I recently returned from Punta Cana and can honestly say it's as lovely as ever, SAFE and ready to welcome visitors. I stayed at two different resorts, Hard Rock Punta Cana and Excellence El Carmen. At both resorts the staff was very friendly and accommodating and the beaches were beautiful with very little seaweed. The resorts however would appeal to totally different clientele.
Hard Rock is a very large resort (almost 1800 rooms) and is for the most part a very active resort. There are many pools all with a different type of music featured; most also have a bar and snack bar so all you have to do is relax. There is a very large casino and many shops right at the resort. There are a lot of activities for those who want to keep active. The beach is very large (one of the widest that I've seen in the area). There are several restaurant options, most do require advance reservations. Hard Rock, with so many rooms, does cover a lot of area but they have a golf-cart that can take you throughout the resort. So if you are looking for a large, more active resort with lots to do Hard Rock might be for you.
If your idea of an ideal resort is something more laid back with a bit more of an upscale environment then you definitely want to consider Excellence El Carmen. When you enter the lobby there is a definite "wow" factor. This resort is more intimate so nothing is too far from the beach, restaurants or spa. The rooms are beautifully appointed and all have an outdoor jacuzzi with a relaxing bed to just chill. The fitness room is great if you have the need to workout while away and they have a full-service spa. You can take long walks on the beach and in this area there are actually some waves. The beach does have a lot of thatched huts if you need some shade and they they have wait service so you can just relax and enjoy the view. There are several restaurant options (all are a la carte for dinner) and reservations are not required, but they do have a food truck in the evening if you need a snack and also have a sports bar for light food. This resort has soothing music throughout so you definitely feel relaxed as you walk around. If this atmosphere appeals to you then Excellence is a resort you will want to consider.
Unfortunately, this past summer the media reported on the passing away of several Americans in the past year. It was assumed that this was caused by something that was consumed at the resorts. Many Americans believing the media reports opted to go to other destinations before finding out the real truth. While I was there the FBI toxicology reports came out and it was confirmed that although the deaths were tragic, they were from natural causes and had nothing to do with the resorts. The Punta Cana area has suffered great losses from these overblown reports. It is sad as so many people's livelihood has been unnecessarily been effected. Now that the truth has come out I hope that travelers will once again return to this beautiful destination. There are some great rates available so it the perfect time to plan a visit.