By aholen, · 1,078 Views · 12 Comments
Travel Agent: Tracy Mason, Time of Your Life Travel, http://www.toyltravel.com/
Room Block: Sunrise Side
Wedding Date/Time: Sunday, June 12, 2011, 4:00 PM
Miami Coordinator – Marlyn Tobon
Mexico Wedding Coordinator – Kalena
Wedding Package - Complimentary
Welcome Dinner: Terraza Grande (Moon Grand Side)
Ceremony: Tucan Gazebo (Nizuc Side)
Cocktail Hour: Tucan Terrace (next to the Tucan Gazebo)
Reception: Carey & Caretta Ballroom (Nizuc side)
Morning-After Brunch: Moved from Art Terrace due to bad weather to a ballroom upstairs in the Sunrise Section
Photographer- Claudia Rodriquez Photography (Freddy Ku)
Video: Moon Palace videographers
PLANNING PROCESS (Pre-departure) D-: Communication with our wedding coordinator was a nightmare from day one. Kalena would regularly take over 3 weeks to respond to emails, despite numerous emails, phone calls, and our TA and the Miami office getting involved. It was ridiculous. The first time I finally spoke with her, she called me and claimed that she never got any of my emails. The next time we communicated via email, she admitted that she’s not good with email and doesn’t check it often. I was not impressed with the fact that she had lied instead of just apologizing. Ultimately, we didn’t get our welcome dinner venue booked until less than a week before we flew out. Ironically, Kalena’s response to my email about setting it up was that we should do it quickly, as that day is very popular and the locations are filling up. Argh! It didn’t get any better once we were there. She would say she’d be somewhere (such as our rehearsal, which we had to ASK for), and she didn’t show . She’s a nice girl, but not so great at her job. The wedding department also lost my dress, despite my giving it to them 3 days before the wedding to be pressed. They said it would be back two days before the wedding, but didn’t start searching for it until the morning of. I was extremely stressed out the night before the wedding. I’m pretty upset that they ruined that night for me. I should have been excited, not crying! Luckily they finally found it, but not until we raised Cain. This was inexcusable, IMHO.
ARRIVAL A+: Our arrival in to Mexico was largely uneventful. The biggest hassle was customs, but only because it took so long to get through the lines! We had a ton of luggage, and didn’t realize that we could take their carts all the way through, as people were dropping them off just before they exited the customs area. So we strapped everything together and lugged our way through, d’oh! Luckily, when we pushed the button to determine if we should be searched, we got a green light and breezed on through. When we got to the hotel, I found a note in one of my suitcases saying it had been searched, but everything inside looked just as I had packed it.
CHECK IN A+: We booked out vacation with a travel agent associated with Apple Vacations, so we had a shuttle all set up. We just found our driver, and away we went! When we arrived at the hotel, the employees at the front of the resort took our luggage off our hands and we were greeted with cool washcloths. It wasn’t busy at all, so we were able to check right in, no problem. Alas, we did not get the cocktail/drink I keep reading that everyone gets, but that’s ok. We were happy that check in was super fast and easy. Once we checked in, one of the employees got all of our luggage, and escorted us to our room. Along the way, he showed us the resort map and pointed out some of the resort highlights.
ROOMS/RESORT A++: When we got to our room, we were totally floored. Our room was amazing! We had had some issues with the room block when we set things up. Originally, we had requested the Nizuc section for everyone and had reserved a concierge level room, which is only available in that section. Well, a few weeks before the trip, we learned that that section was not available, and that everyone had been moved to Sunrise, except us, since there’s no Concierge rooms anywhere else. We were not happy to hear this, as our concern from day 1 was that everyone would be close together. Well, long story short, to make it up to us, they allowed us to book an ocean front room in Sunrise, then guaranteed us an upgrade when we arrived. Normally, the upgrade we had earned by booking so many guests is not guaranteed, but only possible if available at check in. SO, we got a 1 bedroom presidential suite for less than the price of the concierge room. It was an amazing room! 2 balconies, a small kitchen, a half bath, living room, dining room, and of course a great bedroom with double tub, double sinks, and a huge shower. All this overlooking the ocean and in the last building in Sunrise, so right between Sunrise & Nizuc. We couldn’t have asked for more! I highly recommend not bothering with Concierge either, as the only real good perk (IMHO) is the private beach area, which is totally unnecessary as there’s plenty of room on the beach—no one uses it at all!
The resort itself is gorgeous as well. Very well maintained and lots to do. We were never bored, never had trouble finding a place to sit, etc. We definitely want to come back again! As for mosquitoes, which we were very worried about, they are only an issue in the golf course area and in the Moon Grande section. Somehow, mosquitoes were nowhere to be found in Nizuc or Sunrise.
MOON PALACE SHUTTLES A: If you didn’t feel like walking to wherever you were going, you could easily catch a shuttle. Shuttles between lobbies run every 15 minutes or so, and in many cases are actually large tour busses! Other times, you catch a golf cart, and they’ll take you between the lobbies. There are also golf carts that will take you to places within the resort. We didn’t use these much, but if you asked at one of the lobbies, you could easily get one. The only reason this is an A grade and not an A+ is that you did sometimes have to wait a while for the shuttle, or else only one small cart would arrive and you’d have to wait for the next one when it filled up. Though they did at least call for one right away, so you wouldn’t have to wait another 15 minutes.
RESORT PROMOTIONS B: The resort had several promotions that we were able to take advantage of. Since we booked a ton of room nights, we got all free private events, 7 nights free, and a free room upgrade. This was absolutely awesome! A++ on that one. The other promotion was the resort dollars one. If you stayed a certain number of nights, you earned resort dollars (max. $2500) that you could use in various ways at the resort. This is about a B- for us, as they put so many limitations on how to use the dollars, that it’s hard to use them up. Still, they were nice to have, just don’t factor them into your budget in any way! We could use $400 on spa/salon treatments, so we did a couples massage and I used them toward my wedding hairstyle. I went slightly over in cost, so I had to pay the $4 difference. No biggie. You could also use them excursion, but only 5 of them. Still, nice to be able to do.
We used $350 on the romantic steak and lobster dinner. This was supposed to be a cruise, but it was not! It was on one of their terraces for us. Another friend went another night, and it was inside one of their ballrooms. It’s a bit cheesy, but the food is good. If you want to use up your points, I’d say go for it, but don’t spend real money on this!!
We also learned that you could use $300 in one of their jewelry stores, which was cool. But they didn’t tell us this, we learned from a friend and then later confirmed. It’s a bit strange how they don’t tell you all your options up front!
We also used $200 on 2 tequila packages.
In the end, we didn’t use about $400 of our $2000. What we found out later is that when you use your $$ on upgraded wine, you can request that they leave it closed (so you can drink it in your room, wink wink) then take that home! The upgraded wine list is way overpriced ($110 for $15 bottles of wine) but still.
They also had a beauty package of some sort at the salon that wasn’t part of the $400 salon maximum. So you could get a $299 voucher, pay the $33 tax, and get some set of beauty products, but for me this wasn’t worth the $33. But I’m not that into creams and potions! ;)
COORDINATOR MEETING B: Our meeting with Kalena was just ok. She was over 30 minutes late to the meeting (her previous meeting ran late). She was very nice and personable, but by that point I was flaming mad. Between her lack of communication before we arrived and then being so late, I was boiling over. So my fiancé did all the talking at first, but she quickly won me over, as she is very sweet. The meeting seemed to take FOREVER. We figured out the menus, confirmed locations, and I have no idea what else, but it just dragged on and on! We then went to set up things with their videographer, but I had to leave as my mission that day was to go into town and buy some last minute wedding stuff, so my fiancé finished up. Altogether it took almost 3 hours!
OOT BAG DISTRIBUTION A-: We decided to pay the $3-4 per bag to have the resort deliver our OOT bags for us. After the meeting with Kalena, she and my Fiance went to the room to get those all labeled and sorted out for delivery. This apparently took a while as well, as their system is somewhat convoluted. All the bags got to the guests, though for guests sharing a room and not arriving/departing on the same days, there was definitely some confusion. Erich’s uncle didn’t get his bag until the day he left! So if you have guests sharing rooms with different arrival/departure times, be wary of that!
RESTAURANTS A: We ate at a lot of the different restaurants, and were largely impressed. Breakfast is pretty much the same everywhere, and lunch is nothing to write home about, but dinners were good. Our favorite place was probably the Brazillian restaurant.
HONEYMOON PACKAGEC-: The honeymoon package includes a little cake and a bottle of champagne that is waiting for you in your room when you arrive at the resort. (They don’t pay attention to whether you’re getting married there or just honeymooning, so the cake is there on day 1.) It was a nice touch, though not very tasty! You also get 2 t-shirts and a honeymoon dinner.
The Tshirts say “Honeymooners” on them, and come in white, black, and red apparently, though they only had white and XL. That was great for my fiancé, but not so much for me! So I asked if they had smaller sizes, and they said they might in the other lobby. I asked for a black medium one. 2 days later, a M white shirt arrived in my room that said “Special Events, Palace Resorts” instead of Honeymooners. But that didn’t matter too much. I did like that it said Palace Resorts, as the Honeymooners one does not.
The honeymoon dinner is a waste of time! It is supposed to be this nice, private romantic dinner. Instead, it is held in one of the buffet dinner restaurants, in a back section that has been closed off. You sit super close to many other honeymooning couples, and it is decorated HS prom style with yellow and white balloons and a balloon arch. The food could have been good, but he menu is totally fixed. You get no options whatsoever. The main course was Filet Mignon and shrimp. It was a great cut of meat, but they cook it well done, which I don’t care for (and they don’t ask for your preference). I wound up eating at the buffet actually, as did at least one other couple! I’d say don’t waste your time and just go to one of the many fabulous restaurants at the resort!
SPA A: We went for a couples massage at the golf course. The environment is very soothing and nice. If you have time to go early, you can enjoy their saunas/hot tubs in the locker room, but they are not co-ed. The massage itself was very nice. The girl who worked on me was very delicate, not a whole lot of pressure, but that’s ok with me. The girl that worked on Erich somehow gave him a leg cramp at one point, but otherwise was good. I didn’t go to the Nizuc spa, but a friend did and she said it was very cold in the spa. That was not the case at ours, and I get cold easily!
SALON A++: I got my hair done at the Nizuc salon by Maria. They wouldn’t let me choose who would do my hair, but I was very happy with Maria. I have a lot of hair, so my appointment took about 2 hours and 15 minutes! I am very happy I scheduled for an hour earlier than they had recommended! She did an amazing job. I brought several pictures, and she did almost exactly what I wanted. She did try to put in a bump at the crown (which I did not want and was not pictured) and was pinning the curls in front in such a way that it almost looked like a halo, but once we fixed that, it truly was perfect! My only complaint would be that it didn’t hold up very well. Curls were falling out before I even go to the ceremony, so I’d say bring lots of hairspray and extra bobby pins for touch ups.
EXCURSIONS: We did several trips, some with resort dollars, some without:
Chichen Itza B+- this used resort dollars and is a must see if you haven’t ever seen a Mayan ruin. It takes a few hours to get there, but it is amazing. The only down side was that our guide talked and talked and talked. We were at the ruins for about 3 hours, but got less than an hour to walk around on our own. I would suggest walking away from the group when you start to get bored. It doesn’t get better! He had lots of great info, don’t get me wrong, but 2+ hours is a bit long to stand in the sun and listen to someone talk. This is not something kids will enjoy, but as one of the wonders of the world, everyone should see this at least once.
Ziplining: We scheduled the zipline tour, which is apparently across the street from the resort. You can use resort dollars for this as well. The day we were supposed to go, it was raining a lot, and when we checked with the tour desk, they said it was cancelled. The refunded our points no problem. Interestingly, Erich’s parents were the next ones up to do the same thing, and when they asked about it, they were told it was cancelled, but by the time he went to refund their points, he apparently had different information, and it was back on. They did not get their points back! Crazy! Also, our friends assumed it was on, went to where the bus was picking them up, and went on the excursion no problem. They had a good time, but this is a good example of how you can’t really trust what people tell you at the resort! Though in my experience, this is true at many resorts in Mexico, not just this one!
Whale Shark Tour: We booked this with our own money (about $200/person) and it was worth every penny! This is an all day excursion. They take you out in boats with about 8 people on the boat plus the 2 crew members and use GPS to find the migrating whale sharks. (Whale sharks, by the way, are the world’s largest fish and eat plankton, they are more whale than shark and totally harmless.) They drop you in the water near the whale shark, and you can swim right alongside it! It’s AMAZING. I almost rant into one when it turned, and Erich was hit by its tail (didn’t hurt a bit). You can check out our videos here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qUBobpVQ-FE & http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kvokUdwcKJA&feature=related After we had our fill of whale sharks, they take you to another spot near a reef for snorkeling, and there’s quite a bit to see. After that, they drop anchor off the coast of Isla Mujeres for about 30 minutes and you get to swim in crystal clear water and eat Ceviche. Gorgeous!! The only down side was that almost all of us got a little nauseous on the boat when we were circling the whale sharks, as the boat moves slowly and through its own exhaust. That smell is what nearly made me sick… Still, totally worth it!
Xel-ha: This was another tour you couldn’t use resort dollars for. Xel-ha is advertised as a huge natural aquarium. It’s a lot of fun, but takes the WHOLE day. It’s a bit like another resort, as food and alcohol are included with your admission. You can snorkel, take an innertube down a little river, bike, and zipline into the water, They also have Ceynotes you can explore a little, and if you want to pay extra, you can swim with manatees and dolphins. We liked it a lot, but wish we had just taken a snorkeling excursion instead and had more time at Moon Palace. In the end, we only got 2 free days to do whatever we wanted at MP, so that’s what we were really craving!
PRIVATE EVENTS A: We scheduled 4 private events in all (we had booked enough guests to have these be free for us). We had a welcome dinner, a cocktail hour after the wedding, the reception & a morning-after breakfast. All the events went very smoothly. Surprisingly so, considering how troublesome the planning process was. The food was excellent at all the events, better than any we had at the resort. The only thing keeping this from being an A+ was that one of the wait staff stole two pairs of expensive sunglasses from one of our guests, who had left them sitting on a table when she went to talk to someone. Also, if you want any of the decorations/items after any event, take them yourself or assign one of your guests to take care of it. After the reception, they said they’d bring our flower arrangements to our room, but never did!
ROOM SERVICE A: Our upgraded room gave us a few extra options for room service, but they were rather accommodating if you wanted something minor that wasn’t on the menu. The honeymoon breakfast was amazing!
WEDDING A: We opted for the free package with a few add ons, such as the horse-drawn carriage (I highly recommend this!! Everyone loved the carriage and it made for some great pictures) The wedding went very well, though we had a friend perform the ceremony, so we didn’t have to worry about their person doing/saying the wrong thing. The only thing that kept this from being an A+ was that after we got our photos back I realized that we didn’t have the right color chair sashes. Not a huge, deal, but we did pay extra to get two colors put on, and they weren’t even the right colors! But that’s probably more of a Deco Cancun issue….
DECO CANCUN B: The decorations were nice, but as mentioned above, not always what we asked for. At the reception, one string of lights that we had going across the ceiling and one of the light up tables went out. They left it that way until we specifically asked someone to fix it. Again, not a huge deal, but a nuisance none-the-less.
FLOWERS B: I had the bouquets and boutonnieres made by a seller on Etsy, and these I was extremely please with. The resort provided rose petal, which were fine, and also two table decorations for the cake table. These were just so-so. They reminded me a bit of what you’d expect to see at a funeral, but maybe that’s just me….
VIDEOGRAPHER B-: We used the resort’s videography department, and they did a reasonable job. I was a bit disappointed that our officiant had to re-record part of his speech as it wasn’t caught the first time. I was also surprised at the way they cut the scenes during the speeches. They kept showing people’s reactions to what the speakers were saying, but they rarely matched the mood of what was being said. They obviously did not cut these properly, as we were serious when they cracked a joke, or laughed at a touching moment. They also showed the same reaction scene several times in a row. The rest of the video turned out very well though. My only other concern would be that the sound when people were speaking wasn’t always loud enough.
Photographer A-: Overall, we were happy with the photography. The pictures came out quite well, though neither one of us is great at having our pictures taken. It would have been nice to have someone who would take the time to have us loosen up a bit to get some more of those great “candid” shots I see everywhere. Otherwise, no complaints. We were pleasantly surprised in fact when they sent us an album and lots of printed photos, even though this was not part of the package. (Also, if you're tall, you may want to ask about the height of your photographer! We are both tall - I'm 5'10", and our photographer was not at all. As a result, most of the shots were taken angled up at us, which is not flattering for double chins and what-not! Something we didn't even consider when deciding on a photographer or having our pictures taken!)
OVERALL RECOMMENDATION: In the end, our wedding and events went well, but the whole planning process was EXTREMELY stressful. Between poor communication, organization, and the loss of my dress, I probably wouldn’t recommend the Moon Palace for a wedding unless you’re a super laid back person, and I’m pretty laid back! The planning process was so chaotic that for the 4 days before the wedding that we were there, we never even got to dip our toes in the water! You pretty much have to be willing to go with the flow and not have anything specific in mind if you’re going to be happy with their wedding department. I would, however, totally recommend Moon Palace for a vacation. We loved the resort itself and hope to go back when we'll have more time to enjoy it.
I hope this review helps you! I tried not to sugar coat anything, so I apologize if it's a bit negative in parts, but it is what it is! Again, in the end, all the events went really well overall, and I'm still glad we did a destination wedding. The best part of it all was that our friends and family had a chance to really get to know each other and we had time to spend with everyone. We loved that!