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Excellence El Carmen 5.0

Uvero Alto, Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

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Review Summary

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Pros

  • All-inclusive rates include premium alcohol and lobster 
  • Adult-only policy keeps things calm and romantic
  • Modern suites with free minibars, balconies, and enclosed whirlpools
  • Almost all suites have some sort of ocean view
  • Resort's secluded beach has floury-soft sand and few beach vendors
  • Multiple lively bars spread throughout the property and a disco for dancing 
  • 11 restaurants including Asian, Spanish, Italian, French, and Indian cuisines -- plus a taco truck and juice bar
  • 23 freshwater pools means there's plenty of space to sunbathe
  • Large, modern gym with free personal training and yoga classes
  • Attractive spa includes salon services and a free hydrotherapy circuit
  • Excellence Club upgrades include a luxe lounge/restaurant, private pool, and private beach area
  • Free non-motorized water spots, plus free introductory scuba lesson
  • Fast and free Wi-Fi throughout the resort
  • Weekly Dominican beach party 

Cons

  • Despite 24-hour room service, there are no 24-hour bars
  • Power turns off when not in rooms, meaning you can't charge electronics while absent
  • Restaurants get mixed reviews and dress code required at some
  • Nothing much to see or do within walking distance (common in Punta Cuna)

Bottom Line

Excellence El Carmen is a luxury adult-only resort with a youthful and hip vibe that sits along an idyllic beach in Punta Cana’s laid-back Uvero Alto. Its 492 modern suites have sophisticated interiors plus features like free bottles of liquor and glass-enclosed whirlpool tubs overlooking private balconies. Some rooms add semi-private swim-up pools or completely private rooftop pools. Excellence Club upgrades come with private lounge and restaurant access and even posher rooms. All-inclusive rates include meals at 11 restaurants (including a taco truck and juice bar) plus 24-hour room service and activities like snorkeling. There are multiple fun bars, a full-service spa with a free thermal suite, and swish gym with free personal training sessions. If you'd prefer a more classic Caribbean beachfront all-inclusive with similar amenities, rates are comparable at the nearby sister resort: Excellence Punta Cana

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Scene

Modern adult-only resort with lush grounds and a hip vibe 

Excellence El Carmen opened in late 2016 and the adult-only property has one of Punta Cana’s most modern and hip vibes. Once inside, it's all about sharp neutral decor, tranquil vibes, and breezy ocean views. Arriving guests step through the front doors into a hip lobby that features swish elements like funky, high-backed armchairs, sleek couches, and floor-to-ceiling shelves full of oversized art books. While interiors are sharp, it's the hotel's lush grounds that give this property its away-from-it-all atmosphere. The property is dotted with four-floored buildings (designed to maximize ocean views) that are surrounded by perfectly manicured lawns, towering palm trees, and blossoming flowers like ixora, hibiscus, and bougainvillea. It's definitely not a party resort with guests pounding shots -- the vibe is more towards sipping martinis. Even so, there's nightly entertainment ranging from live music and circus shows to Michael Jackson impersonators. Guests are mostly honeymooners and mature couples celebrating wedding anniversaries from the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. As you walk down the hallways, it's common to see the doors of these couples' rooms decorated with banners celebrating their occasion.  

Location

Near the sleepy beach town of Uvero Alto in Punta Cana, right on the beach

The resort is located along a gorgeous sandy beach in Uvero Alto, a quiet beach area that's a far cry from the more touristy beach zones. Few vendors prowl the floury-soft sand in this part of Punta Cana. That does mean that there isn't much to do within walking distance, and you'll have to rely on cabs or car rentals should you want to explore outside of the resort. There’s a small shopping strip within a five-minute drive, while Bavaro -- the most famous spot in the area -- takes 25 to 30 minutes to reach by car. The Blue Hole, a cenote with gorgeous turquoise water, is also around a 30-minute drive from the property. For an authentic Dominican town, the hamlet of Higuey is home to a famous cathedral, local market, and shops, and takes around 50 minutes to reach by car. Getting to beautiful Saona Island there takes an hour-and-15 minutes and requires a drive followed by a boat ride. There’s also a heliport at Excellence’s sister property, which is only a seven-minute drive away. Punta Cana International Airport is about a 45-minute drive from the resort.

Rooms

Attractive and modern suites have large balconies and private enclosed whirlpools

Suites here are some of the most attractive that we've seen in the Punta Cana region. They're big and breezy, with marble floors, walls paneled in hardwood and neutral fabrics, and glass-enclosed whirlpools that overlook private balconies (most with some sort of ocean view). The whirlpools are ideal for enjoying the views and a soak in rainy weather. Rooms have one king bed or two queen beds that are framed by boxy nightstands and telescoping chrome reading lights. Junior Suites can sleep up to three people. 

Tech features are solid and include iHome docks, wall-integrated USB plugs, and big internet-ready flat-screen TVs with satellite channels. Huge walk-in closets are fully shelved and big enough to unpack a steamer trunk with room to spare. All rooms also provide safes, umbrellas, irons, and ironing boards. Nespresso coffeemakers and free minibars stocked with beer, water, soda, and snacks (plus full bottles of whisky, rum, and vodka). Keep in mind that electricity is cut when you're not in your room, so charging a laptop while you're out for the day isn't an option.

We love the open-plan bathrooms, which are spacious and include tan granite or black marble vanities plus double sinks. Some rooms also have double toilets. Glass-walled stand-up showers feature massive rainfall showerheads and all bathrooms include generous toiletries. Hairdryers, magnifying mirrors, scales, robes, and slippers come standard. 

Pricier Excellence Club upgrades add pillow menus, Bvlgari bath products, beach bags, and minibars with top-shelf liquor, like Absolut vodka. Other additions range from private rooftop plunge pools and huge private terraces to semi-private swim-out pools with ocean views. 

Features

Gorgeous beach, free water sports, 23 freshwater pools, and a luxury spa

While Excellence isn't the largest resort in Punta Cana, it certainly packs in a mega-resort's worth of features -- and its most exceptional are outdoors. The property's secluded beach is one of Punta Cana’s best. The sand is flour-soft and the oceanfront is lined with palm trees, lounge chairs, and thatched umbrellas. Free water sports include kayaks and Hobie Cat catamarans. If lounging by the pool is more your thing, 23 freshwater pools are scattered throughout the resort and include a main pool with ocean views. It has two accessible ramps. 

The spa is an attractive and quiet space offering massages, facials, body treatments, manicures, pedicures, waxing, and salon services. Services cost extra, but all guests can book a free session in the gorgeous hydrotherapy circuit which features a sauna, steam room, plunge pool, and jetted beds. The gym is modern and loaded with Technogym treadmills, elliptical machines, stationary bicycles, recumbent bicycles, weight machines, dumbbells, free weights, a punching bag, and a squat bench. Free daily classes like yoga and stretching are available, and personal training sessions are included in nightly rates as well. The resort has tennis courts and free lessons. Other activities include ping-pong, pool tables, and a life-size chess board. Bike tours, Spanish lessons, beach volleyball, archery, pool games, water aerobics, poker tournaments, and bingo are scheduled regularly. Nightly entertainment like live music, Michael Jackson impersonators, dance performances, and the weekly Dominican beach party (held indoors during inclement weather) get mostly positive reviews, but don't expect to have your mind blown. 

Excellence has shops selling sundries and beach attire, a medical clinic (fee to use), and an ATM. Access to the business center is available (for a fee) and there are also meeting rooms. Valet parking is free at the resort and there’s free Wi-Fi throughout the property.

Like other Excellence properties, guests can splurge on upgraded Excellence Club packages. Perks include upgraded rooms, upgraded room-service menus and minibars, and access to a private lounge, excellent restaurant, private beach area, pools, and bars. 

Food

All-inclusive restaurants and bars with few exceptions -- even includes lobster and premium alcohol

When it comes to food, the resort’s 11 restaurants offer numerous gourmet options from casual spots to fine-dining. All are part of the hotel's all-inclusive rates, as is 24-hour room service, and lobster doesn't cost extra. The only restaurant that requires a reservation is Spice, which has limited seating at its teppanyaki live cooking counters. Other options include an extensive buffet with live-cooking stations and small selection of Dominican specialties; Oregano is the open-air eatery that specializes in pizza and pasta; the Lobster House serves seafood specialties overlooking the beach. French, Indian, Spanish, and Mexican restaurants are also offered. For quick eats, Food Shark Food Truck serves tacos and nachos from a vintage bus, while Aroma slings coffee and desserts -- plus a rotating ice cream wheel. It's worth noting that most dinner restaurants have a casual elegance dress code, which means that t-shirts, tank tops, shorts, and beach sandals are not allowed. Casual wear (no wet swimsuits) is acceptable elsewhere and for breakfast and lunch. 

Bar wise, Excellence’s 16 options include swim-up pool bars, a sports bar, a martini bar, a beach bar, and a made-to-order juice bar with fresh fruits and veggies. Drink service is on offer at the pools and beach. The nightclub stays open late and has a DJ who takes request. Note that none of the bars are open 24 hours. The best part? Premium alcohol and specialty beers are included. 

Excellence Club Suites come with access to The private Magna Club restaurant and bar, plus the private lobby puts out special treats and desserts throughout the day. 

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Address

Playas Uvero Alto, Uvero Alto, Punta Cana 23000, Caribbean

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