By saundramichelle, · 948 Views · 2 Comments
This review got a bit long (okay, a LOT long!), but I wanted to include as much info as I could because it was the type of information I wanted when I was planning. Also, we had entirely too many photos for me to try and post them in here, but if you're interested in seeing them, they are at http://www.pictage.com/1075113. Hope it helps!
Travel Agent-Lia Vincent, Journey House Travel: A+
Lia was a phenomenal help from the beginning. She was referred to me by a friend, and I was incredibly thankful that we used her. When we started planning, we became overwhelmed with all of the information that is available. We met with her for about 45 minutes one afternoon, took her pictures of spaces we had seen online and liked, and gave her a list of our “must-haves,” a list of things that would be nice but didn’t matter too much, and a list of things we absolutely did NOT want. She kind of thought about things for a minute, and then listed 3 resorts that fit every single one of our needs. She then ran sample pricing from EVERY location our guests would be traveling from so we could figure out what best fit our and our guests’ travel budgets. After about a million more questions from me, we finally settled on her initial recommendation, the Beach Palace in Cancun. As we went through the process, any time I had a question, problem, or was just worried about something not being right, she was my go-to person. I’m not kidding, she would answer me in like, less than an hour 99% of the time. She even took my file home one weekend to give me more time to figure something out before she ran credit cards and got it booked. She was a Godsend!
Travel-Continental Vacations: B
By and large, everything went very well with Continental, and I would use them again. I wasn’t terribly thrilled with the timing of every flight (making it from Terminal E all the way to Terminal A in Houston in 55 minutes while carrying a wedding dress…yikes!), but there was only one actual problem with everything. (And I have to figure that only one problem out of 40 travelers is pretty stinking good!) I had one friend who was traveling alone (31 year old female) because her parents had to cancel their trip at the last minute due to a death in the family. Everything was fine on her flight down…she met up with part of my family during their plane change in Houston, and she stuck with them through customs and getting to the resort. On the way home, however, she was the only person from our group leaving at that particular time. She got to the airport and was told that her flight was cancelled (my best understanding is that it was due to the crash in the Continental/United computer system that left about 25K people stranded). They put her in the airport Marriott for the night, which was a fairly sketchy hotel. She managed to get online long enough to email my mom, who was still at the Beach Palace, and my mom contacted Lia, our travel agent. Lia got her booked on a flight for the next day, problem solved. The next day she was informed that they couldn’t get her out that day either, and they would no longer be paying for her room. She was so upset, she called Continental directly from her cell phone, and since she was sobbing on the phone, some kind soul took pity on her, re-booked her on ANY flight just to get to the US, and put her in first class for the remainder of her trip. So it was a crappy situation, and of course had to happen to the one poor girl traveling solo…but I felt like in the end Continental came through for her.
Ground Transportation in Mexico-Traffic Tours (part of Continental travel package): B-
Everything was good with them until it was time to leave, and one funny little mix-up. The only actual problem was that our rep at the resort told us 3 different pick up times for leaving the resort to get to the airport, and none of them were right. We ended up sitting out front for an hour waiting for our van. Annoying, but not the worst. The funny thing is that we switched resorts after the wedding, and when my husband went to meet with the rep at Beach Palace and tell him we would check with the rep at the next resort, the rep misunderstood and cancelled return transportation for EVERYONE with the same last name as my hubby. Whoops!
Resort- Beach Palace, Cancun: A
The Beach Palace is part of the Palace Resorts group, but also part of the Wyndham chain, and I’m giving it a good, solid A. The ONLY reason it doesn’t get an A+ is because of the NOISE between rooms. Honestly, I don’t think it would have been much of an issue except that we had the loudest, most obnoxious, drunkest neighbors possible. Everyone on the whole floor (several from our group scattered through the same floor) could hear them at night. And it wasn’t like it was just noise, it was loud, drunken fighting…nasty yelling, cursing and screaming. Truly awful. It was bad enough to actually wake us up, but thankfully/unfortunately never lasted long enough to call hotel security about it. Oh well, I suppose. Otherwise, the resort was absolutely fantastic! The rooms were beautiful (we booked Concierge Level, but those in the “regular” rooms had just as nice of a room!), and the resort was the perfect size. Seriously, we never had to go “searching” for anyone in our group. If you would just walk around for about 2 minutes, you could find anyone you needed. Also, children are allowed at the resort (one of the main reasons we picked it), but it never seemed like there were a lot of kids around or anything…no screaming children, no cannon balls in the pool, etc. The staff members all get an A+ in my book. My husband and I had, apparently, special wristbands on to indicate that we were a bride and groom, and each member of the staff we encountered asked about our wedding. Our pool waitress on the first full day we were there, Carmen, was extra sweet, and actually came and found me before the end of her shift on Friday to give me a hug and wish us a happy wedding because she was off on Saturdays. How sweet is that?!?! The spa was awesome. Hubby and I both got massages…had a complimentary 25 minute with our room category, and then bought a 50 minute massage each. So, 75 minutes of massage…heaven. I told him if we ever win the lottery, we are going back, finding my masseuse, and bringing her to the US with us as a full time masseuse on our payroll. LOL! Also, Palace Resorts had a promotion going on which gave everyone a certain amount of “vacation dollars” (amount depends on number of nights you stayed) to spend on various things around the resort. We had $1500 to spend, and it was honestly tough to do. We ended up spending $300 at the spa, $400 on tequila packages to take home (we had $400 left to spend on our last day, so got 4 of those), $700 on two lobster/champagne dinners on the beach (paid for another couple’s, cause they had fewer points) and about a hundred on an “upgraded” bottle of wine at dinner one night. Also worth noting, if you choose to book a wedding “package”, you can actually spend your points on that to take $$ off the package price. However, if you want to do that, you must spend ALL of your points on it. Anyway, everyone in our group was very happy, and the resort was GREAT.
Wedding Coordinator-Suzette Alvar Caballero: A
In a nutshell, Suzette rocks. I was really, really nervous in April (2 months prior to wedding) when we had still not heard from our on-site wedding coordinator. Right at the 5 week mark, I finally asked our travel agent, Lia, to check in and make sure they hadn’t cancelled us on accident or something (we changed the time of our wedding midway through, so I was worried that they cancelled the original time and forgot to book the other!), and as soon as she emailed the Miami office for us, I got an email from Suzette. She was very kind, even over email, and I liked her a lot just from emailing back and forth. I will say, BE PATIENT with the on-site WC. I know every review on here has pretty much said that, but I feel like it’s worth saying again. They are busy, and they understandably focus on the next upcoming wedding the most…but they WILL answer you. It might take a few days, but you WILL get your answers and everything WILL work out. Also, BE NICE and say “thank you” a lot! I think the on-site coordinators deal with some bridezilla-ish women from time to time, and just appreciate when someone is nice and appreciates all they do. I will absolutely admit that planning via email was tough. Though we had set most everything before we left, we literally changed EVERYTHING except the ceremony time/location when we met with her in person. She really came through for us on a couple of things I didn’t think were quite fair. For example, we were supposed to have to buy a whole dinner/reception because we exceeded 35 people…we had 40, 3 were little kids, so really we were only over by 2. I (very calmly) said that I understood that it was her job to make sure the resort makes money, but that it was my job to make sure we were being treated fairly and that I didn’t think it was right to pay $2,000 for, essentially, two people to eat. She picked up the phone, called to check capacity of the resort for the day of the wedding, and then said, “Okay, we will do the dinner.” So we got our free reception after all. She also didn’t charge us extra for a larger cake (got two tiers to feed 40, instead of one tier to feed 35), and definitely upgraded my bouquet beyond what was supposed to be in the “free” package. That said, we DID purchase various “extras” so it wasn’t like we were just trying to cheap out and get everything we could for free…and we tipped her well when we left because I did feel like she went above and beyond.
Hair and Makeup-B
Our moms, sisters, and bridal party all had some combination of hair and/or makeup. I thought everyone looked stunning. Except me. All I had done was makeup (did my own hair because I have NEVER liked the way a hairstyle has looked on me for prom, formals in college, hair trial at home, etc.), and I liked everything she did except my eye shadow. I will take about 30% of the blame because when she presented me with eye shadow color options, I said, “You’re the professional, surprise me.” I was quite surprised when I opened my eyes and had a red and purple combo. Honestly you guys, I almost cried right there. I looked like I could have been in the Thriller video. I knew I had my eye makeup with me in the room, so I figured I would just fix it up, and let her proceed. The rest of my makeup was lovely, so I just fixed the shadow color when we were done, and all was well. My mom swore it looked great, but I asked my MOH (cousin), who I knew was the ONE person that would be brutally honest with me, what she thought of it and she looked at me and said, “Well…do you like it?” I knew then that it had to be fixed! Haha! I would say use them, but go in with some sort of plan if you’re super picky.
Wedding Location-Sky Terrace: A+
If you’re debating between the terrace and the beach, just do yourself a favor and pick the terrace. The beach is gorgeous, yes. But we did see a beach wedding while we were there and they had no privacy whatsoever. I felt like, for us, the sky terrace was the best choice because we got the beautiful views of the ocean, beach, lagoon, sunset, etc., but it was also a completely private area.
Seriously, our wedding went 10X better than I ever would have thought. I’m sure it wasn’t the ideal wedding for every person on the planet, but it couldn’t have been more perfect for us! Hubby went deep sea fishing very early that morning with our dads and some of the other guys, and I ordered myself room service, sat on our balcony, and watched the sunrise over the ocean. What a lovely way to start my wedding day! I fell back asleep for a while, then went down to the pool with some of the girls. It started POURING around 11 am. I was slightly panicked at that point! The guys got back from fishing around noon, and the resort actually cooked up their catch (black fin tuna and mahi-mahi…yum!) for our group for lunch. It was phenomenal! After lunch, the resort provided Sean with a separate room to get ready in…he headed up there, and I went off to our room. I chatted with the WC…she told me they were setting up the indoor ceremony in case the rain didn’t let up. I told her that we didn’t come all the way to Mexico to get married indoors, and that unless it was lightning and/or there was a hurricane, we would be married outside on the sky terrace. She laughed at me and said, “Okay!” Thankfully, the sun did come back out. Not only did we not have to squint into the sun thanks to a few remaining clouds, but we got some beautiful wedding pictures with a rainbow and with the sunset. Perfect! Our judge, Pedro Solis, performed a beautiful ceremony. We were obviously caught up in everything and didn’t realize until it was over that the only words we actually spoke during the ceremony were, “I do.” Haha! But we did whisper a lot to each other and have some great pictures of us laughing together during the ceremony…it was very “us.”
Part of the wedding packages at Beach Palace is a morning-after breakfast in bed. We got to choose from 7 or 8 different menus, and chose the time it would be delivered. It was nice to not have to get up and head downstairs for breakfast that morning…we were still pretty exhausted!
The cake we had for the wedding was beautiful, but in my opinion didn’t taste too great. I think we both only ate a few bites. We had one tier of vanilla and one lemon. Some of our guests said they loved it, and some didn’t. My dad said it was the worse cake he’s ever had. HA! It was way more than our group needed, so we asked our WC to make sure it was shared with all of the staff who had worked so hard to make our day special.
The BEST piece of advice I got before the wedding was to give someone else our camera on the wedding day. I was so, so thankful we had done that! We gave it to my MIL and FIL, and between them and SIL, many pictures were taken on our camera. It was so nice to get in bed that night and already have pics to look through!
Also, we brought a local photographer with us instead of using the resort photogs. Photography was the only thing I wasn’t willing to “chance it” on, and we totally lucked into a fantastic financial deal with someone we met here at home. If you’re ever in Oklahoma and need a photographer, I suggest checking out Travis Caperton at capertonphotography.com. Amazing…he gave us 919 photos (with a full copyright release) and was the ONE aspect of the wedding that every single guest complimented us on. He and his wife, Melissa, just fit right in with our group, and they managed to get shots that we didn’t even realize they were present for. We were very happy with our decision. However, if finances are an issue, you CAN use resort dollars on the photography packages so I’d say it’s worth considering.