With seven properties in its high-end all-inclusive portfolio including one opening in Jamaica this summer, Excellence Resorts has come a long way since its first property opened in the Dominican Republic. And the changes here point to the evolutionary path toward more luxury that the company—like the all-inclusive category as a whole—has taken over the past decade.
To keep up with the changing times, the company closed the hotel that launched the brand and spent $45 million renovating it from top to bottom.
Reopened in November, the renewed Excellence Punta Cana is brighter and lighter, and now includes some of the more popular elements other properties in the brand have market-tested in the ensuing years. The Caribbean look and feel that makes it the property with the most repeat guests remains, but the look and feel is lighter and brighter, and all the restaurants, the spa and the guest rooms have been beautifully reimagined. There’s a new bar in the Excellence Club portion of the beach, plus a new coffee house snack bar, AROMA, offering caffeinated confections as well as gelato, sandwiches and pastries. Even the color of the water in the pool is new; what used to be green now is blue.
It has not gone unnoticed, meanwhile, that across the company, it’s the most luxurious rooms that sell first. So the property added a new room category, the 800-square-foot Excellence Club Junior Suite with a private pool. The more upscale Excellence Club area as a whole is designed to offer exclusivity, including two private pools, a private dining room, and private areas on the beach, as well as bottles of top-shelf liquor in the room and a free Aqua Wellness Spa treatment.
Next on the agenda for the hotel company, meanwhile, is a fifth Excellence hotel scheduled to open in June in Oyster Bay, Jamaica. It will join the current two adults-only Excellence-branded hotels in the Dominican Republic, Excellence Punta Cana and the luxury Excellence El Carmen, and two in Cancun. The company also offers the wellness-oriented and boutique Beloved brand, as well as Finest, its newest brand, which allows children.
Though the company has Spanish roots, its customer base is almost entirely North American and largely Millennial, and honeymooners and newlyweds are a target audience. El Carmen, the newest and largest property, which opened in 2016, hosts two or three destination weddings per day in season, said Livia Dikson, Groups and Weddings Maganer, plus four or five fam trips for wedding planners and travel agents. Corporate meetings and incentives also are especially welcome at Excellence El Carmen, which has 492 suites and a ballroom that holds 150.
The differences in the two Dominican properties, meanwhile, are a study in the changing face of the all-inclusive industry over the past decade. At Excellence El Carmen all the suites are larger and more have ocean views. There’s a 3,000-square-foot suite, 35% larger than the largest at Excellence Punta Cana, and a two-story, 1,800-square-foot beachfront honeymoon suite. In addition to the 10 specialty restaurants at Excellence Punta Cana, including a beachfront Lobster House with unlimited lobster, a new Indian restaurant has been added.