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Reviewed 30 March 2018 via mobile

El Carmen

After a couple of months of looking at resort websites, and reading reviews, we found Excellence El Carmen and it seemed to be exactly what we'd been looking for. Upon arrival at the resort, I have to admit that I was a little disappointed about 2 things: first, I love nature and one of the things I look for in a resort is lush vegetation. Well the El Carmen does have lush areas near the buildings but the whole center of the resort is a few palm trees and plain grass. Seemed very bare.... second, the beach is not the typical white sand I've come to accept but rather a golden caramel. It's true that the resort could add a little more vegetation but the resort is very young so maybe that will come in the next few years. As for the beach, it is simply stunning!

Beach:
Pure fine sand, not a bit of weeds or rocks, and you can walk for hours both directions which I love. The sand isn't white but it's just beautiful all the same. The water is clear, beautiful aqua blue. So beautiful that we didn't use the pool a single time, we stayed at the beach! There are plenty of chairs and palapas for everyone. For those really looking for quiet, this resort is ideal because there are no other resorts right next to it. So no worries about getting an adults only resort only to discover that there are kids all over the beach because of the resort next door. The El Carmen truly is adults only, and very relaxing.

Ambiance:
The resort guests, at least the week we were there, were on average a little more mature. We walked by the Breathless resort which is about a 20 minute walk and there was extremely loud music on the beach, tons of people, and everyone seemed between 20-30yrs old. If you're looking for a party place the El Carmen is not for you. But if you're looking for a quiet and relaxing yet entertaining and fun resort, look no further.

Restaurants:
There are many restaurants and the reason we'd decided on going to El Carmen was that several reviews indicated a good selection of vegetarian meals. We'd had a few pitiful experiences in the past at Punta Cana resorts so we'd been going to Mexico where vegetarian offerings are more standard. Well the El Carmen has done a wonderful job. Each restaurant has an elaborate vegetarian section or a completely separate vegetarian menu. Even The Grill restaurant had various vegetarian options including 3 different veggie burger patties (lentil, chickpea, vegetable). I did find the restaurant decor a bit bland. Except for the French restaurant which had a sumptuous elegant feel, the other restaurants are a little too "cafeteria" style - little to no ambiance/decorations/design elements. Minor detail though! I have to admit I'm comparing them to Secrets Maroma and other similar resorts. There was 2 little gems that we found: 1- Revive which is a smoothie and juice bar. Yum! However, they only open at 9am and it would nice nice for them to open earlier for breakfast. 2- a little shop where you could get home made ice cream/gelato in maybe 20 flavors, various deserts (cupcakes, cookies, macarons, etc), and various hot/cold coffees. Both are a really nice touch for the guests! We loved that all restaurants are a la carte, including lunch and breakfast and you can eat by the pool/beach. There is also a buffet breakfast which we only went to once.

Word of caution, we did get a quinoa salad with chicken one time because certain dishes are offered on both the vegetarian and regular menus. You ned to ensure they understand which you want.

The staff:
So very professional and friendly. Everywhere we went, we were received with a big smile. The best was Jorge who we just adored and was the true picture of excellent service. I am sure that he has a terrific career in front of him at the resort. The only slightly negative comment we have is about the 2-3 people working at The Palm bar. Every time we went there, they didn't greet us, didn't even really look at us, and pretty much talked amongst themselves making you feel out of place. Not sure what was going on there because the rest of the resort staff were amazing.

The rooms:
We were in room 6110 and we found this building to be extremely well situated. Without paying extra for excellence club and be closer to the beach, this is an excellent compromise. The rooms (we had junior suite king) are very large and offer a spa-like zen feel. Big bathroom with glass shower, separate toilet room, walk in closet, bed and jacuzzi on the balcony, bed is very comfortable. Have a steamer which was nice to freshen my dresses. Well stocked mini bar with drinks and snacks. Large flat tv on the wall.

Entertainment:
There is a large auditorium with shows nightly. The best was by far the Michael Jackson show. Just terrific! There are a variet of bars all over the resort, and a dance bar as well. There is a piano bar but it has no piano (interesting...) and both time we went to check it out, there was only one employee there who said there was no music. So not sure what the point of that place is... maybe there are plans in the works. Would be a nice place to go sit before diner to listen to a little music.

Accessible:
We noticed that the resort is highly accessible everywhere. Ramps even to get into the pool.

Air Transat:
We bought our package through Air Transat. The booking was fine. We went many time to try to see the representative for Air Transat at the resort and he was never there even though the schedule indicated he was supposed to be. A little bit of a waste of our time to keep going back. Then on our return, there was a glitch with the check in systems and number of simultaneous Air Transat flights scheduled. We ended up standing in line at the check in counter for over 4 hours!!! There were hundreds of people everywhere, no indication of what was going on, no direction as to which lines to be in, no reassurance that our flight would not leave without us. It was an extremely poor example of communications and customer support. The plane ended up leaving over 3 hours late. Needless to say everyone was thirsty and starving. We didn't even get to sit for a minute or grab something to eat once we finally got past security because we were being rushed off to the bus which was bringing us to our plane... and we ended up standing in that bus for over 30 minutes while they were piling more and more people on board, with the air becoming very heavy. All in all not a.great departure experience!!

Overall:
The Excellence El Carmen is a beautiful new resort with a terrific beach and great food. Really great value for the cost. Would definitely go back next year.

Stayed: March 2018, travelled as a couple
Thank HoneyBear7
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 30 March 2018

This was my first trip to the Dominican Republic and first time at an all inclusive and I have to say it went above and beyond my expectations. Excellence el carmen sets the standard from the elegance of the front gate, to the meticulously manicured lawns and landscape. We were greeted with cool scented towels and champagne and nothing beats the image when you walk through the front door of an infinity marble floor that cascades down to a spectacular bar with the beach in the distance. The hotel is adults only and is the definition of zen exuding elegance with every detail. But although the grounds are amazing, it truly is the staff that makes this hotel worth every cent. There was subtle relaxing music playing throughout the grounds at all times and at night the blue lights in the pools made everything look so luxurious. From the front desk, to the gentlemen helping with the luggage, a concierge for every building, anything you ask for you shall receive. Every single staff member was courteous, willing to help and had such exuberant personalities. We had a pool view junior suite in building 4 (4117) which was ideal. Although there was a slight musty odor, (not a surprise in the Caribbean), it dissipated soon enough. The room had 2 massive walk in closets, an indoor Jacuzzi overlooking the pool, stocked mini bar, included room service with dumbwaiter for privacy and a fantastic porch with a bed-like lounger. The animations team really made people feel welcome, they joked with everyone, hosted pool-side bingo and encouraged people to dance even giving us dance lessons on the beach. I wish I remembered everyone's names as they were truly spectacular but- Shakey Shakey, 2 other lovely ladies (wish i got their names), Luis (Coca Cola), Julio, Alexander (Black Coffee) and Jackie Brown. We were there during St. Patric's Day and they had a huge spread on the beach with gifts, live band, dancing and green desserts. The restaurants were amazing and I couldn't believe that you could get whatever you wanted and didn't need reservations. We did buffet at The Kitchen, ate breakfast at Lobster House, lunch at Oregano (italian- best tuna ever) and Las Olas (grill)...right on the beach and dinner at Agave (spanish), Chez Isabelle (french), Basmati (indian) and spice (japanese). Every restaurant had great food, beautiful ambience and maintained a standard with a dress code at some of the dinner places. The staff in the restaurants were amazing - Jorge was one of the managers and ever attentive, Diego and Juana to name a few. The main pool was our main hang out spot because it was huge, you could swim up to the bar and the piece de resistance- it was heated...you cannot beat that. The gym was great, did that one morning, ran on the beach another morning which was brilliant and swam in the ocean which was lovely. There were shows every night with an indoor outdoor lounge with differing themes every night. After that they would have live music outside which was so much fun as the animations team would dance with everyone, there were lounge chairs to give you that quintessential Caribbean vibe and even a food truck for late night snacking. We visited the club, the martini bar, the piano lounge and the sports bar where we played some pool. We only stayed for 4 days but it felt like more than a week. But when you go you HAVE GOT TO book a massage and make sure you get there an hour early. It was truly the GREATEST spa and massage I have ever been to. Beforehand you are treated to an hour long hydrotherapy session that involved saunas with heat and ice to cleanse the pores, body scrubs and a hydrotherapy pool with different water therapy to relax the muscles...unbelievable. The rocking bed took my breath away but the massage itself - Did the Sacred earth with Juadis as my massage therapist was indescribably amazing. We did one horse riding/ ziplining tour which was fantastic and allowed us to see the countryside and meet more amazing people. But I would definitely stay here time and time again. If you want elegance, top notch service and a fun and relaxing vacation...this is the place.

Room Tip: pool view which you could see the ocean with rooms looking at the central walkway and you could see Lobster house, rooms 4115 and 4117.
  • Stayed: March 2018, travelled with friends
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
2  Thank roxboogie25
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 30 March 2018 via mobile

Francisco Javier ciprian from room service was the most helpful generous person we’ve ever met the service was so attentive and caring we felt like our kids and I were at home so attentive to all of my kids needs and such a happy person every morning . We need more people like him in this world . We will definitely be back and asking for him again this hotel experience has been wonderful thanks to him .

Stayed: March 2018, travelled with family
Thank claudiajrxmia
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 30 March 2018

We stayed at this hotel mid November 2017 - weather was a little hit and miss.
If you are looking for a purely resort stay - you cant go wrong with this place.
The rooms - well they are amazing, we had a room with a private pool. The room was huge and modern, free mini bar, indoor jacuzzi. The hotel provides floats for the pools.
The restaurants were all good and service was on the same level.
all inclusive drinks - this place advertises branded drinks, however when you go to the bar, you have to actually say the brand you want otherwise you will be getting the standard local version.
Staff - they were all eager to please, from the front to the hotel to the gardeners we had no problems with anyone or the service provided.
Only problem we had when there was when we went out of the hotel, its one of the 1st places i have been to where I didn't feel particularly safe. But inside the hotel is completely different
The other point was due to that it rained a good portion of our trip, the hotel smelled damp in the rooms and the main foyer - I don't know if this is all of the time or just because of the weather at the time.

Stayed: November 2017
Thank Betsy023
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 29 March 2018

Sharon and I decided to come back to El Carmen since we had such a great time last year. We usually do not go to the same place twice but the Staff at El Carmen is so terrific we had to come back again. From the moment we arrived the bellboys remembered us right away and welcomed us home.

Check in was a breeze and while in the Excellence Club had a drink to find my friend Hector the bartender. It was a very nice seeing him at the Excellence Club, he is a great bartender!!
We booked the Honeymoon Beach Front suite which is very nice!! The room was perfect for us, we had the corner room closest to the main pool. It did have a little smell to it but I just cranked up the AC and by day 2 it was gone (or just got used to it). No big deal at all, we are used to travelling to the Caribbean and know it feels a little damp and smells musty in the rooms.

I have to say, the management staff are really the tops at El Carmen. They are always around day or night, always asking how they can make things better. Just the best when it comes to customer service! Thank you Roberto, Oriole who are the Public Relations Managers! Mario and Dennis the bar managers, thank you so much for all you do!! If I lived in the Dominican Mario and I would be best friends!!
I have read trip reports that the managers are nowhere to be seen when clients have had problems. We have spent over a month at this resort over the last 2 years and NEVER once did I feel I couldn’t find a manager or a staff member that wouldn’t help if something was wrong. These people work their butts off for us to be able to have a great time and I can tell you they come through every time!!

We did all the restaurants other than the Tapas. We find Excellence Club, Steak House and the French the best out of all of them. We didn’t have a bad meal here at all. Not sure where people say the food is bad?? If you don’t like what you have, ask for something else. I guess you just can’t please everyone!! We also had great meals at the Italian, Asian and Lobster House. Again I go back to the staff, Ana (Kitchen Table/Steak House), Denny, Roberto (Lobster), Victor (Italian/Indian) Lauriel (Sports Bar), Robinson (Beach Grill), Jisley (Kitchen Table/Beach Grill, they are all top of their game. Some of the best people you have at this resort. And I know I am missing a ton of others that stood out and I thank you all!! I have to mention that last year we met a waitress named Juana at the Beach Grill. She went in the rain just to get Sharon and I a couple bottled beers, way beyond our expectation!! This year when she seen us she gave us a big hug and welcomed us back. We just found out that she was made a manager at the Beach Grill just before we left, we are so proud and happy for you Juana!!! We love our Mama Juana!!!!

All the bars are also staffed with great people! Last year we met Shaquira, Aurelio (Happy Hour) and Flor at the Martini Bar. They recognized us right away and were greeted with big hugs. We would go every night before dinner for a martini. They are all great bartenders but we just love Shaquira!! She would see us and start making our drinks right away. The Sol Bar has another amazing staff member, Joan. Joan worked at the swim up bar last year and now has the Sol Bar to himself. This guy is funny and one heck of a bartender, ask him for mini beer shot, the best!! Tell him Chris from Canada told you to go for a mini beer, he will get a kick out of it!

The entertainment staff is also a lot of fun. Bruno, Diana, Alexander and Bryan, all there to help make your vacation special.

I have to say that they have hired a couple of real stand outs. Angel is starting to work as a bartender at the swim up bar. Really nice kid and he really got a kick out of me learning his name right away and teasing him. Luckily for the resort, they have two outstanding bartenders Angel is being trained by, Julio Caesar and Vanessa. Both were there last year and remembered us right away. Great people to spend some time with! They also hired Hector who cleans the pool and the surroundings. He is a very hard working individual who thinks nothing of helping anyone around the pool. He is constantly working and looking around to make sure things are neat and clean. He went out of his way one day it poured down rain to help me get all the wet towels off the loungers, helped move our stuff under one of the palapas and then came back with dry towels and laid them out for us. Hector is the MAN!!! Another stand out around the pool is Melvin. Always asking if we need anything. He is a really nice kid with a good head on his shoulders, I can see him being a manager at El Carmen!

We highly recommend Excellence El Carmen!! Go and enjoy yourselves!! Make sure to smile and say Hola to all the staff, they will knock it out of the park for you!! If you have any questions about the resort and the staff please do not hesitate to ask!!

  • Stayed: February 2018, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Service
3  Thank Chris_Sharon
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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