Iâ€™ve been meaning to post my review of the Iberostar Paraiso Del Mar and Grand forever and I feel terrible that it has taken me so long! We got married on May 2, 2009 during the whole swine flu fiasco. I copied Paraiso Beach Brideâ€™s review format since I found hers so helpful. This is long, but hopefully you will find some of this info useful! Happy planning! Here's the link to some of the wedding pics...I posted these a while back on the Iberostar thread, so some of you may have seen them already.
Check In 10/10
We stayed at the Grand, and it is absolutely fabulous! It is by far the nicest place Iâ€™ve ever stayed. Check in was a breeze. We enjoyed a cocktail as we checked in, and we even got upgraded to an oceanfront suite! Iâ€™m sure it helped that the hotel was pretty empty since all the guests left due to swine flu hysteria. He said it is normally an additional $120 per night. After about a 15 minute check in, the bell boy took us to our room where we were greeted by our butler. He was so sweet and enthusiastic, but I canâ€™t remember his name since our butler changed each day and they let some of them go since the hotel was empty. So sad! Both the Grand and The Beach/Del Mar were less than half full due to the whole swine flu â€œepidemicâ€. Most people were leaving as we were checking in, but we werenâ€™t about to let some stupid flu ruin our good time!
The Beach/Del Mar was much larger and had a more tropical feel than the Grand. The Grand was very luxurious and very simple as far as landscaping and architecture goes, but it was very pretty. The Beach/Del Mar were gorgeous and it was really neat seeing the flamingos and peacocks there. We didnâ€™t take the trolley much while at the Beach/Del Mar, but I heard it could be hit or miss. You will do a lot of walking here, but it wasnâ€™t so bad considering how much pizza and alcohol I consumed!
The Grand 10/10: The Oceanfront Suite at the Grand was fabulous! The view was to die for! I really loved the huge bathroom. It had his and hers sinks on opposite ends of the bathroom, which was great so I had room for all my stuff. The only problem we had was that the blow dryer provided by the hotel kept overheating and melting even when it wasnâ€™t being used! The blow dryer was connected to the wall, so I couldnâ€™t unplug it, but maintenance came and replaced it. It happened once again, but I didnâ€™t have problems after that second time. The room had a pillow menu, but we forgot to order pillows every night, so we didnâ€™t get to take advantage of this cool feature. My favorite part of the room was the patio. It had a two-person swing, a table and a loveseat overlooking the ocean. It was so nice and relaxing to sit there and watch the waves roll in!
Beach/Del Mar 7/10: The rooms were nice â€“ very colorfully decorated. My mom had the same problem with the blow dryer that I had.
Iâ€™m really happy we chose the Riviera Maya. It was only about a 30 minute drive (non-stop) from the Cancun airport and the ocean was gorgeous! It was about a 20-30 minute cab ride to Playa. What a cute town! I wish we could have spent more time there. During our stay, from 4/28-5/4, it was in the mid-eighties with varying degrees of humidity.
I heard Cabo doesnâ€™t have good beaches, and that was something I really wanted, so Riviera Maya was perfect. Although there were rocky spots, especially towards the Grand, the beach was still really nice. We met up everyday at the â€œpartyâ€ pool where all the action took place. The ocean water was refreshing and felt great after being outside all day, and the pool water was a little on the chilly side. We started taking tequila shots to warm up in the pool! I didnâ€™t get a chance to explore the other pools at the Beach/Del Mar or at the Grand since we were always here or on the beach. The pool was always fun when everyone was there. The bartenders were always very helpful and quick to get our drinks.
The Grand 8/10: The breakfast buffet was okay. There were lots of options, but there was definitely a lot of random stuffâ€¦probably to please people from all over the world. We had dinner at the Surf & Turf restaurant once, and it was phenomenal! We asked how much it would be to have our friends and family eat there with us since the food at the Beach/Del Mar was just okay, but they wanted to charge us $100 per person for one meal! I ordered room service quite a few times and almost always got the Caesar salad â€“ that was my favorite!
Beach/Del Mar 6/10: The food here was like a typical AI. You can find stuff to eat that is good, but it definitely can start wearing on you after a while. Iâ€™m not too picky, so I was fine, but I know some of our guests wanted to get out and have a really good meal. I had pizza pretty much every day, and I thought it was really good. They had all kinds of random things, like mozzarella sticks at breakfast. Some of the stuff looked really good, but because they were buffets, I was a little concerned about eating certain things since they could have been out a while. They had a great assortment of fresh fruit. All in all, the food was decent and it was an AI, so I wasnâ€™t expecting phenomenal food to begin with. We did have some issues with reservations though. As I mentioned earlier, the hotels were less than half full, however we had the hardest time trying to book reservations. Depending on how long you stay, youâ€™re given a certain amount of reservations at the a la carte restaurants. We thought this was something we were guaranteed, but when we tried book the reservations, they kept telling us they were full. But when we went by the restaurants, they were nearly empty! When my parents started questioning why they were turned down, they escalated them to the Manager of Public Relationsâ€¦his name is Ivan. This guy is a piece of work! He also happens to be in charge of the WCs at the Beach/Del Mar. He has a horrible and arrogant attitude and does not care in the least about providing even mediocre customer service. I have no idea how this guy got this job â€“ he needs to be in the back where he has no customer interaction. The night of the rehearsal dinner, which was at El Hashiru, was the night that put me over the edge with this guy. When we first arrived, we had to wait a bit while they set up the tables to fit all 25 of us together. They came back and said theyâ€™d have to split us up, which wasnâ€™t ideal, but it was fine. The place was nearly empty and they were only seating in one part of the restaurant where there were 3 tables in a row. There was one table with customers seated at about half the table, and they told us to fill in the rest of that table and then the remainder of our group would be seated at another table. The other 2 tables were empty so I asked if we could have those tables instead. They made a huge deal about not being able to do that, and insisted that we sit with random people. We pushed back because the place was empty â€“ literally there was only one table with guests and it wasnâ€™t even full. They said they had to accommodate guests with reservations and they wouldnâ€™t be able to seat us at the 2 empty tables or any of the other empty tables. I got very upset because I booked my reservation a year in advance, and I was spending all this money for the wedding when so many other travelers cancelled due to the swine flu! He flat out told us that the reason there were so many empty tables was because so many people cancelled. We said, â€œWell we didnâ€™t cancelâ€”weâ€™re here spending our money (and lots of it!), so why arenâ€™t you taking care of us?â€ He didnâ€™t care one bit. Ivan said he didnâ€™t care how much we spent and that this was their policy and refused to do anything about it. He acted so smug and pompous and was extremely rude. I was more upset about how we were being treated than the actual situation. A WC named Carla was filling in for Reyna that night, and she couldnâ€™t have been sweeter. She really tried to help us out. Thanks to Carla, we were able to get the two empty tables, but they said if someone else came, they would be seated with us. We told them that was fine. A few minutes later they seated another group with us, but at that point we were over it because there was nothing we could do. It was really annoying because they opened up another table that was in another part of the restaurant a little later. I just donâ€™t get why they couldnâ€™t accommodate us since it was for our rehearsal dinner, not just a normal dinner, but the way Ivan handled it made it 10 times worse.
My advice is to book your reservations as soon as you get there so hopefully you wonâ€™t have the same problems we did!
Bar Service 8/10
Bar service everywhere was very good. They got us everything we asked for and the bartenders were all very sweet. Just a warning about the tequila-itâ€™s served warm here, so if you prefer it cold, just let them know and theyâ€™ll chill it for you! One complaint I have is the beer at the pool tasted skunky. I usually like beer, but it was so gross that I couldnâ€™t drink it all week!
The Grand 10/10: Housekeeping at the Grand was great. We had no issues with anything and they did a great job cleaning â€“ especially after we drug in sand from the beach. Housekeeping didnâ€™t stock the mini bar, but Iâ€™ll put this info here anyways. The Grand was really good about stocking our mini bar. They told us to let them know what we wanted, and they would stock it everyday just as we requested. They were also very generous when I would ask for champagne and OJ for mimosas â€“ theyâ€™d send me a whole bottle! I even asked for 2 bottles the day of the wedding to bring with me to the Del Mar where we were getting ready and they brought them both right over!
Beach/Del Mar 7/10: My guests said the mini bar at the Beach and Del Mar did not get filled everyday, so their experience was a little different than ours. They did think the different towel animals were cute though.
Entertainment/Things to Do N/A
Sadly, we didnâ€™t take advantage of any of the shows while we were there. Every night after a late dinner, weâ€™d hang out in the lobby bar. That was always fun! Had we stayed longer, we probably would have taken the time to see some of the entertainment, but time went by so fast!
Wedding Overall 10/10
The wedding was fabulous and exceeded all my expectations! We did the civil ceremony and incorporated the Mexican lasso tradition at the last minute. During our meeting with Reyna, she asked if I brought the lasso, and I had no idea what she was talking about so we didnâ€™t plan on doing it. But as we were walking to the ceremony, they said they found a lasso and asked if we wanted to use it. I had no idea what to expect, but Iâ€™m glad we agreed to do it. I thought it was pretty cool and authentic! We had a female minister who did a pretty good job. She made us laugh a few times throughout. I really liked the ceremony â€“ there were a lot of meaningful words that I liked a lot. She did seem to zone out a few times and forget our names and have to look at her book, but it was kinda funny!
We had the ceremony at 4:30pm in the garden gazebo, cocktails were on the terrace of the Tropical Restaurant at 6pm and we had a private reception in the Tropical Restaurant from 7pm-11pm. The Tropical Restaurant was absolutely perfect â€“ the atmosphere was great! The appetizers during the cocktail hour were pretty good. They had sushi and mozzarella sticks, but I canâ€™t remember what else they had. Kind of a random mix of things! We also had the cigar roller during the cocktail hour, which was a big hit! The food for dinner was a choice between skirt steak and grilled fish. I had the grilled fish, which was ok, but I actually heard the skirt steak was better. In previous reviews Iâ€™d seen about the food, Iâ€™d heard the fish was better so I guess it just depends on your preference. After all the appetizers, I wasnâ€™t really that hungry, so I didnâ€™t eat much of my dinner.
The reception was an absolute blast! By the time the wedding rolled around, everyone had bonded already, so it was a big old party! Everyone danced and had a great time! We went to the Galaxy afterwards by way of the trolley, which was fun for a while, but I was exhausted by that point!
Iâ€™m not sure if they would have decorated our room anyways since we were at the Grand, but my mom and MOH arranged for our room to be decorated after the wedding. It was so beautiful and romantic! They had tealight candles and rose petals on the floor, and there were rose petals and our flower arrangements from the wedding set up in the room. They even had tuxedo-decorated chocolate covered strawberries! They also filled up the hot tub and put rose petals in there too â€“ it was gorgeous!
Wedding Coordinator 9/10
I had been working with mainly just Gabriela until about a month before the wedding, but Reyna did her best to answer all my questions. They were usually really good about responding within 2-3 days and they were always very patient with my slew of questions! Like many of you, I had some issues communicating with Reyna right before my wedding, but I think that was in large part to Gabriella moving somewhere else, plus the swine flu frenzy had just started. I was starting to freak out before we left, but everything turned out great. We met with Reyna and went over all the details, like flowers, decorations, ceremony, etc. She showed pictures of different options to choose from. I think this would be nice if they sent this stuff ahead of time so you could know what you want early on, but it worked out just fine. I wanted lots of rose petals and the arch to be completely covered, so I made this very clear to her. I also dropped off all my extras to her at this time, including favors, framed pictures, escort â€œcardsâ€, etc. I was nervous that they wouldnâ€™t set it up the way I envisioned, but I left it up to them and it turned out great!
Timing of the Day
Since all my guests were staying at the Del Mar/Beach, we decided to get a room just for the girls to get ready in. Reyna was able to get us the room for just $50, so that was a pretty good deal! Charlie and the guys didnâ€™t require much getting-ready time, so they just got ready in the best manâ€™s room.
The timing of the day worked out really well. I had all the girls meet in the room at 10am, which I thought would be plenty early to start hair and makeup. Iâ€™m really glad we planned extra time because we got delayed due to our issues with the front desk letting in the hair & makeup guys. Iâ€™ll elaborate more on that shortly. The photographer was supposed to shoot me and the girls getting ready and taking group shots from 2:30-3:45 and then she was going to shoot Charlie and the GMs from 3:45-4:15. Well, the photographer had car problems and was running late, so she got the tail-end of me get ready, and thatâ€™s really just because I waited for her to get dressed and all that. Needless to say we didnâ€™t have time to shoot the GMs before the wedding. I wish I would have planned the timing of this better b/c we were getting ready on the Del Mar side, and the guys were getting on the Beach side, and it would have been hard for the photog to get over there and shoot them if she had been running on time. She could have made it work, but it would have been nice to have built in some extra time. Reyna and Carla were good about letting the guys know when and where they had to be, so the ceremony started on time, and so did everything else.
Guest Passes/Visitors 1/10
I want to warn you about the front desk letting in visitors. There seemed to be a lack of communication between the WCs and the front desk because we had several issues with this. Reyna said the only person weâ€™d have to pay a guest pass fee for was the DJ since he would be eating. She said we would not have to pay for the hair/makeup team or the photography team, and she said she would make sure the front desk was aware. Well, we wasted about 45 minutes trying to explain this to the front desk when the hair/makeup team arrived. They had to make calls to the manager and WCs, but they couldnâ€™t get in touch with the WCs because they donâ€™t arrive until noon. In general, the people at the front desk were not very friendly. They had a similar attitude as Ivan. Once we got everything figured out and started walking to the room, the security guard stopped us and said they did need to pay the fee, so we had to deal with that all over again. Finally, we were able to get them through without the fees. I made sure that Reyna was aware of this issue so that we wouldnâ€™t have the same problem when the photography team arrived. Thankfully they had no issues. If you have guests coming, I would make sure you have everything in writing from Reyna so you can present it to the front desk. I would even make copies if you have guests arriving at different times.
I did a lot of research on 4 star hotels in the area, and the Iberostar was the least expensive of those I looked at, but that was just for the package price â€“ not the extras. However, if we would have had the same wedding in the states, the price would probably have been outrageously expensive so I think we got a great deal.
When Reyna went over the details of the wedding, the prices were very clear so we werenâ€™t surprised by anything. But pay close attention to how they want to be paid. If they say $100 US dollars, they donâ€™t want the equivalent in pesos. They mean $100 US dollars. Thank goodness we had enough cash on us, but we assumed the $100 could be either in dollars or the equivalent in pesos. So make sure you understand exactly how they want to be paid. Plus, they sent over a price list of all the extras so I was prepared to pay extra for these things. Paraisobeachbride mentioned that they asked her to pay upfront for the wedding, but we didnâ€™t get a list of the charges until we were about to check out, so we paid then. Not sure what is standard practice, but thatâ€™s how they did it for us.
Thanks to ParaisoBeachBrideâ€™s thorough review, I knew to specifically ask for a fully decorated arch. I really emphasized that I wanted bright pink bougainvillea covering the whole arch with Reyna, however on the day of the wedding, they showed up with only a few bougainvillea arrangements on the arch. Thankfully Charlie was there and told them that it was supposed to be fully covered, so they quickly scrambled to cover the whole thing. It looked absolutely stunning! They had different shades of pink bougainvillea, which looked even better than what I asked for (just bright pink). I didnâ€™t want to get too fancy with my requests since we were in Mexico, so I just asked for bouquets & arrangements with roses. I asked for 2 arrangements of bright pink roses with no greenery on the gazebo columns, but I got even better arrangements that what I asked for. The arrangements had roses, bougainvillea and gerbera daisies that looked gorgeous! They also put down lots of rose petals just like I asked! I saw some pictures with rose petals during our meeting with Reyna, and I told them I wanted twice as many and they complied. The flowers really added a lot to the gazebo, and Iâ€™m so happy with how it turned out!
We had the violinist play during the ceremony, and it was lovely! I sent over a very specific list of classical songs that I wanted played and from what I could hear, he played them all to a tee!
For the cocktail hour and reception, we had DJ Bob play. He was super affordable and he did a great job. It cost us $500 for 5 hours, which was very reasonable compared to the other DJs in the area. He only takes US Dollars too. He was really friendly and he played all the songs I requested! At first I was nervous because he told me to just send a list of 10 songs and heâ€™d figure out what we liked based on that, so I told him I was very picky and that Iâ€™d prefer to have more input than that. He said he needed to have some flexibility based on the guestsâ€™ reactions, which I totally understood. I ended up being nervous for no reason because he played all my â€˜Must Havesâ€™ and then some! He said I provided several good songs that were new to him, so that made me smile! I would definitely recommend him. He did a great job keeping everyone up and dancing.
DJ Bob â€“ email@example.com
Cecilia Dumas was our photographer, and I think she did a good job for the most part, but I was disappointed with some of the pictures. I am still in the process of having her fix some of these pictures, so I will post a full review on Cecilia once it has been resolved.
Wedding photography | Cecilia Dumas, Cancun y Riviera Maya | Imagenes de Bodas
We used a videographer who works with Cecilia Dumas, and his name was Benjamin. He was pretty reasonably priced compared to most of the videographers in the area. We paid $500 for 3 hours. He filmed the ceremony, beach photo shoot and first dances. I wish we would have hired him to stay throughout the reception, but oh well! He did a really good job editing and putting it together. Iâ€™d definitely recommend him, and I think I got a discounted rate by booking Cecilia and Benjamin together.
Hair & Makeup 10/10
I used Alexandro Zavala for hair and makeup. Alexandro does the makeup, and he has a guy who does the hair part. They came a few days early to do my hair trial in my hotel room. I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised by how good they were, plus I thought it was great that they came to me to do the trial! It wasnâ€™t too humid when I did my trial so my hair stayed curly through the next day. Unfortunately it was very humid on the day of the wedding, so it didnâ€™t hold up as well, but considering how straight my hair is, I thought it held up pretty well. We had them do the BMs makeup and my mom and MOH had both hair and makeup done. I canâ€™t even begin to tell you how many compliments we all got! Everyone looked gorgeous! Alex, his hair guy and his assistant were all super nice. Alex was the only one who spoke English, but he would translate for us. My mom speaks Spanish and she said Alex was really nice and respectful to his assistant and the hair guy, which made me happy because they all worked hard and did a great job! They were also very accommodating if someone didnâ€™t like their hair or makeup â€“ they would do whatever we asked, yet theyâ€™d also give us their professional opinion. One other great thing about them is their prices! They were much less expensive than the resort spa and other hair/makeup artists in the area, plus we got a 15% discount because we booked 3 months out. Hair/Makeup Bridal Trial was $150; Wedding Day Hair/Makeup for Bride was $250; Hair & Makeup for everyone else was $95; Hair & Makeup a la carte was $60. I would highly recommend Alex and his crew! Fabulous job!!
Alexandro Zavala - Makeup Artist Hairstylist - Cancn, Mxico
We ordered our cake from Pasteleteria in PDC. We went to town and did a cake tasting which was fun! The cafÃ© is super cute! I was very happy I had my Spanish-speaking father with me b/c he translated exactly what I wanted and was able to ask questions for me. The people at the store did not speak English, or at least they didnâ€™t while we were there, although their main contact at the Cancun store does speak English. She and I had been emailing before the wedding and she seemed to understand exactly what I wanted. She sometimes took a long time to respond to my emails, so I just had to stalk her until I got my answer. She can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org
The cake was fondant, which sweated a lot in the heat. They didnâ€™t deliver it until right before the reception to prevent this b/c Iberostar said they didnâ€™t have a fridge to store it in, but Reyna ended up putting it in the fridge anyways when she noticed it was sweating. The cake looked very similar to what I asked for, but it didnâ€™t have as polished of a look as I hoped for. I wanted real roses on top of the cake, but they made some out of icing, which looked a bit cheesy, and they also didnâ€™t put our initial on it like I asked, but by that point I didnâ€™t really care! The cake was pretty good, but most people were more interested in drinking than eating cake at that point. I am glad we got our cake from an outside vendor because I had heard they werenâ€™t that good or cute at the resort, and it was not too expensive. I think it was about $150 with delivery.
Wedding Favors 10/10
We ordered brownies from Ah Cacao as our wedding favors. I had read fabulous reviews of this place on Trip Advisor and everyone raved about their brownies. I ordered some of their chocolates to sample to see if I wanted to get chocolates or brownies, but they donâ€™t mail-order the brownies. The chocolates were okay, so I decided to go with all the rave reviews and get the brownies, although I was a little nervous whether or not theyâ€™d meet my standards. They were really, really good â€“ everyone loved them and they came individually wrapped with a tag that told about the history of chocolate being discovered in Mexico. It was perfect and just what I wanted â€“ an authentic Mexican favor! I ordered them online about a week in advance, and they were all ready for us when we got there. They were very reasonably priced â€“ about $1.83 per brownie.
Ah Cacao Real Chocolate - Welcome
All in all, this was the best week of my life! If I had to do it all over again, I would do everything exactly the same. I know it can be nerve-racking planning a wedding from afar â€“ especially when there can be a language barrier, however everything turned out much better than I expected. Reyna and the other WCs are absolute professionals and they know what theyâ€™re doing, even though they may not always seem like they know what youâ€™re talking about via email. I would definitely recommend getting married at Iberostar! I donâ€™t log on to the website very often, so feel free to email me with any questions you may have! Stina168@aol.com