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“Had a great time at Excellence”

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Excellence Punta Cana
Ranked #15 of 110 Hotels in Punta Cana
Ottawa
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
“Had a great time at Excellence”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed April 30, 2007

Please excuse the lengthy review. Like many other reviewers, this was our first time at an all-inclusive resort, as well as our first time in the Dominican Republic. Based on the vast majority of the reviews, we decided that Excellence was a very low-risk choice for our holiday. We were right.

First of all, the ride from the airport did take about an hour and 20 minutes, but it was neither hairy nor scary. It was in an air-conditioned 12 seater "Volkswagen Bus" type vehicle, with a driver and a tour representative. The first thing they did was offer to stop for a few minutes if we'd like to pick up a beer or a beverage for the trip. Naturally we did. Once we ventured outside of the built up areas near the airport, its fair to say the roads deteriorated and there were pot holes. We dropped off 2 couples at a resort along the way, and that's it.

Upon arrival at the hotel (paradise on earth is an apt description), we were greeted by a Bellman with cool towels, a "welcome home", given tags for our luggage and asked to go to the lobby to register. There was basically no line-up and we were immediately offered a glass of champagne. The hotel representative, upon seeing that we had chosen to stay in the "Excellence Club" section, asked us to sit down on a sofa in the lobby, and told us that a concierge would be with us shortly. In less than 5 minutes, we were taken to the Excellence Club office for check in, and advised that our luggage would be sent directly to the room. Check-in took a few minutes, after which the concierge showed us upstairs to the club facilities (bar, TV, internet stations, buffet, expresso, capuccino etc) and then to our room. Luggage arrived promptly. Checkout was equally painless, via the concierge.

The room was a Junior Suite, "as advertized", complete with kingsize bed and jacuzzi. (Room was 7209). Separate area for shower and toilet. Very clean. Room was complete with flowers and fruit plate. Fruit plate was replaced 3 times during our stay of 1 week. We had a small balcony with a couple of chairs and a table overlooking a garden. Very nice.

The liquor cabinet was stocked with glasses, ice bucket, 4 bottles of premium liquor to start of with, including JW Black. We also had a coffee maker and a couple of "pouches" of good Dominican coffee. (Given that my wife enjoyed Bailey's, we asked our concierge at the "club" for a bottle to be delivered. We had it next day). The mini-fridge contained a selection of beers (Presidente, Bud and Bud light), as well as Coke, diet coke, waters, juices etc plus a "kit kat" bar. With a little communication with your mini-bar re-stocker, you could easily modify your beverages. Note that the chambermaid does NOT re-stock the mini-bar or coffee. That is done by another gentleman. This is important to know. Best way to communicate with him? Leave a tip inside the mini-bar fridge (a buck or two) along with a note of what you would like. I, for example, only wanted Presidente beers. My wife wanted more waters. If you can manage to write a few words in Spanish, that's good. If not, the staff at the lobby can help you. Believe me, we were stocked very well, every day.

Ice is located right beside the elevators on the ground floor. Note that not every ice machine worked; Ours broke down, but was fixed and working 2 days later. There are many machines close by, or call room service. A note to attest to service levels: upon seeing I was looking for ice and that the machine was empty, an employee walking by immediately offered to get me some. I did not have to ask, he just did it.

We ate in 5 of the 7 restaurants. Service was excellent. Enjoyed the fact the the staff dressed to the nines in the air-conditioned ones. Added a lot of class. Loved the French one (great Coquilles St. Jacques, Chateaubriand and French Onion Soup); very much enjoyed the Lobster House and the Spanish restaurant (very good lamb and great portobello salad). I have seen some negative comments about the lobster house, but rest assured, on the nights we were there (2 times), the food was fine. Spice (Japanese) was also good. Our only disappointment, if you could call it that, was in the Grill. My wife had the baby back ribs and I had the T bone - average; I heard excellent comments about their fillets and skirt steak on several occasions. I do suggest that if you like your meat 'medium', try ordering 'medium rare'. I would also say that regardless of restaurant, they do season their food well. Taste before adding salt. All house wines (6) were good (Chilean and Argentinian). Breakfasts were great at the buffet, with several stations fixing eggs, pancakes, French toast, omelettes, you name it. Lots of meats and cheeses as well. Great fresh fruit, juices and smoothies - made while you wait. My wife loved the fresh watermellon juice. We also very much enjoyed the Dominican custom, whereby the hostess takes the lady by the arm and leads the couple to their table.

The evening entertainment was generally good: Belly dancers, Michael Jackson impersonator, boxing matches (real ones, including a female bout), and local Dominican folk dancers.

The patio beside the Kafe Cafe always had entertainment at night, and, as you have already read, great sax music. Bars were fine and plentiful. Liked the Martini bar and the swim-up, among others. Premium liquors available everywhere. Beer limited to those noted above, plus Miller G.D. Could have used a Heineken or Beck's to augment their selection, but that's it.

The grounds were immaculate. Staff always cleaning and tending (flowers, shrubs, walks). Pool areas were our favourite hang out. Beach was fine as well. Waiters serviced both areas (drinks and snacks). Yes, the surf is high....always. We liked to go in waist high or so. Much fun.

A few parting words: We booked Excellence Club as part of our trip. Incremental cost was about $150 per person, CDN. I heard they charge much more than that if you try to upgrade on site. Our feeling was it was well worth the price. Bring dollar bills to tip. The wonderful staff deserve it - but do not expect it. A buck or two goes a long way. We tipped our chambermaid ($2 under the pillow each day), the mini-bar guy, every time we were served, and even at the buffet. Spent about $140 this way, and felt great about it. Bring insulated tumblers or cup holders - the heat will reduce those frosty drinks to water in minutes. Bring sunscreen, lots of it. We saw so many people burned to a crisp. It costs $18 at the local hotel store. Some 8 local shacks/stores for tourist purchases available by the extreme left side of the beach front, just off the resort property. Yes, we stopped in to see Nancy. Charming lady. Asked us to pass along a request for travellers to bring school supplies if they can. We brought bug spray. Never used it. I saw two (2) mosquitoes in the week. Other reviewers say they were bitten bloody - go figure. That said, there are definately 'no-seeums' at the beach in the sand. Deet may be helpful in that respect for legs and arms.

The bottom line: By Caribbean standards, this is a gem. I have recommended it to friends and family. Last, but not least, our tab on check-out? $0.

  • Liked — Great value in a true "all-inclusive"; The truly excellent staff
  • Disliked — Not much in the way of shopping.
  • Stayed April 2007, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
2 Thank RichardR7
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
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Detroit
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed April 30, 2007

Our stay (April 16 - April 21)

My wife (pregnant) and I wanted to go on a "babymoon". We reviewed a number of resorts and found ourselves picking Excellence. We must say that we absolutely loved it. We met some really nice couples and the staff was extremely nice. A special hello to Iseal (Activities), Jennifer (Breakfast and Spice), Julio (Activities). ISEAL was by far the most funny and creative person at Excellence. He made our stay very enjoyable. There was never a dull moment with him around. If you have ever been to Excellence, these next few words will make you laugh.

All said with an accent: 1.) Ballyball!! 2.) You reAdy! 3.) Wakey! Wakey! 4.) Excellente!

The concierge staff was VERY nice as well. I can't remember the name of this one lady. She took time out of her day to wish my wife well with her pregnancy and even did a couple fun tests to determine the sex of the baby. These personal touches make Excellence a great choice.

Some things to watch out for:
- The check-in staff was not that great. That doesn't mean all of them. There were some that upon check-out who were very nice.

- They really need to pay attention at the watersports booth. Lifeguards would really help. The tide is very strong.

- The Casino is a money trap. Do not waste your time. I am sure it is shady.

- Entertainment could use a little work.

Wes (26) and Jen (25)

  • Liked — -
  • Disliked — -
  • Stayed April 2007, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
4 Thank HollywoodDetroit
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Barrie, Canada
Level Contributor
11 reviews
8 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 46 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed April 30, 2007

My wife and I were at the Excellence between April 15th and 23rd. We are a couple in our mid-thirties from Toronto. We’ve been to Punta Cana several times in the past. This resort was by far the best we’ve stayed at anywhere. The staff were #1. We ate at all the restaurants except for the Lobster House. The food was very good. Room service was good and pretty quick. There is a good selection of liquor and the staff will make you anything you like. Our last day there was spent on a four poster “beach bed” with the flowing white drapes and all. The hotel had given us a bottle of Spanish Champagne which we took to the beach in a bucket of ice. “Luis” at the X-Lounge beach bar was kind enough to “rustle up” a few more bottles for us. How’s that for a day at the beach! The staff bring around pizza, nachos, fruit kabobs, sandwiches, etc. during the day. The no reservation system is great in our view. If you go between 6:30 -7:30’ish, you’ll usually get a table right away. Otherwise they give you a pager and you simply go have a drink, shop or listen to music for 15-40 minutes. The staff remember you. The Marti bar staff remembered each day that I came by for an expresso mid-afternoon and around 7pm. It was also nice not having to drink out of disposable plastic cups, as was the case at other resorts I’ve been to. A frosted mug of draft is very nice. Once night they set up a boxing ring and had 4-5 three round fights. That was interesting.
For those who like bottled beer vs. draft, you can only get bud, bud-lite and MGD at the Martini bar (sometimes at the Kafe Café). However, your maid will get you as much presidente in the bottle as you like. Just ask (tip). If I was going back, I’d bring a little cooler to fill up at the ice machine before hitting the beach each day. Your fridge is full of beer, water and soft drinks.
I have nothing but good things to say about the resort and staff.
I took the advice here on Trip-Advisor and went to Nancy’s stall to get some cigars. I think a male family member or friend was covering for her, because he wanted to charge me $24 for one VERY cheap cigar, which should have been $3 at most. I’m not talking about a Cuban cigar that I might buy here in Toronto for that $25, I’m talking a plastic wrapped Dominican no-name. Anyway, no big deal.
Great place, great staff, wonderful time. All that for Cdn$1,299.00 plus tax! Wow!

  • Liked — the staff
  • Disliked — nothing
  • Stayed May 2007, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
5 Thank Bulldogsoc
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Michigan
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed April 30, 2007

Absoulely fabulous resort. It was a bit far from the airport, but was worth the rocky trip. It is about 45 minutes from the airport, dodging potholes everywhere. We had a great time and would definetely go back.

Want to first thank some of the staff that showed us such a great time. Kelvin Mota, waited on us at several of the restaurants. We requested him several time. Very polite and a pleasure to have him as our waiter. Francisco, who taught spanish lessons. Be sure to take them when you first get there, very helpful. He speaks five languages, so if you need help he'll get you around. My husband loved talking to him in Italian. Also, special thanks to the scuba guys who showed us a great time.

Excellence was a great place to get away. Since it was farther from the other resorts we didn't encounter any crowds or spring breakers. It was very relaxing and the service was excellent.

The food was great. Don't think that your going to get real Dominican cusine, but there was quite a bit to choose from. Portions are small compared to American standards, but it leaves room for dessert. You can order room service and get whatever you want 24 hours a day.

The pools were nice. Plenty of towels, drinks, and service.

Rooms were a nice size. Recommend requesting the third floor. It has the best view.

Bring bug spray. Even though the spray every morning, got bit quite a bit a night. Definetly bring sunscreen. Very expensive at the hotel shop. I usually never burn, but I looked like a lobster by day 2.

Overall, it was the most relaxing trip I have ever gone on. Leave you laptop and blackberry at home. This is a great place for couples. I would definetely put this on a list of places to re-visit.

  • Liked — The B
  • Stayed March 2007, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
7 Thank MrsJPeg
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Sydney, Australia
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed April 29, 2007

Our week at the Excellence Punta Cana was everything the positive reviews described and more. It surpassed our expectations in terms of service, food, and setting, not to mention the entertainment (specifically the talented sax player Domingo). My husband and I went with another couple as we were both celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary. We kept saying that no-one at home would believe how exceptional the resort was. We noted that the staff did everything but tuck us in at night, and had we asked, they would have done that too!
Hats off to Victor Doroteo and his wonderful team - who were constantly checking to ensure that the food was fresh and well prepared, they were very visible and incredibly hospitable. Special thanks to Jennifer, Dany and Isiah at Spice and Joan at Toscana.
Do not believe any of the negative reports on this resort - it was absolutely value for money and we plan to return again next year (for 2 weeks)...

  • Liked — Everything
  • Disliked — Lax smoking rules - too much smoking allowed!!!
  • Stayed April 2007, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Etobicoke4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Buffalo, NY
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed April 29, 2007

Hola - we have just returned home from our second trip to the excellence resort. (Our first trip was 3 years ago on our honeymoon.) Everything was as beautiful and wonderful as we had remembered it. All the staff were wonderful. Francisco thanks for the spanish lessons, next time I promise we will be able to speak spanish. Everyone was so accomodatiing all the time. The resort has only gotten better. The food was wonderful, and the drinks were ecellente'. I would recommend this resort to anyone, and have.
The only complaint I have is that we went hoseback riding at the hotel. At the end they sell you a bottle of rum and a music cd with your picture on it. It was a little pricey but my husband and I really like horses so we bought it. We were really disappointed when we got home to find the cd did not work/play. Other than that, Excellence is a great place to get away and I'm sure we will be back.

  • Liked — High quality adults only
  • Stayed April 2007, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
1 Thank rbhunter
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Tappan New York
Level Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed April 29, 2007

We stayed at Excellence from April 21 - April 27, 2007, and had a very nice time. The grounds and hotel are immaculate, with staff doing constant upkeep (I saw workers planting, repairing fountains, painting, raking the beach, etc.). Our room was large, clean and quiet. On our door was a sign that said "Honeymoon," though we weren't on our honeymoon and thought we were getting a junior suite. We had a garden view, ground floor, which was just fine with us. We were away from the pool, and it was a quiet corner room. We enjoyed seeing chickens pecking around the back garden.

As other reviewers have said, it's a bumpy one-hour ride from the airport. Our transfer ordered through Orbitz didn't go well. When we got off the plane, the Orbitz Coco Tours window had no record of us having ordered a transfer to the hotel. It took them 5 or 10 minutes of phone calling, and then they got us on a small bus. For our return to the airport, we went to the Coco Tours window at the resort the day before and no one was there. So we went again the morning we left. Our name was on a sheet and we were given a slip to get on the bus. Of course, when the bus came, the driver didn't have our name. Not a big deal, but stressful enough to be annoying.

Upon arrival at the hotel we were given cold towels and ushered right up to the front desk, where they checked us in with a smile. (About tipping: no need to give huge tips. We tipped the bus driver $12 and found out later that that was a lot. Apparently the dollar goes a long way there, so a tip of $5 is considered a lot. You might tip the bellhop a few bucks. We left a dollar every day for the maid service, and we usually tipped our waiters a dollar or, if we really liked them, two. They're appreciative of anything.) Our room had a jacuzzi in it, and we used it a few times. The room had a safe and a king-sized bed that was really comfy. I had long, vivid dreams every night in that bed.

The beach is nice, except that there's no snorkeling. The waves are too big for any decent snorkeling. I enjoyed the surf. The water was warm and clean, and the beach was immaculate. At the far ends of the beach you see lots of litter, and there are shacks where locals sell stuff and try to get you to come in. But the beach in front of the resort is clean and no one bothers you. Beware of fake Cuban and Dominican cigars at the shack. I got hosed on a box of what I thought were Cohibas but turned out to be fakes. They were still good smokes, but not Cohibas. You can haggle with these guys: we saw a statue we wanted. At the resort gift shop it went for $25. The guy on the beach had the same one. He started off asking $45. We got him down to $15. Show them cash, and they'll take it.

The pools are amazing, but there is one VERY ANNOYING THING that management should be controlling: RESERVING of chairs, beds, and rafts. People go out in the morning and throw down a book or a towel "reserving" their spot, and then don't show for hours. Thus, there are chairs, beds, and rafts all around that no one can use. On our last day we got tired of this and took two chairs. Two hours later a German couple came up and said they had reserved them. We told them this was unfair. We got up anyway, but I said, "I hope you get a sunburn." The reserving at the pool is bad, and management should have signs saying it's not allowed. At the beach you don't see as much of this.

Check out the "Ecological Park" on the grounds. It's lovely. We got some great photos of flamingos, turkeys, chickens, green herons and peacocks. One night we also found a huge toad outside our room. In the fountains all around the main building there are carp in the water. Feed them bread after meals. Check out the parrot pair, too. But watch your shirt buttons. They'll take them!

The only other bad thing besides reserving of chairs and beds is the food. We live close to Manhattan, and are used to high quality food. The food at Excellence, though they try REALLY HARD, is not very good. I had a few decent meals, but overall the quality of the meat and fish is poor, and everything is far too salty. The lobster at the Lobster Restaurant was mediocre at best. Try it and see. The French place was pretty good, though their portobella appetizer was a joke: one tiny mushroom stuffed with cheese. On another night they gave two apiece. I think that Monday is the best food day. Saturday and Sunday were the worst days. My guess is that new produce arrives on Monday morning, and the food is fresher. For breakfast every day we went to the Italian place, which has a large buffet. You can get omelets, pancakes, and everything else imaginable. Try the celery juice! It's good. The Asian restaurant was pretty bad. And the service at the Mexican place was terrible. If you arrive for dinner after 7:30 you're in for a very long wait -- 45 minutes to an hour. Best bet: get there as soon as restaurants open. Room service was quick but of bad quality. One night, after striking out at the Lobster place and then having no one take our order at the Italian place, we ordered room service. My chicken club was fried gristle with lettuce. Almost inedible. One nice discovery was the ice cream machine at the bar near the pool. Self-serve soft ice cream! You can definitely pick and choose and find some good things to eat, but overall the food is not great.

We didn't partake of much of the entertainment. We could the beginning of one show by a Michael Jackson impersonator. Too cheesy for us. We preferred our backgammon or Uno game.

Overall I'd rate the resort grounds a 5 out of 5 and the food a 3 out of 5.

Feel free to shoot me any questions.

  • Liked — Grounds
  • Disliked — Food
  • Stayed April 2007, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
6 Thank Garold323
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Excellence Punta Cana

Property: Excellence Punta Cana
Address: Playas Uvero Alto, Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
Phone Number:
Location: Caribbean > Dominican Republic > La Altagracia Province > Punta Cana
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Business Center with Internet Access Casino and Gambling Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
#6 Romantic Hotel in Punta Cana
#9 Casino Hotel in Punta Cana
#13 Spa Hotel in Punta Cana
#13 Top resorts Hotel in Punta Cana
#14 On the Beach Hotel in Punta Cana
#14 Family Hotel in Punta Cana
#15 Luxury Hotel in Punta Cana
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$
Hotel Class:4.5 star — Excellence Punta Cana 4.5*
Number of rooms: 464
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

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