Okay, so here it is!
The drive was only 20 minutes with 1 stop along the way. When we arrived at the hotel it was about 5pm and we were greeted warmly and the registration counter. Within a few minutes we were offered champagne and bottled water. I'm not sure if Ana called down or if they called her, but before I knew it they had handed me the phone and asked if we could meet around 630. We had gone with a garden view room (no upgrades) because we knew we weren't going to be spending much time in the room. Well, Ana had us moved to a honeymoon suite! This room is more spacious than the garden view, ocean view, or plunge pool rooms and it had a jacuzzi in the bathroom and also on the balcony. The view was AMAZING. We were in room 2201 and overlooked the palapas (hut looking thingys) at the southern edge of the property. VERY QUIET!
My parents upgraded to an ocean view, but there wasn't much ocean to see. Other friends had the plunge pool room. This came in handy when he got a horrible sunburn and had to stay out of the sun for a few days. We would hang out with them and the waitstaff would come by to check on us. He tipped $20 and told her to come back every hour on the hour. She did.
Although 5 of our rooms checked in at the same time, most of us weren't in the same area. This was fine because we were able to see more of the resort this way.
All the rooms were gorgeous. We'd go back and stay in a garden room and be just fine with that. I think the plunge pool rooms are better for families with small children or if you want to be anti social...
We ate at most of the restaurants. Our favorite was Oceana or the Seaside Grill. They both share the same kitchen and serve the same food. Our favorite meals here were: Tacos Pibil (pork filled street tacos), shrimp ceviche, NY strip steak (about 6-8oz), tuna tartare, and the shrimp tacos.
World Cafe is the buffet restaurant that is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Not my favorite but there was always plenty of room to sit and a variety of food to make anybody happy.
Himitsu is the Asian restaurant. They don't take reservations but have a wait list if they're full. It is also the only ala carte restaurant that will seat a large group together. The restaurant is tiny and there are only 2 tepanyaki grills that seat 8 people. Our friend got in line at 430 and the only available time for our group of 6 was at 9:20pm.
If you eat at the grill there is no menu.. you pick shrimp or beef and they give you 3 little pieces of sushi. Sushi wasn't that great. Show wasn't that great. Shrimp and rice were DELICIOUS!
Portofino is the Italian restaurant. It was only 4 of us that ate here but we still had to wait. No biggie, they give you a buzzer and we hung out in the lobby. We all tried something different and hands down the best entree was the shrimp and lobster anglioni. Also, we had desert and there was coffee ice cream that was the best!!
Coco Cafe is the coffee shop. They do have soy milk but not always. Their frozen Baily's is yummy!!
Room service IS 24 hrs but it's a limited menu. I could take it or leave it. During peak times its hard to get the room service to answer but usually I could get them by the 3rd try. Yes, it takes a while to get your food. Even if it's just water, but they let you know. DO NOT PREORDER ROOM SERVICE! We had them bring our breakfast and it was on time, but it wasn't very hot. So we tried again for the next day and I even asked them to make sure it was hot but it wasn't. Next time we'll call in early and then go back to sleep!
The best drinks are in the lobby but it gets busy at times. There is NO PATRON! And they will bring you room temperature (i.e. HOT) shots of Cazadores if you don't specify. We all really liked chilled 1800 Silver. The best mojitos were also at the lobby bar.
If you get a mixed drink they'll put in well liquor. Just be specific and ask for double shots. We like frozen lemonades with Absolut Citron.
Manatees is the swim up bar and very busy! It does take a few mins to get a drink here when there are a lot of people swimming. We liked their Miami Vices, Watermelon Mojitos, Frozen Lemonades, and Mayan Rivieras. Long Island Iced Teas were NASTY!!
The drinks at Barracuda were mediocre. But this is the cool swing bar and it's quiet over there so we didn't mind.
We received a Swedish Massage for 2 and it was great. I also had my hair and makeup done here for the wedding and they did a great job. I was kind of concerned about the eye makeup being too heavy, but it looked great in the photos! FYI, don't buy the Sephora eyelashes. They started to come up at the corners and I ended up pulling them off.
Kinda warm but it's Mexico!!
Water was clear and kinda rocky in spots. It's hard to find a spot under a palapa because people claim them early even though you're not supposed to. There are PLENTY OF OTHER PLACES to grab a chair. There is seaweed. It's the ocean! When it rains there's more. They pick up the seaweed in the morning and throughout the day. Not often. And now for the juicy stuff!! At the meeting with Ana we picked out the canapes for our cocktail hour that we decided to have the night before the wedding. We went with the Mexican. We also picked out our menu and she let us choose from the silver and the gold menu. We went with the marble cake, too. We also picked our flowers from the book. We weren't super picky so we chose an orangy spread for the ceremony table and then a exotic bird of paradise for the dinner. They move the ceremony flowers to the dinner table afterwards. I also asked her about Laura's light blue sashes and she said that they didn't know where they were at. She showed me some turquoise but it didn't match and she listed the other colors (not very many, sorry I don't remember what she listed). She had brown satin so we used those at NO CHARGE. She asked if we had any other decorations and told me to bring those the next day along with the CD's. We did our own music and put it on playlists on my iPod and also burned separate CD's for each playlist. We asked about where we could have our reception at and she pulled up the menus for the week. It showed that Oceana was closed that day so we went with that instead of the deck or terrace. There are NO FANS in Oceana or Seaside Grill. I'm really glad we went with Oceana because it was near our ceremony site and perfect for our size. The deck and terrace would have been too big for our group of 22. COCKTAIL HOUR: We had our cocktail hour the night before the ceremony at Desires with the Mexican Trio and the Mexican canapes. OMG, the food was so good! I'm glad we did it this way because it was more than enough food for us and we would've missed out on this because we would've been doing our wedding pictures. WEDDING & RECEPTION:
We had our ceremony on the beach around 6pm. They do the ceremonies on the north side of the property. Yes, people will watch. It's A LOT LESS people watching here than doing it at the gazebo that is right next to the infinity pool. Ana had everyone meet at Rendezvous 30 mins before the ceremony and then she or Yazmin walked them to the site. Around this time was when Anel, the photographer, came up to my room and started taking pictures. Ana came to get us around 6 and off we went! For some reason there were not enough seats... Not sure what happened here but maybe I gave the wrong number?? Not a big deal because several of our guests were taking pictuers. We had them place our ceremony program and fans on the seats. I had emailed our script weeks ago and it seemed like our officiant hadn't rehearsed. Her English was okay but she mispronounced my name a few times: CATHY. The technician had our music perfectly! If you want a copy of our playlist, just let me know. Since dinner wasn't until 7:30 because the restaurant had to prepare we used this time to take pics. Our guests were drinking champagne and snapping pics all the way up until dinner time. We had the most beautiful light!! I went with the pink roses (they have all colors) for the boquet and we ended up with a pink sunset... it was amazing!
Our reception was at the Oceana restaurant which is on the north edge of the infinity pool. We were able to have it here because it was closed for the night. Since we had a small party we were able to have a 4 course meal with desert and it was all really good! Appetizer: Tropical Martini shrimp cocktail served with brunoise of Avocado (from Ultimate menu) Salad: Spinach salad served with duck confie and balsam vinaigrette (from Ultimate menu) Soup: Cream of broccoli with parmesan cheese (From Ultimate menu) Entree: Filet mignon filed with vegetable julienne served in red wine sauce (from Ultimate menu) Desert: Tulip of strawberry with grand Marnier sauce and ice vanilla ice cream (From Love menu) Everyone's favorite was the cream of broccoli soup. Yeah, I know. But even the kids liked it!! We had music for the dinner and it wasn't too loud so it was perfect. The technician didn't speak English but that was fine. We got to use the mic and after dinner was over we asked everyone to share a funny or embarassing moment about one of us. Our friends didn't disappoint. My only complaint was that the staff was taking a tiny bit too long in between courses so it ran in to our 2 hour reception. I had so much music ready and had spend hours getting the song order but we ended up just having about 45 mins because the tech had to tear down at 10:30
We had the marble cake covered in fondant brought out after dinner. We ended up having a HUGE cake fight but I did get to try the cake and it was really good, lol! They had brought us a simple cake cutter but we were all too full by then to eat it. At the end of the night we went up to our room, and I had left our iPod on the dock with some love songs playing softly but the resort staff had left an extra suprise for us
OTHER NOTES: Ana had already made my hair and makeup appointment (she had suggested 2pm on the contract). Chin had to call the afternoon before the wedding so he could check into his own room. We figured it'd be a garden view but it had a plunge pool! He had to check out at 1pm the day of the wedding but then he got ready in his friend's room. That morning he called me and told me that room service had brought him champagne and strawberries! I got nothing. LMAO Ana told us we'd have to set up our spa appointment ourselves and contact concierge about our romantic dinner and breakfast. We paid for our wedding using 2 bank cards (make sure you contact your bank before you leave so the charges won't be declined). I had also left our sand ceremony frame at the beach but that was brought up to Ana's office and we got that along with our DVD. The DVD was great, our videographer asked me what songs I used so he could edit them in but I just gave him the CDs we used for our Prelude & Ceremony. There was small reception next to Oceana... they actually set up a platform over the little pool! Eh... Not a lot of room. I also saw a reception on the deck and it was buffet, but no where to hang up stuff... Another reception on the beach on the south end of the resort. Looked like a lot of fun!! Saw a wedding at the gazebo around 6. There were still plenty of people at the pool and just feet away! If you want privacy, opt for the beach. Misc: Some of us got sick. Nothing serious, but I think it was a combination of too much sun, too much booze, and too much food. TAKE SUPER HIGH SUNBLOCK!! The sun in no joke down there and most people don't put on enough sunblock. We took Nutrogena Sport 75 and used up the whole bottle but neither one of us got burnt at all. One of our friends was super red and another ended up with 2nd degree burns. My BIL threw up twice but we all ate the same food so we think it was just too much of everything. Doesn't hurt to take some Immodium.
During our night of shot taking I left behind a Coach wristlet in the lobby. By the time I realized it I was at the Desires Lounge and ran back to the lobby, where it was empty. One of the concierges sees me in my rush and he had it in his hand!
We had a romantic dinner on the beach. There are only a limited number of spots so you have to call early a day in advance. Originally I wanted something around 730 to enjoy the sunset but all they had was 630. We were seated on the beach and there were only 3 other spots but those people didn't get there until at least an hour later and then an hour after that. 630 was perfect because the sunset was around 7ish and it was beautiful. No menu here, when we made the reservation we were asked about food allergies and how we wanted our meat cooked. The dinner was salad, New England style clam chowder, filet mignon, and strawberry/mango canolis. DELICIOUS!! Once again, I left behind something. The next morning I realized that I had left behind my Gucci sunglasses. I spoke to concierge and they had them!!
The lobby is the the most beautiful area in the hotel but we think it's the hottest place in Mexico. I'm talking heat here. For some reason it just doesn't get enough airflow!! There was a woman that sang a few nights and she was fantastic. She sang a lot of Mariah, Celene, and Whitney.
Make sure you look at the flags on the beach. White means jellyfish and we did get stung. The lifeguard was off duty but one of the staff members helped and brought us vinegar.
Our package includes free anniversary nights so make sure you talk to Ana about that because she has to sign a certificate. We are planning to return for our anniversary and our family and friends can't wait to come back! The pictures on their website are totally accurate. Everyone raved about the place, including our friends and their parents that have stayed at Atlantis in the Bahamas!!
We didn't use the Explorers' Club for the kids but there weren't kids running around the place either. I don't know if I'd bring kids during the high season, but that's just me.
I cried when we had to leave!! I hope I touched on everything... It really was the most amazing time. The hotel is amazing and the ceremony was exactly what I could've asked for.