4.0 out of 5 Stars
Located in the Punta Cana region of the Dominican Republic, this 5-star resort is a luxury getaway for a very competitive price point. Part of the Excellence chain of resorts, it was built in 2000. It was the Excellence chain of resorts’ first offering. The chain has seen a huge expansion since 2000 and now has three resorts in the Punta Cana region alone.
This is an adults-only offering is a perfect place to wind down and relax. With luxury service, food and amenities we found it very hard to find faults in this resort. We did manage to find a few which we outline below.
We stayed in this resort in early 2020 and our review is based on our experiences.
- If you plan on doing a treatment in the spa, make sure to check out the offers that they have on the day. Each day the spa will offer discounted treatments that are usually advertised on a board outside the spa as well as the information sheet delivered in the turn down service. You can also ask in the spa reception, but it’s well worth doing as the discounts are pretty good.
- This is more a tip for arriving in Punta Cana in general. On the few occasions that we have gone to the Domincan Republic. Every time we have arrived we have waited between 1-2 hours to get through immigration and customs. There is also a $10 fee that must be paid when travelling entering Punta Cana airport. So be prepared to wait once you touch down and make sure that you have all of the necessary documentation on hand before leaving.
- The resort was built in 2000, so the aesthetic of the rooms is on the older side. If you’re looking for a modern aesthetic we recommend checking out the Excellence El Carmen
- The layout of this resort is a little unique. There are alot of smaller buildings dotted throughout the resort where the rooms are located. The best buildings to have a room in if you want to be near the actions are rooms in buildings 1, 6 or 7. If you want to be in a secluded part of the resort we suggest going for buildings 3 or 14.
- You do need to make reservations for some of the restaurants here. We found that Chez Isabelle and Spice to be the ones where a reservation was beneficial as they get pretty busy at peak hours.
- If you want to do the Hibachi experience you must make a reservation to get a spot at a table. To do this you need to go to the Spice entrance at a set time in the morning. Be sure to check the times and show up early as the places can be tough to get.
- Check in is at 3pm here and check out is at 12pm. If you are arriving early or planning on leaving a little late just call the check-in desks and they typically sort you out.
- Over your complete timeframe of your stay you will have all access to the resort, this includes the day you arrive and leave. So if you’re checking out at 12pm and your flights are not until the evening, you will still be able to use the resort, until the time you leave the resort on the day you’re checking out.
- There are a number of rooms that are facing a delivery road at the back of the buildings where the rooms are located. Although we weren’t staying in one we heard from other guests that were staying in the back of the buildings that there is a delivery road behind their suites. When any delivery happened large trucks would drive past the suites, which was quite noisy and off-putting. To make sure that you aren’t in one of these rooms go for a sea view room.
- Not all of the restaurants are open every night, so it’s worth checking with reception when you arrive what’s open throughout the week and planning accordingly.
Smooth is the best way of describing this. As you pull up to the front door. You are greeted by a staff member that takes your bags off you. You are then led through the main doors which open automatically and there is a stunning view of the Martini bar and the main area of the resort below. You are then offered a glass of bubbly and a cold towel.
The check-in process itself was very swift. We went through the whole process in about 2 minutes and were brought directly to our room and our bags arrived shortly after.
Although this resort is called the Excellence Punta Cana, in reality, it’s about a 40-minute drive from the main area. The resort is remotely located, so there’s nowhere really of interest that you can walk to the outside of the resort.
You are a little stranded in the resort, but because it’s such a strong offering there really isn’t a huge amount of reason to leave. The resort has a wealth of restaurants, amenities, and things to do to keep you occupied.
The coastline for this location is something really special. The palm trees, golden sand, and beautiful turquoise seas make this the picture-perfect location it is. The beach here is also sprawling and private, but we will dive into that a little more in the beach section.
Is the Resort Child Friendly
This is an adults-only resort, if you’re looking for a quality resort that is on the same level as the Excellence Punta Cana, but you can bring the kids then we suggest checking out the Finest Playa Mujeres which is a sister hotel to the Excellence.
The resort boasts a huge range of amenities. From all of the usual sporting options such as a jogging trail, tennis courts, ping pong tables, pool tables, and even a mini-golf course. There is a lot on offer.
Also included in your package is the use of nonmotorized water sports. These are things like paddleboards, surfboards, and kayaks. The waters are relatively calm as well, so it’s nice to make use of these.
There is a huge slate of classes and activities that are on offer throughout the week. From fitness, cooking, and dance classes. To beach volleyball, wine tastings, and bingo there is a lot to do at the Excellence Punta Cana. Be sure to check out the activities information board which is located near the main building.
There was a range of entertainment that was put on in the evenings. From tribute acts, to themed nights, dance performances, and karaoke. The entertainment team makes such a huge effort to keep the guests happy. Although organized fun isn’t usually our cup of tea, we did really enjoy the silent disco.
In total there are four main pools. Two of these are available to all guests and the other two are only available to Excellence Club members. Although that may not seem like enough for a resort this size. The main pool literally stretches the length of the beach. If you take a look at the resort map you can see that it is really massive. So, you have no issues getting a relaxing spot.
There Is an extensive gym on offer here. Similar to the aesthetic of the rooms, the equipment and feel of the gym are on the older side. There was more than enough equipment with loads of cardio machines, free weights, machine weights, and a studio area. There are a number of fitness classes that are put on by the staff such as Yoga at the Gazebo and water aerobics to name a few. So, if fitness is a priority you’ll have no issue getting the heart rate going in this resort.
Although there is no golf course in the resort there are a few options within driving distance of the resort. Your best option is a 35-minute drive from the resort. The Cocotal Golf and Country Club. The course is well designed and challenging and the upkeep of the course was very good. Rounds here range from $100 – $150 depending on the time of day you play and the season.
Weddings at the Excellence Punta Cana
There is a wedding planner on-site that can be leveraged if you plan on having your wedding here. The location is really the perfect place to say I do, with three options for a ceremony location. These are the Stone Gazebo, the tropical gazebo, and the beach. For more on the Excellence wedding offerings, be sure to check out the section on their website here.
The beach here is really what distinguishes this resort. It’s a sprawling beach so space will never be an issue. Although we were staying in an Excellence club room and had access to a private area, we found that the main part of the beach was never too busy and no matter what time of day you went. There was always a sun lounger and an umbrella available which was good to see.
The sand was so fine and beautiful and the sea was really nice. We had read that the water can be a little choppy here, but we didn’t experience that. We went for a few dips throughout the week and it was really calm and relaxing. There was a little bit of seaweed that sometimes washed up on the beach, but the staff did a great job of keeping the beach clean.
The Miilé Spa is a tranquil and soothing setting and you can really see how getting treatment can put you in a state of relaxation. There are a wide variety of treatments available. As well as some top-class spa facilities that include a hydrotherapy area to cleanse and relax the body and mind.
When we stayed we went for a couples massage, which was on special offer. We ended up getting around 25% off the usual cost and it was an absolute delight. Kudos to Sonia at the Spa for making our experience top-notch.
The Excellence Punta Cana hit it out of the park with the service. All of the staff were super friendly and we genuinely felt like they
Although gratuities and tax are included in the price of the all-inclusive, it’s common courtesy to tip the staff for their service. One of the best elements of the Excellence Punta Cana is the stellar service so from our point of view tipping should be considered mandatory.
For drinks, we typically tipped a dollar per drink and $5-10 for meals, depending on the service. The staff accepts any currency, but US Dollars are the easiest option for them. It’s also easier for yourself instead of having to do the calculation in your head for the exchange rate.
The resort was very clean. I don’t think I saw a piece of rubbish at all during our stay. There weren’t even empty glasses that were left lying around. The staff was super prompt in tidying up. The room was cleaned twice a day. With the morning clean being the primary one and the afternoon clean being more of a turndown.
Booking During COVID
Although we stayed pre-COVID, as we mentioned the resort was exceptionally clean. From what we have read from the reviews the Excellence has really stepped up its game in creating a clean and safe environment in these uncertain times.
There are a range of precautions that the Excellence chain of resorts has put in place and if you would like to review these they can be found here.
Price Range + Packages
This resort is definitely on the more premium side, but for the price, you pay you to get some serious value for money. The resort is listed as a 5-star resort and you really do get a 5-star experience.
We have been to other all-inclusive resorts where it’s advertised as a 5-star resort when in reality it was close to a 4-star experience. The Excellence Punta Cana is a luxury offering at a competitive price.
When we stayed in early 2020 we went through the travel agent Sunwing that is based out of Canada. We went for 7 days and flew out of Toronto. The price including flights, airport transfers, and the all-inclusive came out to $3,000 USD for the complete stay.
What’s included in the all-inclusive package
All food, most drinks (Wine offerings at some restaurants come at an additional cost), snacks, Coffees, room service, and mini-bar are all included in your price. Also, all of the use of the amenities, the non-motorized water sports, and the entertainment that is put on is included in your package.
When you book it will say that Taxes and gratuities are included in the price you pay, but as we will talk about the tipping section. Additional tips should be taken into consideration when planning a trip to any all-inclusive.
There is a dress code for some of the restaurants in the resort. Although we did find that it was not too strictly enforced. The vibe we got from it was that for the evening meals you were not allowed to show up to restaurants with shorts and a tank top on. The exact descriptions they have for categories are below
For ladies: Long pants, capri pants, or skirt with a blouse, or a dress
For gentlemen: Long dress pants and a collared shirt
Casual shoes or elegant sandals must be worn. T-shirts, tank tops, shorts, beach sandals, and flip flops are not allowed.
Shorts, Bermudas, sarongs, and t-shirts are welcome. Sleeveless t-shirts (for men), tank tops, wet clothes, and swimsuits are not allowed. Footwear must be worn at all times.
Food + Restaurant Options
The food selection here is really good. It’s pretty much the identical offering of all of the other Excellence resorts, so if you have ever stayed in one there are all pretty much carbon copies of one another. In general, for an all-inclusive.
The food quality was pretty good. As we always call out, the dishes you get in a 5-star all-inclusive are going to be of a lower standard compared to a normal 5-star hotel. The Excellence Punta Cana was definitely on the upper tier of food output for the all-inclusive resorts we have stayed at.
Ranking the Restaurants
This Asian restaurant serves up an amalgamation of all of Asia’s most popular dishes. From Sushi, pad thai, ramen, and curries they have a lovely selection of dishes on offer. The restaurant has a minimal Japanese design to its decor and had a humming atmosphere the two nights we went there.
There are two parts to this restaurant. The main area serves an al-a-carte menu. Then there are a number of rooms to the side of the restaurant where the Hibachi experience takes place. Having never been to a Hibachi experience like this we found it to be a great show and the food was top notch too.
If you like Margaritas and Mexican food, this is the spot for you. We were really impressed with the quality of food here. We both had the quesadilla and they were delicious. The Jalapeno Margarita was delicious.
3.Magna (Excellence Club)
This was definitely the restaurant that we found it most difficult to get a booking in. When we finally were able to get a table midway through our holiday, we were very impressed with the food. Open for breakfast and dinner there is a mixture of cuisines on offer. From pasta, steak, and seafood we found that it was basically the better dishes from a lot of the other restaurants.
The ribeye steak here was very good and perfectly cooked. We wanted to go back here on our final night but sadly couldn’t get a table. So, be sure to book early to ensure you can get a table,
4. Flavour Market
Tapas is one of our favorite styles of food and Flavour market didn’t disappoint. Serving up all of the traditional dishes you would expect to be served on the streets of Seville. It is like taking a mini trip to Spain and back in a night. The food here is actually very authentic and the restaurant was buzzing with atmosphere. The Gazpacho was packed full of flavor and was probably my favorite dish here. The mixed Paella was also a winner and worth trying.
5. The Kitchen Table
The main buffet area of the resort. This will most likely be the restaurant that you frequent the most. The food on offer here is actually very good. The variety of choices is a little overwhelming with dozens of food stations. Most of the food you can get in the other restaurants throughout the resort is available in the buffet. There is a really nice outdoor seating area here, which was our chosen spot for breakfast.
6. Chez Isabelle
The decor at Chez Isabelle is the real winner here. Think about white linen clothes and choose aesthetic decor and you have Chez Isabelle. The food here is also not too bad. A French-style restaurant that serves French Onion soup and all of the classics.
Open for lunch only this is a great spot to grab a quick bite to eat when taking a quick break from the beach. On offer here are pizzas, grilled meats, and veggies. They had a different theme of food every day alongside the staple pizzas. The Dominican chicken soup was unreal. Shout out to Joel who is looking after us there.
An Italian trattoria-style restaurant is located with a lovely view of the ocean. It’s open for lunch and dinner and has a pretty relaxed dress code. We were a little disappointed with the Pizzas here as the base of the pizza was a little undercooked. We were impressed with the other dishes we had. The grilled red tuna was top quality and we highly recommend trying if fish is your thing.
9. The Lobster House
The perfect location for a restaurant. Right on the beach, this restaurant is overlooking the expansive beach and ocean. It’s a really lovely spot for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The food here was relatively good, but sadly it did not live up to its impressive location. The seafood style restaurants
10. The Grill
The main steakhouse of the resort. We were pretty disappointed with the offering here. The dishes we got served the night we visited were pretty average. I asked for my steak to be cooked medium and it came cremated. The portion sizes also were the best, so we left dinner a little peckish. The great thing about an all-inclusive is that there is food available 24/7, so even though we were a little disappointed with the dinner we had a lovely snack from the
11. The Sports Bar
If there is a game on this is the perfect spot to watch a game and grab a beer and some food. Don’t expect anything special from the food department here, but it serves up all your traditional bar food favorites. We had the Cobb salad and the Cuban sandwich one night and they were pretty average.
The room service menu is very extensive, so make sure you make the most of it. We used this a few times throughout our stay. On a few occasions for midday snacks and then on the day we were leaving because it was an early morning flight and the restaurants weren’t open yet, we ordered room service for breakfast. You can also get alcoholic drinks delivered with your order, so make sure to make the most of that.
Although this is not a restaurant there are a few tasty treats available here. From pastries, ice creams, and sandwiches. It also serves up all of your caffeine-infused drinks.
Excellence Punta Cana vs Excellence El Carmen vs Finest Punta Cana
With the Finest Punta Cana opening its doors in 2021, there are now three resorts owned by the Excellence chain of resorts in this region of the Dominican Republic. So you may be asking yourself which resort is the best option for me.
We broke it down by the following criteria.
The Finest Punta Cana is the only family offering of the three, so if you were planning on bringing the kids then this is the only option for you. If you’re a couple, I wouldn’t let the fact that this is a family resort put us off. The Finest is still a solid offering and when we visited there weren’t too many kids there, so it still felt relaxing.
For the Excellence Punta Cana vs the Excellence El Carmen, it really comes down to the difference in price. Both of these resorts are very similar in terms of their output of food, their service, amenities, and the overall feel of the resort.
For us, the Excellence El Carmen has more of a modern aesthetic and we found that there was a little less wear and tear throughout the resort. So we advise checking out the El Carmen resort first. Both resorts are comparably priced, but we did notice that the price fluctuated down at times a little more for the Excellence Punta Cana resort. So, if you’re looking for a bargain this might be a better choice for you.
Bars and Drinks Offering
With 12 bars on the resort, there is a cold beverage available around every corner you turn. Dotted throughout the resort are a range of bars. Our favorite was definitely the sports bar. The atmosphere here was popping and it was a lot of fun here
There is a really solid drink offering at the Excellence Punta Cana. With a wide range of local drinks, international beers, and premium liquors they are bound to have your favorite tipple.
At the Excellence resorts, you can see that the management team have put a lot of thought into the variety of choice and this is on the show with their cocktail menu. It literally has pages upon pages of delicious alcoholic and non-alcoholic treats. The bar staff are also super talented and put on an amazing show in the preparation of these drinks.
There is also a large selection of drinks available in your room. The minibars here are stacked full of goodies. With beers, sodas, sweet treats, mixers as well as a nice choice of bottled liquor and wine. For non-Excellence club members, the bottles on offer will be the likes of Jose Cuervo Tequila, Bacardi rum, a bottle of Vodka, and a red wine bottle.
If you’re staying in an Excellence Club room your in-room liquor offering is upgraded. When we stayed we had Johnny Walker Black, Bombay Sapphire Gin, Barcelo Rum, and Absolut Vodka.
The rooms at the Excellence Punta Cana are definitely on the smaller side when you compare them to other offerings that the Excellence has.
There is a large selection of room choices available here. The volume of choices can be a little overwhelming, to be honest. When we stayed we booked into an Excellence club junior suite. The main categories of rooms are as follows
- Junior Suites
- Terrace Suite
There are also these four rooms available with the Excellence club included as well as
- Club Suite
- Terrace Suite
- Honeymoon Suite
- Imperial Suite
Is the Excellence Club Worth it?
Whether or not to choose the Excellence Club add-on really depends on the specific resort you are going to. We’ve been to nearly all of the Excellence offerings now and it’s been hit and miss to whether there’s a benefit in going for the Excellence Club.
There is a range of benefits that you get as part of an Excellence club room. Some of them actually add value while others are more for show. For us, the biggest benefits are the private pool and beach areas. In resorts such as the Finest or Excellence Playa Mujeres in Cancun where the beach area is pretty small, we think the Excellence club is 100% worth it for the privacy and ease of getting a sun lounger.
For the Excellence Punta Cana because of the sheer size of the beach, there is not much value in this benefit. The private pool area is pretty good here as there is really only one large pool for non-EC members.
The premium drinks offering is also a big thing for us. With the EC you’re in room liquor and the bottles on offer in the EC loungers are premium options. These will be the likes of Grey Goose, Johnny Walker Black Label, Absolut Vodka to name a few.
There are two restaurants and one bar that is available to EC members only, but honestly given the range of choice in the resort, there’s really no need for this.
Punta Cana is a big tourist destination, so organized excursions are a big thing. There are a variety of options to choose from. For us, our favorite is definitely Sanona Island we have an overview of it below.
This stunning Island is located around 40 minutes from Punta Cana. I feel like stunning almost doesn’t serve how beautiful this island really is. It was easily the most idyllic location we have seen in the Dominican and well worth a visit. From soft white sand to turquoise water it’s truly stunning.
Excellence Punta Cana is another strong offering from the Excellence chain of resorts. There is definitely some wear and tear around the resort, but overall it still has that luxury feel.
The price of the resort when you compare it to the other Excellence resorts in the area is appropriately priced for the experience. What it lacks in a modern aesthetic, it makes up for with a cheaper price.
The service, food, beach, and communal areas are all very similar to the other resorts. So, if you’re looking for a bargain this might be the spot for you.
Q. Does the Excellence Punta Cana offer a shuttle service from the Airport
A. The Excellence does offer a shuttle to and from the airport. This does come at an additional cost though.
Q. Is parking available at the resort
A. Free Parking is available at the resort.
Q. Is Wi-Fi included
A. Yes, Wi-Fi is included in the price of your package. It is available throughout the resort and we found that the strength to be very good. We had no issues streaming Netflix at the pool and making Facetime calls from our room.
Q. What local attractions are there?
A. There is a lot to see and do in the Punta Cana area. Our top recommendations are the Hoyo Azul, which is a magnificent sinkhole and national park. The other great thing to do is a day trip to Saona Island, which is a picture-perfect beach that is well worth the trip.