Trip Booked through CheapCaribbean.com; private transfer through USA Transfers
USAir Flight - Direct from Phoenix
The flight was nearly booked to capacity and there were 5 brides on the plane, so there was no room for my dress in the closet. Knowing that Secrets was going to press our wedding day clothes was a huge stress reliever. I just put the dress in the overhead bin and didn't worry about it. We got to Cancun on time and the weather forecast predicting terrible storms was wrong. Smooth landing. Immigration and Customs was fast and easy. We landed shortly before 3PM and we were in our room drinking champagne at 5PM.
They are fantastic. So easy. Just walked out the doors and across to where all the transfer companies are and found our greeter with the USA Transfers cap and shirt. We waited for about 5 minutes and then our van driver pulled up, loaded our luggage and gave us the biodegradable sunscreen that I had ordered through them. Wish I had bought two bottles as we ran out and had to pay twice as much for another bottle at the hotel. The A?C in the van was cranking and it was so nice not to have to ride with anyone else.
Arrival @ SMB/Check In
We were greeted by Jesus, who took our luggage and escorted us to the lobby where we were given cold washcloths and then escorted to the lobby bar for a glass of champagne. We only waited a few minutes and then we were taken by golf cart to the Preferred Club lounge for check-in. Monica was great and she covered everything about the hotel. When we were done we waited about 10 minutes for our Preferred CLub concierge, Jorge (which was fine because it started to rain) and he took us to the room. It stopped raining right before we walked to the room. When we got to the room, we had a bottle of champagne, fruit, and a welcome letter from Cecilia, our wedding coordinator. The room was a Preferred CLub Ocean View on the third floor- on the end. We could see the ocean from our bed and the view was great. I am a light sleeper and am always concerned about the hotel bed and noise level when I travel. We both slept very well in our room. The bed was super comfy and they have a pillow menu if you need extras or don't like the ones on the bed.
Breakfast 1st day- Preferred Club Experience
When we woke up the first morning, I ordered coffee and asked that they use the Secrets box. When we opened the Secrets box, it had coffee, mimosas, o.j., fruit plates and a basket of pastries. I thought we received someone else's order by mistake, but it turns out this is the continental breakfast for PC and they bring it if you order coffee in the am. The pastries were delish and so were the mimosas. Nice touch!
Meeting with Wedding Coordinator
The meeting with Cecilia, and her assistant in training, Samantha, went very well, once it started. There was another bride before us that had both sets of parents, along with her groom, all at the meeting. The Moms were non-stop talking and neither Cecilia or the bride seemed to get a word in edge-wise. Our appt. started 1/2 hour late, but we were having drinks in the lobby bar while waiting, so it wasn't too bad. There was one thing that was missed and that was our private dinner on the beach, the night of the wedding. There wasn't any room left, so she made arrangements for us to have dinner in the private wine cellar room between Portofino & Bordeaux. I was actually glad to not do the dinner on the beach as it was very warm and after taking pictures and all, it was nice to be inside. The dinner was very good. They served us a special menu (entree was lobster) and it was also less expensive as we got the private room as long as we ordered a bottle of wine for $120 or more & the private dinner on the beach would have been $200. Everything else was handled very well and Cecilia seemed to be very organized. She took us to the private wine cellar room to make sure we liked it and then out to the ceremony site.
The day before the wedding, we went to the spa. Our 80 minute couples massages were fantastic. I was a massage therapist for 10 years and I've had hundreds of massages, so I'm fairly picky. I was blown away by Alma. I was floating on a cloud when I left. Make sure to go early and use the hydrotherapy circuit. It is awesome and really adds to the experience.
I woke up feeling very calm on the wedding day. We ordered room service for breakfast and it came promptly. Cecilia had made arrangements for Fi to have a room for the afternoon to get ready in. He was packing his things to go when I was about to get in the shower to get ready when the power went out. It had been shut down for maintenance and was going to be off for about 90 minutes. I panicked a little, but realized that I could just go to the spa early and shower there. We spoke to our Concierge, Jorge, and he said it would be fine and reminded me to take the hair dryer from the room as they don't have them in the back spa area (to keep the spa quiet). Problem solved. When I met Blanca at the salon, I was very nervous. I had read so many reviews that said the bride didn't like her hair style and ended up having to redo it. Blanca did my nails perfectly and then looked at the photos I had brought to show the hair style I wanted. She did my hair EXACTLY like I wanted and did it in 40 minutes. Samantha showed up with my hair flower. I had ordered a cymbidium orchid, but the florist had put two together, which was much too big. Samantha fixed it right there and it was perfect. I was done at the salon so early, I didn't know what to do with myself! I went back to the room and ordered lunch with a couple glasses of champagne and watched "Never Been Kissed" in Spanish on the t.v. before putting on my makeup.
There were no issues with the day passes for the photographers. I didn't have to do anything.
Cecilia and Samantha came to the door with my bouquet and it was gorgeous. White cymbidium orchids with the blush colored centers and pale blue hydrangea underneath. I paid $100 for an upgraded bouquet. They also delivered the boutonniere to FI's room. They came back right on time to escort me to the ceremony.
Sascha Gluck & his assistant Lars / Cancun Photos
AMAZING! I can't say enough about Sascha & Lars. We are so happy we booked them for our photos. He was actually less money than a lot of other photogs in the area, but his work is phenomenal. I had seen Beach2009's TTD shots at the abandoned mansion next door to SMB and I really wanted some photos taken there. I figured Sascha would have known about the mansion, but he didn't, which made me even more excited, to be the first bride he photographed there. They made everything so relaxed and easy and our friends are going absolutely nuts over the teaser shots. Waiting for the rest of the photos will be excruciating! If you are considering booking Sascha & Lars (Cancun Photos) I would suggest doing it now. I can assure you, his rates will be going up because right now, his rates are a steal!
I ended up going in the water for a few shots, but only up to my thighs. The water did not hurt my dress at all, but I did get burrs in my dress (towards the bottom) from walking through the dunes on the way to the mansion, so if you decide to do something like that- be careful and know your dress might not survive! There were also animal droppings and other hazards in there, which we managed to avoid, but it's not for everyone! I think I'm going to have my dress cut short and dyed, so it the damage from the burrs won't matter.
The dinner in the wine cellar room was excellent. It was a special menu. We had mussels, french onion soup, salad, and caribbean lobster. We ordered a bottle of Veuve Clicquot, but only drank 1/2. We couldn't eat anymore, so they saved the champagne and the rest of our cake from the wedding and they delivered it to us the next day.
This was our favorite restaurant at SMB. I'm a little embarrassed to say that we ate there 6 nights out of 9, but one night we did the teppanyaki, which was very fun! The other nights we sat at the sushi bar and ate sushi rolls and sashimi. We were the only ones at the sushi bar each night except for one night. The manager, Fidel, served us at the sushi bar and we had a great time talking to him. At the end of the trip, we exchanged contact info and hope to stay in touch with him. Everyone there was super friendly and the sushi was very good. While it's not the best I've had, it's better than you can get at a lot of restaurants here at home.
Breakfast Buffet at World Cafe
I love breakfast buffets and this one was great. 2 omelette stations, a waffle station, and a crepe station; fresh fruit, cereal, yogurt, smoothies, chilaquiles (to which I'm now addicted), bacon, sausage, potatoes, a pastry station, french toast, pancakes, and of course, mimosas, and a bloody mary bar. Every day that we ate there, I had a crepe with strawberries, bananas, chocolate sauce and powdered sugar. Yum! No matter where I was for breakfast, I had a poinsettia (champagne and cranberry juice).
Preferred Club lounge
We really took advantage of the Preferred Club lounge. It was nice not to have to walk all the way to the main lobby to get on a computer or to get something to eat. They had fantastic hors d'oeuvres & sweets and every morning they had yogurt, pastries, bagels, fruit, etc. Lucio, the bartender, makes an awesome margarita (special) and when FI asked for some Don Julio one day, Lucio went to the fridge and poured him a glass. So, they do have top shelf liquors in PC that they don't have at all the bars.
Maroma Beach is a fantastic beach. The only other beach I've been to as nice is Grace Bay in Turks & Caicos. The water was ssssooo warm. There are beautiful fish that swim close to shore, looking for food. It's fun to feed them, so take a roll or something from breakfast out there. They don't have teeth, so no worries! We took the Hobie Cats from AquaWorld out 5-6 times. They only let you take them out for 30 minutes, even if you are experienced. It would be nice if they would let you take them out for an hour, if you know what you're doing. The service at the beach was incredible. They have servers that will bring you food & drink, the beach bar with swings for chairs is fun, and they set up a huge wok & buffet on the beach every day. The seafood paella they made was delicious. They also have kayaks that you can use, too, but we were too lazy for that!
The pool was beautiful and we never had any trouble finding a nice spot. They put fresh towels on each chair every morning. We didn't spend much time there because we are more beach people and I'm not into the volleyball or other games. The swim out bar was fun and it was nice to cool off in the pool after being at the beach all day. We could always find a pool float and they really monitor the pool and beach chairs to make sure people are not reserving them for hours on end w/o using them.
Snorkeling at Akumal
We took a taxi to Akumal and snorkeled with the sea turtles who nest there. For $10, you can rent a large locker and use the restrooms and showers at the Dive Shop, even if you don't dive or rent snorkel gear from them. There's a nice beach bar called Lo-Ha and we had a great lunch and drinks there. We also went to Lucy's for ice cream. We will definitely return to this spot!
Day Trip to Cozumel
We took the ferry to Cozumel on Saturday. THen we went and ate lunch in San Miguel before renting a VW Bug convertible from ISIS. We were hoping to go out on one of the snorkel boats from Playa Palancar, but when we got there, they said they weren't taking any boats out because the surf was too rough. We were so glad that we had rented a car. If we had taken a taxi, we would have been stuck there w/o snorkeling or would have had to call another taxi to take us somewhere else. We got back in the car and drove around the island to Coconuts, where we had drinks and a snack. Very interesting place and the views were outstanding. we drove back around the way we came and went snorkeling on our own off the shore at Playa Corona. The snorkeling here was just okay, but it was great to cool off and swim for a bit before we had to get the car back.
The Original Snorkeling Adventure
We decided to book a snorkel tour as we did not get to snorkel at Playa Palancar and walked to see if we could find Captain Memo at his boat, but he wasn't there. The snorkel tour took us to the natural reef park in Puerto Morelos. We were picked up in a van and then we had to stop to pick up others at two hotels. I was told that they limited the tours to 10 people per boat, but we had twenty on ours and it was way too many people. The guides were great and the shallow snorkel area was full of a huge variety of fish, a few rays and one of the guides picked up a starfish to show us all. I've never snorkeled this way before, where you had to wear a life vest and follow the guide. I can understand the life vest because the current is strong, but having a guide with 20 people following them was worse than herding cats. This tour is maybe good for beginners and kids, but we prefer going on our own or a smaller group. The lunch they served was very good and Coronas & "fake" margaritas (Fresca & tequila with lime) were included.
Warning about PDC ATM
Went to the Scotia Bank ATm on Friday afternoon and tried to withdraw 2000 pesos (had already taken $ out in the am & forgot to get enough). The ATM said it ran out of money and it spit out a 200 peso bill. I checked my bank account online and I had been charged the full 2000 pesos. I went back to the bank the next day, but they told me I would have to file a report with my bank at home, which I have done. Luckily, I was able to pay for most things in USD and had enough to last one more day, but if you need money, I think it's best to hit the bank earlier in the day so this doesn't happen to you.
The check out process was quick and easy but we had to wait a while for our certificate for our free anniversary nights, so I would suggest calling and reminding them prior to your check out.
We had a fabulous experience at Secrets Maroma Beach and can't wait to go back. I used to work at a five diamond resort (for 9 years) and I can tell you that Secrets is on par with any 5 diamond resort here as far as service goes. Everyone there is so friendly and wants to go out of their way to make sure you are happy. Usually, if I stay at a resort for that long, I would encounter at least one employee with attitude or that was less than enthusiastic. That did not happen with any Secrets employee. We got a little attitude from one of the AquaWorld employees because we took a Hobie out right before he was getting ready to go home. We came back on time, but he was still grumpy with us, but I can't blame Secrets for this as it's not their company directly. I've seen reviews where people complain about the food and I just can't understand that. The food was all very good to great. If you are expecting some kind of "foodie" experience, I would recommend not staying at an all-inclusive. We were so sad to leave, but will always remember our ten days in paradise! I'm happy to answer any questions anyone might have.
I'm having trouble loading the teaser shots, so if someone could give me some instruction, I'd appreciate it. TIA!