Want For Nothing At Excellence Oyster Bay—Only The Luxury All-Inclusive You've Needed

This idyllic, ultra-private resort is almost like being on your very own island.

Excellence Oyster Bay isn't your average Caribbean all-inclusive resort. Yes, the standard buffet is stocked with gourmet international cuisine, bartenders will cheerfully mix a mai tai or pina colada at the swim-up bar, and there are dazzling clear waters and white sand beaches to take in. However, it's the size of the resort, wholly attentive staff, and perhaps most of all, privacy that really sets Excellence Oyster Bay apart from the rest.

From the moment you enter through the floor-to-ceiling doors into the lobby, the resort exudes luxury and coolness with a West Indies meets modern aesthetic. Bright white, airy walls and light-colored upholstered couches contrast black marble floors that spill into the chic lobby martini bar area. But even the thoughtfully designed interior spaces pale in comparison to the sweeping patios and terraces just outside, where guests can take in the breathtaking ocean views from veritably any number of vantage points. The meticulous attention to detail even lends itself to the painstakingly maintained landscaping dotted with coconut and banana trees throughout the grounds.

The smallest of the brand's resorts (with other Excellence locations in Playa Mujeres, Cancun, El Carmen, and Punta Cana), which opened in 2018, Excellence Oyster Bay is located on its own completely private peninsula. There, it boasts just 320 guest rooms—not including 12 beach houses, each comprised of four individual suites, and five private beach villas. And although the resort was not at full capacity during our preview, the limited number of guests was very much apparent through deliberate touches and an unparalleled level of service throughout our stay.

excellence oyster bay pool
Guests will never have to worry about making multiple laps to find a spot at one of the pools. | The Excellence Collection

For instance, not only are Excellence's five main pools not packed with partygoers or screaming children—the adults-only resort does cater to couples, after all. But finding a choice seat by the pool or beach does not require waking up at an early hour to "claim" a spot with a towel, typical of comparatively larger resorts. The ample seating is clearly by design, allowing guests to move about freely from beachside to poolside throughout the day. 

Likewise, the friendly and watchful staff outnumbers guests, and a fresh towel or drink refill is never more than a moment's wait. The modest capacity and personalized service help give the resort a decidedly intimate atmosphere. Perhaps this is why arriving guests are told, "Welcome home," while being handed a glass of champagne and chilled towel. Indeed, in addition to 62 percent of guests celebrating honeymoons or anniversaries at Excellence Oyster Bay, as many as 60 percent are return customers. 

You will also not find a bad room at Excellence Oyster Bay, which are all sleek and spacious in design. Most suites exhibit stunning ocean views, while ground-floor suites feature private infinity pools. Some second and third-floor terrace suites are even equipped with individual plunge pools. All suites come with their Jacuzzis, separate seating areas, rainfall showers for two, fully stocked minibars, and an in-suite premium liquor selection. Room service is available 24 hours per day, so guests looking for the utmost privacy barely even need to leave their suites during their stay to enjoy the bounty of what Excellence Oyster Bay has to offer.

private beach villas
From the guest rooms to the private beach villas, the accommodations here are designed to spoil. | The Excellence Collection

However, that would mean missing out on all the great activities and entertainment throughout the resort, both day and night. In addition to snorkeling, fat bike tours, beachside yoga classes, and water aerobics, the first-rate live entertainment is more in line with what you would expect from larger resorts. Nightly shows at the outdoor Stars Theater feature everything from Bob Marley tribute bands—this is Jamaica, after all—to local dancers putting on gravity-defying performances. 

But even after the shows wind down, the party keeps going. A rotating line of late-night entertainment includes karaoke and "silent dance parties," where guests can put on headphones and choose from one of several tracks the DJ is spinning.

The terrace outside of the lobby likewise features all-day and evening entertainment, from low-key live music performances to "sips" painting classes overlooking the ocean. After all, are you even in paradise if there's not a drink in your hand at all times?

excellence oyster bay beach
There is so much to do here beyond the pools and beach—but plenty of time will be spent on this beach. | The Excellence Collection

Because the resort is in such close proximity to Jamaica's infamous Luminous Lagoon, one activity that guests of Excellence Oyster Bay absolutely will not want to miss is swimming among the dinoflagellates—microscopic organisms that sparkle and glow in the dark when disturbed. Located in the shallow, warm waters along the marshlands of Trelawny, just across from the town of Falmouth, the lagoon is only a short ride from the peninsula's cape, where boats depart from every night. Just watch out for moon jellies!

It's also difficult to get bored with the restaurant options at Excellence Oyster Bay. For al fresco dining, head to either Oregano, serving up Italian fare, or the seafood-forward Lobster House. Both open-air restaurants are located just steps from Excellence's main pool area and underneath the rooftop X-Lounge and infinity pool—the latter of which I'm not embarrassed to say I spent more than my share of time. It's entirely too easy to lose an afternoon while staring out at the tranquil waves and sipping on a fruity beverage.

Other standouts include the Caribbean Grove restaurant, which focuses on Jamaican cuisine and, naturally, a wide selection of high-end rums to pair with your meal. The Asian fusion Spice restaurant, situated just above the lobby area, is also among guest favorites. If you happen to be traveling with a group, don't miss out on reserving one of the restaurant's hibachi tables in advance for a fun and unforgettable evening. And although I didn't have the opportunity to try it for myself, I heard multiple guests rave about the casual outdoor Jamaican barbecue Jerk Hut just next to the main pool.

excellence oyster bay aerial
From the amenities to the dining options, there's so much for guests to explore and enjoy. | The Excellence Collection

For those who like to pair their meal with a fine glass of wine, an on-site sommelier has curated a list of 3,900 bottles for guests' enjoyment. Of course, this is on top of the talented mixologists found throughout the resort's bars and restaurants.

And although every guest at Excellence is treated like a VIP, for a truly next-level experience, guests can opt to stay in one of the resort's 148 Excellence Club suites, which—in addition to the beach houses and villas—offer upgraded services and amenities. Upon arrival, Excellence Club guests are whisked off to a private check-in by one of the small electric cars often seen zooming around the property. (And watch out because those things will sneak up on you.) Each end of the peninsula also features separate Excellence Clubs and private pools, exclusive to upgraded guests, as well as access to the world-class Zenith and Magna restaurants. 

Other perks limited to Excellence Club guests include an expanded room service menu and upgraded minibar and liquor selection, Bvlgari bath amenities, champagne, and flowers waiting in your room after check-in, and one complimentary hydrotherapy treatment at the resort's Miilé Spa.

excellence oyster bay spa
A relaxing spa day deserves the best views. | The Excellence Collection

Open to all guests, this spa provides a wide variety of massages and skin and beauty treatments—but the hydrotherapy sessions are an experience all unto their own. Guests are scrubbed, steamed, dunked, and doused through a circuit of rooms, pools, and various equipment to ease chronic pain and cleanse pores.

As I took one last walk along the beach before checking out, I felt a certain sense of wistfulness in knowing that my stay was coming to an end. After spending a few days at Excellence Oyster Bay, it became easy to see why so many guests return to its properties year after year. It's safe to say I can now consider myself a convert among their ranks.