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Excellence Punta Cana
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Reviewed 12 July 2010

This was a great trip overall. There were more positives than negatives but the purpose of my trip was to do nothing, sit on the beach, tan, and have a few drinks. My boyfriend and I arrived on the 4th of July and weren't expecting much since it was an American holiday but the resort ended up having a buffet dinner outside, a special 4th of July show, fireworks and then a beach party. This was definitly a pleasant surprise and our best night there.
The beach is awesome, the palapas are always available and provide a much needed break from the sun. There are waiters that come around just enough to ask if you would like a drink. The water is pretty rough so please be careful. My boyfriend and a few others that I saw kept getting pulled out in this section of the ocean that moved along the coast, I forget the exact name of it but it is not as bad as a rip tide. The hotel includes in your welcome packet that you swim at your own risk. There is a life guard but he didn't look like he could really save someone. The resort also puts up colored flags and tells you what each stands for but I felt they kept the red ones up all the time as a precautionary measure. Regardless, everyone on the beach went in the water. I did boogie boarding one day which was really fun but tired me out quickly with the strong waves. If you want calmer waters you will have to stay in the Bavaro beach area.
As for the room we were upgraded from a garden view to a suite upon arrival which was nice. My travel agent told me she would try to get that for us since it was our anniversary. Soon after entering the room we were given 2 bottles of champagne and fruit. They also give you a glass of champagne when you arrive. The room is simple but has everything you need. The bed is pretty hard and I usually hate that but I think I was always so tired that by the end of the day I easily fell asleep. I thought the air conditioning would be horrific based on other reviews but it wasn't and our room had a fan so it was well circulated. I'd suggest keeping the shades closed when you leave for the day so that when you come back in the evening the room isn't hot. As others said your clothes do smell like the air if you leave them out. I kept my clothes in my suitcase the whole time which helped ALOT! I brought Febreze but that really doesn't do anything and I didn't find the mildew smell to be a problem.
Also do bring bugspray, I brought Off Woodsman that has like 95% Deet and it worked amazingly. I got 3 little bites the whole trip and I was there for a week. I didn't see many mosquitos during the day but I think the people that ate at the few outdoor restaurants in the evening got bitten up. As for indoor dining the only restaurant that you can eat at and not begin to sweat is Spice, which has really good food, I ate there twice. Agave would be the next place worth eating at. The grill that they have on the beach is cooking chicken, burgers, pizza, ribs and one day they had porkchops. It was good food but I am pretty sure my boyfriend and I got sick from it one of the days and we also got sick on our last day which wasn't fun. I brought Imodium but if you can get the travelers medicine I would do it. I think it might be pretty much unavoidable here because it doesn't seem like their standards of keeping food hot or cold are the same as home and I know others that have gotten sick staying at other hotels. Overall the food is nothing compared to what I am used to but people that were there said they stayed at other resorts in the past and that the food at Excellence was 10 times better.
As for the shows I think they were pretty quality for where we were. I don't see why people complain about them. I have been to numerous shows in Vegas and NY but you can't expect those standards. I was eager to see them each night.
The only money we spent there was on tipping at dinner and for drinks. We didn't do any excursions even though there is a guy going around each day for horseback riding. He wasn't pushy at all. They have numerous activities to do each day which is pretty nice. There were a few days where we headed to the pool for a beer drinking contest and music trivia. I also should mention that the whole staff was pleasant and did their jobs well.
Overall I got the chance to catch a really nice tan, think about nothing, worry about nothing, and listen to the ocean with a drink in hand. That was all I was looking for and got it which is why I said Mission Accomplished.

  • Stayed: July 2010, travelled as a couple
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5  Thank time4avacation30
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 12 July 2010

Before we left for our trip, I read many reviews of the Excellence Punta Cana Resort in the Dominican Republic. Let me first say that we were part of a group of 12, six couples. We had a tremendous vacation. The staff and service people were all amazing.

The first thing I will address is many of those on here who complained about things. If you go into your vacation looking for problems, you can find them. However, if you are looking to have a good time, relax and enjoy yourself, you will do that as well!! We had a fabulous time.

I will start with our flight, from Buffalo to Punta Cana, via Charlotte. It was on time, and an easy flight. When we landed, you are bombarded by people wanting to help you with your bags...ignore them, its an easy walk to the end of the arrivals terminal. There is a $10 USD fee just to enter the dominican. You literally buy a ticket from one guy, and hand it to another some 15 feet away. Once past security, there is always a band playing looking for tips.

We walked out and found our transfer desk among about 20 of them. We then were taken directly to the vehicle. We had cocotours. I would not suggest you use them. The drive from the airport to the resort is an hour and 10 minutes. There is no shorter route. We were in a very old passenger van with curtains on the windows. I would suggest one of the larger companies, as they all seemed to charge the same, but they had large passenger busses. I will say that we were lucky enough to have a couple who was staying at a neighboring resort with us on the way there, and the gentleman spoke spanish, so he translated for us. We asked him to stop for a beer, and he pulled into a local bar. We got the coldest, and largest, bottles of Presidente I have ever seen. Presidente tastes a lot like Rolling Rock, but is not bad. I would recommend, although we forgot, to ask your driver to stop at a liquor store or a grocery. We have certain liqour tastes which were not available at the resort, despite the wide and expansive liquor selection (No Flavored Vodka, other than a few flavors...we like Orange, no such luck, and no Crown Royal or Jamison, if you like whiskey). They did have a ton of other liquor and high end stuff too. But we could have stopped en route.

Once you arrive, you are greeted with a cool towel and a glass of champagne. You are checked in immediately. The staff is great, and your bags are delivered to your room immediately. We all wanted to stay in the same area of the resort (because it is enormous), and they were eventually able to accomodate us, within a day.

We spent every day in the pools and the ocean. The ocean was rough, as written, but we enjoyed body surfing and renting boogy boards. Also, there were days when we were told to stay out of the ocean, despite the resort alleging that they are not responsible. The pools are great and the swim up bar is a lot of fun. The cascade pool, on the far side of the resort is quiet and romantic. The main pool is more lively.

FOOD

We ate breakfast everywhere possible, either in our room, at the buffet or in the lobster house. All our breakfasts were great. Lunch was usually pizza, which they do walk around the pool with, and hand out to anyone who wants one. We also lunched on the beach at the grill, which has amazing food. (No chicken...pollo, ribs, bbq sauce, pizza, hot dogs, burgers, and a special of the day) The cooks are amazing and easy to talk to.

Dinners were a little suspect. I will go night by night. Night one, Lobster House...I was assured by my travel companions that I was not actually trying lobster for the first time, because that was not lobster. Do not eat here...

Spice- Eat here twice. Great asian food. Great Appetizers!!! I had sushi (again for the first time) and everyone else said it was amazing...I thought so as well.

Agave- Mexican. I thought the food was fantastic, but the building is not properly air conditioned and it made it tough to stay in there. It was cooler outside. Unfortunate. They do have ice cold Corona though!!

Night four and five we ate at the grill, because you can wear shorts there. Good steaks and the ceasar salad is amazing.

Tried to eat at the Italian place on the last night., but because of a wedding, it was closed. We ate at Oregano, which is the quick serve Italian instead of the formal place, and the food was not good. They do, however, serve pizza until 2 am, which is great.

Room service is great at any time as well.

STAFF

I want to thank some people here. First, Victor in the Casino Bar. This guy worked his butt off for us, and we thank him. Delores was a great cocktail waitress, and whenever we called her name after night one, she simply responded with WHISKEY!!! She knew what we were after. Hector at the "sol" bar at the far end of the main pool was amazing as well, and helped us out (its hard to carry 12 drinks from the bar to the pool). Luis was helpful too, and worked all the beach parties, which are great fun. Although on July 4th, we asked for his favorite shot and almost all died.

The Casino is great as well, although they have some strange blackjack rules, which kind of suck. There is a poker table, although I only saw poker actually played one night.

Finally, there are no bugs really whatsoever anywhere in the resort. They spray a ton. I brought deep woods off, and the only night I used it was the hottest evening when we were at the grill because I was worried there might be bugs. There were virtually none. This was not a concern at all. Perhaps it was the weather or the time of year, but we had no problems.

I hope this was helpful and would strongly recommend going there either on a honeymoon or a trip. It is definitely a couples place, but it was great to go with a large group, especially playing pool volleyball or singing kareoke!!!!

  • Stayed: July 2010, travelled with friends
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3  Thank hockeyguy4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 12 July 2010

I had high hopes for our Dominican vacation. After reading all the reviews for Excellence Punta Cana, I decided to book our trip. I'll structure this review by Pros and Cons...

Pros:
-Friendly staff, especially Jackeline at the front desk
-Beautiful pool with plenty of seating and great drink service
-Nice beach
-beautiful landscaping

Cons:
-The food was not good. I remember reading a previous review that said something along the lines of: If you consider TGI Fridays or Applebees fine dining, you will love the food at this place. If you're used to anything of better quality and a place that isn't an assembly line, Excellence food falls VERY short. It's like they had big trays of poor buffet food in the back that they served up as someone placed an order. It was really subpar and I'm not exaggerating. I actually lost 5 pounds by the time I returned home. The only thing that wasn't iffy was a cheese pizza I got from the BBQ on the beach.

-The smoking. People were smoking everywhere. I'm not a fuddy duddy by any means, but seriously, is it too much to expect that you don't have a chain smoker next to you as you're checking into a hotel? It was gross.

-The rooms were in need of a serious facelift. The bed was hard as a rock and the pillows were totally flat. The jacuzzi looked like a relic from the 80s and I'm not sure why/how someone would actually get in it. It was just gross. The beer bottles in our mini fridge had rust around the top. EWWWW

-Maid service on the first day was non-existent. Then, around 10:45pm we had a knock at our door. Yeah, I'm already in for the evening, I don't need a turn down service now. After the first day it got better, but I believe it was because of the $7 I handed the woman that was cleaning our room.

-The entertainment was dorky. I give them credit for trying, but it really fell short. On the first few nights there was a band playing in the evenings. The male singer was really great but the female singer was honestly horrible. We chalked it up to a language barrier b/c when she sang songs in Spanish she sounded much better.

So overall, this place is DEFINITELY NOT FIVE STARS. We've been to five star resorts and this place can't even touch them. If you're expecting luxury on par with a US- standard five star resort, you will be very disappointed. I would say this was a 3 star resort by US standards. We ended up leaving 2 full days early and it was the best decision of the entire trip.

  • Stayed: July 2010, travelled as a couple
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2  Thank Jonky81
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 12 July 2010

I spent 8-days in Punta Cana and I would go back there in a New York minute (although I am from San Francisco). The place is absolutely is incredible. For an all inclusive resort, you can't ask for more than 24X7 room service; 7 fabulous restaurants. Bars everywhere you turn. Great beaches and wonderful extra curricula activities. My one complaint was that I found the mattress to hard and too sleep on. After 3-days, it occurred to me to ask for a mattress topper. One additional topper was not enough so I asked for a second (I sleep on a pillow top) and it was delivered and no more sleep problems. The beach is unbelievable. Warm water, sandy and with plenty too do. If I ever decide to go into the Witness Protection Program,-don't tell anyone, but you'll probably find me there.

  • Stayed: July 2010, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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1  Thank dburton_97
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 11 July 2010

Excellence Punta Cana....It was a very nice resort and with this being our first visit to the DR and this resort, I would say the overall experience was very relaxing and worth the money. The staff was amazing and the landscape and pools are simply to die for. On the other hand there were some things which need to be discussed.

Airport - The Punta Cana airport is a little crazy to say the least. I would definitely suggest that if you go through a travel agency or speak some semblance of Spanish you will do just fine, but stay close to those you are traveling with. Be sure to have $10 (cash/per person) ready to pay the DR government when you get off the plane. They will give you a "traveler's card" which you just paid for and take it away from you not 5 minutes later....this is due to government taxes, supposedly.

Bus Ride to the resort - The bus ride is approx 45 - 50 minutes long however the roads are very rough and the drivers have no regard for anyone else on the road except another vehicle which may be bigger than the one they are driving. VIP services was who our agency went through and drove us there. Our driver went very very fast and almost ran over several people on motorcycles and I was happy to arrive at the resort in one piece.

Resort - The resort is very beautiful with lush vegetation. When we got to the resort we were treated like common visitors but when they found out that we were part of the Excellence club things changed. We were whisked to another section of the resort to sign in, taken to an air-conditioned area with internet access, a buffet, and a tour of our room. Basically treated like royalty. If you can afford the Excellence club I would definitely recommend it as you get upgraded everything with a private beach access, towel service, and private pool area. We had very nice weather the entire time there except it rained non-stop for one day. However, the beach and pool definitely were the best part of the entire trip.

Rooms - Our room was in building 10 due to the Excellence club status and we had a beautiful view of the beach and pool. The room was well air-conditioned (at least our's was) but I will warn you there is a smell in all of the rooms due to the high humidity and the fact that nothing out of the sun ever dries. You will notice this musty smell which comes from a combination of the air always being on, cleaning agents from room service, and again the fact that nothing inside the room dries. You forget about it a couple days in but when you get home the first thing you will do is to wash everything....The beds are also hard but I had read that if you ask the concierge for a mattress top they will give you one. I did this immediately when we got there and it made all of the difference for my sleeping.

Room Service and staff - Everyone is very nice and respectful. They do everything and above what they are asked and never expect a handout. I understand that the tips are included but after seeing the country in which these people live, it breaks your heart. Because of this we tried to tip a couple bucks whenever possible. I took approx $100 in all $1 bills but because we don't drink we didn't end up giving all of it. Also when you are out at the pools or on the beach they make an effort to make sure that you have everything you could want or need. My only complaint was that the room service does come into the room alot or at least to the door (we counted 6 times one day), if you don't immediately answer, they enter which is kind of annoying especially if you just got out of the shower, etc.

Food - Agave, Oregano, and the Grill were the only places that we got to eat because of all of the beach parties and we had the romantic dinner on the beach one night. But they were all very good Agave being fantastic. We really wanted to try more places but it didn't work out. Others we talked to said that Chez Isabella and Toscana were very good as well. Spice, Barcelona, and The Lobster house did not get very good approval from others that were there but again we didn't go so I can't review these. It was also very nice that everything is all-inclusive so if you don't like something, go to another restaurant. Room service food is also quite good and we did that a few times.

Entertainment - The shows were all very good and entertaining. The Michael Jackson Tribute show was by far the best and if you don't do anything else while you are there, you definitely should see this one. The Circus show, 4th of July, and Dominican Folklore shows were also good and we just enjoyed the time watching them.

Misc - You will definitely need to take sunscreen because if you have to buy it it is almost $30 for a small bottle. Also the shops have outrageous prices for every item they sell. If you travel to the far left side of the resort you will find small hut shops where you can barter for the items which the resort shops want you buy. Just be careful and try to go with at least one other person so they don't try to take advantage of you being alone. It definitely helps if you speak at least a little Spanish and the people do appreciate you speaking their native tongue. But if you don't, don't worry you can still get by as most staffers speak English pretty well.

Overall, I would say this was a very very good vacation and I definitely came home relaxed. I would recommend this resort to anyone wanting to travel to an interesting international resort with a beautiful beach, fantastic pool, great service, and good food!

  • Stayed: July 2010, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
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1  Thank Gramanda08
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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