Where to Stay in Punta Cana : Excellence El Carmen and Excellence Punta Cana

Punta Cana, the resortey Caribbean island paradise on the easternmost tip of the Dominican Republic, is famous for its 40 miles of breathtaking beaches, lush tropical palms, and gorgeous clear blue waters.  And as if Punta Cana could sound even better, it’s also referred to as La Costa del Coco, or the Coconut Coast. I MEAN HOW DREAMY IS THAT!??! I don’t know about you guys but sign me up for any trip that’s going anywhere called “The Coconut Coast”.

Punta Cana is a dreamy honeymoon destination, a romantic tropical getaway, or a perfect long weekend winter recluse from the states. While it’s super easy to get to and only a couple hours’ flight most of the South and Southeast, you will feel like you’re a million miles away from home. It’s sunny almost year-round, the resorts are beautiful, and the sandy beaches are calling your name!

But, with more than 200 all-inclusive resorts to choose from in this tropical oasis, I’m here to help. I traveled to Punta Cana with Expedia last week to explore two of the very best resorts on the island – Excellence El Carmen and Excellence Punta Cana, in order to give you guys the full scoop on the island and where to go when you get here!

Excellence Group is a group of luxury all-inclusive resorts that I have grown to love this past year. The group encompasses Excellence Resorts (All Inclusive Luxury for Adults-Only), Beloved Hotels (Boutique Adults Only All Inclusive) and Finest Resorts (All Inclusive Luxury for guests of all ages).  I stayed in the Spanish-owned hotel brand’s Mexico property – Finest Playa Mujeres, earlier this Summer and had the best time. What most impresses me about their beautiful resorts across the board, whether it’s in Mexico or the Caribbean, is Excellence’s ability to reinvent what we all think of as the traditional all-inclusive, and give it a modern, romantic, luxurious touch.

The food and alcohol in all their resorts is way above any quality of other all-inclusives I have encountered in Mexico and the Caribbean (which if you ask me makes all the difference in a vacation!), and the gorgeous facilities, spacious suites, and world-class service, make these resorts the ideal place for couples celebrating anniversaries, honeymoons, or groups of friends looking for a great place to base from for a group trip or destination wedding celebration.

The two Excellence resort brands in Punta Cana – Excellence El Carmen and Excellence Punta Cana, are pretty different, so I wanted to make sure to give you guys all the information you need to choose which one is right for your Dominican Republic vacation!

In my opinion, the main difference is that Excellence Punta Cana is more tropical and casual, whereas Excellence El Carmen is a little more contemporary and chic. Both have incredible restaurants, facilities, and beaches, but each definitely has its own vibe! As always, if you have any questions about these properties, reach out to me on Instagram and I’d be happy to help you decide which is right for your group!

Excellence El Carmen: Honeymoon Heaven & Tropical Relaxation

El Carmen is Excellence Group’s newest Punta Cana property, with 22 pools, super-spacious suites, and gorgeous modern resort facilities. It never feels crowded, with tons of spacious, open areas (my favorite area to hang out in was the skybar, this gorgeous area overlooking the beach and pool where no one ever was!)

When we stepped foot into our blissful oceanfront suite at the Excellence El Carmen, I immediately felt relaxed. The rooms here are gorgeous – ours took over multiple stories – there’s a beautiful main level with a sea-view jacuzzi tub and a dreamy balcony, and stairs leading to an upstairs rooftop dipping pool, daybed, and seating area.

But, besides the skybar, I loved our suite so much I never wanted to leave the room! (Luckily, room service was included in the all-inclusive, so we could have breakfasts that were V extra like this)

What room should I get at Excellence El Carmen?

All of the suites at Excellence El Carmen are beautiful – with vibrant, modern-chic Caribbean decor. They blend island charm and luxurious elegance – and you’re going to love them! There are tons of categories to choose from, but each features an ocean or pool view, and some of the most magical beachfront honeymoon suites. You can read all about all of the different types of suites here.

I stayed in the Excellence Club two-story Rooftop Terrace Suite with Plunge Pool Ocean View, and it was an absolute dream. I would recommend requesting a room as close to the beach as possible, because it’s such a big property that room location (and proximity to the beach) can make a big difference in the views and vibes of your suite.

Should I do the Excellence Club at Excellence El Carmen?

If you’re debating if you should do an Excellence Club room versus a standard room, I definitely recommend the Excellence Club in Excellence El Carmen. Basically, it’s a VIP area of the hotel, complete with private clubs, pools, and beach areas. I loved the Excellence Club roped-off beach area, and never had to fight for a beach chair in the best part of the beach. You’ll also have more premium amenities and alcohol available to you in your room, as well as fresh fruit, flowers, and other little touches that add up to an ultra-pampered experience. I think it makes a big difference!

Where to eat at Excellence El Carmen

With twelve international restaurants to choose from, you’re never going to go hungry at El Carmen. You can choose from Italian, French, Asian, Indian, Mexcian, Steak, Lobster and beachside grills, and each meal is filled with delicious all-inclusive cocktails, wine and champagne. Breakfasts were a big highlight of mine and I thought the buffet had great quality food options — worlds better than most all-inclusives I’ve been to.

My absolute favorite meal of the trip was the romantic beach dinner (you can set this up with your concierge on arrival or ahead of time). It was so beautiful and delicious. I mean, is there anything better than eating steak and lobster with your toes in the sand?

What is the clientele like at Excellence El Carmen?

I found the clientele at Excellence El Carmen to be young, active couples, as well as older couples celebrating anniversaries. Everyone was friendly, and it seemed like the type of place where you could either choose to just do your own thing all week, or make 10 awesome new resort couple friends.

Does the Excellence El Carmen do destination weddings?

Yes! This hotel is a gorgeous place for a wedding or party! They had the center area set up for a Halloween party when we were in town, and I kept thinking how fun the location would be for a wedding! The white sand beaches and dreamy tropical landscape make it a perfect luxurious destination for the wedding of your dreams, while the amazing all-inclusive hotel makes for the perfect destination for all your guests to have the vacation of their dreams! Win win.

The Miilé Spa at Excellence El Carmen

I highly encourage taking a break from the beach to experience a luxurious spa day at Excellence El Carmen’s Miilé spa and hydrotherapy pools. Their unique hydrotherapy ritual consists of Swedish saunas, steam rooms, hot-water whirlpools, sensation showers, ice baths, and hydrotherapy bath treatments. We had the most perfect romantic, relaxing afternoon doing hydrotherapy and then a couples massage in one of their beautiful massage suites, before finishing up with a glass of champagne and some chocolate covered strawberries in the relaxation room.

The Gym at Excellence El Carmen
A big highlight of my Punta Cana vacation was starting each day of vacation in Excellence El Carmen’s huge resort gym! You guys know I’m a big fan of good resort gyms (with great views), and this one was top-notch. If you’re the type of traveler that likes to stay fit on vacation (or work off all of those margaritas), you’re going to love this gym.

Excellence Punta Cana: Tropical and Fun, Great for Groups

This vibrant resort was one of the first in the area, and has been around since 2001, but underwent an incredible renovation just last year. Excellence Punta Cana is classic laid-back luxury. The picturesque palapas and super-tropical beach vibes are hard to beat, but it’s the staff that will make your experience here – they’re excellent! They always go above and beyond to make your vacation special, from remembering your name and drinks of choice, to roping you into beach volleyball and pool contests with their nonstop energy (and never-ending cocktails!). They are like cruise directors, and are there to make every day at the resort super fun.

Which room should I get at Excellence Punta Cana?

There are many different room types on the property, and, since it’s such a big property, I definitely recommend upgrading to an oceanfront room if possible! I love the honeymoon suites, which are complete with pool terraces and sweeping ocean views, as well as the “swim up suites” which have direct pool access right from your deck.  You can read more all about the different suites here.

And, if you’re debating if you should do an Excellence Club room versus a standard room at Excellence Punta Cana, I definitely recommend the Excellence Club. It’s the same as in the Excellence El Carmen – Basically, it’s a VIP area of the hotel, complete with private clubs, pools, and beach areas within the resort. Not only do you get higher quality food and alcohol in the Excellence Club private restaurants and bars, you’ll have more premium amenities and alcohol available to you in the room, as well as fresh fruit, flowers, and other little touches that add up to an ultra-pampered experience. I think these little things make a big difference!

Where to eat at Excellence Punta Cana?

You won’t find any shortage of food at Excellence Punta Cana! There are 9 restaurants, a beach grill, and room service available 24 hours a day – oh yeah, and it’s all FREE! Well, included in your room rate. But that’s the beauty of an all-inclusive, isn’t it?! You don’t have to worry about your wallet once while you’re at the resort.  All meals, snacks, and alcoholic beverages are included. I loved the Mexican restaurant, the Excellence Club’s exclusive alfresco restaurant Magna, and of course Aroma – the adorable coffee and ice cream shop!

The Spa at Excellence Punta Cana

When you need a break from the beach, head straight to the Millé spa. This beautiful, quiet oasis within the resort, is an absolute sanctuary. Their spa menu is full of nature-inspired luxurious treatments, and their relaxing hydrotherapy pools are an easy way to wind down an afternoon.

What is the clientele like at Excellence Punta Cana?

I found the clientele to be older than the clientele of El Carmen, and a little rowdier, more traditional all-inclusive crowd. There were quite a few groups of friends, that may or may not have known each other before the trip, and were having a blast together. Excellence Punta Cana is known for its repeat guests – in fact, it has one of the highest repeat guest ratios of any hotel in Punta Cana! You can feel that this resort becomes like a home away from home for the vacationers that come here year after year.

What time of year is best to visit Punta Cana?

The Dominican Republic is known for being pretty sunny and tropical year-round, but I’d steer away from the month of September, which is sometimes risky with hurricane season. The hottest month is June – when the average temperature is 82 degrees fahrenheit, and the coldest is January – but it’s still an average of 77 degrees fahrenheit, making it a perfect tropical winter getaway.

How do you get to Punta Cana?

Delta, Southwest, American Airlines, JetBlue, Frontier, United, Spirit, and LATAM all feature non-stop flights from the USA to Punta Cana, and flying time is only a few hours.  Some of the most popular routes are from Charlotte, Miami, Washington DC and Atlanta.

I had so much fun exploring Punta Cana and soaking up the Caribbean sunshine and I know you all will, too! When your days start with sunrises on the beach, are filled with fun in the sun,  and end with feasts at the hotel and a bubble bath in your suite, it’s hard not to have the time of your life.

Have a piña colada (or 5) for me! XX



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Christina is a leading luxury lifestyle and travel blogger with over 2 million readers. Follow her on instagram @jetsetchristina.

  • Laura purdy

    Ok now Punta Cana is on my list to visit.. sounds delightful

    November 9, 2018
  • Aria

    Oh my gosh! Where are all your bikinis and cover ups from?! So cute! Thanks for this post! Helped us make our decision!

    April 30, 2019
  • Aria

    I love them all!!! Though specifically where is the white maxi skirt from in your first picture? 💕 Thank you for responding!!

    May 28, 2019
  • Joi

    Hi, when you asked for a room closest to the beach did you do that at booking or when you checked in?

    June 2, 2021
  • Natalie Reilly

    We are considering going to El Carmen next year for our 10 Year anniversary. Did you stay in the Excellence Club two-story Rooftop Terrace Suite with Plunge Pool Ocean View, or the Excellence Club Beachfront Honeymoon Two-story Rooftop Suite with Plunge Pool. Your picture looks more like the Beachfront room terrace than the ones I’ve seen of the Oceanview rooms. Were trying to choose between the two options. Thanks!

    August 17, 2023
  • Great review! I’m still so torn between the two. I love a modern aesthetic a la El Carmen but the vybes at Punta Cana sound right up my alley.

    February 5, 2024