Love Happens at Excellence Punta Cana & El Carmen
So you want to go on vacation. You are dreaming about an exotic paradise. Sunshine, beach, beautiful accommodations, entertainment, fruity cocktails, and delicious meals are all on your list of desires. Your thinking something first-class. Something exceptionally fabulous, but you also want it to be comfortable. A home away from home meets exotic romantic escape. After a recent experience, I can say with 100% certainty I have an answer fit for all your desires! An answer that may even exceed your expectations. Meet Excellence Resorts and in particular Excellence Punta Cana!
MEET THE EXCELLENCE COLLECTION!
Nineteen years of innovative curation have led The Excellence Collection to be a name synonymous with an upscale Caribbean experience. Bespoke service meets extraordinary moments at every single Excellence resort in the Dominican Republic, Mexico, and Jamaica.
With three brands, Excellence Resorts (adults only – where I stayed!), Finest Resorts (all ages), and Beloved Hotels (couples only), the collection offers something for everyone.
Excellence Resorts | Punta Cana & El Carmen
While I can imagine The Excellence Collection’s Finest and Beloved resorts offer equally exceptional hospitality, I can only speak first hand about Excellence Resorts. With five locations in Mexico, Jamaica and the Dominican Republic, I had the great pleasure of visiting Excellence Punta Cana and Excellence El Carmen in the Fall of 2019.
If you are reading this real-time, when you hear the Dominican Republic you may recall recent news about the safety of the island. But let me say this, my personal experience on this beautiful island in the hands of Excellence was purely delightful. Excellence Resorts are renowned for their friendly and welcoming staff. And the team of truly warm, helpful and generous people I had the pleasure of encountering during my stay certainly lived up to the brand’s reputation. Did my safety cross my mind even once during my stay, my answer is a simple no.
Now for a very key ingredient to the wonderfulness of Excellence Resorts, they are all-inclusive. Yes, all-inclusive. And no not like the all-inclusive resorts college students inundate for spring break! All-inclusive in the sense of enough unique dining options to give your taste buds and mood a completely different experience every day of the week; bottomless specialty cocktails; service whether poolside or in bed; daily activities; and nightly entertainment.
Excellence Club: “The Ultimate in Luxury”
The Excellence Club rooms are designed for guests who demand the ultimate in luxury, exclusivity, and service. Book a room in this category and from the moment you arrive, you will experience the difference! You’ll be treated to express check-in and check-out service in a private VIP lounge area. This lounge is solely for the use of Club guests and offers free Internet access, snack buffets, and bar service. It is your own private club to use any time and enjoy ultra-pampering, and ultra-privilege.
The Excellence Club also comes with a number of other amenities including a premium in-room minibar, Bvlgari toiletries, one Aqua Wellness Spa Treatment per guest (so amazing – read more on this in the amenities section of this article!) and private pool and beach areas.
The Excellence Experience
The first stop on my escape to paradise was the upscale Excellence Punta Cana. And oh how I didn’t want to ever leave!
Apparently my strong feeling of attachment to this resort after only 2-days there was actually fairly commonplace. So much so that Excellence Punta Cana has MANY repeat guests. Some who come yearly. And one man I had the pleasure of meeting during my stay who had been visiting every year, sometimes more than once, for the past 11 years!
I soon found out that part of the strong desire to return to Excellence Punta Cana is its staff. Living up to the Excellence name is actually an understatement. I also learned that the resort has very low-staff rotation which means that when (yes when not if!) I return to Excellence Punta Cana there is a good chance many of the wonderful people I met will still be there.
After two blissful days at Excellence Punta Cana I made my way just a short drive down the coastline to Excellence El Carmen. While Excellence Punta Cana radiates classic island comfort, Excellence El Carmen boasts a modern hip vibe. And although aesthetically the two resorts differ, luxurious warm vibes and amazingly friendly staff are equally present at both.
Classic Island Comfort Vibes at Excellence Punta Cana
Laid-back Caribbean atmosphere and relaxed style exude from every element of Excellence Punta Cana. Set on a sprawling golden beach, the resort also features lush natural surroundings and beautiful walking areas filled with flora, fauna, and wildlife. A home away from home feel blends tastefully with high-end style for a truly luxurious, romantic and relaxing vibe that is present throughout the lobby and all of the resort’s public areas.
Modern & Hip Vibes at Excellence El Carmen
The unique feel of Excellence El Carmen in comparison to Punta Cana is felt instantly. While luxury and extraordinary staff unify the locations, each resort has its own style perfectly tailored to its vibe.
Modern and stylish, the entrance of Excellence El Carmen is sort of fortress-esque with a large porte-cochere and enormous doors. The sumptuous and vibrant lobby with its high ceilings and grand staircase feel much more like your classic hotel. In contrast to Punta Cana where the Miilé Spa and gift shops were in separate buildings, at El Carmen, these amenities are all in the main lobby building. After passing through this main building the ocean comes into view along with the rest of the guest room buildings. Angular and contemporary in their form, beautiful painted blue and yellow tile pops across each structure adding a welcoming warmth to the architecture and decor.
Luxury runs through every one of Excellence Punta Cana’s 461 suites and Excellence El Carmen’s 492. The vibrant colors of the Caribbean are the inspiration behind the décor at both resorts. Sunny yellows, lush flora greens, and ocean blues set the scene for a transfixing mix of island charm and elegance. The resorts both offer six different style suites. Each equally fabulous with a range of views from gardens, to mountains to the ocean. And swim-up suites, private pool suites, and rooftop terrace suites.
While both resort’s standard rooms are luxurious and stylish in their own right. If you are looking for the ultimate in luxury then upgrade to the Excellence Club suites category. This will give you access to even more expansive options. In-room upgrades including fresh flowers and fresh fruit daily, premium liquors, Bvlgari toiletries, and a special room-service menu, just to name a few.
Each resort’s rooms come with all the usual high-end amenities, but these require a little extra attention. Picky about your pillow? Try the resorts Pillow Menu! Want a pre-dinner cocktail without waiting for room-service? Mix yourself a cocktail at your in-room bar or grab a beer from your stocked minifridge. And forget just any old coffee, start your day with a delicious Nespresso.
The Rooms | Excellence Punta Cana
During my stay, I enjoyed the Excellence Club ‘Honeymoon Suite Ocean View’. And enjoy is a bit of an understatement! First things first, when I arrived at my room I found the most exquisite and delicious welcome chocolate work of art and a chilled bottle of champagne. Hello, luxury lifestyle!
With a separate bedroom and living room area and an expansive private terrace, this honeymoon suite had everything needed for a romantic vacation to remember. I especially loved my terrace! Comfortable lounge furniture and a spectacular view of the Caribbean sea made for a perfect place to enjoy morning coffee and a pre-dinner cocktail. The room also featured two bathrooms, a giant jacuzzi tub, a shower room, and a well-sized closet.
The Rooms | Excellence El Carmen
While at El Carmen I stayed in the Excellence Club ‘Beachfront Honeymoon Swim-Up Suite’. A serious slice of heaven! Inside featured a separate living room and bedroom area. The open bathroom featured a sexy open shower in top to bottom black marble. Relaxing in this room is easy with a luscious white dream bed and low, deep, cozy sectional. Oh and let’s not forget the oversized jacuzzi tub off the living room with glass walls overlooking the ocean! And while this felt like it perhaps should have been an Excellence Club perk, every one of the 492 suites at Excellence El Carmen features one of these fabulous glass wall jacuzzi rooms.
Again, like Punta Cana, my favorite part of this suite was the outdoor space. And with my own private pool deck set on a semi-private pool overlooking the beach this time, I was even more smitten! If it fits your budget I highly recommend the rooms with swim-up or private pool access.
THE EXCELLENCE VICTUALS
Oh, the victuals!! Dining and bar options galore! Each resort is home to ten plus world-class international restaurants. An unbelievable buffet, the required beach snack grill, and over twelve bars, including a dance club, to name a few. A culinary adventure awaits! And everything is included – snacks, meals, coffee, ice cream, drinks—what’s your pleasure? Haute French or fine northern Italian? Exotic Asian or gourmet lobster? Perhaps you want wings and beer while you catch a game on TV—hit up the Sports Bar. Or maybe you are feeling lazy and don’t want to leave your room or your beach chair—the 24-hour room service and daytime beach & pool service are just as delicious as each and every restaurant! Need a quick hit of caffeine or perhaps a sweet snack—cafe Aroma was one of my favorite places to pass by at both resorts!
While I did not have the opportunity to try all the restaurants and bars (believe me I tried!), I thoroughly enjoyed my meals at Agave (delicious authentic Mexican), the Kitchen Table buffet (soooo many fresh and well-prepared dishes), the Sports Bar (big shout out to the super fun bartender working that night!), The Lobster House (yes all-inclusive lobsters!), Spice (the private Teppanyaki room was amazing!) and the exquisite Magna Club Restaurant (open only to Excellence Club members).
More to Love:
Beach & Pools
Excellence Punta Cana | Beach & Pools
With 4 swimming pools, including one insanely long one spanning almost half the resort, 4 outdoor Jacuzzis, and the beautiful beach, swimming and sunbathing options are covered. Unfortunately, the ocean in front of the resort was too rough to enjoy during my stay, but as one who can’t possibly come to the beach and not swim in the ocean I took a little walk (directed by the fabulous hotel staff) to a calm area protected by a reef and in I went!
Excellence El Carmen | Beach & Pools
Set on a gorgeous golden sand beach of coconut palms where the Caribbean meets the Atlantic, the beach at Excellence El Carmen felt much more inviting without the giant waves that were at Punta Cana. Perhaps this was timing and weather-related, but either way being able to really swim on resort at the beach was wonderful and a key tropical vacation activity for me!
In addition to swimming, both resorts offer a number of other daily activities and amenities including non-motorized water sports, fitness classes, fully equipped gyms with personal trainers on call, tennis clinics, stocked game rooms and other daily activities like bingo, karaoke, etc.
The nightly shows were a great way to end the day. Each evening one of 7 unique shows takes place—music, magic, comedy, and more! I loved the Burlesque show I saw. And the Michael Jackson tribute was extremely well done.
In addition to the nightly shows, other fun evening events such as a “silent party” and a traditional Dominican merengue band. While at Punta Cana I experienced my first “silent party”. Perhaps a bit odd sounding, but way more fun than I could have imagined. If you haven’t experienced one you should!
The Miilé Spa
Miilé at Excellence Punta Cana
The spa at Excellence Punta Cana was a sanctuary of indulgence, to say the least! Set in a beautiful colonial-style building tucked away at the edge of the resort overlooking the Dominican mountains, the Miilé spa is an oasis of calm. The second you pass into the space its tall ceilings and neutral color palette instantly induce a state of relaxation.
As mentioned above the Excellence Club comes with an Aqua Wellness Spa Treatment. When I first heard this I thought to myself, sounds interesting but I had no idea the delightful surprise that awaited. And paired with a couples massage (yes I was mixing a little business and pleasure!) rejuvenation definitely took place for me during my afternoon visit to Miilé.
First, the Aqua Wellness Spa Treatment which I will describe in Excellence’s words as they have summed it up perfectly. “SPA means “salute per aqua”. We have given a whole new sense to this word with our exclusive Aqua Wellness. This circuit lets you work directly with water in aqua exercises, massages with jets, and cascades, which contrast with the iced pool and make the perfect preamble to the Hammam, our Arab style steam baths. This area also includes dry saunas, ice room, and the biothermic and sensations showers.” After completing the circuit we were led into an outdoor covered garden oasis where we lay on heated beds and received the most amazing head massage I have ever had in my entire life! Hands down!
Next, my friend and I were led upstairs for our massage, a blissful 80 minutes of revitalization in a serene private room.
Miilé at Excellence El Carmen
While I did not have an opportunity to experience any of the treatments at the Miilé Spa at Excellence El Carmen, I did have a peak around the space. Set in the main lobby building, Miilé El Carmen took on a very different feel than Punta Cana. Although nonetheless indulgent and relaxing, the design of Miilé El Carmen matched the overall feel of the resort taking on a modern oasis vibe.
The Aqua Wellness Spa Treatment area was set in an open-air deck area and although I did not have time to try it at El Carmen I heard from a travel companion it is just as fabulous as at Punta Cana! And oh my goodness the after-treatment relaxation room featured the most amazing swinging beds, yes swinging! I lay down for a minute to try it out and it literally almost lulled me to sleep in seconds.
After my first experience with The Excellence Collection, I can honestly say this brand is a master at the art of hospitality.
First, the people. A beautiful natural setting, stunning architecture and decor, delicious food, fun activities and nightly entertainment aside…I learned something crucial on this trip, high-end amenities and service can be found in many places, but a warm and welcoming staff really make the difference!
Second, the decor. While the people do make the place. For design lovers like myself, the place better be pretty too! This box can definitely be checked for these two resorts! And not only were they both beautifully designed, but they also were cozy and the decor matched their moods which made everything that much more fabulous.
Third, the victuals. Some say food is a key to the heart and if you fall into this category then Excellence will fulfill all of your needs! And what better way to enjoy a vacation than by overindulging a bit!
Words by Anna Beck Bimba