for ours.

Suggestion: Come back as early as possible on Saturday and allow at least an hour between flights if you are connecting thru MIA.

Once landed in Punta Cana: 'Greeters' holding signs will direct your flight to a line. Like lambs to the slaughter, you just follow and then you realize the reason is, they have two girls that pose with you for a picture before you can get in. From a security standpoint, I think this is kind of cool. From a visitor standpoint, it is kind of a drag because you kind of aren't in the mood to have your picture taken at this point. You get the picture for $7 when you leave. I get a kick out of kitschy stuff so I made the boyfriend get ours. It's pretty funny to look at it now and I'm glad we got it.

Entering thru their customs didn't take too long and was pretty painless.

Skycaps: OK, I was bad and didn't listen to my boyfriend when he said, "Keep walking". There are these guys that are dying to make a buck and they'll darn near wrestle your luggage out of your hand if you don't move fast enough and say 'NO' when they ask to help you. Just cruise right past those guys to get to your tour rep (unless of course you want help with your luggage).

Ground Transportation: Ours was arranged thru GoGo Travel and they used Prieto Tours. I saw another poster had a bad experience with them. Ours was the complete opposite. A nice gentleman was there to greet us and we shared a small van with one other couple.

The ride from the airport was about an hour. For some, this is a problem but for me, it was a chance to see this charming little country up close. I enjoyed looking at the terrian, the floppy-eared cows, sheep, dogs, and as a horse-lover, I enjoyed looking at how different their horses are from ours...coarse, tough little horses that are direct descendants from the earliest horses brought over from the Spaniards.

I enjoyed seeing the colourful little shanties with burros tied out front and driving thru little towns that advertised hot soup for $.50. Like another poster said, it is not uncommon to see livestock in the middle of the road. In our case, we passed loose horses who were dozing right on the road while their little comrades stood on the other side of the fence wondering how those guys got out. The busses breezed right by and the horses never flinched.

Yes, there are potholes and I marveled at how the drivers expertly maneuvered around them and how they tooted their horns before passing a slower moving vehicle. No one ever seemed annoyed that they were being passed.

Another poster mentioned that they were transferred by Prieto three times. We did not experience that either way. However, on the way back, we did stop at Sunscape to pick up other travelers who never appeared and in under a minute, we moved on.

Only bad thing on our way back was that we were on a large tour bus, air conditioned, and some moron decided it would be a cool thing to do, since he was out of the US, to experience smoking on a bus with other victims trapped with him. I'm sure he was delighted, as an American to do this but the rest of us were also Americans who are not accustomed to sharing smoke on our public transportaion -- a practice that has been gone for many many years, in fact, given the young man's age, never in his lifetime has anyone smoked on a bus in the US with him. The bus driver cranked the fan up while my boyfriend and I shot dirty looks back at the offenders. They managed to stop themselves after two back to back cigarettes. For those who smoke, please practice consideration for those who have asthma and other respiratory problems. I suffered in silence because I was raised not to cause a stink but it did make me sick, literally and wasn't how I wanted my trip to end.

Arrival at Secrets: beautiful place when you enter. Very appealing to the eye. Someone immediately came to us at check in and offered cool towels and champagne. A nice touch. There was no line when we arrived and check in was a breeze. We upgraded to Excellence Club. Another poster said it was a waste -- I have to disagree. I'd seen yet another poster suggest it so we hopped on it. It was $400 extra, but where it was worthwhile for us was that all day, everyday from probably 6 a.m. to probably 10 p.m. (I might not be right on the time) they have food set up for you there and you have free internet access. We ate breakfast there everyday, avoiding any possible lines or potential service glitches. We served ourselves and an attendant offers you drinks (anything you want) and clears your plate each time you go back for more. You could use their computers to access your email or there was a plug in for your own. You soon learn who the usuals are and plan to beat them to the equipment to get your time in. Anyway, we did breakfast, late afternoon snacks and after dinner drinks there. We rented movies from there and all appointments could be booked thru them as well.

Also, with this upgrade, I think you get a 25% discount on shopping and 10% off on spa services -- or, it could be the other way around. Whatever the case, for those that want to partake, that is a nice deal. We enjoyed the upgrade for the location of the building to a quiet pool away from the main building, the free-flowing food and drink in the Club and the internet access, as we both have jobs that require us to be connected.

There is an internet cafe near the shops for those who opt to pay as they go.

As an Excellence Club member, you also got your beach towels delivered to you the night before, which of course gave you a bit of a jump on getting your desired spot for sunning. Mini-bar contents are also free at this level.

In my dream world, I'd love a NY-style hotel room in the islands but I'm finding that isn't very realistic. I've only stayed one place like that and it was the Four Seasons at Great Exuma, the Bahamas. So, in the islands, I want good A/C, a comfortable bed, decent TV and cleanliness. We got all that. The rooms would have been very nice if they'd left out the hideous green paint job and just left it ivory. But we also don't paint our houses pink or orange with green trim. They do. It's a cultural thing -- get past it. Our room had nice terra-cotta tile and the counters and walls of the shower room were marble or granite. Oh, and we got a huge kick out of the free 'adult entertainment channel', which I've noticed no one else mentioned.

In this Excellence Club building, our room walked right out to the pool. I was there in maybe 6 steps. My training from other resort stays had me out of bed by 7 to get us a spot. I get up early automatically so this wasn't a problem. I threw on a robe and shuffled my way out and reserved one of the fabulous cabana beds with our towels and some books.

If you don't get a bed, you have the little thatched roof umbrellas which give plenty of shade (you'll probably want one of these by day 2 or 3) or you get a lawn chair in direct sunlight. We did the thatched umbrella one day and liked its semi-private atmosphere.

One bummer pool-side -- no one runs drinks for you. We were near a swim up pool and enjoyed getting our own but would have loved having someone bring them. One young woman offered us an ash tray and gladly brought us drinks when we asked. We tipped her $5 and I figured that would encourage more service but didn't. I can only assume it wasn't her job to serve drinks but she did it so cheerfully (pre-tip) that one wouldn't know.

Beach and Weather: The beach and ocean were beautiful. The weather was perfect. Even in the evenings, a sweater was not necessary. Not many people got in the water -- the red flags were flying which signals you to take extreme caution. I'm not a big swimmer and prefer to stick to the pool.

Entertainment: There's a lot to do. Even more than what they advertise on the site. I personally love all the little things the resorts do for guests on site. I saw lots of people playing some of the organized games which I've done at other resorts and enjoyed meeting other couples while doing it.

Spa: Very nice. Very tranquil. Only detraction was at high time, spa staff tended to chat loudly while waiting for their appointments. Some folks really like a quiet spa environment and I've seen other spas with special areas for open chatting so guests aren't disturbed. I wasn't disturbed but someone more uptight might be.

Gym: Nice. Two treadmills, a few bikes and I think 3-4 ellipticals or stairmaster-style machines. Decent weight machines and free weights.

Cute: The animals! There were some baby domestic bunnies just free-wheeling on the place in a little area with other animals (flamingos, parrots, chickens (just a few) and ducks). The bunnies were darling and tame and you could pick them up or pet them. There are little boxes in the animal area that staff fills with leftover bread which you can feed the animals with which can be a kick.

One day, they brought burros up on the beach. Being a horse-lover, I was worried some of the 'guests of size' might try to get on them to have their picture taken, which I just hate because those burros are just so tiny, beast of burden or no. I loved how when one of the island kids got on, each burro immediately buckled his legs and laid down and started to roll, which scared the daylights out of the guests and ruined all chances of anyone considering getting on them. I brought the burros apples fromm the Club and bit pieces off the apple before giving them so no one burro could hog the apple. One little guy was pretty agressive and opened his mouth so wide to get the piece from my hand. If you didn't know what you were doing, you might get a few fingers nipped.

Horseback riding: I'm going to sound like a PETA member but I also hate the beach riding, which is free. People who don't know how to ride don't belong on horses, period. People typically are not equipped with the right shoes to be around horses, either on or off one and quite frankly, riding without proper headgear is just plain stupid. Studies show that most injuries involving horses are while mounted and due to improper headgear or none at all.

The horses are usually in such poor flesh, they don't have the energy to do much but anything can happen and it does. Nothing is worse than seeing inexperienced riders saw and yank around on a horses' gums with a metal bit while they try to steer. Do the poor horse a favor and just stay away. They are also typically too small to even give you enough body to put under you so you balance up there easily. Riding a skinny, narrow horse is like straddling a fence board. OK, off stump.

Food: fine. Not excellent but fine. If you are looking for American stlye food, forget it. Every beef dish I had was fantastic and tasted local, which translates to fresh and free-range. Flavor was excellent. All the little desserts were local-style, which was fun to try new things. Vegetables were divine. Nice and fresh and different. Yummy oils and vinaigrettes to choose from.

You can do buffet, a la carte or a combo of both. We did both. Which is probably why we can't whine too much about service. We'd order our meals then graze off the buffet on salad, bread or small portions of other yummy stuff.

Service: Only one night did we have slow service and after that, the gentleman redeemed himself. Some people weren't happy with a 30 - 45 minute wait. We only had one night of that. We passed on the Bordeaux because my boyfriend wasn't interested in their menu. That wait was 1.5 hr. We live near DC in Fairfax County and we are used to significant waits so a half hour wasn't a big deal for us. We only had that kind of a wait for dinner. Other nights, we got right in.

Guests: Nice mix of Western and Eastern European folks. And for those that enjoy topless sunbathing, we had a few at the pool. Completely not offensive to us at all, as it is just their culture and isn't meant to be dirty and should not be taken as such. I have to say, the most offensive people there were a group from New Jersey visiting for a wedding. They were extremely loud and obnoxious. They were having a great time but they just were mannerless. There is a part of the resort that is best for more activity. The tenor in the more quiet pools is not the best for those who want to yell loudly, guffaw, and belly flop their ample, multiple tatooed bodies into the pool.

If you want the music, volleyball, water aerobics and noise and tatoo comparing, stay close to the main building. Leave the quiet pools for the guests who want that. Oh, and the swim up bars are closest to the main building. Some thought was put into the pool design.

Personally, I'd go back. I'd only hope it would happen during a time when the Jersey Shore-goers weren't there. Unfortunately, the hotel can't control the white trash factor.

  • Stayed: March 2006
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
18  Thank VAGirlNYBoy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 19, 2006

We just returned from Secrets Excellence. My wife and I stayed 3/11-3/18 and went with my parents and my brother and his wife. My wife and I have been to one other all inclusive (Palladium in Riveria Maya Mexico), so we did have something to compare to.

TRAVEL-No problem at the airports, although it's a long walk from check in at Ohare to the gate. Flight arrived early got through the Dominican airport quickly. Remember to have $10 per person for the tourist card and a pen to fill out the blue form upon arrival. When you leave, you'll have to fill out the same form but there is no $10 fee. Flight in arrived about 1/2 hour early. No problem getting through customs on the way home. Detroit was a little easier flying out of then Chicago but Chicago wasn't unmanagable. Yes, ride to the resort is long and bumpy but it's not a deal breaker when deciding to stay here. Took a cab back to the airport and this saved us a few minutes plus we didn't have to leave the resort at 8:00 in the morning. We were able to enjoy our last night and take time having breakfast and packing the next morning. Parked with Avistar in Chicago, when we got back we called, were picked up within 10 minutes and our car was up front and unlocked when we arrived at the garage.

Resort-Not as big as the Palladium and much easier to find your way. Grounds were well kept. If you want peace and quiet and want to relax, go to the cascade pool. The entertainment team does not go down there. The main pool did not have the music blaring all day like the Palladium did which was very nice. There were two times during the day the entertainment team was there the rest of the time they are at the beach. I used the gym and my mom and sister in law used the spa. None of us had any complaints with either facility. There is some shopping at the resort but the prices are kind of high. A couple of nights a week they bring in merchants you can haggle with or if you walk just to the north off the hotel property there is a small shopping area. The hotes encourages you not to go there but we had no problems. We went to booth 8 and the lady was very friendly and plesant and not at all pushy. It was very nice not having towel cards or bracelets. Also, we took bug spray with us but never used it. We only noticed them spraying once.

Food and Drink-Yes, the drinks are not strong. If you want them strong just ask. Also, there is top shelf liquer available, again just ask. The Presediente (Dominican beer) is very good. They also have Bud and Bud light. House wines in the restaurant were good as well. We loved the food. Had the buffet or room service for breakfast. The buffet, the beach cook out, pizza delivered pool side or went to the snack bar at the north end of the pool for lunch. For dinner we tried everything but the Oriental and Seafood. My parents and brother and sister in law had bad service at the Italian, my wife and I didn't. The steak house was good, my parents and my brother and his wife loved the Dominican, my wife and I didn't try it. The Mexician was good. The French was very good but get there by 6:30 or be prepared to wait. We also had dinner on the beach during the "Dominican Party" and tried room service for dinner. We had no issues with room service. The orders were hot when they arrived and were no later then 45 minutes after calling. We were also called when the food was on the way. Remember, if you don't like something, get something else. We drank the water in the restaurants but not the tap water in the room, no stomach issues at all.

Entertainment-There are activities going on throughout the day. You can be involved or you can just relax. They do have a casino on site, went in once, didn't have any problems. The shows at night are fun. Remember, this isn't Vegas. There are interactive shows as well if you choose to participate. There was a beach party one night and a movie on the beach another night. The sports bar had pool tables, table tennis, tennis, archery, shooting and games. It was a nice spot to unwind. This group works really hard and they seem to enjoy their jobs and it shows. The disco at night was also fun.

People-This is what really sets Secrets apart. After a few days the bartenders and wait staff would start to remember you and what you ordered. The entertainment team went out of their way to make us feel welcomed. Junior, Juilo and espically Rigo made us feel like part of the family. Tell Rigo his buddy "Sammy" says hello. Everybody is very friendly. We had no language barriers. It helped my wife speaks spanish but it wasn't an issue. Tips were appreciated but you weren't made to feel like you had to. Everybody felt "excellente" and if you asked for something, "it was a pleasure" to get it for you.

My wife would like to try Puerto Rico next because she has family there but if I have may way we would be right back at Secrets. If you have any questions feel free to email me.

  • Stayed: March 2006
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
30  Thank dboy36
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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