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Excellence Punta Cana
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Reviewed 31 October 2009

Excellence Punta Cana was an absolute delight in everyway. The all inclusive resort was worth every penny. The hotel was clean the rooms were beautiful. The food was decent. I have yet to find a five star all inclusive Hotel on an island that has a high poverty level that has excellent food.But the food was good enough to enjoy.The amenities were awesome. If you needed anything the staff would bring it to you within minutes. The only disappointment for me was that it rained the first two days and then it was chilly at night. Nothing to do with the hotel.

  • Stayed: February 2009, travelled as a couple
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3  Thank Etf763
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 31 October 2009

We visited Excellence Playa Mujeres last year and had one of the best trips ever. We decided to try another Excellence property by visiting Punta Cana. Unfortunately, the two resorts to not compare. Maybe our expectations were too high coming from our previous experience in Playa Mujeres. Exc-Punta Cana is defintely the honeymoon spot. I would have to say that 75% of the guests were on their honeymoon. Nothing wrong with that, but just a heads up.

Room- Nice and clean. The balconies are small and not really a place to relax on.

Service- The service was great. Everyone is having an "Excellente" day everyday. Tips are not requried, but much appreciated and deserved. Bring 100-150 $1s, which should cover you.

Food- Pretty bad. We were excited about the great room service that we recieved in PM. The Punta Cana room service food was terrible. Service was good, but the food was bad. It is hard to make a bad breakfast, but that is what we got....twice. We opted for the buffet instead, which has all of the standard fair and was good. They have a smothie bar which was something different and nice. The resort is big on pizza, which is good if you do not stray to far. We did try something different, which backfired horribly. As Chicagoans, we take pizza seriously and when we were served a pizza with cubed feta, capers and canned tuna fish...game over. We would reccomend keeping it simple. Ask Carlos by the pool to order lunch for you and eat on the beach. Simple, yet effective. Dinners were fine. If you appreciate steak...stick to the chicken. My wife ordered the filet twice and got what looked and tasted like horse. No joke. The beef tenderloin was not bad. The restaurant Spice is very good and definitely reccomended.

Drinks- If you are a beer drinker, be prepared. The main beer served is Presidente. I like to compare it to Old Style. It is not bad, but after a week it was very nice to find a Corona in the bar at Agave. Otherwise, your choice is Budweiser...yum. You can also get Numero Uno at the main bar by the theater. There are special drinks everyday, so you can always try something new.They also have a variety of wines for dinner.

Activities- There are boogey boards and other water sports to use. The water is very rough, so be careful. You only have to go out 10ft from the beach to have 2-4 waves. Find Pierre walking around the pool and he will get you squared away with a horseback ride or atv. The prices are responsible, so it is worth it.

Misc.
- sun block is expensive, so make sure to bring plenty.
- insect repellent is useful
- sand fleas are there, so just be prepared to get bit. Not much you can do about them.

Overall. It is not a bad place, but definitely does not meet expectations. If you have the opportunity to visit Playa Mujeres instead, do so.

  • Stayed: October 2009, travelled as a couple
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Thank FirehouseDad
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 30 October 2009

The shuttle from the airport was fine...took about an hour, but we were lucky because we only stopped at one other resort before we arrived at Excellence.
Check-in went very smooth and they greeted up with a nice refreshing drink.
Checked into our rooms with no problems. Family and friends were all close together, which was also nice.
The food was great as were all the specialty restaurants, as was the service.
The beach was beautiful but it was closed way too many times for swimming / boogie-boarding, etc. or even wading...they were just too strict and it got to be silly when they wouldn't even let us wade.
The pools were very nice as was the swim up bar...service was great too.
The activites were handled very poorly ... always had to look for someone to bring the ball down for volleyball and as far as any other activities, it seemed to be non-existent.
Now comes the bad part.
Our refigerators either did not work or they fell apart and it took a while for them to either get fixed or replaced...sometimes having to be repaired or replaced more than once.
One of the poles that holds up a hammack broke and injured one of my friends arms, and had to go see the doctor on site, which was fine, but it took forever to get the staff to understand what had happened...they seemred more interested in fixing the poles and hammock...it was very frustrating and we became very angry to say the least.
Some of the rooms ceilings had water leaks and they seemed to have a tough time fixing them...the duct tape was apparently not working.
When some of my friends had problems they were given another room, but there were problems with other people showing up in them during the day...can you believe this?
The air conditioning/power went off on average 4-5 times a day, so needless to say it got a bit sticky when it went off at night along with all the power, so the ceiling fan was off too.
The resort wasn't even half full, so I can't imagine if they had a full house how they would ever keep up with all the complaints.
But hey, the drinks, entertainment and food were very good but in now way will it ever make up for all the problems and mishaps at this resort.
Thank heaven my daughters wedding went off without a hitch (except there was a problem with the photograhers fees) ... it was very nice and beautiful on the beach.
The ride back to airport went well and the flights were good too.

  • Stayed: October 2009
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2  Thank drbross1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 29 October 2009

The resort was lovely - rooms lovely and large with bath robes and jacuzzi bath - didn't have to upgrade as we had a pool view over in block 1 which was the quiet pool away from the disco and entertainment.
We have been to Jamaica and Cuba and each was different (resort much the same) Jamaicans and Cubans far more friendly and outgoing than in Dominican - much more to see and do in Jamaica and food was good. Cuba food wasn't so good but entertainment in Varadero Iberostar was absolutely amazing. Dominican Resort much nicer but people, entertainment and food wern't great - drinks were premium but cocktails terrible - too sweet and I think totally geared for the American tourists (no offence) as they love the sweet cocktail drinks. The house wine was Frontera white chardonnay, red merlot or rose and it was good for all inclusive. It was only 40% occupied and sunbeds with shelter were still hard to get. If you tip the guy he will put towels on the beds every day but if you dont get a book on them asap then someone else will claim them. If no sunbeds around the pool then there are plenty on the beach. Massages were expensive compared to other spas we have been to. French restaurant was the best. We only had 7 nights and this was enough - would not have liked to have stayed for 2 weeks. We did have a nice break though and lucky enough it wasn't our main holiday. Entertainment is repeated every nights and daily programme is the same each day.
We booked the trip with first choice and upgraded to premier which was worth every penny on this long flight - lovely staff and would definitely use them again.

  • Stayed: October 2009, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank BevHowarth
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 28 October 2009

Where to start with this....

Me and my wife went to Excellence Punta Cana to get married in July on recommendation from a friend.

We read plenty of reviews about this place and had some concerns.

Let me address the biggest concern that we had, which was the food, especially after reading the reviews.

It was good. Nothing I ate at the resort was the best of anything that I ever had. Most of it was better than what I expect to get from Dennys. The worst thing I ate was hash browns at breakfast, and I did not travel to the DR for hash browns. We also skipped the lobster house based on reviews here and what other guests had to say. Even skipping that place we found plenty of good food, particularly at dinner time. This resort is not the culinary experience of a life time by any means, but we never had a problem finding something amicable for a meal, be it a few pizzas with a salad by the pool for lunch, to a well cooked steak at Agave for dinner.

The other major complaint that I heard was the ocean. Everything you read is true. Your facing the open ocean, so the water is rough, and a dark blue. You can also see ships lumbering across the horizon at night which is pretty cool.

We were not all that interested in swimming in the ocean, or snorkeling, or doing any of those kinda things. This was a vacation for us to drink, relax, and get married, so the rough dark blue ocean was the perfect back drop. If you are looking for the post card ocean setting, go to the other side of the island.

With the ocean in mind, the beach it's self is very well kept, raked daily, and filled with nice chairs, benches, beds, covered hide outs, and general little nooks and cranny's to hide out in.

Security at the resort was fantastic. I saw guards posted at both ends of the resort on the beach 24 hours a day, and the locals were never on the resort except for one evening when they are invited on to sell their stuff. More on them later. The staff was friendly and helpful, and if you are willing to try and learn a touch of Spanish they are impressed and more than willing to meet you half way in between.

The locals, well, they are what they are. Keep in mind you are in a largely third world country and they are just trying to make a living. We went on a horse back ride off the resort which ended at a gift shop with a VERY high pressure sales pitch. I also ventured to the shops just off the resort and it was the same kind of deal. Don't take it personally, and don't be afraid. They don't want to hurt or rob you, they are just looking to make a buck. Like anywhere, keep your eyes open and use a little common sense and you should not have any problems.

The resort it's self seemed outstanding. The one thing that really sticks out in my mind was that there was ALWAYS some one cleaning, scraping, scrubbing, wiping, etc. From guys bleaching the grout of the pool after it closed, to guys walking around spraying for bugs morning noon and night, to general painting and light bulb changing. There are ash trays throughout the resort with sand and a stamped pattern. Often times I would put a cigarette out in an ash tray, walk past the same one 15-30 minutes later, and the tray was cleaned and stamped.

We also stayed in the excellence club, with our friends in the regular rooms. Everything in our room was clean, although you are in a very humid climate and on first arriving to our room it did have a slight odor of what I call "stale hotel room". We brought a few candles, and the resort provides incense and a burner. We did not notice any peculiar smells after being in the room for an hour or so.

Our friends first room was always warm. We were there in the middle of summer, and they were staying on the third floor in a garden view room. The room itself was nice with a vaulted ceiling, but the maintenance guy was finally able to explain (with hand signals and broken English) that the AC in that room just could not keep up. They were promptly moved to another room with no questions and enjoyed the rest of their stay. They also needed to have internet access for a half hour or so a day to take care of things with a home business. The resort accommodated them in every way possible, even going so far as to get the IT guy to open ports in the firewall so that they could access an odd email system. They were NOT excellence club members either.

Excellence club.... It is what it is. I do not regret paying for it, but I would have enjoyed the trip without it. The big perk is access to the excellence club itself. We ate breakfast here every morning, and it was a nice lounge area to get away from the rest of the resort. We also had an extended room service menu, expedited check in at a separate desk, some extra options for booze in the room, and generally the staff seemed to cater to us just a touch more. The only problem is that the two other couples not in excellence club rooms felt like their level of service was close to ours, and no one felt like they could ask for much more.

We got married there as well. Ana, the wedding planner was outstanding, and really looked out for us. We did not purchase an additional wedding reception package as there were only 6 of us total. Ana, the wedding planner at the resort specifically recommended we skipped the wedding package as opposed to up selling us. Since our party was so small, they reserved tables for us at the restaurants of our choice the night before and the night of our wedding. We did see larger parties who had separate catered parties in outdoor areas that looked spectacular. but it was not what we needed and we were grateful we were not pushed into a package like that. The wedding it's self was spectacular, my wife arrived in a horse drawn carriage, our clothes were pressed for us and waiting, and she was taken to the on site spa for makeup and hair and generalized girl time prior to the ceremony. I was also provided with a suite of my own the night before the wedding so that we were able to be kept apart until the wedding ceremony.

The other guests were great, and we made friends lounging in the pool throughout the day. The resort was only at 50% or so capacity according to one of the staff members I spoke to, which may have contributed to our experience. Apparently their busy season starts in November and goes till April or so.

On that note, We had no waits at restaurants, the pools had enough people to make friends but not so many that it felt crowded, and waits were minimal at bars, etc.

The only thing that we were a bit disappointed about was nightlife. There is a 'club' at the resort, which had a thumping sound system and a great bar, but was never really crowded. Things at the resort started to wind down around 10pm, and the lights in the common areas went out at midnight. Again this seemed to be dependent on the guests more so than the resort, and we never had problems finding people to make our own little groups and drink the night away with laughs and good conversation.

All in all I highly recommend this resort. As I said earlier we wanted a nice place to relax with friends and not have to worry about much. We found it. This is not a place to take the kids, as it's meant for grown ups. This is also not the place to go for action, adventure, and excitement. It is a wonderful place to go when you just want a chunk of tropical ground to inhabit and let your worries melt away.

  • Stayed: July 2009, travelled as a couple
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10  Thank WellTraveledYinzer
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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