By kerrib, · 642 Views · 7 Comments
Arrival/Check-in: While in the shower the night before we left, I realized I never booked transportation from the airport to the hotel. I had thought about it, and even gave the link to other guests, but never actually did it. So, after a bunch of frantic last minute phone calls all the way up until I was literally boarding the plane with no luck (FYI you need to book 24-48 hrs ahead), we didn’t have an arranged transfer. There were a total of 5 us arriving at the same time, so I put on my game face and told the men waiting with luggage carts in customs I wanted a transfer and no timeshare business or else! He worked for the airport and got us a van and the man was nice. It was about a 25 minute ride and it cost us $30 USD. We had 11 large suitcases and 5 people, so I thought that was a fair price.
At Dreams, check in was easy. We split our stay for one week in the Old tower and the second in the preferred. We were welcomed “home” and given champagne. Check in was easy and within 10 minutes of checking in, we were cracking open Coronitas on our balcony!
I only had one guest out of 64 have an issue with his check-in/costs. But his date decided not to come last minute so I don’t know if the cost got messed up because it changed late or what, but I know he got it sorted out.
Old tower- We were actually pleasantly surprised. We had read stories of how ugly and out of date they are. We figured we’d save some money by doing a week in this tower and then a week in the other. They weren’t the Ritz but they were spacious, clean, comfortable. We had a balcony and used it a lot, we were there during rainy season so at night we would watch the heat lightening and storms roll in. We had guests that had the “french balcony” or the regular room. Not safe for kids!! We all thought it was a dangerous set up for kids because the couches/chairs were right next to it. Plus, you don’t have anywhere to dry your bathing suits. I thought the room was really nice and we even considered staying in the room the entire two weeks because we didn’t want to re-pack. A majority of our guests stayed in this tower and they all said they loved their rooms. Be aware, there are people in and out of your room: Cleaning, restocking, turndown service. This occurs throughout the day and it was a problem for some guests when some of the maids wanted to clean at 6 when people we trying to get ready for dinner. Overall, I liked them and saw noting wrong. I actually thought the towels and pillows in the old tower were better than the new tower. There was no order to how guests were in the rooms. We had guests on the 1st floor, Penthouse floor (but just a deluxe room), and every where in between. Luckily (!!sarcasm!!) we had a room right next to my in-laws!
New Tower (Preferred Club)- We are glad we did both towers. We switched to this tower the night before the wedding, but Cory stayed with one of our friends and my MOH spent the night with me. It made it seem more like a “honeymoon” since we were in a different room that had more touches. The decor was more “jungle/tropic” than tropical. We got the JR preferred suite, no pool or hot tub. We happened to book during the last weekend of summer before school starts, so both towers were at full capacity the first week. We had guests that had the hot tub, which they never used since it was shallow (it was the same as the tub) and the balcony was glass so there was no privacy. And we had a guest get the 2 story suite with the private pool, they loved it. Personally, i thought it was a waste of space since they were hardly in their rooms. We did have a guest on the first floor of this tower and they didn’t like that their view was of the adult only pool and not the ocean. They said the constantly heard the people at the pool and bar and at Seaside. I would recommend doing both if you are there for a two+ weeks. But, I wouldn’t really feel like I missed out on anything if I didn’t have the preferred.
Welcome Dinner: Because we had 64 guests and they came in Monday-Friday, we couldn’t do dinners with everyone every night. We found out when each guest was arriving and told everyone to meet us at the Rendezvous Bar at 6 then evening of the day they arrived. This allowed us to greet them, give them their OOT bags, and for them to meet the other guests. Everyone liked this, they came if they wanted and the arriving guests got to see us and meet other people. Plus, then guests had the option of what they wanted to do in the evenings. We usually ate with the group that arrive that day.
Wedding Like many of you, I dealt with multiple wedding coordinators, which sucked. I felt like Fatima was a good WC, she was pleasant and usually quick to respond. I decided to bring down a lot of my own decorations. I had three large suitcases of just decor and favors. I printed out every email I had with her, the hotel, reservations, etc. I had a list prepared of what we needed to go over and we set a time to meet the morning after we arrived. She was nice and was impressed with what I brought down. I showed her how to set up everything. We went over the contract and made a few adjustments. I was concerned about the weather, obviously, since it was rainy season, and I had emailed her about this like 50 times. Through email and at the resort, she assured me not to worry and if it did rain they had a “plan B”. The day of the wedding, I stopped in to see her in the morning and asked what the plan B was and she said she still had to find out and not to worry. My wedding was at 5:30. At 4, the photographer when to the guys and did pics. At 4:15 he came to the girls and did pic’s. At 5, I looked out side and saw dark clouds over the bay, I knew this meant it would rain. Fatima showed up with all the flower bouquets and half of the boutonnieres. The flowers were exactly what I had asked for and beautiful. I had given her 30 broaches to have inserted in my flowers, which the florist did and it turned out awesome. She didn’t know where the rest of the boutonnieres were and said she’d find them. I asked her about the rain, she said don’t worry. We got to the ceremony, which some guests were late, but Fatima was insistent we walk the isle at 5:30 on the dot (we had a few guests arrive while I was saying my vows). We were at Oceana side, it is more private than Seaside, I thought. The ceremony went great, aside from the timing. We wrote our own ceremony script ( a composite of BDW scripts) and we gave it to Fatima to give to the minister, it was about 20 mins. She was Canadian, and was really good. When the ceremony was over we started pictures and our guests went to the cocktail hour. The cocktail hour was held at las palmas, same as the dinner/reception. As we were doing pics of just Cory and I, it was sprinkling. We got to the reception, and everything was set up exactly like I had asked! It looked great. We had candles in the centerpieces, they were not lit, which I thought was a no brainer, that I didn;t need to ask for that, but whatever. I was concerned about dancing space, but they began to move the cocktail tables, food stations away and it was clear there would be space. The photographer was no where to be seen. We asked for champagne to be served during dinner for the toasts. We had glasses but no champagne. I sent Cory to ask Fatima 3 times about the rain, she said don;t worry. We did toasts, with what ever drinks we had and finished dinner. It felt rushed. I heard thunder and asked Fatima what the plan was. She said we would go to the Sports Bar (a round building). She told me she would move everything, decor, sound, etc over. This is where things got horrible. We arrived and the sound guy who was behind me, was gone. (We had our computer hooked up to sound system with a microphone). There were 2 hotel guests inside and when I told them it was my wedding and asked them to leave, the guy got all macho and refused. The bartender told me to find Ramon, the manager that evening, since Fatima was MIA. When I found Ramon a 20 minute showdown began. Immediately he refused to do anything. He told me “too bad” he said it was public and any one was allowed and “not my problem”. We argued back and forth he could care less it was my wedding, a guest was rude, we paid for a private event, and that all I wanted was him to ask the guest to leave. In the meantime, someone from the resort put some Pitbull CD on and locked the soundsystem room and refused to let us hook up our computer. Ramon also noted that was not his problem and it was too bad for me. He was the rudest person I came across at the resort. A bridesmaid got the couple to leave. All the while more resort guests were showing up or walking through to avoid the crazy rain storm. Eventually Fatima showed up, she never answered about where the sound system I rented or the tech when and then told me I could hook my computer up in the booth but was responsible if anything was stolen, and there was no microphone. I was livid and already had cried. We hadn’t even done our first dance, mother/son, father/daughter, etc. She wanted us to cut the cake. Our guests never got their dessert that was supposed to be served at dinner. The sports bar didn;t have enough chairs for all the guests, so many were standing, and only had like 5 cocktail tables that were loose and crooked. I asked for a larger table to have all the dessert set out on and to have our cake slices on so guests could get them if they wanted and not eat off their laps. She said ok. We had to Shout to our guests to announce the dances. Then during our first dance, out came desserts to each guest and our cake. We cut our cake, and NEVER SAW IT AGAIN!! By this time they put up signs that said wedding/private party, but in English, at a resort full of spanish speakers so we still had people walking through. Edder showed up in the midst of the fight with Ramon, so he didn’t take many pictures and the ones he did he tired to make sure it was of guests. Not his fault. He got the cake cutting and important dances, and then told me he was leaving. By this time, I had deicded I’d deal with it all the next day and I would enjoy what was left. I must say, the fact that the sports bar had air conditioning, was actually really nice. All the guests had fun, even our 97 year old great grandma who danced up a storm.
Hashing this all out with Fatima took four days and A LOT of persistence on my part. On Monday I went to her to meet. She thought everything went so wonderfully! She told me that not only did we do a champagne toast but a tequila toast! I told her no, it never showed up, we had guests make comments that it was weird to have empty champagne glasses. Plus we never asked for, or got, a tequila toast. We had a few guests get a glass of champagne and a few tequila shots. She wanted to keep it on the bill. I eventually got her to agree to remove the cost of the extra champagne for the guests, $300+. I told her how up set we were with her “Plan B” or lack there of. She said it was OK and fine. We asked about the weather and she said she didn’t know it was going to rain, even though at the wedding she told us she knew it would rain but thought we’d like it if our dinner was outside. She clearly didn’t understand for us, it was awful. Our guests sat in a dark quite and then Pitbull filled room for 30 minutes while I had a screaming match with Ramon and her and our sound system was no where to be found. She said since I used the speakers and cords in the sports bar, that counted for a sound system. Ironically, earlier in the week, we hooked our iPod up in there, by our selves, for free! When then spoke about Ramon, which again made me cry. All she said was, sorry. I asked if I would be compensated in any way. She said she’d see. It was clear to us, she didn’t care. Tuesday she told me maybe they would give us a romantic dinner. I said that would not do, last romantic thing she did, it got messed up. I wanted an apology. Wednesday she called and offered me a private dinner for 6 at Portofinos wine cellar. I went to her and told her no. I ate there 2 times, and didn’t have 6 guests left at the resort plus we wanted an apology not a dumb dinner. I told her just to take to cost of the private dinner and subtract it from the wedding bill. I returned 2 hours later and she said Ok, I fixed the bill. I assumed she meant adjusting it. No, all she did was remove the champagne. I asked if that was it. That if that was how things would be left, no compensation and no apology. She said yes. I told her I would tell all of TripAdvisor and all the wedding websites and she said OK. I was PISSED! All I really wanted was an apology, esp from Ramon. We were leaving the next day, and it was all I could think about. Thursday morning, I went to get all my bills in the morning so when I checked out I would know everything was correct. I got my wedding bill and it was more than it was before the champagne was taken off. There was a charge for a “special event”. I had enough at that point. I went to Gregario, the Chief Concierge and explained everything. He was empathetic and felt awful, and it was apparent. He told me to put it in writing and he would see what he could do for me as well as send it to corporate. Shortly after, Jose the other chief concierge, contacted me. He met me in the lobby, and was mortified when I told him everything that happened. He was so apologetic and couldn’t believe what had happened. He was shocked we were put in the sports bar and not oceana or seaside or even the world cafe. He saw the bill and was mad, and went to accounting. He not only apologized, and fixed my bill but took money off our total bill as compensation. It wasn’t about the money for me, it was the principle on how I was treated during my wedding and then not acknowledged when I brought it up to Fatima. Jose assured me he would not only “handle the situation” but “eradicate” it as well. He helped me put my angst to rest and feel like I got the apology I deserved. The general manager of Dreams also came out and met with me. She was also sorry and said she would make sure my letter made it to corporate.
Had it not rained, this might have all been avoided. I wouldn’t have had a fight with an employee, my decorations would have lasted more than an hour, I wouldn’t have seen Fatima’s bad side, etc. Then again, had Fatimia really had a real plan B, this all would have been avoided. I would have been fine to have my entire reception inside or at Oceana or Seaside. Honestly, if I were to do it again, I would plan it in the non-rainy season or tell, not ask, the WC I want my entire reception in Oceana or Seaside to avoid rain-mass-chaos. And honestly, I would still probably get married there again, just with all of this in mind!
Photography- We used Vallarta adventure, the company from Dreams. We had Edder as our photographer. He was pretty good. All of the photos he took came out great. I wasn’t specific with much of what I wanted, I only requested a few must haves. Unfortunately, he missed our entire dinner/toasts portion of our reception, and I still have no idea where he was. So I have no pro-photos of the reception set up that I had poured endless hours into planning and DIYing, centerpieces, speeches, tables, guests, us mingling with the guests. He showed back up after the transition inside, but due to the blow out I had, many of those photos were not purchased because I am in the background crying or looking ready to murder someone. I would use them again because he did great work, was fun, and he knew the resort. I would just be more specific with what and where you want him shooting. We also added on 100 extra photos to the 50 that came with our package; this cost an additional $999 USD. He took a total of over 1000 pictures and then edited 300. From that, we selected our 150 and got the online slideshow, and two picture books (each hold 50 pictures; think really nice shutterfly photo book). I wanted to buy the entire CD of 1000 photos, but that was then an additional $500 USD. I should have just waited and then bought the CD and not paid for the extra 100, and gone without the editing. Now you all know!
I had my sister do a Trash the Dress the next day because she is a professional photographer. We just stayed within the resort. It was SOOOO much fun; DO IT!!!! We had a friend take some underwater shots with a waterproof camera, and they turned out pretty cool.
Food and Drinks I consider myself to be someone who lives to eat and not eats to live, so I do enjoy food. I thought all the the food at the resort was delicious!! We ate at all of the restaurants at least twice. Oceana was my favorite and El Patio was my least favorite, but still good. Favorites: Oceana: lunch-capresse salad, fish tacos; dinner- escargot (I got 2 orders, best I have EVER had!), Fish market (fish and steak). Seaside - Argentina Flank steak (wowza!), french onion soup; El Patio - Lobster quesadillas; Portifinos- duck, veal, portobello app, tenderloin app, (lamb was dry); World Cafe: (chinese food was gross) mimosas, omelets, sopes (flat tacos), sushi, fruit, guac, ceviche . We also ate at the Mexican fiesta, very good and more authentic Mexican food. Desserts at all of the restaurants were ok, nothing to write home about. The tiramisu was always good and so were the strawberries in gran manier. One thing about the food was that it depended on the night you went, I’m guessing their chefs changed on certain nights because we could get the same dish on different nights and while it would be good both nights, it would taste different. Ocean is the only place that changed it’s dinner menu, all the rest were the same thing. Portions are small so you can get more than one course and not fill up. App’s are very small - ie One crabcake.
Drinks were good and plentiful. It was HOT and very humid while we were there so I’m sure we drank more than we needed to. My favorite were the Frozen Monkey, which the more I drank I also called crazy monkey and even dirty monkey, but they were all the same and a delicious frozen chocolate/banana delight! Margaritas were different by the minute and some were great and others sucked. Any drink that contains alcohol, order a double or it tastes like there is nothing it it.
Pool and Beach There were 3 pools, the ocean and the river, or as Cory called it, Cesspool. The adult pool was nice because it was less crowded in the water, no kids, and a little cooler. The lounge chairs there were hard to come by. We would crack up because daily, there were frisky couples in this pool. At night you can see ppl skinny dip in this pool from the Preferred tower, LOL. The main pool was huge, and usually where all of the kids were. The swim up bar is there, but the stools were usually full. That pool can get crowded, esp near the bar, and cloudy. It is louder because it is next to all the day time entertainment. There are a lot of lounge chairs there but at full capacity they filled quick, although we hardly used them to lounge more to hold our towels and stuff. The Las Palmas pool, is about the size of the adult pool. It is usually less crowded and is in full shade, so when the sun is too much, it is nice. There are not a lot of loungers, but it usually isn’t too crowded. There is also a hot tub here. This is where many of the receptions for weddings are. They clear out all of the furniture. The beach has three sections of palapas, so there are many to go around. It is split by the river. The Oceana side has a sectioned off swimming area and water trampoline. The other side is open so boast can drive up to it and the closer you get to Seaside, the less the people there is. There were vendors walking on the beach, but they were usually nice and respected you if you ignored them or said no. Do not go on the parasailing thing, it looks jenky and we saw the boat break down a whole bunch. Also, the banana ride looked fun, we went on it and after 3 minutes we were done, waste of money/time. You can get a fishing charter for $200 if you bargain, but I don’t know what you’ll catch from inside the bay. The waves were small but still had some tumble to them. The water had rocks in the sand and became more rocky the closer you got to Seaside.The river, aka cesspool. Mind you we were there during the rainy season so the ocean and all the pools were warm and crowded. The river was fresh water from the waterfall on the other side of the resort and it was the coldest water there. It was deep when we were there and took up a big chunk of the beach because it rained each night. The servers will come up to you anywhere you are, cesspool included, lol.
Bonfire We had our rehearsal on Friday night, it took about 15 minutes, we did have to request this. We then went to the Mexican fiesta. We told them we were all together as guests for a wedding the next day, and they were happy to sit all 64 of us at tables next to each other, so that was great. We enjoyed the food, vendors (bring extra $$), and entertainment. At 8 or 8:30 we went to the bonfire. If you are on the boarder about it, I totally suggest it. My guests loved it and it was an extra chance to meet with everyone. We all had a great time and it was something I know I’ll always remember. When we got there, we were all handed tropical drinks, the fire was going, the sun was getting ready to set, there were smores all set up, and lounge chairs and chairs were set up for everyone. We had our own wait staff and Fatima stopped by to make sure it was all OK.
Spa We got the two swedish massages that were included in the Ultimate package, and we both liked them. They were really good, but we did have to ask for more pressure. We had many guests that got massages there and no one complained. Everyone liked them. All guest had their massages inside. The beach area is not private at all, and the outdoor area of the spa is in the middle of the resort. You can see everyone and everyone can see you! The pedicures there came out nice, but they were pricey and the 50 minute foot reflexology was more of a 15 minute rub down with toe nail polish. My bridesmaids, mom and I all got our hair done for the wedding. They were quick and for those of us that had pictures, they came out just as good or better. They have a book of popular updo’s that some of my girls picked from, also. My sister and I got our makeup done. We both really liked it. They have eyelashes there at no extra charge, but they are VERY long. My sister got them and I brought my own which they applied. I would recommend their spa for hair, makeup, and massages. None of my guest got facials or body wraps, so I have no idea how they are.
Service Minus the wedding event, everyone was SOOOO nice. They were always happy to help, pleasant, and really seemed to care. I cannot say enough about the two chief concierges Jose and Gregario, without them I would have left with a very different opinion. They were also always present and always making sure everyone was happy and enjoying their trip, regardless of who they were. We never waited too long for anything, our drinks were always full and so were our tummies! All of the staff there were always so friendly.
Extras- We did some extra stuff, I thought was worth mentioning.
Turtles: We saw a total of 5 seaturtles swim ashore at night and give birth. Apparently 5 is not common, and guests are lucky to see one. We even got to hold the eggs. We also did a sea turtle release, which was awesome. We felt like little kids, but who wouldn’t! If they release any turtles when you are there, do it, or at least watch! I think it is June-October
Entertainment: Like everyone else, the entertainment team works hard. They did daily events at the resort that we sometimes took part in. They helped us plan our bachelorette party (Cory got super sick that night, so all the guys had to join the girls). Tony, the head entertainment guy, set us up with transportation to a club (it was a little to fist pumping for me, but still fun), he met us there (this was nice because we were foreigners), and stayed until we left at 2am. He gave us a choice of $10 for cab/cover or $35 cab/cover/all you can drink and for 10 or more ppl he gives you VIP and bottle service. We did the $10 because we didn’t know how long we’d stay. Do the $35, because drinks were pricey!
Fishing: As a gift to the groomsmen, we chartered a 6 hour deep sea fishing boat for 10 guys. It was $540, and they all said it was the best charter they ever went on. Cory wound up catching a 9 foot swordfish!! Everyone caught sizeable fish and had a blast. http://www.puertovallartafishing.net/rates.htm
Booze/Snorkle: When the guys fished, the girls took me on a day cruise which turned into a crazy fun booze/snorkle/bachelorette party. We got to the marina at 8am, boarded at 9. The people on the boat, crew and guests, were great. They knew I was a bride and my bridal party was there so they made sure everyone else knew. This was soooo much fun and we were SO glad we did it. I recommend it, hands down, and make sure they know you’re a bridal party! I think it left earlier than 10 am. They do a half day one, which some of our guests did, but they said they wished they did the full day. http://www.puertovallartatours.net/america.htm
Outdoor Adventure: Aside from getting married, this was the best thing we ever did in our lives!!!!! This was purchased as a gift from one of our guests at the hotel through Vallarta Adventures. We were picked up at 7:30 am in a Mog (open air army truck) drove along the coast for about 30 mins and then up a dirt road through a village and jungle. We arrived at an old tequila farm. We rode donkeys up a mountain and then zip lined and repelled all over the jungle. I cannot say enough how cool this was, it was absolutely amazing. So much fun!!!!!! We were back by 1:30-2pm.
Explorer Club My two nephews, 3 and 6, came to the wedding. They both went to the kids club/explorer club, a few times. They really liked it and my sister and brother in law felt really comfortable leaving them there. It was really secure and they had fun activities for the kids. After a few times, they didn’t want to go anymore and would rather be with all of us than in the club.
Summary As a whole, we really had a great time in PVR and Dreams. Will we return? Yes, and if not in PVR, at one of their other locations. We loved the resort and want to see some other places. All of our guests have said nothing but good things and many of them are already planning to return. They all have said the wedding was great, and even thought the change of location was planned and a good idea.