Dreams La Romana: May 15-22, 2010
Wedding Date: May 19, 2010
Group size: 13 adults + 1 baby
Ceremony: Symbolic @ Gazebo, 430pm
Reception/Dinner: Oceana, 7pm
Tour Operator: Air Canada Vacations (ACV)/Hola Tours
This was my third time to the DR and was really looking forward to it after hearing about the resort and seeing beautiful photos of other weddings. My other visits to the DR were to Puerto Plata on the North side of the island and I must say, I was slightly disappointed with Dreams La Romana. I am not high maintenance or anything, but there were some things I have to point out that were slightly unacceptable in a so-called 5 star resort.
Friday, May 14:
The day before our departure, I booked the day off work (to pack and do last minute things) and my sister booked an appointment for manicures for my husband and I. While we were 15 minutes into our appointment, my husband’s father was admitted to the emerg and we got the call to come down to the hospital. He was there literally all day...and night. My hubby and I were also there with him trying to figure out what was going on and what to do. I don’t mean to be selfish and I felt guilty that I wanted to go home and pack after 15 hours of sitting in the hospital. As much as I wanted him to get better, I knew I had to get home to pack my own things. I knew right away that he would not be able to travel with us and at 2am, the doctors’ recommendation was not to travel for 2-3 days. We had a limo scheduled to pick us up at 6am. And his dad kept saying that he could get discharged and just jump in the limo if someone could pack for him. Absolutely ludicrous. Long story short, his dad was not able to come and his mom had to stay back to care for him. Very disappointing for everyone. So when I finally got home, I had one hour of sleep and was running around packing and getting things ready for the rest of the 3 hours. I was not as organized as I normally am, so that made things a bit chaotic too.
Saturday, May 15:
The limo company picked us up 20 mins early and got us to the airport in no time. We had some issues that arose at the airport in our home town but they were resolved and we were able to begin our journey. The main issue was that when our group paid our deposits for the trip in July, 2009, my sister was pregnant and I told the TA that her due date was September and we would be able to provide a name and birthdate at that time. So fine, when my little niece was born, I called my TA and had our group info updated to include the baby. Somehow the baby was registered as “Mrs. xxxx” with age 0. I had to have my TA correct this but for some reason while at the airport, it was not showing corrected, as well, and her name was not appearing on the itinerary on the ACV side of things. All they had record for was “Baby X”. That held us up a bit, but no sweat. I was apprehensive, excited and anxious! I carried my dress in a white plastic cover and then a white garment bag, which the flight attendants allowed me to store in the First Class closet. It’s not full length, so it still draped onto the floor. Fine by me though. As we had a connecting flight, I also had to fold my dress in store it in the overhead compartments.
Once we arrived in Punta Cana, everything was smooth sailing. As soon as we hit the tarmac, we were directed to the baggage area where we all had to stop for photos with some locals dressed in traditional Dominican dress. We weren’t sure why but on the way back home, we figured it out. There were people directing us to the ACV lines and the baggage area. There were lots of men trying to help us with our bags. They didn’t even have carts for anyone to use upon arrival so you had no choice but to let them help. We only tipped each guy a couple of dollars. It didn’t appear like they expected a tip but on the way back, it was a different story. All of our luggage was taken to our shuttle and due to the size of our group; we had our own shuttle from the airport to the resort. Could also have been because we were the only ones going there. The ride was about 2 hours and we arrived at the resort just before 10pm. It was a long day but we were happy to get there in one piece!
Upon arrival at the resort, I went to check in our group and as soon as I turned around, everyone had champagne in hand and all smiles. Check in was relatively smooth. We had a bit of confusion because one of my brothers-in-law has the same name as my father-in-law who did not travel with us. It was fun explaining to the front desk but they caught on. We were given our room keys and away we went. Shortly after we made it to our rooms, our bags were delivered. A few minutes later, there was a knock at our door and it was the bellboy dropping off a bag that was not ours but my niece’s. I gladly said I would deliver it since he did not understand that it was for our family down the hall.
About 2 weeks before arrival, I emailed concierge about our room requests and the only response I got was asking me what type of beds we wanted. I replied back but didn’t get a response. We were all in Building 2 on the 2nd floor but we had a room on the other side of the building facing the infinity pool. As soon as we got into our room, we cranked the A/C. It didn’t seem to work well at first and there was a very strong musty smell. The bedding also felt damp, maybe from the humidity? I thought I wouldn’t be able to live in there for a week. My hubby called the front desk and asked them to look at the A/C. Not sure if they ever did but throughout the week, the smell disappeared and the A/C worked just fine. They had balloons taped on the walls for us and fruit and champagne in the room as well. Each night we received the Sundial, which tells you what’s going on the next day (special events, entertainment, activities, etc). My sister’s room was a room with a king size bed, she did not have face cloths in her room all week even after asking the front desk and concierge. Not a big deal but might be an annoyance to others. The biggest issue in her room was the amount of ants everywhere. We all had notices that room were being fumigated at 9am one morning, so we all made an effort to clear out of our rooms but nothing was ever fumigated. My sister’s ants were still everywhere. They were on the sink, the floor and most disgusting was on her bed and pillows!! This was totally unacceptable in a 5 star resort. The biggest concern was having the baby sleep with these ants. I felt so bad but no one would do anything for them. We had one room with my bros-in-law being triple occupancy. There were 2 double beds and one cot set up against the wall. It was a tight fit all week for them but they made it work. They however, did not have a safe in there room. After requesting one for a day and a half, they finally got one delivered but it was not the electronic safe, so they had to carry a key around with them all week. My parent’s room ended up with a leak in the ceiling beside the bed (which we didn’t complain about but should have) and did not have soap in the bathroom all week. They also didn’t have an alarm clock until Thursday after we asked everyday for one. Communication seemed to be very difficult with certain requests. My brothers’ room also did not have bar soap all week. Not sure why that was. Our best friends’ room had a toilet that wouldn’t flush and 3 out of the 7 rooms had spiders in the bathroom. We are all aware that it’s the tropics and it’s expected but ants in a bed and certain issues we had were not acceptable. I hope that we were just unlucky and that no one else experiences those issues with their rooms.
We hit the buffet after putting our luggage away at it was about 1030pm. The food was plentiful and very good for a “snack” buffet. There was lasagna, hot dogs, burgers, deli, fruits, etc. I don’t think you could get cocktails from the buffet bar as we asked and were always told to go to the lobby or pool bars. Shortly after our midnight snacks, we all went to our rooms and got some much needed rest.
Sunday, May 16:
We had the day to get acquainted with where things were and figure things out. I desperately needed to get organized, so I spent some time getting things done. We did spend a bit of time in the ocean but not much. It was a fun day for everyone though. Half our group were first timers to all inclusive. That evening when we got back to our room, the phone rang while I was in the bathroom and my hubby answered. It was Yanna. Although we arranged to meet with her on Tuesday the 18th at 930am, she told us to meet her at 11am on Monday. My hubby said that’s not what we had agreed to but Yanna insisted it was and so we met her on the Monday. I did think it was strange that we were going to meet her Tuesday for a Wednesday wedding, so I was glad it was moved to Monday anyway. That also freed up the day for us to go zip lining Tuesday! We had dinner at the SSG. It was good but while everyone was eating, my brother didn’t get his food.
Monday, May 17:
I had a hair trial at the spa at 9am. Thanks Dolfinluck. I emailed the spa prior to arrival and set this up. The spa manager, Elke, offered the trial and confirmed my wedding hair appt. The spa was nice. Alex did my trial. She spoke very little English but she did do a great job. She showed me a binder with what looked like other brides print outs of hair styles and asked me to choose. I chose one that I liked from Google that happened to be in the binder but she didn’t like it and she did her own thing. I am laid back so I just went with the flow. She did offer to try the other style on me after she did her preference but I was ok with what she did. I originally wanted half up and loose curls or a low, loose bun but I ended up with a full on up do. The day of the wedding, I have to agree with the other girls….she used half a bottle of hairspray on me!! She kept saying my hair was too much but I was choking on the fumes! My hair stayed in place in the humidity and was hard as a rock! Lol. She also put in 3 beautiful white plumerias for me the wedding day and for the trial. We did not do a makeup trial; I would suggest other brides do so. I brought my own makeup that Alex used on me. I can’t say it was great (I ended up washing my face off and doing it myself). She was really nice and tried hard though. Tiara also told me that they would not use any of my own makeup at the spa but Alex even asked me for my own. I was the only one in the spa at during the trial and the wedding day. It was silent and awkward but turned out good. She even used my camera to take front, back and side views of my hair trial and referenced them on the wedding day. At 11am, I went to the lobby with hubby to meet Yanna. She was with another couple but wrapped up and met with us. I did not make any final decisions prior to arrival but we had some ideas. The meeting was easy and painless. I gave her my chair sashes, confirmed our numbers, gave her some decorations for the receptions and bubbles for the ceremony. I also provided cds for the bride’s entrance and the recessional. The dj played the 2 songs for us free of charge the day of. Yanna asked how we wanted flowers, I said tropical. I didn’t specify species or colours. Any flowers are beautiful to me. We chose our reception location of the beach and our meal from the gold menu and had a tres leches cake. Fyi, we were asked if we wanted to give our guest s a choice of dinner menus too. Eg. They could choose beef or chicken. We just chose one item for everyone in hopes that it would make dinner go quicker and smoothly. We also asked for the music trio to be at our dinner instead of cocktail hour.
Yanna told us to leave our dress and suit on the bed for Tuesday morning so that laundry service could pick up and steam everything. She also asked us to provide the last of the decorations, sand ceremony items and our vows right after our meeting. I asked about the videographer and photographer and she said we had to deal directly with them. Right after all of that, she printed our invoice and we paid the entire bill on my credit card at the front desk. Be sure to let your CC company know you are travelling, as others reminded us about too. We were done the meeting at around 1230pm. Then had to run around to find a printer for our vows. Due to the chaos before leaving town, I couldn’t print out our vows or email it to Yanna. Yanna told us to email it to her right after the meeting. We went to concierge, so see if they could print it for us; they sent us to the internet cafÃ© and told there was a printer there. We got there, paid for 15 mins to log into my email only to find there was no printer. The guy working the counter told us to email the document to concierge and they could print it for us. We went back to concierge and he told us that he hadn’t received our email and to go back and email it again. I told him I was not about to pay for another 15 minutes. He finally let me log into my email from his computer and he hit print from there. He then motioned me to the front desk to pick up the print out while he was on the phone with my email still open. I sat there asking him to sign out before I got up. I went to the front desk and asked them for the print out. They were in the middle of a 150 page print job so I had to wait 20 mins before I got my vows. By this time it was almost 2pm and I was getting really hot and annoyed. The sun sets at 7pm and I was still running around at 2! We then had to exchange our USD for smaller denominations for tips and such and then finally got to eat lunch! We had dinner at Himitsu. It was good. Service was slow but they were busy and we didn’t mind too much.
Tuesday, May 18:
The morning of laundry service knocked on our door to pick up the clothes, but we only gave her the suit. I ended up changing my mind on steaming my dress. And it really didn’t need to be steamed anyway. It was just fine. We enjoyed breakfast at the buffet and then went zip lining at 130pm. This was amazing and lots of fun! My parents stayed back with the baby but we all enjoyed ourselves. We got back to the resort around 7pm and the suit was back in the room nicely steamed and on the bed. We had dinner at Oceana. It was a nice setting and the food was really nicely plated. The garlic shrimp was really good.
Wednesday, May 19: The big day!!
Hubby checked into a courtesy room in building 1 for the afternoon. We had lunch, went for an hour dip in the ocean where we noticed that Yanna had our space taped off on the beach for our reception. YAY! I had to go back to my room at 1pm to shower and dry my hair for my spa appt at 2pm. As I mentioned earlier, Alex did my hair. She did a nice job, tons of hairspray but it did not move or fall apart at all. She also did my makeup as I already mentioned as well. Too much foundation and I had falsies to put on myself because I didn’t feel comfortable leaving it up to her. Once I got back to my room I ended up washing my face and doing everything over myself in a race for time. So the hair and makeup took about an hour and 15 mins. While Alex was doing my makeup, Yanna came rushing through the spa doors, sat down next to me and sighed. She quickly said she was very worried about the rain. Because there were no windows where I was, I didn’t even know it was raining! She told me that she is praying that it will stop and that we can have the ceremony at the gazebo still but if not it will be moved indoors. After my heart sank, she continued to say that there was a special function going on at the beach that evening (some manager’s party) and that we could not have our reception there anymore. She told us that we would have to have it in the Oceana Restaurant (where our group had eaten just the night before!). After I didn’t say anything, she said that the restaurant is very nice and that they would close it down for our group and we would have the entire place to ourselves. I didn’t even know how to react. I was sitting in the chair already unhappy with my makeup and worried about the rain, and then our reception was being moved too?? All I could think of was, please stop raining! The whole point of the DW was to get married in the gazebo and have dinner on the beach! If everything was being moved and changed, we could have saved us the trouble of travelling and stayed home where his parents could have celebrated with us!
Anyway, the appointment wrapped up. Alex was so nice. She walked me out of the spa with an umbrella so the rain wouldn’t ruin my hair. At that point, the videographer showed up at the spa and introduced himself. But I was so frantic at that point, I’m really not sure if he wanted anything or to ask me something as I took off running back to my room. It was 320pm already. I knew I only had an hour to re-do my makeup and get into my dress. When I got back, the bouquet was there with the corsages and boutonniÃ¨res. I scrubbed my face and started on new makeup, it was 340pm when Yanna called me and asked if we could start the ceremony early because the rain had stopped but it was still cloudy and overcast. I really started to panic because I didn’t know anyone’s numbers to call and my mom and sister weren’t even in my room helping me yet. As soon as I hung up I started to cry. I frantically called my hubby and didn’t even know who answered but told them to hurry up and go down to the gazebo b/c of the early start and asked where everyone was and asked for help!! As I was trying to fix my eye makeup my sister called and said she was on her way to my room. Suddenly everyone was at my room! My mom, dad, brother, niece, friend. I needed to boot the boys out b/c I needed to get in my dress!!! I finally finished getting ready in 5 mins! When my sister went to pin the corsages and boutonnieres on everyone, she noticed omg, ANTS all over them! Also the pins provided weren’t long enough so the flowers kept flopping over. It was 350pm, everyone went down to the gazebo and I was ready to go but no sign of Yanna! She told me to wait for her and she would walk me down to the gazebo so the dj would know when to start the music. I was so amped at that point. We didn’t get pictures of me getting ready or of my dress hanging. Everything was such a mess. I called the front desk to locate Yanna. They transferred me to Tiara who said she would get Yanna to call me. About half an hour later, Yanna calls me back and says she’s on her way to my room. By then it was around 420pm already. So I rushed everyone to get down there b/c Yanna asked if we could start early but yet I didn’t even get there until 430 anyway. I was irritated because my brother who was walking me down the aisle didn’t even have time to comb his hair b/c of the rush! The baby was also outside too soon so she overheated and was fussy during the ceremony. Anyway, Yanna showed up with the videographer, we all walked to the gazebo and as soon as I arrived. I wanted to cry again. But this time b/c it was beautiful! The sky cleared up the gazebo was draped with tulle (we paid extra) and the chairs and sashes were just how I envisioned. The music played and I remember saying to my brother “this is it! what a fairy tale!”. Even he said “wow, so nice.” Haha.
Elke, the spa manager performed our ceremony. We did our sand ceremony and it was all done in less than 20 mins. Yanna hung around to make sure things were smooth but never in the way, she was gone right after the ceremony. The photographer took a bunch of shots during the ceremony. We asked him to take a few couple shots for us after and he told us that it was an extra cost etc. We were standing in front of the gazebo, so I just said sure, we’ll discuss later. He stayed for half an hour and was gone. I was a bit annoyed that right after our ceremony, we moved just right of the gazebo for photos and there was a group of 3 or 4 people taking photos in our paid for and decorated gazebo!!! We hadn’t even taken our own photos in the gazebo and here are strangers using it!!! Not only that, they are in my wedding video doing so! The cocktails and hors d'oeuvres were beautifully set up. My tip to future brides is give yourself plenty of time for photos. Even though the ceremony was done before 5 and dinner wasn’t until 7pm, we did not have enough time for photos. I am really disappointed that we didn’t even get any photos on the beach, just the two of us or as a group. The sun set really quickly so lighting was poor and it just didn’t leave enough time even with a group as small as ours. I should also mention that there were lots of mosquitoes at this resort. I noticed they come out in the evening mostly but because the cocktail hour was in the grass/grounds, I was pretty well eaten alive. You can see the bites on my arms and back in my photos! (Probably b/c I’m allergic to mosquitoes and the bites make me swell up! But I’ve never been to a resort with mosquitoes before.)
Right after quick photos with my sister’s DSLR, we had to head over to Oceana. The Trio was there playing when we arrived. And the table was set up beautifully. I gave Yanna a bunch of candles and silver shells to put out but she didn’t use everything. I wanted all 24 shells scattered around the table but she only put out 13, one in front of each person’s plate. No biggy but I paid for the shells and I wanted them all on the table. Yanna did a fabulous job with everything else though. She even provided chargers but I think it’s b/c the restaurant already does. I have to say though, she printed up little menu cards and put them on the chargers with my fans for guests. I had no idea she would do that and really appreciated it. She also set up a separate table for my guestbook cards and a separate table for cake. The dinner took some time to get prepared. The waiters still went around to ask how everyone wanted their beef cooked. Everyone was so hot and the baby was crying so no one was even sitting around the table with us while the meal was being prepared. The trio played but b/c dinner took awhile to come, we asked them to take a break and have a drink and come back later. We only got their service for an hour total. I have to also mention, even thought the restaurant was closed for us, there was some European guy in his swimming trunks that managed to come in the restaurant with no shirt on. He was quickly asked to leave. No one bothered us after that.
Once we ate dinner, everyone was so hot that they were all over the restaurant. We quickly cut our cake, ate not even half of it and asked to have our cake delivered to our room the next day. It was delicious! But we were all so full from dinner. I didn’t even realize until later on that although our dinner package included dessert, we were never served the dessert. I was looking forward to trying it! My mom gathered up the silver shells off the table but left everything else. I assumed Yanna would clean up and give us our stuff back the next day. We all headed over to the outdoor stage of the show, and then half my group went back to their rooms (either too hot or sick/hives) and only 5 of us went to the disco. It was slightly lame because it was 60s, 70s & 80s night and it was dead. I’m not much of a dancer so we stayed for a few drinks and left too. It was such a simple wedding, I thought it would be hard to screw up but there were some things that I was disappointed about. If you looked at our pictures though, you’d never know. So that I am thankful for!
Thursday, May 20:
We were supposed to have breakfast in bed but asked to have it delivered another day since we booked an early morning half day excursion. Went to Altos de Chavon. It was nice, excursion as a whole was so-so. Got back to the resort and had to track down Yanna to pick things up, find out about the video and photos, etc. more business. We literally did not get to spend any time in the water at all that day. We had dinner at the Mexican restaurant and the waiter from our reception was there and remembered us. He asked if we got our cake delivered, when we said no, he tracked it down and had us serve it for dessert that night. It was great! The food there was really good too. I really like the tortilla soup – slightly spicy and so delicious! After dinner we met with the photographer to choose our photos but ended up negotiating a really bad price for all of our photos on CD. It was much lower than he initially stated but way more than what it was worth. He told us the discs would be ready in a couple of hours but when we came back he said he would have them ready for us the next day. And they were. The photographers have a little hut beside the main pool. The only complaint I have about the photos we got were that they were all edited. Each one had either the colours enhanced, turned B&W or sepia. There are certain ones I wish were natural colours etc. There are close ups of us putting on our rings and they were made sepia but my hands look wrinkled, freckled and old, just not flattering at all. lol
Friday, May 21: Our last full day
We woke up at 830am, more running around, breakfast and then went on the Reef Explorer excursion. It was a half day excursion and we were supposed to be back by 630pm but didn’t get back until 830pm. My sister left her baby with my parents who ended up waiting for us to have dinner. The reason for the delay was a traffic jam in the city, where a one lane in each direction road turned into a 3 lane one way and 1 lane the other road! Lol. And the one cop directing traffic almost got ran over! That was an interesting ride back. The excursion itself was neat. We snorkeled with stingrays and nurse sharks. Didn’t see many colourful or interesting fish or coral though.
Saturday, May 22: Last day with p/u at 4pm for an 8pm departure
We woke up early b/c we had arrangements with Yanna to have the honeymoon breakfast be delivered at 8am, did not show up until 840am. He apologized but we did not have to time to eat it because we has a couple’s massage at 9am (included in our package). After the massage we tried to get all of our stuff back from Yanna. We didn’t get everything back but she just sent me a response (May 27) to my email saying she will try to FedEx the remaining stuff back to me. So that’s really nice. I hope we get it within the month because we are moving. Anyway, we headed down the beach to the little shops to buy some souvenirs then headed back to pack last minute stuff and find Yanna again. We were packed the night before so we called the bellboy to p/u our bags. They locked them in a secure room with everyone else’s luggage. We were told by the front desk that a courtesy room would be available at 3pm to shower and freshen up but only my hubby and I went for an hour swim in the ocean and infinity pool. My first time in the pool all week! I never even made it to the main pool. At 3pm, we were at the front desk and it was really busy but we were told that the courtesy room was being used so we had to wait 20 mins! This is nuts b/c our bus was picking us up at 4! The rest of our group was all crammed up in the internet cafÃ© with the other half of the resort checking out. I guess it’s the only A/C’d place at the resort. My BIL kept going to the front desk to ask for a courtesy room b/c the baby was getting really overheated and fussy and only after an hour of asking, they were finally given a room. We ended up going there to shower but there were no towels and it was just someone’s room that had checked out and not cleaned yet! I just couldn’t believe a resort that size and rating had only ONE courtesy room for people to use for 15 mins only?? Every resort I have been to has a designated area with showers and washrooms or provides clean rooms to use. Anyway the baby ended up getting a rash midweek but by the last day it ended up so bad on her face and just EVERYWHERE. The day we got home, she was in emerg. Poor baby. We were a bit frustrated when leaving the resort to because as part of our vacation package, the bride and groom were to have late checkout but we didn’t have that luxury either because when we went back to our room, it was already made up for a different honeymooning couple!
The shuttle picked us up slightly after 4pm. We made it to Punta Cana in 1.5 hours. Again ppl take your bags and stand with you until you send them off with a tip. After checking in and everything we past security and found a booth with our photos that were taken at the airport upon arrival! They were selling them for $9 a piece. I didn’t buy ours b/c there was a creeper in the background of our photo but I bought my parents for them. The girl working there kept saying “don’t forget me lady. $9 for the picture and $1 for me”. She walked me to the cashier and stood beside for the buck! WTF?? So I gave the cashier a 10, she gave me a dollar back and I just handed it over to the lady. She didn’t even do anything but I was out of patience.
I don’t want to sound all negative and we are certainly not a high maintenance group (most were first timers to AI and didn’t know what to expect anyway) but I am just pointing out issues WE had as a group at DLR. We hope that no one has the experience we did. It was just all chaotic for us and not relaxing at all. There are some really nice things about the resort though. And the reason we chose DLR is for the oceanfront gazebo, which really was a beautiful backdrop. The wedding itself turned out just fine and if you’re easy going, you’ll be just fine here too. Also when I look at the photos, it looks like everything went just perfectly and beautifully. I am satisfied with everything and just happy to be married!
•Lots of good restaurants
•Lots of activities
•Good room service
•Lots of loungers on beach
•Nice outdoor theatre location
•Beautiful oceanfront gazebo! (the location of it was really good too)
•Water was not clear
•No Caribbean music (it was always instrumental everywhere like Kenny G, maybe the main pool had Caribbean music?)
•No authentic dishes at the buffet, mostly Americanized foods
•Ants everywhere, lots of mosquitos in the evening!
•Misinformation between concierge and front desk
•Communication barriers with resort staff
•Missing safe, face cloths, soap and alarm clock
•No courtesy rooms?? Or designated area?
•Yanna tries very hard to please, her services were appreciated
•Lovely gazebo area
•Printed menu cards, free of charge and didn’t even ask for them
•Good service during our wedding
•Great videographer and video
•Out of anyone’s control but the rain, which caused chaos
•NOT HAVING OUR DINNER ON THE BEACH!!!!
•Not having enough time for photos
•Timeline all messed up (Originally I had 430pm for the ceremony start, but Tiara recommended 330 so I would have more time for pics, Yanna moved it back to 430 even after I voiced my concerns with the sunset, timing and Tiara’s recommendation). And Yanna calling my room to rush everyone down to start early but ended up on time, meanwhile everyone was sweating hot at the gazebo waiting for me.