By BooBoo, · 1,074 Views · 4 Comments
Review of Le Reve Hotel & Spa.
Our wedding in September 2011, at Le Reve Hotel, was truly magical. And our time at Le Reve was thoroughly enjoyed by our guests and us. The whole experience exceeded our hopes and expectations by leaps and bounds. During the entire time we were planning the wedding and researching details, we had no idea that the wedding and our time at Le Reve could turn out as magically as it did. There was a lot of luck/fate/destiny involved (glorious weather, three incredible rainbows, and a stunning full moon during our wedding); but our vendors (Hotel Le Reve, Del Sol Photography, Fernando, and Laura/Premium Flores) really really did a spectacular job too.
We had about thirty close friends and relatives join us in Playa del Carmen for a few days of sunshine and Caribbean breezes. I’d been following weather forecasts for weeks and was troubled by what I saw; rain was predicted for every single day we were to be in Mexico. Plus, September is hurricane season. But thankfully, the weather was lovely. Here is our review of the vendors that helped us make the wedding so perfect.
We picked Le Reve based solely on research conducted on BDW (including correspondence with some really kind and helpful ladies on this forum. Thank you guys!) and a little more research on Tripadvisor. At the time that we were conducting our destination wedding research, we couldn’t get away to do any actual site visits. We knew we wanted an intimate and romantic location for the wedding – not one of those mega-hotels where rowdy hordes of drunken revelers might be disruptive. We wanted a place that was intimate enough to feel almost like our own villa – and Le Reve seemed like it could fit the bill. The feedback we got from people on BDW was overwhelmingly positive. They said the staff at Le Reve was amazing, and that Arlenis (the hotel’s wedding coordinator) was so unbelievably wonderful. We really liked what we were hearing – that the hotel staff was very flexible and considerate, in contrast to the rigid policies you often see at mega hotels… We corresponded with Arlenis via email, spoke with her on the phone, and went ahead and signed a contract with Le Reve, without having visited. Believe me – it felt like a slight leap of faith to sign the agreement without having set foot at the wedding site. We just trusted that we’d done as much research as we could have done under the circumstances.
A couple months after signing the agreement, we visited Le Reve; and we were very pleased with our choice. Arlenis was as cheerful, helpful, sweet and overall amazing, as advertised. The style of the place was as we saw in the photos (we were particularly taken with the photos of Le Reve that we’d seen on Del Sol’s website), and we loved it. The birds chirped in the palapa roof in the morning; the food was delicious; the staff at the hotel was warm and friendly. And we knew we’d made the right decision.
Big big bonus: Special Deal with Del Sol & Le Reve!
One thing we wanted to be certain of was that we’d picked the best photographer possible. We’d gone to a wedding of close relatives the prior year, which was really well done (i.e., a lot of money went into it) and lovely – but, and this is a big but, they were very unhappy with the wedding photographer’s work. That was super disappointing. So, we wanted to be sure to go with someone who had the right kind of vision and style for us. We read the reviews on BDW- of photographers in the PDC area. We visited the various photographers’ websites and viewed their work. And we saw a lot of photography that was great. Really really great. Just incredible images that you’d expect to have come out of some glossy magazine. And throughout this research, the work of Del Sol Photography really blew us away. I mean, it’s just stunning stunning work – and we both loved loved loved the way the slideshows tell the story of the special day. We loved the photojournalistic way that Matt, Sol, Juan and co. captured perfect moments and fleeting glimpses of passion and joy and emotion, as well as unbelievable detail and scenery. The one thing we were sure of is that we could not go wrong with Del Sol. We felt that if we signed up with them, photos (and how they would turn out, and whether we would have precious images to go with our memories) would not be something we’d have to worry about. We did a good amount of research and comparison regarding prices as well. And from our perspective, choosing Del Sol seemed like a good investment and a sound decision. Choosing who at Del Sol would shoot the wedding turned out to be a tough tough choice. We went with Matt – and as luck would have it, Matt brought along Juan (whose work we’d raved about too), as well as Deborah. It really was the dream team – and our guests were super impressed.
And…. we are very grateful and happy to report that we’re the first couple to benefit from the amazing promotion that Del Sol and Le Reve are jointly conducting! (The bride and groom get 2 additional nights at Le Reve for free, plus a lifetime discount – of I think 30% at Le Reve; and Del Sol gives an additional hour of photography coverage for free.) We had chosen Le Reve as our hotel, and Del Sol as our photographer, separately – but, it turns out that the two had launched this incredible promotion. Anyway, please see below for our detailed review of Del Sol and Le Reve.
Hotel (Le Reve Hotel). Overall grade: A+
All in all, we could not have imagined a more perfect place to have our wedding. It was a perfect place for us and our guests – intimate, romantic, with a great look that combines modern style with Caribbean rustic charm (like the palapa roof, upon which singing birds had built some nests). We had a couple of guests who are very finicky, picky, and highly critical – and they too were thoroughly impressed by and more than satisfied with Le Reve. One of our guests is particularly fastidious about design (interior design, decoration, etc.) – one of those people who spends two years doing and re-doing his kitchen until it’s exactly the way he envisioned it – and he walked into his room and said there’s not a single thing that he’d do differently. Which is the first time I’d ever heard that come out of his mouth. The look of the place is one thing, a very good thing, but it’s the people who work there that make the hotel a warm and inviting place. The staff at the hotel is exceptionally kind and attentive.
We occupied 17 of the 25 rooms at the hotel. There were about 4 other couples who weren’t part of the wedding throughout our stay. So, the hotel very much felt like it was ours – and that really added to the comfort level for our whole group. At breakfast we would ask the servers to put tables together as guests would come down to the restaurant, growing from 3 tables to 4 to 5 to 6 tables. It was kind of like having a lovely villa to ourselves.
One thing we really appreciated about Le Reve is that they are very flexible. I don’t think you can get that level of flexibility with a big hotel. They don’t have the kind of rigid adherence to guidelines/policy that you see at big hotels. For example, we wanted to put candles in the pool for the wedding reception. But we didn’t buy out the hotel, so that would mean other guests wouldn’t be able to use the pool. So, the hotel asked the non-wedding guests if they could refrain from using the pool that night. They also suggested that they go into town that night – as we would be using the restaurant for the reception. One couple took issue with not being able to use the pool, but Le Reve had an open room and upgraded them – which satisfied that couple. We got our candles in the pool – and it was lovely. In addition, we brought our little dog with us. Technically, dogs aren’t allowed on the beach in Mexico – but we sure saw a lot of dogs on the beach (all along the beach, in Playa del Carmen too), on and off the leash. And the hotel didn’t say anything when we took our dog for walks on the beach.
Housekeeping did a great job. They did some really sweet things for us as the wedding couple. On the wedding night, they folded towels into the shape of two swans and had rose petals leading from the door to the bed. They also tied the curtains into a lovely ribbon/bow shape (hard to explain – but it was artistic and romantic). The next night they folded a towel into the shape of a cute rabbit. The things people can do with a towel – I had no idea.
Barbeque on the beach (rehearsal dinner): A+
(It should be noted that the couple writing this review are dictionary definition foodies who live in New York, whose tv viewing habits predominantly consist of watching things like “The Best Thing I Ever Ate”, “Top Chef”, etc.. You get the idea…)
We had a barbeque on the beach of Le Reve for our rehearsal dinner, and it was spectacular, just incredible – and not just in our opinion, but in the shared opinion of our guests. Everything was just perfect perfect perfect. The weather was perfect – cool and comfortable with steady refreshing breezes off the ocean. There was a stunning, near-full moon that rose over the ocean, whose reflection glittered on the Caribbean. The food that the hotel grilled for us (steak, chicken, chorizo, shrimp), the rice and beans, guacamole, etc. was delicious. The deserts were superb. Hubby said the chocolate cake served that night that might have been the single best cake, maybe even single best desert, he’d ever eaten – until he had the wedding cake the next evening. We laughed, clinked bottles of cervesa and margaritas, and marveled at the moon sparkling off the ocean. After the barbeque, we all went into the pool and the good times continued.
The hotel offers a barbeque (or tacos night) on the beach (which involves a $150 license fee to set up on the beach) or on the grass by the spa/exercise room. We opted to do it on the beach – and I think the extra cost is well worth it.
Hotel Wedding Coordinator (Arlenis): A+
Arlenis really is the best. We can’t say enough good things about her. She made the whole experience so much better. She is so sweet, tactful, bright, thoughtful and energetic! She made our guests feel very welcome – and impressed us all with her memory of everyone’s names. She was a very tactful go-between when we were negotiating with the hotel about the contract. We really appreciated the role she played there. Arlenis offered to help us put together OOT bags – and went to Walmart and bought snacks and water for that purpose. Arlenis made many helpful suggestions and raised questions regarding little details we hadn’t thought of. Our guests were unanimously of the opinion that Arlenis was a major major factor in making the wedding, and the whole time at Le Reve, incredible. Thank you Arlenis! When you visit New York, you have to spend time with us. Le Reve is really lucky to have her.
Wedding Reception Food: A+
The wedding reception dinner really impressed us. It was by far the best food at any wedding we’d ever been to, for sure. The food was better than we remember from the tasting we’d done. We went with a shrimp appetizer that was superb – maybe the best thing we’d had while at the hotel. The rack of lamb was really excellent, as was the steak. The sea bass was good. All in all, our guests raved about the quality of the dinner. And overall, they really liked the food at the hotel. (The ribeye on the dinner menu is inexplicably tender. I really don’t know how that’s possible – but it’s amazing and highly recommended. One thing we wish we’d known was that you can order off the Mayan menu. But you have to put in your order 24 hours ahead of time. Next time we will definitely be ordering Mayan dishes too.) We can’t comment on the canapés that we served at the cocktail hour because we didn’t have any – we were doing photos on the beach with our photographer…
Wedding Cake (made by Le Reve): A+
I was worried about the wedding cake. When we were at the site visit, we tried some cakes; and the chocolate cake was so good. Tremendous. But the hotel doesn’t do fondant. And while fondant may not contribute to the way a cake tastes, it certainly gives that slick, elegant look that I’ve come to associate with wedding cakes. If you want fondant, you gotta go with an outside vendor – and the price goes up exponentially. Taste was important to us; and the cake was going to be the desert, so we just had to go with the chocolate cake with white frosting. We asked Arlenis to ask the chef to please make the frosting as smooth as possible; and it turned out just fine. The cake was amazing. Even better than I remember from the tasting. Many of our guests said the wedding cake and the chocolate cake from the barbeque (which was very similar) were the absolute best cakes they’ve ever had. Hubby said the wedding cake was probably the single greatest desert he had ever consumed. Hubby is currently sad that there is no more wedding cake to eat.
Flowers: Laura at Premium Flores: A+
We met with Laura during our site visit. She brought many samples and showed us what she could do. It cost around $35 (which is returned to you if you end up hiring Premium Flores), and was well worth it. Laura is a really sweet lady, and I felt very comfortable with her. I showed Laura photos of the kind of style we were going for (copy/pasted from the internet), and explained how our theme was white, green and gold; and she said yes to everything – with some suggestions (to stay within our budget). One great thing about Laura is that she does not have a minimum. Other florists do – as you brides will find out. Since our wedding party was small, we didn’t think we needed a huge amount of flowers. When the wedding day arrived, we were so impressed. It was just lovely, really lovely. The flowers were so so fresh and they lasted a long time. I just cannot cannot stop raving about the spectacular job Laura did. She made excellent recommendations about flowers, and how to maximize the look we wanted and stay within the budget. She just knocked our socks off, completely. I had shown Laura some images of candles that I really liked, and asked her to do something like that. I thought maybe I should bring candles to Mexico with me (since I didn’t know what kind of candles Laura would be bringing, and whether they’d be the kind we liked) – and it turned out that she brought candles that were just perfect. They looked like the candles from the images I’d sent; and they complemented the flowers just right. Did I mention how fresh the flowers were? The wedding was on Sunday, and the bouquet (and other flowers) were still good on Wednesday (for our TTD with Del Sol).
Audio (microphone/speakers/music during reception): I don’t remember the name of the vendor. Arlenis arranged everything and we decided to use them at the last minute. No complaints here. To be honest, I wasn’t very aware of the music and all of that. The microphones and speakers worked just fine for the ceremony and the speeches. In Arlenis we trust – and she took care of everything.
Make-up and Hair: Fernando (and sorry-I-forgot-his-name): A+
I did a good amount of research on make-up artists. Those of you who are doing or have done research on make-up artists in the Playa area probably know of Fernando. The reviews are right on. Fernando is not just talented; he is a sweet and genuine guy, someone that makes you feel super comfortable. I picked Fernando prior to the site visit (which preceded the wedding by two months), and I did a make-up trial with him then. Thankfully – Fernando was available for my wedding (which was on a Sunday, which was probably why he was available on short notice). He did a great job, and it was a wonderful experience that left me super pleased to have chosen him. Subsequently, I decided to do my make-up for the wedding differently. And on the wedding day, Fernando delivered again. He was so kind and positive; and on one’s wedding day (and actually, any day), having such a person of good vibrations around is a blessing. The makeup – and this is important, ladies – stayed on for a long time, looked great even after many hours in the humidity and heat. I was worried about how long the makeup would last – but at the site visit makeup trial, and at the wedding (and also the TTD with Del Sol), the makeup stayed on. Now, I feel very bad, terrible actually, because I cannot remember the name of the sweet fellow whom Fernando brought along to do my hair. Please forgive me! But the hairdresser was also super talented and incredibly kind and sweet. If you are looking for a top notch make-up person and hairdresser, these guys should be at the top of your list of prospects. They are wonderful, and they are very lovely human beings too.
Photographer: Del Sol Photography (Matt and Juan and Deborah): A+
With all the research we’d done about photographers, we felt pretty darn comfortable that we’d gone with someone whose style and vision we could totally rely on. Matt came to the hotel on the afternoon of the wedding, with Juan and Deborah, and – to me, and some friends – it seemed as if the Del Sol team had swooped in like a SWAT team commando unit – armed with all kinds of sophisticated gear, moving with swift proficiency. One minute they arrive; and the next second, literally, the pro’s are showing us how it’s done. Matt and Deborah shot me getting ready; and Juan went with hubby.
It’s one thing to be an expert photographer, but it’s another thing to be a warm human being with positive energy, who contributes value (in all senses of the word) on a special day like a wedding day. Matt, Deborah and Juan were both. As the spectacular images they shot demonstrate, their work as photographers is undeniable, but they were kind, energetic, passionate, charming, and fun.
Our guests were very impressed with them - and one of our guests is a professional photographer too (and he was the one who was impressed most of all). We really appreciate that Matt and Juan took a lot of photos of our guests. The wedding goes by in a blur and swirl of emotions; and now, as we go through the images, we’re able to laugh and see so much we didn’t notice at the time.
And we so appreciate that Matt, Deborah and Juan were just so into shooting the wedding! They said they were really enjoying our wedding (and we believe it); and that really added to the whole vibe. Thank you Matt for taking so many photos of our little doggy!
Thank you for taking so many photos of our guests hugging one another. Thank you Juan for getting such incredible shots of little details, of the flowers, the beach, and the many smiles and laughs erupting that day!
The weekend in Mexico was so special for our group; and many of the guests did not know one another prior to the wedding, but they bonded so tightly; and there was this continuous vibration of love and appreciation throughout our time there. The photos really catch that love and affection that was shared by our group. I can’t praise them enough. We also did a TTD session with Matt and Deborah (which was simply incredible for which we’ll post our review elsewhere on the BDW forum).
In conclusion, we had a really amazing time. If you’re looking for an intimate place for a romantic wedding, Le Reve might be the place for you. The service, the warm vibes, the attentiveness and attention to detail was first class. We can’t wait to go back and visit Le Reve again (and see Arlenis again). And our guests are huge huge fans of Le Reve now as well. And if you want stunning, drop dead gorgeous photos, from photographers with energy, charm and passion, turn to Del Sol. I have no idea how long Le Reve and Del Sol will continue their joint promotion – but it’s an incredible deal, and we can’t speak more highly about it. We just feel like we hit the jackpot in receiving it! Le Reve is just such a special hotel – and hubby and I can’t wait to go back (and avail ourselves of the 30% discount! Woohooo!) For make-up and hair, check out Fernando (and sorry-I-forget-his-name). For flowers, I highly recommend Laura (we picked her because Arlenis recommended her – and I’m just amazed that she isn’t famous, as she should be). They all helped to make our wedding magical.