Last week my husband took me to a beautiful 5 star adult only all-inclusive resort in the Dominican Republic. We went to Excellence Punta Cana.
If you’ve never traveled to a resort or it’s been a while, I am giving some tips for before and during your stay!
- Use a travel agent – Many people are under the assumption that it costs more money to use a travel agent. This is not true. The agents get a commission from the services/hotels that are used for your trip. Our travel agent got us a much better deal than if we had booked the resort and transfers ourselves.
- Join a Facebook group for that particular resort – I found a very useful Facebook group for our resort! I got some very helpful suggestions on drinks to try, food to eat, how much cash to bring for tips, and other info about the resort.
- Scour through Trip Advisor – Trip Advisor was also super helpful for me. The website gives you the option to narrow down reviews based upon time of travel, travel as a couple or a group, and type of vacation (relaxing, adventurous, etc)
- Club upgrade not necessary – The Excellence resorts, like other resorts have options to upgrade for ‘premium services’. While nice, I found at Excellence, it was completely not necessary to upgrade to the Club option. The upgrade would have given us an extra restaurant to use, premium alcohol in our room (all rooms have a minibar free to use), and a different section of the beach in which chairs could be reserved. For us, the upgrades weren’t worth the extra money. However, each resort is different and everyone has different needs for their vacation.
- Bring lots of $1s and $5s for tipping – Even though our resort was all-inclusive, we still brought $1s and $5s for tipping. We tipped everyone, the barista, our servers, the bell-hop, our driver to/from airport, bartenders, etc. I learned that many of the resort workers actually lived many hours away from the resort (the longest we heard of was 7 hours!). The workers stayed at the resort (shared apartment style housing) and worked around a week straight (many of them up to 15 hours a day). They deserved to be tipped. To them, a few $s goes a long way and is a nice gesture.
- Book private transfer – The last thing we wanted to do after arriving to the island was to wait around for other passengers to share a ride to several different resorts. I wanted to get there asap! Same goes for going from the resort back to the airport. Yes it’s a bit more costly, but totally worth it for me.
- Use mobile passport if it’s available through your airport – There are several airports now that use mobile passport functionality. The apps are available on your smartphone. You’ll have to set it up before you leave, but you’ll scan your passport, fill out info about yourself and take a selfie. It makes going through the immigration lines much quicker.
- Bring pens in your carry on – This is so you can fill out customs/immigration forms before you get to the line, if mobile passport isn’t available.
- Use the spa! – The Excellence resorts have the Miile spa on property. Oh, it’s incredible. They always include hydrotherapy before your massage session, which in itself is a blissful experience (you’ll move between the sauna, steam room, various hot tub type of pools, hot and cold showers, and a body scrub). We got our massages on the beach instead of inside. There was a beautiful breeze with the sounds of the ocean, it was nirvana.
- Bring pool floats – After reading reviews on TripAdvisor and on the Facebook group, I realized this particular resort didn’t have any pool floats. So, we ended up buying cheap ones on Amazon and then leaving them at the resort for another couple.
- Early dinner – Some resorts take reservations for dinner. The excellence resorts do not. There were a few nights that we got to the restaurant after 7pm and ended up waiting over an hour to get seated. If you want to avoid this, go early, before 7pm and you’ll get seated right away. One night we were so hungry, we went to the sports bar to get mozzarella sticks and pizza as apps before our dinner.
- Take part of the group dinners – The resorts hosts big group buffet dinners several nights a week in the main “plaza” outside. They have entertainment during dinner as well. This is where we met some other couples and an amazing server, that hooked us up with mamajuana shots all night!
- Take part in activities – There is all kinds of fun games to play during your stay, we played corn hole one day and won some Dominican coffee to take home! There’s also water and sand vball, bingo, and other fun games hosted by the entertainment staff. It’s a good way to break up your day.
- Meet some new people – People travel to the Caribbean from all over the world. We met Canadians, a couple from Chicago, one from NY, one from Tennessee. It was interesting to hear about their travels and time at the resort.
- Write a review when you return! I think it’s helpful to read reviews, so I always write reviews on places that I’ve stayed. You can read my review here on TripAdvisor.