Picking the best all inclusive resort is a daunting task! There are so many to choose from and so many things to consider. I want to share my recent week of paradise at Excellence El Carmen in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. It’s the best all inclusive resort I’ve stayed at and I’m going to break down the room, food, drinks and activities! Also, make sure to check out some tips for planning your first trip after covid!
About the Resort
Excellence El Carmen is located 40 minutes away from the Punta Cana International airport in the Uvero Alto area. It is away from the mega resorts and best suited for someone who wants to enjoy a more boutique resort experience. This is an adults only luxury resort with modern aesthetics, and great focus on food, drinks and entertainment.
One of the biggest reasons we picked this resort is the worry-free COVID-19 policies. I’m from Canada and we require a PCR test upon return. Excellence El Carmen offers free PCR Covid-19 tests on site. Results are expected back within 48 hours and they were super accommodating to our travel schedules. There’s free antigen tests as well. They also provide free isolation suites if you were to test positive. This gives such peace of mind that you won’t be out of pocket thousands of dollars if the unexpected happens.
Excellence El Carmen Rooms
One of the first things that drew me to Excellence El Carmen was how spacious the rooms are! Even the most basic room is a suite at 800sqft. All of the accommodations come with a beautiful balcony with a cabana bed. One thing to note if you’re traveling with friends or family is that the bathroom is quite open concept so it’s quite easy to see whoever is showering.
We stayed in the Junior Suite Pool View, check out the specs here. It came with a king bed which was super comfy and there’s an option to choose 2 doubles. There was a walk in closet which added to the luxury factor. The bathroom had double counter sinks, a separate toilet stall, and a spacious walk in shower. My favorite part is the huge balcony overlooking the pool. There’s a jacuzzi that we didn’t use but it would be super romantic if you’re traveling with your significant other. All the furnishing is in great condition and has a beautiful modern vibe.
During covid, there was no daily room cleaning. They did come by every night though for turn-down service. Any requests such as towels or extra amenities came very quickly! Upgrade options include getting a swim up suite which is on the ground floor, ocean view suites which are closer to the beach.
Food at Excellence El Carmen
Possibly the most important consideration for many when choosing an all inclusive is the quality and variety of food. While my stay in Grand Memories Varadero was wonderful, the food was really lacking. Excellence El Carmen had amazing variety and quality of food! There are 9 a la carte restaurants, and 2 quick serves/buffet style options. Unlike many other resorts, there are no limits on the number of a la carte restaurants you can go to! We also didn’t have to make reservations for any of the restaurants.
Some highlights of the food would be The Lobster House which overlooks the main pool and serves seafood including lobster tails! I had two lobsters during my stay but you can have one every night of the week if you felt like it! Another really enjoyable experience was Chez Isabelle with it’s elegant French decor. I really like that the portions of each dish is pretty small. Often, I’d order multiple appetizers and one entree. Or 3 appetizers and no entree. It’s really up to you and super flexible!
Lastly, their buffet is very good too! It’s the go to spot for breakfast and there’s made to order items like omelettes and hot entrees. The tables were all spaced a comfortable distance from each other if you have any covid concerns.
A La Carte Restaurants for Dinner
- Agave – Modern Mexican
- Basamati – Indian
- Chez Isabelle – French
- Flavor Market – Spanish
- Oregano – Italian (also open for lunch)
- Spice – Asian
- Sports Bar – Casual Bar Snacks
- The Grill – Steakhouse
- The Lobster House – Seafood (also open for breakfast and lunch)
- The Kitchen Table – open for breakfast and lunch
- Las Olas – lunch
Drinks at Excellence El Carmen
Let’s not forget about the cocktails at an all inclusive! There are a lot of bars and drink options at Excellence El Carmen! The outdoor bars mostly had slushy choices while Martini (the lobby bar) was able to make heavier drinks. One of my favorite spots to hang out was the X-Lounge which is a rooftop area overlooking the main pool and beach.
- Martini – Lobby
- Alegria – Night Club (was not open during Covid)
- Blue – Swimup Bar
- Stars – By the Theatre
- X-Lounge – Rooftop Bar by the Pool
- Aroma – Coffee Bar
- Revive – Smoothie and Juices
For non-alcoholic options, there’s a juice bar that is probably one of my favorite parts of the resort! They made the most delicious juices and smoothies. I had one every day! You can also get coconuts for the ultimate vacation vibe. Lastly, their coffee from the coffee shop was yummy as well. Although the ladies that worked there were unfortunately the only crabby people on the resort.
Excellence El Carmen Pools & Amenities
Although the resorts are beach front, you end up spending a lot more time at the pool than at the beach. Even Punta Cana is slightly affected by the seaweed situation. We only dipped our feet in the ocean but mostly lounged by the pool. There are 2 main pool areas where there are entertainment/bars. They are not the largest but it was spacious enough for the size of the resort. Pictured above is the smaller main pool during afternoon activities. This is the most populated it got during the week we were there.
If you are looking for more peace and quiet, there’s a pool outside every building! There are loungers and huts, and servers will come around for drink orders too. Honestly, I preferred just getting my own drinks as it felt faster than waiting for the server to do the rounds.
The entertainment selection was really great and geared towards adults. There’s programming in the morning and then again in the late afternoon and evenings. Some evening entertainment programs that really stood out were the fire circus show and the silent party. In the afternoon, there was always a fun crowd at the main pool for a daily swim competition.
If you like to stay fit, their gym is equipped with state of the art equipment. There’s also a beautiful tennis court which I played on once and it’s quite something to get to hit on a court lined with palm trees outside.
How Much is Excellence El Carmen?
I booked through Air Canada vacations and a one week package with flight was $1,750 CAD. This was a really cheap price and I’d say the average would be $2,000 CAD for a one week stay. It is on the higher end of resorts that I’ve stayed at but I’d say it was worth the money! I was super impressed all week by the food, drinks, activities, and overall comfort of the resort.