Spending the last five years in Denver, or the outskirts of it in Aurora to be exact, my wife and I found it challenging to brave the elements to celebrate New Years Eve downtown. We typically elected to make tasty h'orderves, drink some champagne, play cards or a board game and watch one of those hokey NYC ball-dropping shows. Every year for the last five years we said it would be different the following one, only to repeat the pattern again and again. Well, when we accepted a work assignment in Punta Cana that began in July we knew this was going to be our year to really make it happen on New Years Eve. Not willing to be shut-ins a year longer, in August we booked a two-night stay beginning on New Year's Eve at Excellence Adults Only All-Inclusive Resort in Uvero Alto, Dominican Republic. I was stoked to have toes in the sand and a beer in my hand!
In the borrowed car of a work colleague, we set out for Uvero Alto from our apartment in Cap Cana. The way it works is that Punta Cana is in the middle, Cap Cana to the south, and Uvero Alto to the north, past Macao Beach. The drive took an hour and was a relative breeze compared to our last trip up north, thanks mostly to the completion of a new highway. We arrived at the entrance gate and provided our name, which the guard checked first and then warmly welcomed us in. He directed us to the main plaza in front of reception, where we dropped off our car and bags and were each given a sparkling glass of champagne. My wife and I looked at each other and smiled. This indeed was the way to start things off right! Having arrived an hour early for check-in, reception recommended that we have lunch while our room was being finalized. We happily obliged and sat down to a nice buffet spread with consuming more fun drinks to boot.
After lunch a bell hop directed us to our room with our bags in tow. It was nice, although not as nearly nice as Sanctuary Golf and Spa Resort in Cap Cana at which we would later spend when my parents had come to visit. The best aspect of the room was the balcony that had an excellent view of the pool area and ocean. Other features of note in the room were a terracota-like tile floor, beautiful shower and jet tub, and mini-bar. Oh the mini-bar! This is where Excellence had Sanctuary beat. It was well-stocked with bottled beer, wine, soda, water, snacks, and four full bottles of premium liquor. We really couldn't ask for anything more out of that mini-bar.
Food and Entertainment
Overall I would rate the food as pretty good. There was a lot of variety for breakfast with traditional Dominican, American and European favorites. In terms of nightly dining the one we liked best was the French restaurant. The various restaurants throughout the resort offered a lot of fish, but from what I tasted I wasn't too impressed. If food is your main priority at an all-inclusive, I would recommend Sanctuary Cap Cana over Excellence. The Entertainment on New Years Eve was interesting to say the least. At one point there was some tribute to the 50's with the ladies dressed in hoop skirts and the guys in rolled up jeans and shirts. They were definitely catering to an American crowd, and considering who we met, a Southern one at that. There was a pretty cool fireworks show at midnight that I later found out through tripadvisor that an attendee got hit but a spent cartridge, sporting a black eye for the rest of her stay.
The beach was well-kept with plenty of comfortable seating, including beds facing the sea, which my wife loved. However the downfall of the ocean was that the waters were incredibly choppy with a relatively strong tide pulling out to sea. The lifeguards were not to keen on us going to far out to sea and would whistle us in towards shore quite frequently. I wonder if the choppiness of the sea had more to do with the season than the area, as I had experienced that kind of choppiness in other locales around the same time of the year.
The greatest strength of Excellence in my estimation was their customer service. I was prepared to see some grumpy behavior from time to time knowing that it was a holiday and working conditions in general in the Dominican Republic. Of all the workers we had interactions with, only one was less than pleasant. Everyone one else was a superstar. I made sure to spread around a lot of tips, even if only small quantities to show my appreciation for their service. If you want to be treated kindly and have a sense of welcome, Excellence easily fits the mold. There are a lot more plusses than minuses at this five-star resort. My wife and I couldn't have been more pleased with our New Years Eve Holiday Excursion at Excellence Adults Only All-Inclusive Resort in Uvero Alto, Dominican Republic.