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Reviewed 2 May 2018

We stayed at Excellence El Carmen (EEC) for 11 nights from 12-23 November 2017, our room was an Excellence Club two storey roof top terrace with plunge pool (EC RTT).

Previously in December 2016 we stayed at Excellence Playa Mujeres (EPM), so it is difficult not to try and compare the two, bearing in mind that we both said that EPM was our best holiday ever thus far.

Last year we didn’t book a club room so cannot comment on EPM but we thought the facilities at EEC provided by having a club room were worth it. Our booking through Blue Bay Travel included a free upgrade for the first seven days, so in essence we only had to pay for the extra four days for use of the superior room.

Our room 3254 was excellent although we didn’t use the plunge pool to the fullest extent due to the unsettled, but warm weather throughout our stay, however other terraces might benefit from more sun than this block. On the cloudier days, even during the rain, temperature was a pleasant 26 degrees and on the sunny days around 30-31 degrees.

Despite comments previously by others, we encountered no spiders, had no problems with theft and found the maid service good, with the room always cleaned by the time we returned to it, with the turn down service later an added bonus.

We did take damp rid and although we didn’t really notice any musty smells whilst there, it was only on returning to the UK having unpacked our suitcases some clothes did smell more than others. We found the air conditioning worked very well in the room and had no problems with it at all.

We loved the open aspect of the bathroom which contained a big walk in shower with large mirror and top range toiletries. The hot tub by the balcony was also a great place relax into, we loved sitting in there sipping a drink and watching the palm trees swaying and even spotted a bird of prey in the trees one day whilst lazing in the tub.

Our mini bar which contained top brand spirits was replenished daily, apart from one day when it didn’t get done although this was no big issue.

Despite suggestions otherwise we never had a bad meal and found the food to be of good quality and well presented and on a par with EPM. We like to rise early and we always had breakfast before 8 am and found the Kitchen Table very good for breakfast, the Magna (exclusive to Club rooms) was also really good quality.

For evening meals we also used Magna (twice), Chez Isabelle (three times), Basmati (twice) and had good meals in The Grill, Agave & Orgeno, however staff were a bit unsure of themselves in Oregano and we found it much better in there on the occasion we used it for lunch.

We had no problem in getting a table in the evenings, having to wait only twice and then it was only about 10 minutes. We mostly used Las Olas by the beach for lunch, the pizzas there are wonderful. We didn’t use room service throughout our stay, so cannot comment on any good or bad points associated with it.

We also attended the EC Chocolate party held in Magna on our last full day, so if you get an invite do go.
The friendly staff all greet you with “Hola” and are very good and can’t do enough for you, we didn’t tip any pool waiters and saw little evidence of this happening, after all being all inclusive we don’t tend to carry money with us.

There are a plethora of sun beds throughout the resort and on the beach so never any problem getting somewhere to lie and relax.

We used the EC beach and were greeted with a glass of champagne, a very nice touch and then towels placed on the beds for us. The beautiful sandy beach at EEC is better than the one at EPM as there is very little seaweed, the staff also rake it each day.

The main pool area is the place to be during the day and we liked to sometimes take part in the pool games and returned home with three bags of coffee and small bottle of rum for our efforts. The entertainment balance is just right here although we aren’t greatly into the shows which are generally are a bit cheesy on holiday, the theatre area however is good and we did watch the Michael Jackson show, the entertainment staff however are really good.

Unlike EPM there is no lazy river here which is a pity, but EEC is a vastly different lay out to that at EPM, there are plenty of blue floats, although why people hoard them for their sole use is beyond us.

We liked the speakers around the complex with music, so no need for people to play their own music, if you have your own do like us and use earphones!

The resort does have some maintenance issue to resolve with evidence of water dripping through the corridors, we are sure they will soon resolve this, whilst the X-Lounge was shut when we stayed.

All in all we had an excellent time and you won’t be disappointed if you choose to stay at EEC, the memories of our stay will last a lifetime and we hope one day we will be able to return.

Stayed: November 2017
8  Thank KN35
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 2 May 2018

We are a couple in our 40s/50s who travel likes include anything from camping all the way through to five-star hotels (from the UK and Europe across to the Caribbean, Thailand and India)

Booking

We booked our flights with Thomas Cook (UK) in November 2016 for our holiday in April 2018. We booked our hotel accommodation direct with the hotel and our transfers direct with Dominican Plus.

Pre-Arrival

I emailed the hotel to confirm we would be having the Excellence Club Anniversary Package. I sent a copy of my wedding certificate. I made no requests for alcohol and my only room request was for maximum sun on our terrace. I had an email reply from Roberto within a few days.

Transfer

We booked with Dominican Plus and had a private mini bus for just the two of us. We had pre-ordered water and it was in a cooler. We got to resort in approximately 40 minutes. I thought the drive was good as it is on majority 'motorway' and not through towns.

Arrival

We were greeted with the obligatory glass of fizz and cold towels and taken to the Excellence Club check in area. We were checked in very promptly and I double checked we had the Anniversary package on our booking which was confirmed. We were then taken to our room by golf buggy.

Room

Excellence Club Honeymoon Two-Story Rooftop Terrace Suite with Plunge Pool Ocean View. There are only 8 of these rooms on resort and they are the last room in blocks 3, 5, 7 and 9 nearest the ocean. We were in 9166 (block 9b). The room entered a hallway with service box, then through to the lounge with separate WC (with full door!!), patio doors led to the first-floor balcony (with bistro table and chairs). Sliding door from the lounge led to the bedroom with super king-size bed and again another set of patio doors from the bedroom led to the first-floor balcony. The bedroom also had the jacuzzi off. From the bedroom was the large double walk in wardrobe with safe. Through the bedroom had the bathroom with double shower, vanity and our 2nd WC (glass door). This is an open layout, so turning on the light in the night could disturb your partner (we purchased an LED light sensor that sits on the side of the WC and lights the toilet bowl so turning on the lights were not needed).

Stairs leading from the lounge led to a lockable door and out onto our roof top terrace with Bali Bed (double bed with roof), double sun lounger and corner settee suite and 'coffee' table. At the back of the terrace was our plunge pool. The plunge pool was about 3m x 3m, the water was cool but not cold, pretty perfect. The sun was on our upstairs terrace from sunrise to about 5pm (perfect!).

The mini bar was stocked with beer, Fanta, Sprite, Coke etc. and was restocked on request. We also had a separate bar with full sized bottles of Bombay Gin, Absolute Vodka, Johnny Walker Red and Ron Barcelo rum. I believe these would also be restocked, but we didn't drink that much in the room.

On a side note, there was no fusty smell in our room but right at the top of the stairs to the roof top terrace there was a funny smell we walked through when we got to the door, it was literally in a 2-foot gap, slightly worse in the morning, did not affect our stay.

Our routine tended to be, get up for breakfast, go back to our terrace, stay there till 1ish and then go for lunch.

We made full use of our roof top terrace.

We found 9B was private with not much foot fall in front and not much noise from the pool area.

Restaurants

I will only give details on the restaurants we visited, this is not a full list of options available at the resort.

Breakfast: Kitchen Table (buffet, great choice, noisier inside than out); Lobster House (a-la-carte, good selection); Magna (a-la-carte, amazing especially the scrambled eggs with mushroom and truffle oil); Aroma (smoothies, coffee, tea, croissants for a light takeaway option).

Lunch: Lobster House (crab rolls were delicious, fillet mignon wrapped in bacon with shrimp was really good, club sandwich was great); Oregano (loved the caprese salad, hubby loved the minestrone soup and the pizza was delicious)

Dinner: Basmati (my favourite, good selection of curry and the nan was lovely); Magna (club restaurant with steak and lobster, lovely); Spice (loved the shrimp fried rice); Grill (great steaks and sides); Chez (only had a light option here, hubby said the French onion soup was gorgeous); Flavour Market (Spanish style tapas bar, I loved the egg and chips), Sports Bar (loved the chicken fingers and cheese fingers).

Please don't forget the dress codes for the restaurants, it is mentioned on check in, mentioned all over the Excellence website where full dress codes are listed for all restaurants. We did see guys sent back to change attempting to go into to some of the restaurants in flip flops or shorts.

Drinks

We had most of our drinks either on the white sofas outside Las Olas during the day (beach restaurant) or in the Sports Bar. My standout cocktail was a simple Mango Martini but did find them lethal, also enjoyed numerous other cocktails (the minty mouthwash aka Miami Mint was really lush). We stayed away from the ones that mentioned simple syrup in the ingredients as I had heard these were a little sweet. I also avoided too many of the coconut based ones due to the effect that these can have on the body (laxative).

In the Sports Bar, I usually drank Gin and tonic (usually Bombay) and the hubby had bottled beers (they have a good range of Bud, Miller, Sol etc.). On a side note, I loved the sports bar and playing (cheating at) pool, it was great way to spend a couple of hours in the evening.

Entertainment

We didn't do many of the shows. Watched the Michael Jackson show and it a good dance routine act. The Broadway show was slightly cheesy. The fire show was good. We also went into the karaoke one night, which was an experience and the nightclub for 5 minutes which wasn't our scene due to the music they were playing (you can't please everyone all the time).

Excellence Club Anniversary Package
(7 night or more stay)

We used three of the options which we had to book with the Excellence club reception desk (I would recommend booking early to ensure they have availability).

Look Inside Ritual 40 min (this was a really nice 40-minute head, neck and shoulder massage, which we followed by the amazing hydrotherapy session)

Private, beachfront dinner one evening (romantic dinner, but in reality it was windy and a bit chilly and I needed a pashmina, I wouldn't do it again, but saying that we did have a lovely romantic time, eating lobster, steak during a three-course meal)

Champagne breakfast in bed (the breakfast was lovely, the decorations on the table were really pretty, but we didn't get any champagne, ultimately we weren't bothered, so didn't mention or complain).

What we did

We had plans, the resort has lots of activities, from aqua aerobics to bike rides, archery and rifle shooting to name but a few, we were lazy and didn't really partake in any of these.

I did prebook two excursions though via Viator from home before I visited.

The first was a helicopter trip to Saona Island, this was superb, pick up at the hotel by mini bus, 40 min bus ride, then 30 mins helicopter ride to the island, followed by a lobster lunch with drinks and then the helicopter ride back. I will leave a separate review for this on TripAdvisor.

The 2nd trip was the small group trip by Happy Fish Catamarans. Pick up at 1pm, back at the hotel early evening. We only had six tourists on the catamaran so it was perfect size and not a party boat at all. This trip had snorkeling, sailing and a sand bank with floating bar (funnily enough my least favourite part as it was noisy with other boats which were playing really loud music, spoilt the ambiance slightly). Again, I will leave a separate full review on TripAdvisor.

We also walked down to Tropical Treasures, out of the hotel onto the Beach and turn right for 10 mins. Good gift shop, you can get a massage, they also work as a local dog charity). Walking the opposite way on the beach takes you to Excellence Punta Cana.

Staff

All staff we encountered with friendly and happy to please. Loved the whoop whoop of Felix in the Sports Bar to Bruno Mars (Jovanny) who remembered our names from day one. Yilda who was the hostess in at least Magna and Oregano was really sweet and remembered our orders from previous days).

Any issues

We don't sweat the small stuff, so others may have had issues where we did not. The only thing that slightly bugged me is this concept of calling the sparkling wine Champagne which it is not. I don't mind sparkling wine, I don't mind it being called sparkling wine, I like drinking sparking wine, so why call it Champagne. (I also didn't actually mind the 5% fizzy wine cocktail stuff, easy daytime plunge pool drinking).

Top and Bottom

Would we recommend, yes in a heartbeat, we loved loved loved every moment of our trip and the memories made will last a lifetime.

Room Tip: I would say all rooms are good!
  • Stayed: April 2018, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Sleep Quality
    • Service
15  Thank JaxGallaghan
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 2 May 2018

We booked this trip as a 5 year/2nd Honeymoon trip. We've only been out of the country once before, on a cruise, so this was an entirely new experience. Nothing, absolutely nothing, in our world is without an adventure! We saw the hurricane coming when we booked....but it was way over by Africa. We were only staying a week, right? In and out, some sun and fun,home before it got there. Hahahahhaha. Travel tip....never book a Caribbean trip during hurricane season. More on that later.

The flight was uneventful, the airport was ....interesting. Take cash with you. You will need to pay to have your passport stamped if you want to get in the country. Our travel agent didn't tell us that, we learned it enroute. There's an ATM if you don't, but I don't want to know what that charge is! The exchange is fairly even and they will take American currency. Caught our ride and after an hour's trip, we arrived at the El Carmen. Absolutely the right choice, in a sea of resorts on the Eastern coast of Hispanola. This one is adults only as well, no screaming kids!! It's an all inclusive and the amount and variety of food is amazing. If you are hungry or thirsty, it's your own fault. Note: the humidity in September was tremendous. Like being slapped in the face with a wet towel. Drinking a lot of water is essential and it takes a couple days to adapt to. The A/C was on 24/7 and made it comfortable.

The rooms are incredible. My husband got us upgraded to the Oceanfront rooms and we work up most mornings to a spectacular sunrise. Our room had a rooftop pool that we used a couple times. Midday was too hot to be up there though. Note:It's private, but if you are feeling frisky, be aware that I did spot a drone overhead :-).

The staff were absolutely top shelf. Anyone that interacted with the guests spoke excellent English, maintenance staff less so, or only Spanish. They ask all the time how you are and the expected response is "Excellente!" Guests are waited on, even in the cafeteria, where they will bring you mimosas every morning :-).

Back to the hurricane. Irma was headed for us faster than we anticipated, so we tried to get out ahead of the storm. By Wednesday it was clear we were riding it out with everyone else(we had arrived like the Friday before and were there a week). The staff for days kept saying "little rain, little wind, it will be fine!" On Wednesday, they moved the oceanfront guests back to the interior of the compound, took all the liquor out of the rooms, a small army boarded everything up and sunk the pool furniture. It was amazing to watch. Everyone had an 8pm curfew, and the staff handed out care packages with food for your room. We discovered later that we were treated very well, guests at other resorts complained of being bussed 2 hours inland and having to spend the night in a conference room. The storm did some damage, the surge easily coming up into the pools nearest the beach and running down off the terraces and into the rooms. We were incredibly fortunate, given the damage on the other islands...and incredibly stuck. Due to damage at the airport and the storm hitting the US, we had to wait until the next available flight, 3 days later. Again, the staff was top shelf. We were given a reduced room rate and allowed to move back into our ocean front spot. We watched Hurricane Jose wander drunkenly around the Atlantic and were fortunate to get out before Maria tore through. Would we go back? Absolutely!!! The staff accommodated our planned beach anniversary dinner in one of the restaurants, on the fly on Wednesday and with the meals we ordered. They were all wonderful. Easily one of the best places to go for a little adult R & R. You don't even have to leave the compound, there is nightly entertainment and daily activities. We did indulge in an excursion once we had to stay and went 4 wheeling in a side by side through a sugar cane plantation. There were other excursions offered as well. If you have to be stranded in paradise, this is the place to be!

Room Tip: Oceanview is the way to go..oceanfront is expensive
  • Stayed: September 2017, travelled as a couple
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Service
3  Thank Michelle D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 2 May 2018

I would like to thank the Excellence El Carmen for the best vacation experience that my husband and I could have ever asked for! We stayed for one week in an Excellence Club swim-up pool room between April 21st and 28th 2018. The staff, service and rooms were amazing!
While we realize that there were many staff members that helped to make this vacation unforgettable, we would like to mention a few staff members that went above and beyond to make our vacation even more special.
— Carmen from the cielo bar: you worked so hard every day and always put a smile on our faces “mi amor”!!
— Anny from the Excellence Club desk: you helped us to make our wedding anniversary an outstanding and unforgettable experience!
— Freddy that was our personal beachfront waiter for our anniversary supper: thank you for making our special night such a wonderful experience!
— Lastly I would love to say a HUGE thank you to Sucre from both the Kitchen Table restaurant in the mornings and Chez Isabelle at supper time: we are so pleased to have met you and had you as a server on several occasions... you were such a pleasure and we wish you well in life!
The restaurants were all wonderful and we never had to wait for a table. Please pay attention to the dress code for dinners as they do enforce them. The nightly entertainment was also above par and very entertaining! We would recommend that anyone looking for a wonderful and relaxing vacation consider this resort as an option!

Room Tip: All rooms are wonderful, but if you are looking for something closer to the beach then get the Excellence club.
  • Stayed: April 2018, travelled as a couple
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
1  Thank Lee-Anne L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Excellence G, Community Manager at Excellence el Carmen, responded to this reviewResponded 7 May 2018

Dear Lee-Anne,

Allow us to thank you for choosing Excellence El Carmen as host of your vacation and for taking the time to share your experience with all Trip Advisor readers.

We are amused to read your amiable words regarding your experience with us and to know that you had a well-deserved relaxing stay at our resort. Thank you for adding very generous remarks of the positive sides of your vacation and mentioning the friendly services and the quality of food encountered that made your stay so enjoyable and memorable.

We will ensure that your kind comments reach the eyes and ears of all our staff at the resort. They will be happy to receive your compliments!

It will be a great honor to welcome you again soon and provide another romantic getaway.

Please receive our warmest regards from the Excellence Family!

Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 1 May 2018

We stayed in Excellence Club Swim-up this time (our 3rd Excellence Resort) and had some mixed feelings. I really liked our room with the deck/pool right outside our sliding doors. The water was perfect (not too cold and sparklingly clean). The resort was quiet when it needed to be (only the main pool area was noisy where it should have been). The restaurants were not as good as what I remembered at other Excellence Resorts. The selections were fine but orders were mixed up and menu items not available after we ordered them. Housekeeping was irregular from a timing perspective. You never knew when they would arrive. One day it was after 5 pm. All staff were friendly but sometimes the banter that went on amongst them was a little too much in the restaurants (should be seen not heard in fine restaurants). Overall the resort was a little too stark for me. Everything was concrete grey with square hard corners. It didn't feel like a Caribbean scene. It needs more colour; hibiscus flower boxes on all the balconies or maybe island murals on the building walls. Bottomline, I will go back to Excellence Resorts but probably not El Carmen

Stayed: May 2018
2  Thank murrayo48
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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