By erinandchad, · 1,386 Views · 1 Comment
extras: 4 boutonnieres, 2 mini-bouquets (really just long-stemmed corsages), Palace Memories webcast ($400), flower for my hair ($30)
Date: October 15, 2011
Reception location: El Caribeno restaurant
Photographer: Sascha Gluck (outside vendor: we purchased one room night for him and there were no issues with his arrival)
Wedding coordinator: Daniela Lara Elvira
Resort and staff: A-
At check-in, we were given a cold glass of wine. Check in went very quickly at the front desk. Then, we were showed to our "concierge", who really just wanted to get us to attend the "VIP breakfast", which we guessed would be a plug for the membership program. We spent about half an hour with him, as he gave us a run-down on the resort and went over all the ways to spend our Palace dollars before he finally told us about the VIP promotion. We were tired and just wanted to go to our room. I suggest getting out of this somehow – just tell the concierge you are not interested right away. You can always come back down to the lobby later to ask about how to spend the Palace dollars. They have helpful people sitting at the desks in the lobby to answer any questions you have about the resort or how to use the promotion at any time of day. Someone called our room everyday to ask us to attend the VIP presentation, which got kind of annoying. Especially on the day of our wedding… you would think they would be able to put that into the computer somewhere.
We stayed at Nizuc because it is centrally located. The Sunrise side looked nice too, nicer than Nizuc, but it has a convention center and it was crowded because of a Tupperware convention going on. Our friends stayed in Sunrise and said all the conventioneers were annoying. So, we're glad we chose Nizuc. The grounds are absolutely beautiful, even when the weather was crappy. The pool temperatures were good, and there were plenty of chairs to sit at around the pools and the beach. The beach was great – it is true that there is a lot of seaweed but we weren't bothered by it at all. The sand was very soft and the beach is several miles long so there's plenty of it for walking. We didn't swim, mainly because a tropical storm was forming when we were there, resulting in big waves and colder water. We enjoyed just walking around the resort checking out the sights. That is one advantage to staying at a large resort – it's tough to get bored because there's always someplace to go. Also, we were there during low season, so it never felt crowded.
Our room was an oceanview. The in-room Jacuzzi was nice, but it took 30 minutes to fill it up so we didn't use it that much. There was a little heart-shaped cake and a bottle of sparkling wine when we got to our room which was a nice touch.
The service was fantastic. Everywhere we went, the staff smiled and said "hola!" We tipped sometimes, when we felt the service was outstanding, but not always. Supposedly, gratuity is included in the room charge, but we wanted to make sure that the staff who worked especially hard to please us were rewarded. Outside of the people calling everyday about the condo stuff the staff was great, they were all friendly and did an excellent job during the week.
One word of caution: be sure to check your bill carefully. We were supposed to receive credit for a couple of room nights but it didn't show up on the bill. All we had to do was ask and they fixed it right away, so it wasn't a big deal.
Our favorite activity was releasing baby sea turtles on the beach! It looked like that happened Wednesday and Friday when we were there.
The weather was bad when we were there so they moved a lot of the activities (karaoke, bingo, games, etc.) that would normally be outside into the Nizuc lobby. The noise made it hard to relax in the lobby and enjoy a drink. We checked out two shows: one was the retro show, which wasn't very good, and the other one was the Mexican fiesta, which was really fun. They invited all the women up on stage to dance to a Mexican band which was a ton of fun.
We used some of our Palace credit on the Tulum tour. The bus ride was okay, our guide was very informative, but we wished he would have stopped talking once we got there and let us explore on our own. There was a lot to see there and we were listening to our guide talk for most of the time. Plus, the bus stops at a gift shop on the way there which took even more time away from seeing the ruins. We are also not sure if the products are different than what is sold at the resort. They claim to be all handmade but who knows. We saw similar-looking stuff at the resort for half the price. After you leave Tulum they take you to another Palace resort (Aventura Cove) to eat and hang out. You don't eat lunch till 2:00, so make sure you bring a snack so you're not robbed by the food stands outside of Tulum. I had some fun kayaking in the little lagoon at Aventura Cove, though. We probably would not recommend this tour, Tulum is beautiful but the tour is not great. It would have been better to arrange our own transportation there, pay the park entrance fee, and explore on our own.
We went to the discotheque one night for our bachelor/bachelorette party. It was a blast! I was surprised at how busy it got – when we arrived there was only one other group there but by the time we left it was pretty hopping. We met another bride- and groom-to-be and their guests. And, it wasn't sleazy at all, which was good because I snuck my 16-year-old sister in.
The food quality was hit or miss. When things were amiss, it was usually because of over-salting or over-cooking. I was so sick of chewy, overcooked shrimp by the end of the trip. Here is a tip for meat-eaters: adjust your usual temperature request down a bit because they tend to overcook meat. Breakfast buffet in Nizuc was always spot-on. There was a great selection of fresh fruit, yogurt, granola, breads, eggs, meats, etc. I almost wish it was running all day because it was so good. Our favorite restaurants were Los Caporales (the Mexican place in Nizuc), Mo-mo-no-ha-na (Asian in Sunrise), Arrecifes (Brazilian in Nizuc), and La Trattoria (the Italian restaurant at the golf course). These all had great atmospheres and the food was usually cooked and seasoned okay. By the way, if you are watching your calories, just forget about it at the resort. It was tough to find healthy items, although the sushi at Mo-mo-no-ha-na was a nice find. We loved the Mayan dessert coffee, which we had at the Mexican place and at our reception dinner. We also used our points to upgrade our wine every night at dinner, and we still had like $500 left unspent by the time we left. We signed up for the honeymooner's dinner, which was in a very empty restaurant on Nizuc (the Italian place, can't remember the name but it is a buffet). For a "special" dinner this was very disappointing; after we finished the dinner, we decided that we would have been better off joining our friends at Los Caporales. The soup was way too salty and inedible and the caprese salad had flavorless, grainy tomatoes in it. The only tasty item during the dinner was the flank steak. We suggest skipping the honeymooner's dinner and going to one of the better restaurants at the resort, the food is better and they are more romantic. We didn't have high expectations of the food based on previous reviews; overall we thought the food was OK. We went to Isla Mujeres for our honeymoon and it was nice to have a larger variety of food than on the resort. Moon Palace makes it sound like they have a lot given there are so many places to eat, but most are OK on a good day, and barely better than college cafeteria food on a normal day, so the choices are really more limited.
Honeymooner's dinner...that yellow clump at the top of the plate is mashed potatoes.
I had a manicure/pedicure the day before my wedding at Nizuc salon. My cousin got hers at the golf course salon and she said that salon was nicer than the one at Nizuc. My nails looked great, and the spa pedicure was very relaxing. I got my hair done by Berta and makeup done by Rita, also at Nizuc. My hair looked very close to what I wanted, and my bridesmaids looked fantastic. I am so glad I paid extra to have white orchids put in my hair – the extra touch was worth it. I didn’t have a veil because I thought I would be getting married outside and didn't want it blowing around in pictures.
I highly recommend the spa. It was so relaxing. I had a facial (by Karina, I think?) and it was wonderful. They put cleansers and creams on your face, then massage your scalp, neck and shoulders, arms, hands, even a little foot rub. I loved it. My Palace Dollars paid for most of it, but I would still pay full price for it.
Wedding ceremony/reception: A
Our day was wonderful, only marred by two things: 1) the weather and 2) Palace Memories screwing up our web transmission. The first was totally out of our control so we tried to make the best of it. Our wedding coordinator, Daniela, was so calm and organized and really pulled through for us. Our ceremony was originally scheduled to be on the beach at 3:00 PM. She came and found me at the salon at 12:00 and told me my options for moving the ceremony due to bad weather. A tropical storm was forming at the time, so the winds were extremely high and there were scattered showers. I decided it would be best to move it inside to the Nizuc lobby on the second floor. It was actually a good location because the room I was getting ready in was also in the lobby, just one floor up. I was seriously worried about the noise from the lobby disrupting the ceremony, but the music that was played for my ceremony was turned up loud enough to block out the noise. Daniela left up some decorations from the previous ceremony, which were in my colors, to try and make it look better. I originally wanted a very simple beach ceremony with just hints of color, but since the ceremony was inside, it looked much better with some chair sashes and more flowers. The cocktail hour was set up right next to the ceremony and it felt very intimate.
For our reception, we did the dinner reservation at El Caribeno on the Grand side. I had waffled back and forth between paying for a private reception or doing the dinner reservations, and I'm so glad we did the dinner. First of all, the restaurant was only 50% full, so the tables around us weren't occupied and it felt very private. The restaurant atmosphere is very classy and there was even a piano player. He was awesome! He played a song for our first dance and another song for our dances with our parents. Our table setup was beautiful. We dropped off rose petals, two centerpieces, a bunch of votive candles, and a sash the same color as my bridesmaid's dresses to Daniela a day earlier and she arranged them perfectly. We also gave her maracas to put on the tables as place settings/favors. There was even a separate table for the cake and a picture frame with a mat for people to sign. Everything looked great. Daniela even added some extra rose petals because she ran out of ours. The dinner was good overall, my fish was too salty but I didn't care because I was getting married. Most reception food isn't that great anyway. The cake was lovely and it tasted good too.
My husband's father could not attend the ceremony due to health reasons, so we paid $400 to have the ceremony broadcast over the web. It was supposedly live, but it turned out there was a 2-hour delay. We were dismayed to hear from our family and friends who watched the ceremony (about 15 people) that there was no sound! This was really upsetting because, especially for my father-in-law, we wanted our friends and family who couldn't make the ceremony to feel like they were there with us. I had to wait until the Palace Memories office was open on Monday to tell them about it. They were not accommodating, to say the least. They said it would be that night before our video would be uploaded, and then she had the gall to pull up SOMEONE ELSE's wedding to show me that the sound was working perfectly fine for them, so it must have been working for our wedding. It steams me to even think about this again. I said, that's not my wedding, can I see my wedding, please? Again, they said I would have to wait until that night. I left extremely upset, feeling like they were trying to tell me that it was working fine and that my family and friends who were viewing it on separate computers in 3 different states were wrong. DON'T WASTE YOUR MONEY WITH PALACE MEMORIES. I am just astounded at the lack of quality control. Why can't they have an employee log on to our "live" wedding transmission and CHECK THAT THE SOUND IS WORKING so that they can fix it if something is wrong? After we got back from our honeymoon we checked the uploaded version, and the sound was working. Still, it we really wanted our guests viewing it "live" to be able to hear it. We would recommend bringing a laptop and using Skype or a trial offer of Go To Meeting instead of this service.
***PICTURES TO COME LATER***
Overall experience: B
Overall we had a great wedding and we cannot say enough good things about Daniela. However, there were some disappointing parts which would lower the grade we gave the resort and our overall experience. The wedding video transmission was a major negative. The honeymoon dinner was barely edible, and they can be overly pushy about the condo meeting things. Also the resort dollars are nice for the spa (up to 300 dollars), but are kind of useless after that. The upgraded wine list is about a 1000% mark up for the same wines back in the states. I understand a markup but $180 for a $14 USD bottle of wine? The tour was ok, as long as you like listening to people talk and do not like being on your own (which is more our style). We left the resort not spending all the resort dollars despite our best efforts. We would go back to the resort; however, we are very glad it was not busy. If this resort is at maximum or close to maximum capacity it would be a very different experience.
Overall, we were hoping for a minimally stressful wedding in paradise, and that's pretty much what we got! Despite the rain and wind, we managed to have the wedding we wanted and sneak in some down time as well. This forum has been a lot of help to me during the planning process, so I'm passing some of this forward and hoping to provide help to future brides planning to get married at Moon Palace. The resort is beautiful and the wedding planners really know what they're doing. I recommend it.