By JBean, · 1,191 Views · 0 Comments
TRAVEL & CHECK-IN: A-
Our trip to Mexico was very smooth. We had 4 large suitcases in total, and 2 carry-ons, plus my dress. I had prepared receipts for all our wedding stuff (decorations, OOT bags) in advance, but we had no issues. We were practically the last ones to customs and light went green, and they let us through. Transport to the Valentin was included in our wedding package, but since we were traveling with Fi’s mom, we asked to bring her with us. They charged us $80 USD just to put her in the van with us, which is ridiculous considering a cab is only $35. Check-in was smooth - they met us with cool towels and champagne, and we were carted to our room with the bags.
We were in building 7 and were upgraded to a Gold suite, free of charge. The room was very nice, with a nice view. The bathroom is kind of open concept, which is kind of uncomfortable and unromantic, so Fi and I worked out a system of leaving each other to have “private time”. I wasn’t thrilled with the housekeeping staff. The rooms were clean, but we never had any personal touches (ie: the towel swans and rose petals I’d seen). Fi went the the front desk the last night and requested it as a surprise for me. Fi’s mom (who was traveling alone), however, received a “Happy Anniversary” set-up and also a “Congratulations on your wedding” set-up with champagne on 2 different occasions - an obvious mix-up. Another couple commented that they hadn’t had their room cleaned in 3 days, and had to call to have someone come. They did a great job of putting all of our guests fairly close together.
Beautiful, lush, very well kept. I’d heard that this resort was very big, so I was a little worried because our mom’s have some trouble getting around, but front desk will send a cart to pick you up any time you need. I didn’t really find the resort that big at all, but I’ve never been to an all-inclusive to compare it to. We learned our way around after a day or two. All our guests kept commenting that it was the nicest resort they’d been to.
View from our room:
The French, Italian, Asian and Indonesian restaurants were our favourite. Some of the meals were amazing, truly gourmet, others were just ok. The staff is always amazing though, and you always feel like you’re eating at a high-end restaurant. The buffet in the “Le Marche” is the best I’ve seen. I never felt worried about food safety or quality, and no one in our group ever got sick. Dress up for dinner (most people do). They usually send men away if they don’t have a collared shirt, but I saw one or 2 slip through the cracks. Highlights: Wild Mushroom risotto and Ricotta stuffed chicken (Italian), French onion soup and Chateaubriand (French).
One of the highlights is the staff. Everyone from the bell boy to the pool boy is friendly, helpful and smiling. It really made it feel like a warm place to be.
Veronica was our coordinator. She was always quick to respond to emails and helpful the whole way through. She called us on Monday and we saw her on Tuesday to go over details for the wedding on Thursday. I brought her a suitcase of decorations and pictures of how I envisioned the set-up. She confirmed our selections, and I left feeling very confident that she would handle things wonderfully, and she did!
I only have 2 complaints about the whole wedding process and this is one: the spa booked all 3 bridesmaids in for hair and make-up between 1-3pm. I needed to be at the room by 3pm for the photographer, and the wedding was to start at 4pm. Itzel did my hair and make-up was amazing! I can't sing her praises enough!! We did a trial the day before and it was great. Unfortunately, the other person on the wedding day (doing my BM’s hair) was not so competent, and didn’t speak english. Itzel had to keep stopping my hair to translate and show the other hair dresser what to do for the BM. Neither of my BM’s were really happy with their hair, and I ended up being 20 minutes late to the room. This pushed the entire wedding back 20 minutes and was the only time I was freaking out.
The wedding starting late wasn’t the issue, it was the fact that the daylight was running out, and we didn’t have much time for photos. We were literally running from spot to spot to get photos before the sun went down. SO - I would recommend leaving a good 3 hours for hair and make-up. Also, it might have been better to start the wedding at 3:30pm. I was worried it would be too hot that early, but it would have been fine.
I gave Veronica my iPhone with playlists, and she handled the music perfectly. The ceremony was beautiful. The minister had kind eyes that put me at ease. Then we rushed through photos and made it to the last half of the cocktail hour. I didn’t get to try the food, but everyone said it was good. The mosquitos hadn’t been bad at all before the wedding, but that night they were AWFUL! My dad ran and got some bug spray, but I was covered in bites from walking to and from the beach.
At 6pm we went to the Mexican terrace for dinner. My brother manned the sound system and music. From that point on everything rushed by so quickly, I felt like we were only there an hour or two. We ate, had the first dance, speeches, cut the cake, and danced a bit. The best meal BY FAR for me was the surf and turf. We’d had the steak at the Steak House the first night, and it was terrible so I was a little worried. But the wedding meal was a completely different cut and quality, and was one of the best meals I’ve had ever. Everyone was impressed. I heard the chicken was good too.
When people started to get antsy, we went out to the big plaza to light the sky lanterns (around 9:30pm). This was a huge hit! For anyone who cares, I made sure to get the 100% wire-free ones so it doesn’t hurt the wildlife (they use bamboo and string instead of wire). After this, we went to the plaza and danced and it was so fun! We had a blast!
Aside from the issue mentioned above, we also had an issue with a credit we got from Expedia. We had a “$250 Spa Credit” from Expedia, so I booked nails and hair, thinking I would use that. When we got there, they told us we could only use the credit for massages, because the salon and spa were separate entities. We were not happy with this, but the Valentin said it was Expedia’s fault for not wording the deal properly, and we’d have to take it up with them. They gave us 30% off the services, instead of the normal 20%, for the hassle, which was nice. Again, Itzel was amazing. We did get the massages, plus the other massages that came with our wedding package, and both were nice.
This is my only other complaint about the whole week. Blue Lens came with our package. I’m really picky with photography, and I wasn’t 100% in love with their style, so we hired Juan Navarro for 3 hours for the ceremony and pictures, and had to pay a $300 vendor fee to have him come in even though we were still using Blue Lens for the reception. Fi knew how important photos were to me, so he agreed, but he was very unhappy with the vendor fee. Sometimes I felt guilty that a photographer was already included in our package, and we were paying an extra $1000 for another one. But, with our package, only 36 photos are included from Blue Lens. So to get all the photos, you end up paying $1000 anyway! I am happy we went with Juan, because it would have been the same price with Blue Lens in the end, and I just don’t feel (personally) the quality is worth that price.
We had Ashley at Blue Lens take photos of the reception (I felt she was the best at Blue Lens), and she did take a lot of great photos. We met with her in the lobby to pick our 36 photos, but it was awkward because we felt pressure to buy the photos. By this time, we had already spent $1500 for photography and fees, and we weren’t going to pay more. She sat there as we went through 500 photos to pick the 36. When we had it narrowed down to 60 photos I think she got frustrated with us and just burnt us a CD with the remaining 60. Had I known about the vendor fee when we were choosing resorts, I may have chose a different resort with a better photographer to avoid that vendor fee. In the end, I’m glad I hired Juan (a separate review of him to come).
Bottom line: This resort is amazing! The wedding coordinators are fantastic! You will have a great time, and your guests will as well. If you have any issues, the staff is VERY quick to rectify things and make sure you’re happy. They had us fill out a 3 page survey on our experiences to get feedback, and even had a Manager’s Cocktail Reception to get feedback from guests. This resort really cares that you have a good experience. Overall I would give the entire experience a A-. I would highly recommend the resort, and I hope Fi and I can return one year for our anniversary.