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“Do not buy from Excellence (Fake) Cigar Shop!”

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Excellence Punta Cana
Ranked #19 of 111 Hotels in Punta Cana
Trowbridge, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
21 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 21 helpful votes
“Do not buy from Excellence (Fake) Cigar Shop!”
Reviewed 10 July 2012

We stayed at the Excellence Punta Cana resort for our honeymoon in June and overall had a great time. I’m not sure that I would say its 5 star though. The resort was clean and comfortable, well laid out and all the staff were very friendly. There was an excellent range of good quality food from all the resort restaurants.
However, whilst at the resort I paid the Hotel to take part in a Cigar tasting evening which ended within the Excellence resort hotel Cigar shop where they encouraged us to buy some Cuban and Dominican Cigars.
During our stay I purchased almost £1400 GBP of Cigars from the shop. On return to the U.K the Cigars have been examined by a reputable British expert who has said that all of the Cigars are fake!
I cannot believe that a luxury resort would allow a Counterfeit Cigar business to operate from their premises. Beware! Do not buy from them!
I’ve made a complaint to the Hotel which they initially acknowledged and now they don’t reply to my emails.
Unfortunately this has left a shadow over our Honeymoon so I would not recommend this hotel to anyone.

Room Tip: Do not buy from the Cigar Shop! Beware!
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  • Stayed June 2012, travelled as a couple
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13 Thank andyh04
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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English first
Decatur, Illinois
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
Reviewed 10 July 2012

My husband and I just returned from an eight day stay at the Excellence - Punta Cana for our honeymoon. Here's my cliff notes version followed by a full run-down of this all-inclusive:

Cliff note version - Price vs. value: We paid $400/ total per night for the two of us, which included an Excellence Club upgrade of $100/couple/night. For what we paid, I was very dissappointed with the food and slow (but friendly) service. The horseback riding is ok but DO NOT go on the ATV/Dune Buggies marketed pool-side by Rancho El Differente. They broke down every 5 minutes (literally). Last year we went to Playa del Maya (Cancun, MX) area to the Bluebay Grand Esmeralda for $100/ couple/night (no upgrade) and I would recommend you check that one out as it was a far better value. (Not as nice of beach, but very good food and excellent service.)

And here's the full review for those interested in the details:

Location: This resort is about an hour from the airport on very windy roads with traffic speeding around 100km/h (60 mph). If you get carsick at all, this is not the place for you. However, the location of the resort is rather secluded since it is so far out of town. Any neighboring resorts are so far out of sight you can't see them from this resort.

Appearance/ Maintenance: The resort grounds are well-kept and beautiful and the entrance makes a good first impression. Lots of landscaping including walking trails around a pond with flamingos and two Macaw parrots (red one is friendly, blue one is not). The only maintenance issue I had was with the large brick/tile walkways between the pool area and beach. The tiles have worn approximately 1-2" lower than the concrete grout making it very uncomfortable to walk on in flip flops or bare feet.

Beach: The beach was absolutely beautiful. White sand and blue, clear water. If you're going as just a couple, the beach bed was worth the Excellence Club upgrade charge. (just make sure you reserve your bed with personal items (towels are not enough) by 7am. If you're going as a group, it's probably not worth the money as it's not condusive to socializing.
The waves are pretty rough in this area so not over condusive to swimming, but there were some people in the water. If you go out, try the boogie boards. 2 of the six full days we were there, we were allows to use the boogie boards for 1/2 an hour each day. We were not able to use the catamaran during our entire stay because we were told it was too rough. Another couple we talked to had been there the week before and said they weren't allowed to use it then either. So.. I'd say don't hold your breathe on using the free water sports equipment.

The Pool: Again, the pool was wonderful. Everything you want to see at a resort: long, winding pool with plenty of shaded areas for lounging both in and out of the pool. The swim up bar was a nice idea but service is very slow there and it is difficult to get the bartenders to even acknowledge your presence when you want to order a drink. They do bring boxed pizzas to the pool around 12:30 so you don't have to get out for lunch. Some pool floats are provided (approx 30 across 3 pools) and you can bring your own.

The food: The food left a lot to be desired. Breakfast buffet has honey and syrup next to each other for pancakes and the same ladle is used for both. The result: your pancakes are now covered with a significant amount honey whether you wanted it to be or not. That alone ruined breakfast for me. Eggs are always undercooked and cereal options are very limited (no name brands or knock offs like fruit loops, lucky charms, frosted flakes, etc). Oreos are available at breakfast though and I suggest you stock up for snacks. The other breakfast option is the lobster house. This is where I'd recommend you go. The food is freshly prepared to order, syrup is not mixed with honey, and you can request the eggs be well done. Lunch at the place on the beach is ok, as are the pizzas served pool-side. The buffet is not overly impressive. No reservations are required nor accepted for dinner and there is no dinner buffet. Most of the food on the limited menu at each restaurant was edible, but that's as far as I'd go. Also, the menu never changes at these restaurants. Dinner food quality was well below my expectations.

Excellence Club upgrade:
For a couple, I would say this may be worth the extra money. Since I've always dreamed of laying in a white raised bed on a white sand beach with a beautiful ocean view, it was worth it for us. However, there are only 5-6 of these beds so you have to get up between 6-7am on your vacation to reserve a beach bed or else there's no significant advantage to being in "the club". There are designated wait staff assigned to the Club beach section that are good for getting drinks but that's all they serve. The Club lounge is ok, but you have to fill out a form every time you want to use an ipad with the free internet service. Apparently filling out one per stay is not enough so it was really more hassle than it was worth. The snacks upstairs are nice, but no different than what's available in the restaurants. Room service was ok, but we only used it once.

Excursions:
Do take advantage of the 30 minute horseback riding included with your stay. It's just a group walk on the beach, but hey, it's free and it's riding on the beach - go for it!
If you like the ride, I'd also say the 2 hour sunset ride is good, but make sure you pay the extra $10/person to get the private ride ($120 total for two people) and tell them you want to stay on the beach and not go to the ranch. Otherwise you will be corralled into their ranch and forced to go into their shop where they want to sell you yet more stuff identical to every other shop on the beach and in the resort. Also, if you take the private ride, you can trot and canter/lope/run the horses on the beach.
DO NOT sign up for the Dune Buggies & ATV excursions that are marketed poolside by Rancho El Differente (the same people who do the horses). They break down routinely, leaving you stranded either in the middle of no where or in the middle of town with beggars all around. There were 5 vehicles in our group and everyone of them broke at least once during the trip. The ATV's are the worst of the group. I hear there is another company called extreme buggy or somethign similar that does good dune buggy excursions so you may try finding them.

Photography: DEFINITELY USE the photographer on site if you're there for a honeymoon, wedding or any other event you'd like to document. He was EXCELLENT. in 1/2 an hour he took 93 pictures that were wonderful! You can negotiate on price if you want all of the pictures.

All in all, I enjoyed my honeymoon and have some wonderful memories, but I would not recommend this particular resort. It's just too pricey for what you get. We won't be back.

  • Stayed July 2012, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
7 Thank ksmiley99
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Wisconsin
Level Contributor
13 reviews
13 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 23 helpful votes
Reviewed 10 July 2012

Try to give you the short, and then the long of it..

Short

Beautiful resort, solid service, an amazing beach, and overall well above average for carribean destinations. Service ranged from fine to excellent, we never had any issues there and tipping really didn't seem to change anything, but we tipped continually regardless. Our room was not a remodeled one, but was in good overall shape and pretty clean. Food was the interesting thing of the trip. It generally is fine. Flavors are decent, selection was quite excellent, but things were often not what you'd expect, for example, fried ice cream was ice cream rolled in rice crisps, an english breakfast that is supposed to be eggs on an english muffin was eggs on a toasted hamburger bun, udon noodls for an asian dish were spaghetti noodles. They all tasted fine and were prepared quite well but simply wasn't the quality you might have expected or hoped for. They do a generally excellent job though with water (everything is filtered and treated, and while it is recommended you use the bottled water for brushing your teeth, they said you could even use the tap for that which is unusual and they have their own water system and treatment plant that is audited monthly).

The Long...
It's a poor carribean country, so the hiccups and oddities that were encountered are really quite normal. The airport is small, open air, and quite warm. You walk from the jet to the terminal which is a short distance, but if a plane is idling they won't let you walk in front of it, so we ended up standing in the heat for about 10 minutes. Entering the country was pretty painless but with lots of steps, and lots of crowds, but moved along nicely.

The Excellence is the furthest resort out of all of them. A solid 50 minutes to get to the resort. Traffic is generally light though so it is consistent. The last half of the ride is on poorer roads and more twisty so it can get a bit undesirable from that standpoint. The drivers don't speak much english either, so be prepared for that.

The main resort complex of lobby and bars and restaurants is in great shape. As are the pools and beach area. The athletic areas (but not the gym, that was very nice) and the botanical gardens were pretty aged and in rough shape, but are a very minor part of the resort and you don't have much reason to go to them.

The beach was by far our favorite part. Absolutely incredible. The sand is unbelievably fine and clean. You can go out in the water until it is over your head and the ocean floor is completely clean and smooth. Very pleasant. The Excellence has a very long and wide beach for you to walk and play on. There are no resorts immediately on either side either, so while the beach gets a bit more debris ridden once you get past the resort limits it is still nice. The vendors on the ends will try to get you to come up to their shops, but were generally polite while persistent when you told them you weren't interested. The water was great as well. Waves are gentle in the morning and build through the day. Around 4p.m. you could get great waves for body surfing or boogie boarding. A lot of fun to play in the waves. There was one day near the end that weather on the ocean drove in large waves (6-8 feet) and those were a little much, but was the exception. Off to the right of the resorts beach there is a coral reef near shore that you can snorkel on your own, or with the resort outing in the morning. Visibility is great, colors are not, fish were plentiful but small. Overall nice for some quick simple snorkeling but nothing awe inspiring.

The resorts puts on shows every night at 9:30. Generally very good for a resort, show. All the performers are quite good, just a matter of what you enjoy watching the most.

The pool areas are all nice and while you had a hard time finding a floatee, or a cabana with shade, there were generally plenty of open chairs.

Our room was in pretty good shape considering it was not remodeled. Our AC was fantastic and the room was not stuffy at all by carribean standards. Really quite impressive overall. The bed was very hard, but we found we slept quite well on it. We got a fair amount of noise from being in the first building adjacent to the lobby and so forth, but that ends at midnight and we sort of shifted to going to bed late and sleeping in a bit and it wasn't an issue for us. We saw a few bugs here and there but nothing major. There was some hair on the quilt and in the jacuzzi that was not from us and a few areas that had stains (light switch, edge of jacuzzin, etc). But nothing major or too horribly offputting. Again, pretty good for the caribbean, but not exactly the Hilton in the states.

Really the biggest thing we struggled with on the trip was how hit or miss the food and drinks were. Selection was great, especially the buffets and we always found something we enjoyed. The issue really was as I mentioned early in the review, they would describe very nice gourmet dishes, but what you got was like a "poor man's" version of the dish. It generally tasted decent, almost all were cooked very well/correctly, but the ingredients in use were not gourmet level. I mentioned the fried ice cream, udon noodles, and english muffin substitutions, but we also saw it on more minor things like a Margarita pizza. It should have fresh tomato, mozzarella, and basil on it, instead it was just a cheese pizza. We saw some of the deserts that were supposed to be mousse or the like that were just whipped cream instead. Again, tasted fine, just wasn't "gourmet". It became a game of when we'd read what the menu said guessing how they'd actually make it. When it came it was definitely edible, and usually pretty enjoyable, but wasn't going to excite you hugely or impress you (although presentation was generally very good). We had similar issues with drinks. We don't drink very much as a couple, but have a few cocktails and did so on this trip. We never had a single mojito or gin and tonic, or the like ever taste the same as any we ordered before. My wife couldn't drink the mojito's they were so bitter or "off". We ended up liking the gin and tonics a lot, but they didn't taste anything like a gin and tonic you'd get in the states. Much sweeter. The fruit drinks were usually a little better, and generally mixed pretty strong (which was a negative for my wife). They did have quite good alcohol for their mixers (beefeater and sapphire for gin's for example) and didn't really have an issue finding something we could drink, just took some adventure to find something they made that met your expectation.

Overall it was a very nice resort, and a place I'd recommend going to if you are looking for a very nice place with some decent entertainment, and a gorgeous beach. If you are a foodie looking for top notch dishes and spot on drinks... you'll be a little disappointed, but you won't go hungry or without options!

Room Tip: Excellence club rooms are in the best area, Room block 4 and 5 are in a good area as well. 1 and 2 a...
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  • Stayed June 2012, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank sdhotwn
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
North Carolina
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed 10 July 2012

My husband and I went to the Excellence Punta Cana from May 8th-18th for our wedding and honeymoon. I read THOUSANDS of reviews on here and I will give you our honest opinion of the resort and our experience. The ride to the resort was around an hour long but it did seem longer and a little annoying because after traveling for the past 7+ hours we were ready for a cold beverage and to relax. Upon checking in we were greeted with cold champagne and a warm welcome from all of the staff. We got a honeymoon suite and it was NICE!!! We had a seperate living room, two bathrooms, double vanity, a separtae walk in shower with two shower heads, body jets and it was all marble. The outside hot tub was nice as well. Our manual door lock didnt work but if we didnt want to be bothered by the staff we simply put our do not disturb card in the door. We kept our valuables in the safe at all times and never had any problems.

The restaurants are to be whats expected for a all-inclusive resort. The food was really good to me. We liked the grill restaurant, toscano for breakfast and we LOVED spice! All of the restaurants were good. We are definitely not picky people so that might be why. But I will say that after 10days we were ready to get home and eat a homecooked meal. The beer was GOOD!!! I was skeptical that it would be nasty but it was so cold and refreshing and free-flowing the whole time we were there.

The wait staff are great! Gabriel and Omar were our absolute favorites. They love to joke around and were always refilling our drinks before we even really needed one. We did see some people who were obviously stuck-up or just wound a little too tight who couldnt have a good time and wouldnt joke with the waiters or would complain that the bacon in the restaurants had too much fat on it, etc and we figured those were the type of people who wrote some of the bad reviews. But to each their own and we loved our stay and all of the staff. Super willy was great, Johnathan at Spice and the Grill restaurant was good too. We took around $150 in tip money and spent almost every bit of it.

We had a group of 20 people come in for our wedding and all of them enjoyed their trip as well. The many complaint was that its hot there and the AC doesnt cool like in the states but that is to be expected on a tropical island that outside of the resort is pretty much a third world country.

Clabriel was AMAZING for our wedding. She handled everything. I went in to the wedding meeting and said I like pink and green, my favorite flower is this and she picked our songs and set everything up and it was perfect. My husband and I wanted a care-free, no-stress wedding and thats what we got! The ceremony was perfect and intimate, everyone in our group cried and then we took gorgeous pictures on the beach, had cocktail hour, and then a private dinner at the cascade pool. We had filet mignion at our dinner and it was the best meal we had the whole time we were there. The food at our cocktail hour was wonderful too. We upgraded to the $1500 love package and it was worth every penny. They did a great job on my hair and makeup at the spa and all of my bridesmaids hair was pretty as wellll. I highly recommend a destination wedding!!! The photographer Auturo (spell?) was great too and photo souvenir is very reasonably priced....

All in all the trip was amazing!!!!!!!!!! I never needed the bug spray that I brought, I did use damp rid and it seemed to help, I did have some "tummy" issues but that was to be expected because you are eating food that you aren't used too and drinking alot of alcohol. My doctor prescribed cipro(for travelers diarhhea) before I left and I was good to go once I started taking it.

Go and expect to be pampered and you will have fun!

Room Tip: Unless on your honeymoon or staying for a long period of time I would go with the cheapest room beca...
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  • Stayed May 2012, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
2 Thank Samantha W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Savannah, Georgia
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed 10 July 2012

This was our first trip to the Caribbean so I have no other resorts to compare it to, so keep that in mind. We were initially surprised by the 1 hour trip from the airport to the hotel, which was made in a minivan by a driver who would have been the perfect one for the amazing race were we on the show. Check-in was friendly, easy and fast. We spent the first two nights in a regular room in the 600 bldg, then upgraded to the Excellence club swim up room for the next three nights. The rooms are exactly the same, the swim up was much more convenient. The beds though in both rooms were rock hard, and the sheets feel like sandpaper. After a long day in the sun this doesn't exactly feel good. The food was average. If you are a foodie, this is not your place. The breakfast buffet was probably the best thing going. We also liked the Mexican restaurant. The french and italian were blah. Breakfast at the Lobster House on the patio looking over the beach was beautiful and the food good.
The staff was VERY friendly. I don't understand what other reviewers are talking about when they say they had trouble communicating. We speak no spanish and never had a problem. The resort is small but we were looking for a quiet, relaxing vacation away from the kids so it provided the perfect spot for us. Beware of some of the excursions though!

  • Stayed June 2012, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
2 Thank CattyC
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Excellence Punta Cana

Property: Excellence Punta Cana
Address: Playas Uvero Alto, Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
Phone Number:
Region: Caribbean > Dominican Republic > La Altagracia Province > Punta Cana
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Business Centre with Internet Access Casino and Gambling Fitness Centre with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
#6 Romantic Hotel in Punta Cana
#14 Casino Hotel in Punta Cana
#14 Family Hotel in Punta Cana
#16 Top resorts Hotel in Punta Cana
#17 On the Beach Hotel in Punta Cana
#17 Spa Hotel in Punta Cana
#19 Luxury Hotel in Punta Cana
Price range (per night): ₹ 17,454 - ₹ 39,951
Hotel Class:4.5 star — Excellence Punta Cana 4.5*
Number of rooms: 464
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
This quaint, colonial-style resort is the ideal destination for couples seeking secluded romantic getaways. Nestled among palms on a perfect white-sand beach on a remote stretch of Punta Cana's Caribbean shoreline, Excellence Punta Cana provides the perfect All-Inclusive playground for adults only and is also home to a world-class spa, state-of-the-art fitness center and an exceptional range of activities and services. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Secrets Excellence Punta Cana
Excellence Resort Punta Cana
Excellence Punta Cana Resort
Secrets Punta Cana
Excellence Punta Cana Dominican Republic
Excellence Dominican Republic
Punta Cana Excellence Hotel
Excellence Punta Cana Hotel
Secret Excellence Resort Punta Cana
Punta Cana Secrets Excellence

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