Simply Does It: Finest Punta Cana, The Dominican Republic

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Finest Imperial Family Suite with plunge pool. All photos courtesy of The Excellence Collection.

Can a beach resort be all things to all travelers? Can it appeal well-traveled couples and adult groups (business, wedding, girls’ weekend) seeking elevated escapism while having colorful, interactive activities children, teens, and their parents demand?

Finest Punta Cana, opened in late 2021, strives for that and succeeds beautifully. While the resort as a whole offers a solid value proposition as an all-inclusive, luxury seekers can upgrade by reserving an “Excellence Club” or “Finest Club” room to get a larger suite with more amenities such as private walk-in pools or in-room jacuzzis, Bulgari bath products, mini-bars loaded with top-shelf liquor, VIP access to its top-end restaurants and other perks. The check-in process for the adults-only Excellence Club upgraded packages is impressive, as the staff takes its time to explain the extra in-suite perks, activities, preferred restaurant reservations for all top-end dinner only restaurants, including Dommo and Gusto, exclusively for “club” guests offering fresh breakfasts-to-order and dinner.

A ‘Finest Club’ Beachfront Suite

The Excellence Collection, its parent company, has a great track record of successful all-inclusive resorts to build on, thanks to the success of its other two adults-only properties in Punta Cana. Excellence Punta Cana, which recently celebrated its 20th anniversary, provides guests with a rustic-yet-elegant Caribbean village backdrop and a traditional (i.e. a “Ritz-Carlton” vibe, but with more approachable, regionalized feel). Excellence el Carmen takes a “modern luxury” approach (i.e. the youthfully trendy lifestyle appeal “The W” introduced years ago), punctuating its contemporary architecture with splashes of Dominican crafts and colors, and activities and amenities to match.

Finest Punta Cana, in contrast, goes for more minimalism to get a maximum “wow” factor. This approach worked well with its Finest Playa Mujeres in Quintana Roo. The architectural design for both is a clean slate artfully divided to cater to two distinct types of traveler: Families with children and adults looking for a luxe retreat in a more secluded area. In Punta Cana, it adds up to 455 rooms and suites, 13 on-property eateries, multiple indoor and outdoor bars, great indoor and outdoor meeting spaces, The ONE Spa, and seven impeccably maintained pool areas.

Although the opening was delayed, The Excellence Collection’s in-house designers, architects and management used the extra preparation time to anticipate the changing guest needs and the evolving travel landscape. Naturally, plastic straws were one of the first things to go, and all restaurant and spa menus are now consolidated and accessible via an app that covers all Excellence properties throughout the Caribbean. Other sustainability-driven features are more subtle but equally clever. In addition to a fully digitized room system that controls lights, air conditioning, and “do not disturb” and housekeeping signage, there’s a handy cabinet where guests can stash dishes and glasses after finishing room service meals so they are out of the way and easier for housekeeping staff to grab without entering the guest room.

Excellence Club Beachfront Honeymoon Suite.

Much thought has gone into keeping the youngest guests entertained, safe, and even enlightened, ensuring parents can go about business and pleasure with confidence during their stay. The spectacularly-conceived kids’ club is resort-within-a resort that looks like a STEM school wrapped around a video game room. Theme days, including a science day and a “Dominican Adventure” day, bring structure and enrichment for young visitors. That same continuity of the resort’s spirit flows through the spaces where babysitting services are available for the youngest guests, as well as the whimsical tropical themed water park features where the “Finest” accommodations are situated.

The ONE Spa, meanwhile, not only boasts a superb “Aqua” hydrotherapy circuit, but also a “spa kitchen pantry” for guests to select their favorite aromas and ingredient for treatments, and services menu (with customizable options like the ONE Consciousness Massage), but also separate spa space for kids with its own yummy menu of services and lounging spaces. While yoga classes, pool fitness, personal trainer sessions, and a good sized fitness room are available, outdoor activities abound on the property and off through the concierge service, the resort also features a paddle court, tennis court and basketball area. And should rain come, there are table tennis, table soccer, and billiard spots scattered throughout the resort as well as the Legends sports bar to catch a game or two.

All of these features, combined with the relatively small size of the resort and creative food and beverage program makes Finest Punta Cana a fine choice for conference and executive retreats. The program ranges from higher-end adults-only restaurants (including the amazing Le Petit Plaisir, pan-Asian/Sushi/Teppanyaki focused Shoji and New York-style steakhouse Brass), to creative, high quality casual dining (Duke’s Lobster & Seafood, offering some of the best bites of the resort; sports bar Legends) to the mixology-driven Golden Bar and Dommo lounge, and festive poolside food trucks and bars.

The options for meeting planners are equally simple, customizable, and appealing, with 4,800 square feet of dedicated indoor meeting and event space, including a Grand Ballroom with maximum capacity of up to 120 people (80-100 if it is set up for a banquet). Outdoors, there is 10,000 square feet of beautifully landscaped space suited for private cocktail parties, banquets, mixers, and personalized special events. Finest’s catering service and a professional team of on-site event planners ensures those outdoor events will be especially memorable, applying the same attention to detail found in the better restaurants and higher end suites.

There are a number of packages available based on whether the gathering is a small executive retreat or a larger conference. A one-hour cocktail party with open bar is included when booking five suites or more, while a booking for 20 suites or more gets the cocktail party, plus a four-night complimentary stay for the organizer in a higher category suite, a private dinner (three hours) and other special amenities. For more information on the various packages, availabilities, blackout dates and other details, contact the Groups Department (groups@theexcellencecollection.com).

For information and reservation for Finest Punta Cana and other Excellence Resorts in Mexico, Dominican Republic and Jamaica, visit theexcellencecollection.com.

A ‘Finest Club’ family pool suite.

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