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Excellence Punta Cana
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A TripAdvisor Member
SICKLERVILLE, NJ
120
Reviewed March 22, 2006

My husband and I just returned from a trip to Punta Cana - Secrets Excellence, 2 days ago!

Let me start off by saying that this trip was planned for over a year with a group of 36 people for our friends' wedding. In anticipation, I have read virtually every review and looked at every picture. I have to say, the reviews were really quite helpful, however, I do not understand how it is possible for anyone to have had a bad experience.

Every single aspect of our trip from 03-14-06 through 03-21-06 was perfect in terms of quality, service, weather, accomodations, etc.

I will address a few things in particular:

The bus ride:

Not nearly as horrible as I expected - we had a group of 12 of us on this bus so we made it fun. Our bus was big and air conditioned and comfortable and the bus driver stopped at a stand so we could get out to get a Presidente Beer!

Warning - preparing for the flight home. The bus ride seemed twice as long. Baggage check in is a very long process initially when you get to the airport and then you have to stop at multiple check points throughout the airport to show your passport again and go through the security check again. We literally got done all of that and had 2 minutes to board the plane.

The beer:

I haven't liked beer for 21 years - I drank a Presidente on the bus to try it and loved it - I drank it for the entire trip.

The ocean:

Be careful - the undertow is extremely bad. The red flag was up on the beach the entire time we were there. We went out to our waist and it was fine. A woman was out farther and began being pulled out byt the undertow/current and my friend tried to help but couldn't and got pulled herself - they were both literally drowning. Eventually a lifeguard saved them, after he heard us screaming. Beware -the beach is federal property and is not manned by lifeguards and there are signs everywhere reminding you of this.

Beach Party :

it is usually held on the beach every Tuesday (ours was held on Thursday since they expected rain on Tuesday) We expected hamburgers and hot dogs - something simple. No way, these people don't do anything simple. They started setting it up at 10:30 in the morning and it doesn't start until 7:30. It was an amazing production! Beautifully decorated, on the beach, Rib eye steaks, Roasted pig, baby lobsters, seafood, ribs, and entire boat filled with desserts. Dancing and entertainment -we had a blast!

The Spa:

A few of us booked a facial via email prior to our trip. I had never had one - we got the cheapest one for $65 and it was 100% worth it.


4 Wheelers:

We planned this trip through our travel person within the hotel but you can book it yourself with the locals at the end of the beach. This to me, was a highlight of the trip. About a 1/2 hour ride to the rental place and then over 2 hours riding the quads through the towns, to a farm that grew coffee beans, sugar cane, cocoa beans, vanilla beans, etc. We stopped at this farm and you can purchase these items for $4 each and you get a demo on the process of making coffee, we drove to a beach and stopped for a while. This was a little expensive at $80 a person but it was truly the highlight of the trip for me.


Remember to take ones for tipping - not required but so appreciated. I also took school supplies and make up/lotions for the maid and for the children in the town where we rented our 4 wheelers. These are things I got in a dollar store and I left them with a note for the maid. They aren't allowed to take anything unless you leave a note. I would just write

Camarista (Chambermaid)
Mucho Gracias


Overall, as I said, this trip was fantastic and I plan on going back again and again!

  • Stayed: March 2006
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
20  Thank A TripAdvisor Member
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 22, 2006

My girlfriend and I stayed at Secrets for 2 weeks in March, having originally been booked to stay at Secrets Excellence in Mexico in November (cancelled because of the Hurricane). Had read some reviews before we went, mostly good but some negatives.All I can say is that I have been all over the world and stayed at some great places, and our experience of Secrets DR is up there with the best of them. Lovely setting, friendly staff, very relaxed and perfect to re-charge the batteries!
As for the food, we pretty much stuck to the Bordeaux, Oceana and the Grill and thought they were all very good. Only bad experience was at the Italian on the first night as we turned up too late for any of the others.Needless to say din't make that mistake again. Also sometimes going to the French restaurant the girl allocating tables would try and discourage you saying there was a long wait etc, but wasn't a problem as would just have a few drinks and wait with a bleeper.
There was always space on the beach, and the breeze meant you were never uncomfortable. The sea was always rough but good fun tackling the waves. Drinks were regularly brought down, and there is absolutely no pressure for tipping, but was happy to about 50% of the time as pretty much all the staff were so friendly.
Room in Block 8 was always clean, new towels etc and mini-bar well stocked. Plenty of movies etc for a quiet night in with room service. How about Channel 21!!!
Overall can't knock the place at all, and certainly no stomach trouble that you sometimes hear about in DR. Would definately go to Secrets again, maybe Mexico but would not rule out a return to Punta Cana.

  • Stayed: March 2006
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
24  Thank Eagles1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
A TripAdvisor Member
Webster, New York
114
Reviewed March 21, 2006

This was our first time at the Dominican Republic and at an all inclusive. My husband and I were there from 3/14-21/2006 in a garden view room on the ground floor. The room was OK but not spectacular. The bedspread had several patches sewed in to repair what looked like cigarette burns (we were in a non-smoking room though). This is categorized as a 4 star hotel, but I'm not sure what the criteria is for this rating. We definitely did not find this to be a 4 star by any means.
The grounds and pool are excellently maintained. But, we found service to be sorely lacking in every respect. We left our room every day at 11:00am to go the pool, on 3 different days when we returned at 4:00pm our room had NOT been cleaned. We reported each occurrence to the concierge, but it didn't seem to make a difference--it was always hit-or-miss with regard to whether the room was done, and what's shameful is that no-one we spoke to cared. This is definitely NOT 4 star service. Important Note: on the 3 occasions that the room was cleaned, the sliding glass door was always left unlocked. Not sure why this was done, but for security purposes it's something to remember to check if you get a ground floor room. The hotel has alot of construction going on and not everyone on the grounds is a hotel employee. Important Note: if you want a pool chair with shade, you must go out to the pool every day between 6:30-7:00am and stake your claim by putting either a towel or personal item on the chair you want. Otherwise you will never find anything in the shade. The hotel does not maintain any control over pool or beach seating assignments and, basically, if someone puts a book on a shaded chair and does not come out to sit in the chair all day, it's tough luck on everyone else because there is no one in the hotel that you can report this injustice to--I tried and the concierge simply said it's too bad for me,the chair is taken,and she will not do anything about it. There are several bars but only 2 are located by the pool in easily accessible areas. The pool is very long and has only has one bridge in the middle which allows access to one of the 2 bars (the other bar is located at the far end of the pool, in the water and you must swim to it. So, if you wake up late and cannot get a pool chair on the convenient side with a bar, it really discourages you from walking a really long way to get a drink on the other side. You can forget about the staff coming around to take your drink order. There is only one pool bar waitress and she comes around maybe once every 3 hours--and no-one comes on the beach, except for the occasional Da Mario pizza man. And when the waitress does venture out to take orders, she usually stays on the bar-side of the pool, and anyone on the otherside is on their own. You have to constantly request liquor in your drinks otherwise they will serve you very, little or no liquor, especially in a Piña Colada, Strawberry Daiquiri, or any other mixed drink. With regard to the food--the pizzas and service from the Da Mario are EXCELLENT. The food at the Bordeaux was very good but you don't always get exactly what is described in the menu. The first time we went I ordered the Salmon and Mussels in Puff Pastry appetizer and got poached salmon with no mussels on 2 pieces of italian bread toast. It was tasty, but not spectacular. On this occasion I ordered the prime rib and was very disappointed--it was very thin (about a quarter of an inch), very fatty and basically cooked badly. The second time we went, I got the same appetizer and it was delivered on puff pastry, but it was very stale and hard and not good. One thing I recommend is the Chateaubriand steak fillet with the Béarnaise sause. It was consistently the most tender steak we had the entire time we were at the resort, and the service is excellent. The food at the Sea Side Grill is a nightmare by comparison. We ordered the skirt steak and NY strip steak and it was so tough and chewy it was inedible. The seafood at the Oceana is average grade--no lobster, really small shrimp,and, again a very tough and chewy steak with the surf and turf. The World Cafe breakfast buffet offers a variety of food, but the service is so very bad it's unbelievable. The only thing the staff provides via service is cleanup--they are really quick to take away an empty plate, glass or cup. I suspect that's because they are short on their supply of these and must wash them quickly for reuse. You will get one cup of coffee, but good luck in getting any of the staff to refill your cup. They run out of bottled water and don't make any attempt to fill any glasses with filtered water from their pitcher. None of their beverages are served cold--not the water, not the juice. And as far as we saw, there is only one small ice bucket located by the juice bar where you can serve yourself. Basically at breakfast, you must get everything yourself or you will never get anything--they bring you nothing (this is not 4 star service). Lunch is pretty much the same service wise. Dinner on the other hand offers much better service at the World Cafe. The El Patio Mexican restaurant has a nice menu, but again the food is neither exceptional nor 4 star. The Himitsu restaurant is really fickle--we had really good service and food the first time we went and really bad service and got food we did not order the second time we went. They brought me my dinner but completely forgot to bring anything for my husband--20 minutes into my dinner, he had not been served. Finally we flagged down our waiter (it's really hard to get these guys because they are always running),and after apologizing for the oversight, he brought out food that was almost completely different from what was ordered. When we told him that the food he brought us was wrong he looked irritated and perplexed and could not understand what the problem was. So my husband decided to just eat whatever was served because he could only imagine what he would get the second time around.
Basically, if you're willing to put in alot of personal effort, you may have a good time at this resort. But, if you're looking for a resort where good service is what you value for your expediture, I would NOT recommend this resort. It really is hit-or-miss.

  • Stayed: March 2006
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
14  Thank A TripAdvisor Member
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 21, 2006

My husband and I stayed at Secrets from 3/17 - 3/21. I had read a lot of glowing reviews and some negative reviews before booking. I also had a co-worker that had stayed there 2 years ago and had recommended it. Unfortunately for us, the resort overall did not live up to the 5 star and 6 golden apples rating that we had read about. We were not greeted with a cold drink and towels as so many others had written about???

Here are the positives on the resort:

THE POOL - the pool is beautiful and very relaxing, as there are no kids splashing around! Make sure to get out early if you want a bed or water lounge chair (they're great!)

THE BEACH - the resort beach is very spacious and very well maintained.

THE HORSEBACK RIDE - We thoroughly enjoyed this 45 minute excursion. Please note, book it as soon as you check in because they only offer them 2x per day and it is limited to 20 riders per session.


Here are some of the things that left us with a negative impression:

THE FOOD - My husband and I found the food to be okay, nothing to write home about with the exception of the white chocolate cake at the french restaurant.

We ate at the steak house and I ordered my steak med. well. It was well done and I could not eat 1/2 of it. The deserts did not even look appetizing.

We tried the italian restuarant. It was nothing more than a buffet with items that you could order in addition to it from the kitchen. My husband and I ordered the chix. parm. It was nothing more than a small piece of chicken (seemed boiled) on top of pasta with sauce.

We went to the french resturant 2 other nights because it seemed to be the best of the 3 and had not read favorable reviews on the mexican/dominican restaurant. I had a chicken dish and my husband had the prawns. Both dishes were good. I had the pork loin the 2nd night which I found to be tough, not tender.

We also went to the french restaurant one night just for dessert. We checked in with the hostess at 9:30 who promptly gave us an attitude about having dessert there and told us to go to another restaurant!!! We decided to stay and let her know.

The pizza is decent and available for the afternoon and evening, but you have to go into the restaurant to get it. I think they should have a quick counter service option to get a snack, a sandwich, etc. without having to sit down at a restaurant for lunch. Also from 4-6:00 the restaurants are closed and your only options for food are to go to your room to wait for room service or have a couple of bar snacks!

The drinks were not made with much alcohol at all.

THE ENTERTAINMENT - was OK. The group the last night we were there were not good at all.

The casino is very small, but the blackjack was fun.

THE LOCAL VENDORS- A couple of times a week the hotel allows local vendors to set up shop in the lobby and patio area. They are extremely pushy. If you do want to buy something, bargain, bargain, bargain. Don't be affraid to walk away!


Overall, we felt personally that we would have had a better time at a non all-inclusive hotel, as we did not feel that this resort was worth what we paid for it.

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