9-10-11 is a date we will never forget (just in case we do, hubs got it tattooed on his ribs). We got married and unlike most, we were planning on taking a Honeymoon after the holidays when life slowed down. Well life is funny and by that time we were pregnant. No one wants to take a Honeymoon pregnant so we pushed it back, 5 years to be exact.
Now that the chances of getting pregnant are in single digits we started looking for our Honeymoon/5 Year Anniversary trip. A friend posted about Excellence El Carmen and I was instantly sold. I called up her travel agent Carlie Finch with 2 Travel Anywhere and booked our trip. We booked several months before this resort even opened and based our decision off photos we hoped would resemble once built. But I loved the modern feel of it. I love the fact that it would be brand spanking new.
The resort opened on Sept 1st and we checked in on Sept 6th. Upon arrival we were given two glasses of Champs. Sold. You hand me champagne and you just made a friend for life. Check in was totally painless. They took our bags while we check in and had someone point us in the right direction of our room, show us the bars and restaurants on the way and bags were brought shortly after we arrived.
(Just a heads up, we didn’t upgrade to Excellence Club Level. This is our first trip with them and it was never asked if we wanted it so we had no idea it existed until someone mentioned Manga Club and the Excellence Club) So keep that in mind.
Upon arrival to our room we were pleasantly surprised to see they were also celebrating our Anniversary. Champagne over ice, rose petals on bed, and balloons I never took a picture of. Such a thoughtful touch!Not to mention the changed out those for my birthday and cake I never told them I had.
Happy Anni from Excellence El Carmen
Now walking into this room I was blown away. We booked a Junior Swim Up Suite. I’ve lived in lofts smaller than this. Not to mention our closet here at Excellence was larger than the closet in our first home we built. Amazing! Here are the features from their website but I can vouch for each one. It’s there! We were in room 6006. So it was close to the main buildings and on B side. We received Sun in AM and shade in afternoon. Noise levels were minimum. We were able to fall asleep to reggae band one night, but that was our own fault for going to bed too early. Foot traffic was also very low even with being in the middle of everything, which doesn’t surprise those that know me, but thats where I like to be. So a perfect room.
- Spacious 950 sq ft suites (Interior space + Terrace)
- L-Shaped sofa
- Private terrace with comfortable lounge furniture and 2 sun beds.
- Swan-Neck Spa Jet
- Oversize Jacuzzi for two (or more it was huge)
- Full bathrooms including a rain shower for two, double vanities equipped with hair dryer, scale, make-up desk, VIP toiletries and wireless phone
- Bathrobe & slippers for use during your stay
- Interactive media 46” flat-screen TV
- Air conditioning with in-room climate control
- Direct-dial telephone
- Free wireless Internet (it was spotty for me on Verizon)
- Radio / alarm clock
- Electronic in-room safe (laptop size)
- Espresso machine
- Stocked mini bar with beer, juices, soft drinks, water and snacks
- In-room premium liquor & wine bottle selection
- 24-hour room service
- Service box for room service
- Iron and ironing board
- Pillow menu
- Turn-down service and hotel stationery
- Concierge service from 7am through 11pm.
- Free calls to USA & CAN
Junior Swim Up Suite
Now lets talk food. My expectations coming to an all inclusive is that I stay fed and stay hydrated. And my pants that are unable to button will tell you this was def the case here. Meals were smaller as to be expected. USA is all about the supersize and most places aren’t. So we planned ahead and ordered Appetizers, entrees (sometimes 2/each) and desserts. And we never went hungry. Keep in mind we were there in their first week of opening and there is a language barrier. Sometimes our food wasn’t right. Not a big deal. Send it back and get another. They are working out the kinks and we were there to help them. The nice thing about this resort is that they don’t do reservations at the restaurants. The thought of going on vacation and having to keep a schedule would keep me at home! That aside, one restaurant requires reservations and thats Spice. It’s a hibachi style grill. If I were to offer one piece of advice it would be that you make reservations for this place night one. You get seated at a table with 10-12 people and you might end up making some pretty cool friends to hang with.
My other favorite restaurant is Chez Isabelle . French food isn’t necessarily my favorite but the overall ambiance of this restaurant had me swooning. I fell in love with it over the internet (btw, its a little different in real life but still gorgeous). Plus it has an amazing wine selection and floor to ceiling wine cellar that was beautiful. The Filet was amazing too! Last but not least go to The Grill. Everyone raved about the Rodizio. For lunch most days we did Las Olas. The views were amazing, they had great bands, and it was still within reach of the swim up bar and we didn’t get away from there often. Also the room service was on point. We ordered everyday around 5pm to hold us over until a late dinner. We are used to eating dinner early and going to bed early so we really had to rally to stay up later! It came within the 30 mins they quoted us every time and was always correct.
So I didn’t read through the itinerary when booking and was pleasantly surprised at the activities they had planned through out the day and into the evening. At turndown they leave a little magazine on your pillow with the list of activities for the next day. It was awesome. We played bingo, took swim aerobics and yoga on paddle boards. Saw shows at night (don’t miss Michael Jackson. It’s life changing). There were bands playing throughout the day and into the evening. And we actually could have done so much more but we came for the sun and swim up bar. Mission accomplished. We also rallied hard one night to make it to the disco. It didn’t open until 11p. But we made it. And we boogied for a few songs, before calling it quits and going to bed.
So Final Thoughts
Would you go back? Hell yes and I would go back next week. Meaning the newness and the small hiccups weren’t a big enough deal to keep me from coming back even to a brand new resort. If you stopped to listen to people there was a lot of people complaining and typically about mundane things. I don’t go to a brand new restaurant expecting them to have it together completely. It takes time for stuff like this to work smoothly. The service level was high. They wanted you to have an amazing time and they were going to make sure it happened, even if food came out wrong. As long as they were made aware they would fix it.
Would I recommend you go? Well that depends. Are you the type of person that finds faults or negatives easily and then dwells on them and lets them ruin your day? You can answer in your head, but be truthful with yourself. If you are like this, give it a year. Hell in 3-6 months it will be so different. But I would recommend you not go yet. Now are you the type of person that has grace and the ability to look past minor things. Champs makes this easier too by the way. Cheers. Then by all means yes! book it now. While you are at it use 2 Travel Anywhere they were great and made sure we had all of our ducks in a row, plus scheduled our transportation to and from and checked in with us while we were away.
I’m a gulf type of gal, sand is white and pristine not to mention soft. Well this is softer. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves. These are unedited. Raw pics!
Random Pics from Resort
I’ve never seen so many people cleaning and caring for a resort in my life. It was spotless from the floors to the ceilings. And then done again the next morning. Now when we were there I believe the resort was a little less than half occupied (we heard no construction noises either) so there appeared to be more employees than guests. Not a bad thing when just opening.
If you have been, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Or if you have ever been to one of their other properties, tell me about them.
PS: Just because its all inclusive doesn’t mean you don’t need to bring tips. These people work so incredibly hard and throwing some extra cash in their direction will make your trip even more amazing.