Horseback riding, biking, tennis, and quality excursions
Weekly manager’s party to mix and mingle
Free Wi-Fi throughout
A beautiful beach, but waves can be too rough for swimming
Longer (and more expensive) taxi ride from the airport
Expect an upgrade pitch for Excellence Club; probably not worth the extra cost
Fee to access any of the spa facilities
This upscale, adults-only all-inclusive property is a 45-minute drive from the airport and has a spacious beach with rougher waves than at Bavaro Beach down the road. Swimming can be a challenge, but this surfer's paradise has a more secluded feel, even with 464 rooms on the property. The meandering pool is never too crowded, and at night, adults -- mostly honeymooners, couples, and wedding groups -- can choose from a number of high-end restaurants before hitting the theater or lively casino. Room service is offered 24 hours, and chlorophyll juice and apples are offered in the the stand-out fitness center, yoga room, or luxurious two-floor spa. Excellence knows how to give excellent service, starting with the welcome glass of champagne immediately upon arrival. A more expensive club upgrade is available and may be pitched, but many will find they don't need it with all that is already on offer.
An adults-only mix of those seeking romance and fun in an elegant setting
The Excellence achieves an upscale feel without the least bit of pretension. The staff helps with this immensely; upon arrival, prompt porters will whisk away luggage and guests will get handed a glass of champagne. The elegant, open-air lobby is one of the few in Punta Cana with a view of the beach, so guests get an immediate introduction to a slice of paradise.
Wedding groups are popular (there are a few key spots on the beach for ceremonies) -- so it’s not only honeymooners here, and the partiers in celebration mode add some fun and liveliness to the resort. No need to reserve seats at the beach or two pools; the main pool runs the entire length of the resort and the beach is spacious, there’s plenty of room for everyone. Groups tend to stick to the second pool area, with its own pool bar, but either way, drinks are always flowing and we found service to be prompt.
Nighttime is truly an occasion to dress up, and ladies should not be afraid to bust out the heels. Dinner can be enjoyed in several areas round the resort, and reservations are not needed, which adds to the relaxed vibe. Post-dinner, partiers can congregate in the lobby for the theater, attached bar, and casino for late-night entertainment.
Rooms closer to the lobby may experience some noise pollution in the evenings, which is not ideal for those who want to rise early and catch the sunrise (highly recommended). Those who want to stroll along the beach can grab a cup of takeaway coffee and then return for a colorful and generous breakfast spread that will certainly please health nuts. Fitness and wellness is a priority at Excellence -- guests can take advantage of the bright fitness center, daily yoga classes, and stand-out spa.
Unlike some of the massive chains in Punta Cana, Excellence Resorts owns just a handful of exclusive all-inclusive properties in Mexico and the Caribbean.
A bit farther north than the resorts on Bavaro Beach, but more secluded
Excellence is located on a huge, white-sand beach technically considered Higuey, an area that is largely associated as Punta Cana but is, in fact, just slightly north of it. Waves are bigger and stronger here, so weak swimmers should be wary -- but they can at least enjoy endless miles of walking on the sand.
The resort is about an hour taxi ride (costing about $70 USD) north of the Punta Cana airport. A taxi, shared transfer, or car rentals are available. The Concierge staff will make arrangements for deluxe transportation service, via limo or helicopter.
Once arrived, guests mostly stay on the property: There's not much outside of the complex's gates, but excursions are available, such as snorkeling, scuba diving, zip-lining, and horseback riding.
Elegant furnishings and large bathrooms with jacuzzi tubs
The 446 elegant, beach-chic rooms have artfully distressed wooden headboards, tile floors, and bright, Caribbean color accents. All have king-size beds, since it is adults-only, and are housed in three-story pastel colored buildings. Stocked minibars have beer, wine and liquor, snacks, and 24-hour room service is available at no extra charge. The marble bathrooms are large with dual sinks, jetted tubs, stand-up showers with rain showerheads, generous toiletries, and separate toilets. All rooms come with a furnished balconies, and since there are screen doors, guests can feel free to leave the windows open to hear the sound of waves without worrying about mosquitoes.
There are a variety of different suite types, coming with either garden, mountain, or ocean views; there are also swim-up suites with private pool access. Upgrading to the Excellence Club gets guests express check-in service, access to a VIP lounge, and additional in-room amenities (such as fresh flower upon arrival and upgraded room service menus), but this may not be worth the extra cost considering what is already available. Resort information and a weather report can be read in the daily newsletter, delivered each evening under the door or during turn-down service.
An impressive dining program with exercise options to balance it out
People who want a prime beach without the crowds can relax and enjoy the setting here, or walk closer to Bavaro Beach for slightly calmer waves to swim in. Walkers will be in paradise -- the beach continues for miles in either direction -- but watch out for the vendors who can disrupt peace.
Food and beverages are a highlight, and all meals, snacks and alcoholic drinks -- even premium brands -- are included in the price. Since restaurant reservations are not necessary, it’s easy to be flexible depending on the mood. Dining options are constantly evolving and include a range of gourmet and casual (mostly gourmet, given the crowd). Both al fresco and indoor air-conditioned seating can be had. Cuisine includes European, Mediterranean, Asian, and seafood options. Flavor Market has a creative small plates menu and open kitchen layout, while the aptly named Lobster Houses focuses on -- you guessed it -- lobster. Special occasions for honeymooner and those celebrating anniversaries can arrange a torch-lit private dinner.
The buffet and snack bars are not chitnzy, and there are a number of bars, including an open-air sports bar with the most bottled beers in Punta Cana. Room service is available 24 hours a day, or late night partiers can get pizza from Oregano restaurant until 2 a.m.
Almost every resort in Punta Cana has a casino and not all are fun, but this one, due to cleanliness, the crowd, and the proximity to the theater and main bar, is a hit.
Behind the resort, just past shops and a business center where guests can borrow DVDs and iPads, sits a superb fitness center with modern equipment, fresh towels, water bottles, a bowl of apples, and healthy chlorophyll juice. The attached yoga studio has floor mats for stretching, as well as daily yoga/Pilates classes (check out the newsletter delivered to rooms each day for the schedule).
The brand-name Miile Spa is a retreat in itself, with two floors, several treatment rooms, a hair and nail salon, peaceful courtyard, and the special Bridal Suite. Additional costs for use of any part of the spa apply.
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