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“Excellent Resort, Mediocre Food”

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Excellence Punta Cana
Ranked #14 of 112 Hotels in Punta Cana
Hickory, North Carolina
Level 3 Contributor
21 reviews
12 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 16 helpful votes
“Excellent Resort, Mediocre Food”
Reviewed 14 May 2012

We just got back from Excellence Punta Cana. First of all, the resort is gorgeous with great common areas and plenty of bars. We were in building 7 which had been tastefully renovated. We were in the Excellence Club area with our own lounge which included appetizers, drinks, and wireless internet from 7 AM til 11 PM. The staff was very friendly with minimal language barriers. The shows at night were much better than expected. If you are a beer drinker, I hope you like Presidente (some bars had Number One, a better beer in my opinion). We don't normally like tropical tourist drinks, but I have to admit the Coco Loco was excellent if you like coconut. The food was not up to the standards of the rest of the resort. Avoid the buffets. It was easy to get seated at all the theme restaurants and service was prompt. We did not have a good/great meal the whole time. Cooked to order breakfasts are your best bet. Fajitas at Agave were good, but the guacamole and salsa were pre made like you would get at Sam's. I had Ribeye at the French restuarant--I couldn't believe they could get such thin piece of meat medium rare. The only great thing we ate was the strawberry desert at the French restuarant. The creme brûlée was more like a jello pudding. Pizza's from the beach restuarant were good. I agree with others that they ruined the lobster (dry). I hate to say it, but the best meal I had was a Wendy's double combo at the airport. If they could bring their food standards just up to those of Red Lobster or O'Charley's I would have given them 5 stars. I don't mean to rag too much. This place is a good value, but don't go hungry. On the bright side, I sat around 4 days eating and drinking and only gained 1-2 pounds.

  • Stayed May 2012, travelled as a couple
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3 Thank Sigmonster
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Philadelphia
Level 2 Contributor
5 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 13 helpful votes
Reviewed 14 May 2012

My new hubby and I just returned from Excellence and we had nothing but great things to say. We were a little confused by some of the reviews on this site as well, but it has become clear that they are more than likely done by folks who don't travel often and had loft expectations.

Travel- we booked through Travelocity and the Prieto tour company for ground transportation- felt very safe. The trip is ugly but it isn't the worst I have ever been through in the Caribbean. We are told the implementation of the freeway will make this ride much better in the coming months.

Hotel- Hotel is beautiful, small, and absolutely up kept. We saw a maintenance man sweeping the rocks! I am told there are only 400 rooms there. This is a big deal because there was always room at the beach and pool and no place was ever to crowded- perfect for couples.

Rooms- We paid for Excellence Club, Jr Suite Ocean view. We read below that building 10 was the best and to get a top floor room because the balcony view was best. We agree, building 10 contains the Excellence Club which we utilized for snacks etc every day. Also the balcony provided a great alone area for us to enjoy cocktails away from everyone, and the view was good. The bed was a little hard, but again Ive had worse. The hot water in tub also didn't work. We didnt complain.

Food- If you are looking for a quality food don't go to an all inclusive in general. I have been to a Riu and two SuperClub resorts and this place had the best buffet and the offerings of 8 different restaurants with different cuisine was amazing. I was very pleased with the Filet I had at the Grill, and all of the food was edible and tasty, which I can not say at the other resorts. On this particular trip I did not feel like I was struggling to eat, we enjoyed it.

Service- There is a language barrier, but it doesn't matter. The job gets done and EVERYONE is friendly. We stopped at the sports bar to play pool and within 10 minutes a staff member showed up with Pizza. We didn't ask for it but we gladly devoured it ( its not bad either!). They brought it because we were playing- thats the kind of service they provide their guests and its fantastic. Also it is important to remember to tip when you get exceptional service. At one point they were out of the Coco Loco drinks earlier in the afternoon at one of the beach bars. When Jose saw us outside the Cafe Kafe he sent the waitress over with two coconuts in addition to our drinks- he knew we were looking for them earlier and wanted to make sure we got them. You simply don't find that kind of attention everywhere.

Beach/Pool- We were disappointed the ocean wasn't more friendly but it was no worse that vacationing at the jersey shore in August. Its also the price you pay to stay away from other more crowded beaches. The Riu Bambo-about 30 miles south, had a beautiful beach with calmer water but the foot traffic was so heavy you couldn't see it. The pools are beautiful- but they were a little warm nothing you can do about that.

Excursions- We booked the trip to Sauna Island via catamaran separately through Prieto. It was ok. Ive never left the resorts Ive been at before and I probably wont do it again. The trip was really long- 2 hrs, but I learned alot from Papa Tito. There were a few fluffs to get you out there i.e you dont really swim with Starfish- they just had them and the photog took your pic with one which of course you had to buy back. The island was beautiful and the lunch was nice but there were other tours there so it was a bit crowded. The catamaran ride back was nice but I was too exhausted by then to enjoy it and the two hour trip back to the resort killed the rest of the night. Ultimately I would have preferred to stay at the resort and relax but it was educational.

Heads up:
This is not a resort to go to if you are looking to party all night- place shuts down at about 12am- which is great for couples, not so much for party goers.

The bathroom and shower have an open window view of the remainder of the room- when showering the window gets foggy but for an unmarried couple or couple just starting out this may be a little weird.

Room was a little warm. We never complained because I only noticed it at night and it wasnt enough to worry me.

Check out the little botanical garden at the entrance: flamingos, geese, etc, it was very nice to walk about

Definitely a great experience, great honeymoon, would love to go back

Room Tip: Excellence Club was great, Jr Ocean view room was awesome- Excellence club is located in building 10
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  • Stayed May 2012, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
6 Thank sjlita4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Carver, MA
Level 2 Contributor
5 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 17 helpful votes
Reviewed 14 May 2012

Loved the resort... Staff was unbelievable...room ok...property, beautiful!! Food was excellent...favorite was Spice,

Room Tip: Any room in building 10 - do first floor or third floor facing pool or ocean
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  • Stayed May 2012, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
3 Thank lilbit02330
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
Reviewed 14 May 2012

Ride to the Hotel: You will see a lot of poverty when riding to the hotel. You are thankful for what it is that you have. The ride is typically 45 minutes to 1 hour (depending on how fast your driver drives) from the airport. There are no speed limits, traffic lights or street lights on any of the roads in Punta Cana.

Arrival/Staff: You will be greeted by hotel staff with a glass of champagne and your luggage is taken to your room. If you are part of the Excellence Club you are escorted to another area or the resort. The hotel staff was very polite and was willing to help you out. I would definitely upgrade to the "Excellence Club" it was worth the extra money. You are further away from all activities but as the night goes on you don't hear as much of the music, drunk people etc.


Food: The food was average. The best restaurant was SPICE. Breakfast and lunch were the best choices. A lot of fresh fruit. Dinners are smaller portions than what most people are used to. We ended up going to dinner around 6:00/6:30 every night and beat the crowds and did not have to wait to get into any of the restaurants.


Activities: There is a lot to do on the resort itself. You really don't need to leave the resort. However if you choose to make sure you book through someone at the hotel and I would talk to other guests at the resort to see if the trips were worth it. Do not go see a typical Dominican house, it is not worth it. You see them when you drive from the airport to the hotel.
The spa is great! There is a nature walk area on the resort worth doing. (Stay away from the Parrots, they bite) The ping pong/pool tables/Fooseball tables are hidden a bit but worth the walk around the resort. Did not visit the night clubs on the resort. They typically do not open until at least 11:00 pm.

Rooms: The beds are hard as a rock due to the fact they do not have box springs as is apparently most places. We were not aware of this. The rooms are clean. However it seems to take almost all day for some of the rooms to be cleaned. If your room is on the ground floor it is going to be very damp and your bathing suits will not dry out in the room. Double check the water bottles they put in the fridge in your room, I found some seals to be broken, and I believe they were refilled with filtered water, but put them in the trash.

Pool: Great pool, did not spend much time there as I feel if I am spending all this money to go to a beach, why would I want to spend time at a pool, when I can do that at home. Very refreshing late in the afternoon (4:00-6:00) when most people are not there. If you want to get a bed, shaded areas etc. You should get up early in the am to "claim" your spot. Most people get up early stake out their area, claim it, then go to breakfast and come back to their are.


Beach: Loved the beach the staff at the Excellence Club (Raphel & Ines) are wonderful. They make sure you have everything you need and if you don't they will get it for you. If you want to get a bed, shaded areas etc. You should get up early in the am to "claim" your spot. Most people get up early stake out their area, claim it, then go to breakfast and come back to their are. The water is a little rough with waves like you would have at any beach. If you are looking for calm, still water, this is not the vacation area for you.

What to bring with you: Plenty of one dollar bills for tips, Lots of suntan lotion (minimum 3 bottles). A bottle of suntan lotion in the gift shop will run you $37 if you forget yours. Bug spray as you will get bit mostly at night in the lobby area where all the shows are performed each night, camera, makeup for the housekeepers. Most the housekeeping staff is female and I found if I left makeup (lip gloss, eye shadow etc) along with a few dollars for a tip, the service was Excellent, if I did not leave money with the makeup it was ok service.

Resort overall: Beautiful grounds, hotel staff was very helpful and accommodating. I would like to go back in the future.

Room Tip: You do not want a room on the ground level. To many people pass by on the ground floor and make so...
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  • Stayed April 2012, travelled with family
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Helpful?
5 Thank Christy S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Richmond, VA
Level 2 Contributor
9 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
Reviewed 13 May 2012

This was our second trip here. We liked it well enough to come back.

Nice all inclusive adult only resort, about 10 years old. Mostly newlyweds and retirees. Its geared towards newlyweds on honeymoon. No nudity.

Rooms are nicely appointed, flatscreen TV, nice marble tile bathroom, but all have that musty smell from the oceanfront location. The huge Jacuzzi tub in the middle of the room does not help the moisture level if you use it. Bring some air freshener.

Beds are pretty hard, not really very comfortable, but you do not go to this resort to stay in your room. Room was very clean, housekeeping was spot on.

If the portions at dinner seem a bit small, just ask for another dinner or additional food. Its done all the time and is not an issue. There is a nice big buffet open every night. Food is better than low end all inclusives, but there is no fine ding here. Food is good at least as good as a mid priced restaurant at home. Room service is 24/7 but can be a bit slow.

Best to bring a bunch of $1US bills for tips. A couple of dollars is the usual tip at dinner for good service. Its not required at all, many people do not tip, but if you do it will get you better service at later meals, as the staff rotates between restaurants.

Definitely tip the bar guy. They will short drinks a bit on alcohol, like most all inclusives, but a little tipping will get decent drinks. Beer is mostly Presidente, and most drinks will be made with rum if they can (even margaritas, etc.) unless you insist otherwise. Lots of alcohol and soft drinks stocked in the minibar in your room as well.

Lots activities and excursions. Did not do any of them.

"Blue" did a perfect job of transport. Its about a 90 minute ride from the airport.

  • Stayed May 2012, travelled as a couple
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    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
1 Thank mwhq
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Washington, D.C.
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 14 helpful votes
Reviewed 13 May 2012

The most important aspect of reading and lending credibility to any review is to consider the perspective and experience of the reviewer, so let me begin with a context statement. My wife and I are in our early thirties. We both travel quite extensively for work in the U.S. and usually stay at Westin or Intercontinental properties. We have also traveled both foreign and domestic for vacations. Our ideal vacation is warm weather, pool/beach access, a spa, good food and moderate activities or sight-seeing in the vicinity, with a low-key, relaxing vibe. Some of our favorite properties/ideal vacations in the US are Boulders Resort in Phoenix and Four Seasons in Maui. Internationally, we enjoyed the La Amada (now Beloved) in Mexico and the Westin St. John. I wouldn't say we're hardcore foodies, but we like good, fresh meats and produce as well as wine (won't spend more than 20 a bottle). My wife likes to cook and is good at it and interested in learning. We occasionally shop at Whole Foods for our groceries but not regularly. Now, onto our stay at Excellence.

Arrival

We arranged transportation to the resort through the concierge at the Excellence. As others have stated, the ride is about an hour long. The ride is not an enjoyable one, replete with pot-holes, no street signs and swerving. Not much to see on the trip beside poor countryside. I would like to throw some love out to our driver on the way back to the airport from the hotel. He made the trip in a 20 year old minivan with a constant screeching sound in about 45 minutes. All he needs is a sponsor from Home Depot and he can be a Nascar driver. I had six heart palpitations. When you arrive, you receive a glass of champagne and your luggage is taken from you and delivered to your room. Our room was ready early and they did a nice job.

Grounds/Beach

The property that the hotel occupies is fantastic and a true 4 to 5 star quality. The grounds are well manicured and plush. The beach is not the best we've been to, but definitely in the top ten. Like other reviews have stated, the water is not still or conducive to swimming, but the beach is private, the water is pretty, and it is not crowded even with a full resort at peak sun.

The Hotel

The building itself has some upside, but overall is a 3 to 4 star quality because of the rooms. The lobby is very nice and well appointed. The rooms in building 6 through 14 are re-furbished, which means the bathroom has been updated with modern fixtures and a nice rainfall shower. The rooms in buildings 1 through 5 are not re-furbished and nice enough at about a 3 star quality. The actual buildings that the restaurants are located in are very nice and provide a very good ambience.

Restaurants/Food/Bars

For my wife and I, the food was the most disappointing part of the trip. It was not awful, but not quality by any means. The breakfast buffet has strange menu options like chicken fajitas, ox tail, etc. The eggs and sausage that were available were not fully cooked and tasteless. The lunch buffet is more of the same. Any hot food that was pre-prepared and displayed in bins was poor and sometimes was mis-labeled. By the end of the trip, we dreaded going to any meal. Eventually, you have to learn how to eat there. At breakfast, use the omelette station (decent) and have toast (usually fresh). Some breakfast fruit is good (pineapple and melon). For lunch, have a chicken breast cooked for you and put it on a salad or make a sandwich with the bread they put out (although we started having stomach issues after eating the salad because I think they wash the lettuce with local water). We tried to simplify every dinner in order to get something edible. As a general rule, the more enticing and complicated the menu item looked, the poorer the quality was and less likely the item is anything like the description. How hard would it be to take a carribean Lobster, stick it on the grill and serve it with melted butter? Too hard for Excellence chefs. The lobster was dry and the butter was "butter sauce" which tasted like butter substitute and other strange ingredients. The pizza at Oregano is ok, just order it well done. We had several where the dough is not cooked. The fajitas at Agave are edible, but we were constantly bloated, constipated, dissatisfied, and burping. I've never been simultaneously starving and disgusted, but the Excellence got me there. The bars are good. There are plenty and provide you with almost anything you ask for. Free wines are ok and liquor is middle shelf.

Service

One thing is clear, the people working at this hotel want to provide you good service and want you to be happy. I believe this is not accomplished for two reasons. The first should be expected and over-looked if you're traveling to a foreign country. There is definitely a language barrier. Most servers understand only enough English to get the job done which makes it seem like your not getting as good of service as you can at other resorts. Again, you should expect this going in and it didn't bother us at all. The second is a lack of experience on the staff or training provided to them. They just don't do the things that a 4 or 5 star hotel should do. For example, they were slow to clean rooms, twice forgot towels, twice did not re-stock the minibar, not honest (maybe language barrier) over off property parties/noise that go until 5am and can be heard from building 14 (warning). On our last night, while we were sleeping at around eleven, our door opened and was stopped by the chain. By the time I got to the door, the person was gone. We thought it odd that a maid would be entering, but have no further information on this instance. For spa-goers, my wife and I laid waiting for about five minutes for our masseuses to come in and when they did, they did not knock and were arguing loudly. They eventually stopped, but were whispering to each other throughout the massage. Again, nothing terrible. After all, your on vacation and getting a massage, but not the service you get at other 4 or 5 star resorts.

Crowd

This is the first all-inclusive we have gone to and maybe our last. The crowd is like going to a casino or riding a bus. You get all walks of life. Almost everyday at the pool there are multiple people over served and not very good at handling themselves. Don't be surprised if you see a over weight white American girl doing her best Shakira or an over weight white American man starting a pool chant or an over weight white American couple getting in a domestic dispute. I can't imagine what the Dominicans think of Americans if this is their only interaction.

Overall

We had a good time, but it was mostly because we like each other, we were on vacation, the sun was shining and there was a lot to make fun of. I would personally not recommend this hotel because there is so much out there that has greater quality and value.

Room Tip: Buildings 6 to 14 are remodeled and have a updated bathroom with rainfall shower.
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  • Stayed May 2012, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
12 Thank Pajaritos40
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Denver, Colorado
Level 1 Contributor
1 review
Reviewed 13 May 2012

This resort was the best my husband I have ever been to. Other hotels could learn from their staff and how they operate. They are the most friendly and accomodating hotel staff I have ever encountered. Each and every employee was extremely pleasant, friendly; always smiling and asking you how you are enjoying yourself and if there is anything they can do to make your stay better. They had me at "Welcome Home" upon our arrival!!! Will definitely go back!

Room Tip: Next time I go; I would like to stay in one of the rooms that literally walks out into the main pool...
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  • Stayed May 2012, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
Thank Diana J
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:
Region: Caribbean > Dominican Republic > La Altagracia Province > Punta Cana
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Business Centre with Internet Access Casino and Gambling Fitness Centre 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
#8 Casino Hotel in Punta Cana
#12 Spa Hotel in Punta Cana
#12 Top resorts Hotel in Punta Cana
#13 On the Beach Hotel in Punta Cana
#14 Family Hotel in Punta Cana
#14 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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