Hey guys. For the first time ever Lauren is letting me contribute my creativity to the blog for our Excellence El Carmen review! Please note that she reviewed this so the thoughts reflected here are shared by both of us. Also, if there are any spelling or grammatical errors, it’s her fault.
If you’ve been keeping up with Lauren’s instagram then you’ll know that we’ve done quite a bit of traveling recently. Our most recent adventure was to the new Excellence El Carmen resort in the Dominican Republic. In this post I’ll be highlighting both the El Carmen and Playa Mujeres resorts and comparing things we did and did not like at each resort. (PS see Lauren’s full review of the Playa Mujeres resort here).
Getting to the resort
This part seems like a no brainer. Playa Mujeres, near Cancun, is much closer to anywhere you’re flying from in the US. I don’t recall, but I imagine flights to Cancun are most likely cheaper than flights to the Dominican Republic as well. That being said, the flight to the DR was not difficult at all. We flew from Denver to Houston and Houston to the DR in what was approximately 5 ½ hours of flight time (broken up over two flights).
Man. Both of these resorts are gorgeous! Imagine beautifully designed and decorated buildings spread over acres of land with long winding walk-ways and cutting through palm tree after palm trees (That was either the most elegant sentence I’ve ever written and/or it was a run-on. Someone in the comments let me know).
El Carmen does hold the edge here for us. The resort is brand new and features sheik (LOL @ michael’s spelling of ‘CHIC’. I had to leave it in here!), modern architecture. This place was instagram heaven. Large white walls, simple and elegant planters, simple yet inviting pools, and beautifully landscaped grounds are just a few noteworthy things.
The beaches attached to both resorts are beautiful. Excellence does a good job of putting employees at both ends to stop any unwanted soliciting. This allows you to rest without being interrupted by locals trying to get you to go snorkeling, etc. If you’re like us and like to walk down the beach a ways, Playa Mujures seemed like the actual beach was prettier. El Carmen was a little dirtier, but to be fair, we arrived shortly after several days of bad weather. Because of this, I can’t really speak to the normal feel of that beach. We have heard that the water is amazingly clear and beautiful though!
Lauren and I stayed in a first-story swim-up pool in Playa Mujeres. We never used the swim-up pool, but definitely appreciated the view and convenience. In El Carmen we had a two story room rooftop terrace suite with private plunge pool. (It should be noted that you could get either of these rooms at either of the locations.) We used our terrace and pool a couple of times but probably didn’t take full advantage of it. For us, going to the beach and/or pool were more desirable than to stay in our own room. I would say that the room you choose should be based on what your priorities are.
The actual rooms themselves are both romantic and decorated to match the respective resort. No complaints at all about the size and accommodations.
One issue I have had at both locations is the air conditioning of the rooms. I tend to get hot at night so I like to crank the AC down. Lauren is the opposite of me and likes to keep it warmer. At both locations, however, we BOTH woke up during the night extremely hot and sweating. I’m not sure if I was using the thermostat incorrectly, but I know I turned the fan to high and the temperature as low as possible. If anyone else has had this issue and knows if I was doing something wrong, please let me know in the comments. This may seem a little ridiculous, but if you don’t like being hot at night, I HIGHLY recommend bringing a small personal fan to place on the bedside table.
Service is a tricky thing to write about. I don’t want to sound pretentious in critiquing service, but if you’re staying at a nice resort, you expect a certain level of service. Playa Mujeres went above and beyond any sort of standard I had. Everyone was kind and some of the staff even remembered our names. Orders were usually brought out quickly and were always correct. The staff also spoke both English and Spanish fluently. This was nice considering our Spanish is definitely limited.
Our experience at El Carmen was completely different however. It seems like almost every meal something in our order was messed up. We also found it difficult to find someone to speak to when we had a request. I mostly blame this on the newness of the resort and the staff. There were very few staff members that we came across that spoke English well enough to understand us. I fully expect the service issues to subside once the staff members spend more time around English and the resort grows and learns from its mistakes.
Both resorts offer fantastic food options. For the most part the restaurants on site are the same. I can’t say for certain, but I believe the options vary between locations however. Playa Mujeres has a more Mexican style to their menus while El Carmen tends to lean a little more towards fish and Caribbean themes. The Mexican restaurant, Agave, had amazing margaritas at the Playa Mujeres location, but our favorite restaurant was the French one, Chez Isabelle. You have to make sure you visit this restaurant at least once during your stay at either resort.
El Carmen has one huge advantage in regards to our dining experience: The coffee shop. We frequented this little shop to get specialty coffee drinks, browse the different pastries and macaroons that were constantly available, and grab an ice cream cone. It was common for us to visit here to get a second coffee drink after breakfast and a second dessert after dinner. This was our favorite feature of El Carmen!
Neither Lauren nor I are big going out people, but when the party is brought to you and the drinks are free…
Both resorts offer different shows every night. Some people even arrange their dinners around these shows so they can attend. For us it depended on what was showing. For example, one night at El Carmen they had a Michael Jackson themed show. I’m all about that, so we made dinner plans in order to get to the show early and get good seats (totally worth it). On the contrary, one night was a Brazilian burlesque show that we avoided. Either way, you’ll find that both resorts do a good job of mixing up their entertainment to appeal to a wide variety of guests.
I will say that El Carmen felt a bit more like a party than Playa Mujeres. After every show a DJ came out and played some pretty good beats. Let me tell you, watching couples our parents’ age get out on the dance floor and bust it to Usher or Bieber is something I will never turn down watching.
If you’re planning a beach trip, you can’t go wrong with any Excellence resort. If you are looking for a quick get-away, at this time I would recommend Playa Mujeres. It’s a shorter flight with an established staff. If you’re planning a trip in the future and don’t mind a slightly longer flight, El Carmen is beautiful and is much newer than Playa Mujeres. It’s also less crowded. With time I fully expect them to work out their service issues.
Let us know if you have any questions. Also, if you’ve been to either of these resorts and agree/disagree with anything I’ve said, please let me know in the comments as well! And thirdly, if you’re thinking to yourself, “I don’t follow this blog to hear what her husband thinks. I want to hear Lauren!” Then…don’t leave that in the comments!
Thank you to Excellence El Carmen for comping part of our stay! All thoughts and opinions are our own!
xo LaurenShop the post: