Tons of free activities like pool games, Mamajuana making, and evening shows
Horseback riding, biking, tennis, and quality excursions (some fees)
Free Wi-Fi throughout
Full facilities and picturesque places for weddings and ceremonies
A beautiful beach, but waves can be too rough for swimming
45-minute taxi ride from the airport
Not all rooms have ocean views
Some features are just for Excellence Club guests
Teppanyaki tables at Spice requires reservations (it's a small show kitchen)
Thanks to a 45-million dollar renovation completed in 2017, the Excellence Punta Cana is now one of the best luxury all-inclusive properties in Punta Cana. Kids aren't allowed, so expect a peaceful scene at the spacious beach, two outdoor swimming pools, and two-story luxe spa with a hydrotherapy circuit. Lobster and premium alcohol are included at the 12 bars and 10 gourmet restaurants -- only the teppanyaki restaurant requires reservations. The 450 contemporary suites are divided into six categories, and all have romantic in-room jetted tubs, but some don't have ocean views. Upgrade to the Excellence Club for extra perks like better beach beds and a private swimming pool. The only real downsides are the 45-minute drive from the airport and that the ocean can be too rough for swimming. For suites with ocean views and private whirlpools, check rates at the modern sister resort down the road, Excellence El Carmen.
An adult-only mix of those seeking romance and fun in an elegant setting
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. Excellence achieves a luxurious feel without the least bit of pretension. 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, and you can smell the salty ocean as soon as the taxi door opens on arrival -- at which point you'll be welcomed with a glass of Champagne and a chilled towel. Excellence Club guests are escorted to a private lounge where they complete registration paperwork at a desk.
Kids under the age of 18 aren't allowed here, so the ambience is quiet and relaxed. Wedding groups are popular (there are a few key spots around the property for ceremonies). It’s not only honeymooners here, and the partiers in celebration mode add some fun and liveliness to the resort. There's no need to claim sun loungers at the beach or two pools (there's a third private pool and dedicated beach area for Excellence Club guests) since the main pool runs the entire length of the resort and the beach is spacious, there’s plenty of room for everyone. Overall, the architecture and landscaping are evocative of the Caribbean with pastel colors, swaying palm trees, and manicured grounds. The front entrance of the resort is home to a gorgeous park-like space with lush foliage and bird viewing areas -- the flamingos are worthy of a visit.
A bit farther north than the resorts on Bavaro Beach, but more secluded
Excellence is located on a huge, sandy stretch of Macao Beach. Technically it's 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 and there are few vendors with which to contend. Lifeguard stations are scattered along the sand, but they aren't always manned with lifeguards.
The resort is about a 45-minute taxi ride north of the Punta Cana airport. A taxi, shared transfer, or car rentals are available, but Uber is not. The concierge staff can make arrangements for deluxe transportation service, via limo or helicopter. Once arrived, guests mostly stay put on the property. There's not much outside of the complex's gates, but organized excursions are available, such as snorkeling, scuba diving, zip-lining, and horseback riding.
Contemporary rooms with a Mid-Century Modern vibe and excellent extras -- some ocean views
There are a six different suite types housed in three-story pastel colored buildings, and each unit is similarly decorated. The contemporary rooms have a Mid-Century Modern twist with wood paneling on accent walls, pendant lamps, and clean-lined powder blue sofas. Almost all units feature king-size beds, though there are a few rooms with two double beds. Stocked minibars have free beer, wine, liquor bottles, and snacks. Sparkling wine and fresh fruit are provided on arrival. Flat-screen TVs have a few English channels and Wi-Fi is free. Electronic panels control room temperature and do-not-disturb signs. Jetted tubs are placed near most of the beds, a romantic touch.
Marble bathrooms are large with dual sinks, spacious showers with rain showerheads, generous toiletries, and separate toilets. All rooms come with furnished terraces or balconies, 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, private pool, private section of the beach with chic sun loungers, and a private restaurant and bar. Additional in-room amenities such as fresh flowers upon arrival, upgraded room service menus, Bvlgari toiletries, Nespresso machines, and more expensive liquor bottles (Absolut vodka, Tanqueray gin, Ron Barcelo rum) are also provided. Resort information, activities, and a weather report are provided in the daily newsletter, delivered each evening under the door or during evening turndown service in all rooms.
An impressive beach, shopping options, and outdoor pools
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. Guests can lounge on comfy sun loungers under thatch umbrellas, and there are nearby bars for coconut cocktails and beer. Excellence Club guests have a dedicated section of the beach with sexy day beds, and a private bar.
There are two pools for all guests, and a private pool for Excellence Club guests (though we didn't see staff questioning anyone's credentials on our visit, and none of the pools were crowded enough for it to matter). The main pool runs almost the entire length of the resort and fronts the ocean, and allows swim-up access from some suites, plus it has a swim-up bar. This is where you'll find the animations team organizing games and blasting pop music -- but there's ample space to get away from the party if you prefer. The second pool is in a garden setting, and has a waterfall infinity edge. The third, Excellence Club pool, is shallow and has partially submerged sun loungers, plus ocean views.
In front of the resort, just past a row of retail cigar and clothing shops, sits the superb fitness center with modern TechnoGym cardio equipment, fresh towels, water bottles, a bowl of apples, and chlorophyll juice. The attached yoga studio has floor mats for stretching, as well as daily yoga/Pilates classes. There are also free activities like 30 minutes of horseback riding, tennis lessons, bike tours, Spanish lessons, and an intro to SCUBA. Check out the newsletter delivered to rooms each day for the schedule. Nightly entertainment rotates on a weekly basis, so there should be a different show every night for seven days.
Wi-Fi is free and fast throughout the property. Parking is free. There are dedicated spaces for meetings, events, and weddings.
All-inclusive really means all-inclusive, with premium spirits, alcohol, and 24-hour room service
Food and beverages are a highlight, and all meals, snacks and alcoholic drinks -- even premium brands and lobster -- are included in the rates. Since restaurant reservations are not necessary (with the exception of teppanyaki tables at Spice), it’s easy to be flexible depending on the mood. 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. Room service is available 24 hours, and Excellence Club guests have a larger menu with more selections. Staff can arrange romantic private dining throughout the resort, with advance notice and for a fee.
Kitchen Table is the impressive buffet restaurant for breakfast and lunch. Quality is excellent, and there's a wide variety of options that cover everything from Dominican favorites to a la minute options like omelets and carved roasts. There's a huge selection of desserts, plus a self-serve Bloody Mary and Bellini bar.
Agave serves Mexican and Tex-Mex fare for dinner, including seafood options. Tableside entertainment is a fun touch.
Chez Izabelle mimics a French bistro, complete with a courtyard dining room -- open for dinner.
The Grill serves a la carte burgers, sandwiches, and salads in a thatch-roof palazza. The dinner menu upgrades to prime steaks and shrimp.
Flavor Market has a cozy Spanish-style ambience and tapas for dinner.
The Lobster House is one of the most popular restaurant choices for breakfast and dinner, since it has a plethora of seafood and lobster dishes. We especially enjoyed the surf and turf.
Las Olas offers casual beachfront dining overlooking the waves, but just for lunch.
Spice serves specialties from Japan, China, Vietnam, and Thailand and has teppanyaki tables for live cooking. Note that teppanyaki tables require a reservation.
Sports Bar is the place for giant flat-screen TVs and pub fare. It's open from late afternoon to late evening.
Oregano overlooks the main pool and serves a casually elegant spread of pizzas, pastas, and salads. This is also the spot for late night dining, as it's open well after midnight.
Magna Club is open for all three meals, and has a courtyard with ocean views -- but it's only accessible to Excellence Club guests.
Excellence Punta Cana isn't a party resort by any means, but it does have a fun and lively vibe -- and guests usually have a cocktail in hand. Premium alcohol doesn't cost extra, which is pretty rare in Punta Cana. Guests love the hollowed out fresh pineapples and rum poured into coconuts for that truly tropical vacation feel. There's a bar for just about any mood: a martini bar in the lobby, swim-up bars, beach bars, garden bars, and an air-conditioned sports bar with flat-screen TVs. Staff are polite and there's rarely a wait for alcohol. We turned down the offer of a cocktail by the pool, and the server brought us a glass of Champagne with a fresh raspberry at the bottom "just in case we changed our mind." None of the bars are open 24 hours, but there are full liquor bottles in every room and ice is available from room service. Don't forget about the fun disco with a DJ and late night dancing. It's away from the main action of the resort, at the front of the property, so that sleeping guests aren't disturbed by one a.m. reggaetone music.
A luxurious escape with a hydrotherapy circuit and relaxing treatments
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. It also has a gorgeous partially open-air hydrotherapy circuit with a jetted pool, sauna, steam room, cold shower, and plunge pools. An adjacent terrace has heated loungers, it's an incredible place to get a scalp massage in the tropical breeze. Staff serves chocolate covered strawberries and Champagne to guests after treatments. The spa menu has a wide assortment of massages, facials, and wraps that incorporate ingredients like algae and cacao. Note that treatments cost extra, but all guests can use the hydrotherapy circuit for free.
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