I stayed at Excellence Punta Cana with my husband and two other couples from April 12th-19th of 2008, to celebrate my 30th birthday. The trip was absolutely delightful and relaxing, and the resort was near-perfect. Excellence Punta Cana is an adults-only all-inclusive resort about an hour's drive from the Punta Cana airport in the Dominican Republic. The drive to and from the resort is a bit crazy--there's lots of passing and even more potholes, so it can be a bit bumpy and swervy. But once you're at the resort, a smiling person takes your bags and another hands you a cool, aromatic cloth for your face and a glass of cold champagne, and suddenly you're in paradise.
Check-in could be a bit more efficient. While I did not have a problem, they lost my friend's luggage tags and he had to run down and find his luggage to let them know where to take it. Thankfully, it wasn't that big of a deal, but it sort of put a damper on things. After we checked in, we had our first meal. The food at Excellence ranges from okay to absolutely delicious. There are several restaurants, almost all of which have options for vegetarians. Our favorites were the French restaurant, the Asian restaurant, and the lunches cooked directly on the beach (I have a picture of the beach fajitas being cooked attached to this review). The breakfast buffets were awesome, and the Dominican dinner buffet, offered once a week, should not be missed. Beware eating outside at night, because the mosquitos can be brutal. While the resort had 24-hour room service, we found that the waiting times were usually way too long.
There's a bar almost everywhere you turn, and the drinks are good--we usually had the drink of the day every day and it never disappointed. Don't miss ordering a Coco Loco--they serve it directly out of the coconut! While poolside and beach service was a bit spotty, drinks are never too far away to get. I loved the swim-up bar.
The beach is gorgeous--there was not a bit of trash or seaweed in the sand. The water is a bit rough, but if you walk just a few hundred yards down the beach to the right or left, there is calmer water to swim in. Both the beach and the pool had these great double beds that you could relax on, but beware, because they get taken up early!
Our room was very nice--we were worried that with a garden view room we'd be staring at a parking lot or an airconditioning unit, but the buildings were designed in such a way that they all had balconies facing into a central courtyard in between building groups. The courtyards were so lush that you could barely see the building across from you, so don't worry about a lack of privacy or view if you don't opt for a more expensive ocean or pool-view room. Every room has a double jacuzzi and a separate shower with a detachable showerhead. The minibar has beer, bottled water, soft drinks, juice, and snacks, and is stocked daily. The bed is hard, and sometimes it's tough to get enough towels, but it's very easy to track down housekeeping. And just in case you're into this sort of thing, there's a 24-hour adult entertainment channel on TV, among the usual US network channels, ESPN, movie channels, and CNN.
There's never a lack of things to do. Every day a list of activities gets sent to your room with the turn-down service. I enjoyed water aerobics. I also liked going to the spa. They had a nice hydrotherapy circuit that is only $30 for unlimited visits for your entire trip. We'd go there every night before dinner to detox from the day's drinking and sunning.
I had a great, relaxing trip at Excellence Punta Cana, and I would recommend it to anyone.