Excellence Resorts offers a luxury adults-only beachfront experience at its five locations, with two in Mexico, one in Jamaica, and two in Dominican Republic. I absolutely loved our experience 6 nights at the Excellence Punta Cana (see my review on my website here). This review shares information about the sister resort Excellence El Carmen, just 30 minutes by beach walk south, 5 minutes by taxi.
My friendly contact at Excellence Punta Cana, Angel, arranged or us to meet with staff at El Carmen mid-week. As it was raining at the time of our appointment, we opted for a $15- 5 minute cab ride, and used Transfers.do for the comfy mini-van ride. Our driver spoke excellent English and was very personable. I highly recommend them to you! Upon arrival we were met by the beautiful Christina for our walk about the property.
Should you wish to have more specifics about El Carmen, feel free to reach out. My intention is to “paint a picture” for you with photographic images and descriptive language so you can grasp how it might feel to visit this gorgeous resort.
As we entered the very modern lobby, I felt a different energy than at Punta Cana. I hesitate to say it is a “younger” vibe because I am one of those who believes that to be a state of mind. Hip and cool certainly fits! To keep each Excellence Resort familiar to repeat and loyal guests who love the brand (and we found lots!), many of the restaurants and bars carry the same name. That’s brilliant.
The Excellence Club hospitality bar and gathering spot was on the upper floor of the lobby, and it was stunning, with views of the beach in the distance. Near the front desk was the bridal boutique, and tucked into the corner, again with cool views of the grounds and ocean in the distance, was the expansive gym. We were impressed with the quality of the equipment here. The resort opening was in September 2016, so that explains that!
A grand staircase led down to a gorgeous Martini Bar. Wow! And cool, literally, that in summer months this is air conditioned. Just outside is the theater, so I would imagine in the evenings this is a bustling spot…a place to see and be seen.
This resort has more rooms (500) and is more spread out than the Punta Cana, so take note. I loved that there were covered walkways all over, keeping your walks out of the elements if you prefer. Other things to take into consideration: 23 swimming pools and 9 outdoor heated jacuzzis (although 7 are in Excellence Club), free wireless (and it was fast!), pool and beach wait service, 16 bars, and 10 ala-carte dining reservations. They require NO bracelets, 24-hour room service, daily activities and lots of beach water toys. You can be as active or sedentary as your heart desires!
A note about bedding: All are king beds in this resort except for the entry level category of junior suite pool view (100 total rooms), where they have some double/double rooms and they allow 3 adults. So do book early if you require separate beds for a friends group.
While all taxes and gratuities are included in your stay, I do find it useful and nice at times to reward my housekeeping, bar or table staff. But that’s just me! You are certainly under no obligation, and I found they do not expect it.
Christina showed us a beautiful room, with a separate living area. The bathroom is somewhat connected to the bedroom, so if a light is needed, you will see from your bed. Fair warning for those of you who have differing rise and shine times! In room bars and refrigerators are stocked daily with your preferred beverage, too. Love that they also have room service 24 hours. Enjoy a romantic breakfast in room or on your terrace now and then during your stay.
One of the highlights here is a very cool rooftop bar with wonderful views of the property. I can imagine being under a starry sky enjoying cocktails with my love. (see the photo above!). That Palapa below in the beach is a wonderful bar/lunch venue. While we played on the beach after the tour, we enjoyed listening to the same young man who played in the martini bar at Punta Cana a few nights earlier. After grabbing a couple of adult beverages for us, I stood off to the side and swayed a bit while I sipped. My point is, if you love being on the beach, you would be able to hang out without getting hungry or thirsty from sun-up to sun-down!
The ocean here has fewer currents and undertow, making it a safer bet for those of you who love an ocean swim as I do. During our visit the sargassum was negligible, as were rocks at the bottom. Trees lined the shore, although in some areas the ocean is encroaching, causing some erosion.
Lunch was delicious in the buffet (it was still raining, so we remained in the main building underneath the lobby). Unlike at Punta Cana, we had the option of fresh air dining on a covered porch, which was awesome. Knowing that the restaurants are consistent across the Excellence properties, I would expect it to live up to what we experienced every day at the sister resort here in the Dominican. I really loved that there was always a “Dominican Corner” in the buffets. But in addition, you will find pretty much every world cuisine you can imagine served at an Excellence resort at one time or another.
That said, another consistency appears to be that the brand caters to an English-speaking clientele. If you are expecting to struggle communicating with the fun people you meet, it’s likely you may be disappointed. For me it wasn’t a disadvantage at all, as I love to meet folks when I travel, and while I can fake Spanish well at times, I have no other international language skills. So weigh in on this as you wish.
As promised, I am sharing images that may help you decide if El Carmen is for you or not. And please know that although the resort is spread out a bit more, if you have any mobility issues, they offer golf cart transportation to make your stay much more comfortable. I see this as an amazing destination wedding venue (if no kids are involved, that is.)