By mllek1986, · 895 Views · 4 Comments
My husband and I, along with 45 guests, traveled to Dreams Puerto Vallarta for our wedding from January 20th-February 3rd, 2012. We were married on January 24, 2012. I just want to start off by saying this is by far the nicest resort we've ever been to and our wedding coordinator, Fatima, was outstanding.
Sunquest: We booked our vacation a year in advance to get the best group rate possible. We used Marlin Travels as our agency and booked through Sunquest vacations (they use Westjet Airlines). I have always been very happy with Sunquest’s services in the past and they once again did not disappoint. They were waiting for us at the airport with signs, a big air conditioned bus, information packages on hand and gave their spiel about the resort on the bus while driving so we didn’t have to attend a different day, and they even offered to stop to get us beer on the way. For those of our guests who came from a different city and there was only a few of them they put them in a prepaid cab to the resort. The last day when we were leaving, our flight had been delayed 3 hours and our rep called us to let us know our new pick up time which was great that we could stay at the resort a little later instead of waiting in the airport for 6 hours. When we arrived at the airport they also gave us a $20 food voucher for Henry’s in the airport as their apology for the delay.
Location: Dreams has a stunning location that is very close to the Romantic Zone in PV ($5 cab or 50 pesos- note ALWAYS use pesos if you can as $1USD is worth around 130 pesos but they generally translate it to $1USD = 100 pesos). It is also very close to Los Arcos if you’re into snorkeling then rent one of the sea-doo’s from the beach and head on out. There are whales that play just outside of the resort, we had one show up on the wedding day, he played all morning and stayed all the way through pictures waiving his fin in the air.
Here's the whale breaching:
Sea turtles come and lay their eggs at Dreams and I was lucky enough to witness this one night. I looked out my balcony at about 12:30am and noticed something moving on the beach and four people around it. I finally realized it was a turtle laying her eggs and ran down with my camera. There were four of us who saw and one worker who made sure no one stepped on the area where she had laid them. He let us pet her as she moved slowly back into the ocean, we took pictures then finally headed back to the eggs. The worker dug a foot and a half into the sand with his hands and pulled out 129 little eggs, he let us hold them and take pictures, it was so neat, the eggs were not hard which I was expecting, they were quite soft and very delicate. He put them in a bag and transferred them to a safe place away from the public where the gestation period would be 49 days. I’d never seen anything like this before and he said that this rarely happens this late in the season and we were very lucky to see it. It was certainly a once in a lifetime experience. I really enjoyed that they did not announce it to people either; they kept it very private and let those who saw stay around and experience it.
Here's the momma turtle:
Here I am holding one of 129 eggs she laid:
Grounds and Beach: The private beach is magnificent, it is not very long though if you really like to walk/run beaches, I would suggest taking a cab (maybe $2) to Conchas Chinas which is very close to Dreams and you can walk along that for a long time. The sand is not rocky at all and is groomed daily. During our two weeks we generally had a red flag but we still swam and had a great time playing in the waves. I got a snorkel set from the entertainment staff and took some fun underwater pictures of tropical fish that kept swimming around us while we swam. A few of our guests saw some stingrays out in the water as well but they are not there to harm you, just be cautious of your surroundings. Our group really enjoyed playing beach volleyball, the sand was perfect for this, we were sliding and rolling all over the place and didn’t hit any big rocks. Everywhere you look around the resort has a beautiful view of the ocean, the mountains on either side and behind you. The grounds were immaculate; I never saw one piece of garbage anywhere I looked. The landscaping around the resort is very well done.
Check-in: When we arrived we were greeted with hot towels and champagne, what a nice touch! Check in was a breeze, the front desk staff was very nice and we were out of line very quickly. Dreams does not use wristbands which is a major plus in my opinion, the security at the front is so tight that there is no way for anyone to get on resort who shouldn’t be (also really like this), they know which cab comes to pick you up, where they are taking you etc. you feel very safe here.
Anyways, at the check in they explain how to use your vouchers and all the other goodies they have. Ignore the timeshare people (yes they are timeshare people as they are trying to sell you set vacations for the future at specific resorts), just say no and they generally don’t bug you. One of the ladies followed my mom around a few times and I finally told my mom to be aggressive and say no, the next time it happened she pulled the “my daughter the bride says to stop bugging me” and she backed right off lol. We did have a little mix up with our luggage but not really the resorts fault, we had about 8 bags which we had divided up amongst our guests to take onto the plane and when it came time to bring them to our room we pointed out which ones were all ours and a few ended up in one of the other guests room, we told the bell boy and within minutes he had found it and brought it back to us.
Rooms: The first night we were there we stayed in the older towers on the 9th floor (room #1921); this was a deluxe room with a balcony. It had a beautiful view, comfortable bed, and it was clean and spacious enough for two people. The bathroom was a bit small but comparable to any other resort I’ve stayed in so not a big deal. The next day we were upgraded to the preferred tower where we stayed in room 1654, now this is a nice room! Tall ceiling, big fan over the bed, Jacuzzi in the bathroom AND on the balcony, comfy lounge couch, nice décor and a much larger bathroom which I loved and was perfect for my 7 bridesmaids to get ready in for the wedding. The bed was sooo comfortable and there were countless amounts of pillows to choose from. The view from our room was amazing as well; it overlooked the Sleeping Woman mountains across the bay and was perfectly situated over top of our ceremony site so we could watch them set up etc.
Our maid was Victoria and she kept our room spotless, it seemed as though every time we went out, even for half an hour, we would come back and it would all be tidy again. We were so impressed.
Also, our concierge at the preferred tower was so helpful and nice to us, he seemed genuinely sad when we checked out. They really do know how to treat their guests at Dreams.
Wedding Coordinator: Our wedding coordinator was Fatima and she did an absolutely amazing job. I am a very detail orientated bride and she spent countless months working with me and responded to well over a hundred emails, answering all my questions, sending me pictures when I asked, there was not one thing I asked for that she could not give me. She was always very polite and willing to help however she could. When we first arrived at the hotel to meet her she had all of our stuff waiting for us and we just had to do a quick 10 minute run through all the final details, very efficient! There were no surprises, no haggling for prices, nothing extra that she had added without consulting me, everything was exactly as we had discussed.
Her personality is very calming and she only wants the best for her clients. I can not say anything bad about Fatima, she works very hard and it shows in all she has done for others. I would highly recommend her to any future brides out there. Planning a destination wedding is not as easy as others make it out to be but with a wedding coordinator like Fatima on your side you can rest assured that you will have a picture perfect day. Thank you again Fatima!
Bonfire: We decided to have a private bonfire on the beach the night before the wedding as a sort of rehearsal event. They created a HUGE (handmade!) donkey piñata for us which we had a blast tearing apart later. They had giant flavoured marshmallows (strawberry and regular) on sticks surrounding the bonfire, lounge chairs set in a half circle, a table with chocolate fondue and cookies to make your own s’more type of treats and finally we had a private bartender. We did a few speeches and then just hung out and enjoyed each other’s company around the fire. This was a lot of fun and certainly worth the $400 we spent. Fatima also organized this and was with us the entire time to make sure everything went well.
Hubby's parents giving a speech at the bonfire:
Videographer: In our wedding package we received an hour of videography included through Dreams but we wanted a full days worth so went with an outside vendor who was cheaper and you got 2 cameramen instead of just one (PromoVision is the company – HIGHLY recommend). So we asked the Dreams videographer if they could film the bonfire instead, this was not a problem at all. The videographer, Sandra, was very nice and pleasant to work with. She was never intrusive or in anyone’s way. I have yet to see the DVD so can’t comment on the quality of the product but I have seen her other work and it has been excellent.
We had our ceremony and reception at Seaside beach and our cocktail hour at Las Palmas. We purchased the Ultimate Package and added quite a few extras on top.
When I woke up that morning I looked outside of my room and saw that the tide was VERY high and they had to move the huppah up near the adults only pool, we weren’t sure if we would be able to have our wedding there anymore. I didn’t have time to go down to speak with the other wedding coordinator (Fatima was not in yet) so sent one of my bridesmaids, they gave us a few alternatives and I told my bridesmaid to speak with my fiancé and change whatever needed to be done. I wasn’t overly worried about moving locations if we needed to as the entire resort is stunning. Luckily the tide ended up going down and we were able to use the space we originally booked.
I started my day off at the Spa to have my hair and makeup done with my mom and sisters. They were very accommodating to us and every one of us was pleased with the services. I had the same lady do my hair and makeup, Bianca, I brought in pictures as an example and she hit it dead on. They are very courteous and ask you whether you like it or want your hair higher/lower, darker/lighter makeup, they show you all of their makeup (some is MAC) and will play with things until you are fully happy. They even had individual lashes they applied which looked amazing. The only negative thing I have to say was that they didn’t allow us to play our own music in the salon when we were the only one’s there, not that big of a deal but it would have been nice as they were playing slow classical like Canon in D and the wedding march which was making me emotional.
This is when Bianca finally turned me around to see the final look, I was shocked!
Side note on spa - Two days before the wedding we had a couples Swedish massage on the terrace overlooking the ocean, it was so relaxing to hear the waves crashing throughout. We were both very pleased. I also had my nails done (with a French tip- you need to specify this when making the reservation as it costs $15 more and takes an additional 15 minutes), the woman was very gentle and did a really nice job.
One of the photographers met us at the spa (sorry, I can’t remember her name), she was very fun loving and helped me calm my nerves. She also took some really amazing pictures of us getting ready. Our photographer for the rest of the day was Cristheell Bernal of Adventure Photography, she is a true gem. She took over 1500 pictures of us on our wedding day and was able to get it down to around 500 amazing shots which I had the hardest time choosing 300 from, yes I know it seems like a lot but they were sooo good. She captured candid moments and also did some very beautiful posed pictures as well. We are very happy with the results and our friends/family keep saying they are some of the best wedding pictures they’ve ever seen.
While we were getting ready at the spa, the wedding staff was hard at work. Fatima started working on the set up from the moment she got to work at 10am until well past midnight. It took the staff over 4 hours to set up the ceremony, cocktail hour and reception areas; this was with multiple amounts of people. It was a very hot day that day and I’m sure this was not easy for any of them. They did an outstanding job on everything, the set up was absolutely breathtaking and they truly hit my vision. There were a few details that were missed but I didn’t even notice until I was looking at pictures afterwards, like the head table flowers were missing (I think she ended up putting them on the lounge tables instead) and the seating cards for each person was not laid out so I’m not sure how people knew which seat to sit at their table to receive the correct meal, but it all seemed to have worked out.
Guest Table for reception:
When I was waiting to walk down the aisle I was sitting in the Preferred Tower lobby and they could tell I was quite nervous, they offered me a shot of tequila and some champagne immediately, I took the champagne... it helps!
We had our ceremony at 3:30pm and it was very hot that day so the fans I had made for our guests were well used, poor hubby was sweating pretty bad though. Hubby and wedding party walked in to Frank Sanatra’s ‘Fly Me To The Moon’ and my father and I to a very beautiful guitar version of ‘Canon in D’ by Keith Kubena.
The symbolic ceremony went beautifully, we had given Fatima a copy of our ceremony that we had put together and she gave it to our Officiant. The Officiant did it exactly as it was and spoke English perfectly. We did a wine ceremony as our unity ceremony and they had kept the wine at the bar nice and cold for us until the ceremony began. We did have a few issues with the microphone but that was our outside DJs fault (DJ Staci). When the ceremony was complete we did our processional (Bill Withers “Just the two of us”) and were immediately greeted with our signature purple martini (they did this on their own), what a nice touch. We stood around cheersing for a few minutes with our guests then started with photography.
We had about half an hour between the ceremony and cocktail hour so we took some pictures of our entire group, family and of the two of us. We then headed to Las Palmas from 4:30-5:30.
The food at the cocktail hour was delicious and there was a lot to go around. We ordered cheese with grapes and nuts, seafood tartlets, miniqueche Lorraine, grissini with prosciutto ham, boursin cheese canopy, and mini vole au vent with seafood. The best appys were the hot ones, seafood tartlets, miniqueche Lorraine and the vole au vent.
We rented two sets of lounge furniture (total of 4 couches, 2 chairs and 2 tables) as well as 4 sets of light up cocktail tables with 5 chairs around each. These worked beautifully for the cocktail hour and we had them moved over to the reception as well. We had a photo guestbook station, cigar lounge and tequila tasting bar all set up at the cocktail hour and also moved to the reception later. To have the cocktail hour and everything moved from one location to another they charged us $150 which I found very reasonable for the amount of work it took.
Enjoying a cigar with the groomsmen:
At the cocktail hour we had a Mexican Trio band which everyone loved and raved about. They played mexican classics and really got the party going. Highly recommend them!
After the cocktail hour we went for more pictures of the bridal party and again the two of us. This took from 5:30-6:30. Our guests at that time went and hung out at the Rendez-Vous bar. At 6:30 we arrived for our grand entrance into the reception, where the wedding party danced in to LMFAO’s ‘Sexy and I know it’, and hubby and I danced in to Black Eyed Peas ‘Let’s Get Retarded’.
Our MC started off the evening with a welcome then my parents said a grace. Dinner was served. For dinner we ordered a salad (calamari mille-feuille with dry white wine sauce) and the poblana soup, both were very good. As the main course we had a choice of either Fish Filet Provence style with mango sauce or a combination of chicken and steak in marrow and black pepper sauce. I chose the chicken and steak combo, it was good but over cooked, I like my steak medium rare and this was very well done and both were dry. We did not have an option of how the steak was cooked so it didn’t bother me much and I just ate it. The dessert was tiramisu which the guests seemed to enjoy. I am not sure how the fish filet was as I forgot to ask any of the guests who had it. We also had a vegetarian option which guests enjoyed, it was a very large portion I recall and a gluten free option for guests as well. It did take quite a while for all the tables to be served so we ended up starting speeches before our dessert had come out, in hind sight I would have probably done speeches throughout the supper to save time as by the time it was all done and it was time for our first dance it was already 9pm!
We paid about $150 extra for our cake and am happy we did, it was so beautiful! Dreams used an outside vendor for this and whatever we didn't eat they saved for us at one of the restaurants so the next couple of days when we went for supper we just had to tell them right when we got there what day our wedding was and that we wanted our cake for dessert so they could track it down. Loved this!
We had to change a bunch of things last minute like cut the cake before the dance began, mix the father/daughter and mother/son dance, and cut the wedding party slow dance all together. We did this to keep the party running smoothly and to stop all the interruptions. Once the dancing really got going the dj put on a slow song which we immediately told her to shut off and to only play fast songs as there was only about 45 minutes left of beach dancing. Dreams outdoor policy is to close the party down at 10:30, we pushed it to about 10:45 then moved over to Desires Music Lounge (sports bar) where we danced the night away. We gave the Desires dj our iPod and he played it until closing time (2am). I really wish they would have allowed us to stay on the beach later into the night but I understand the noise issues.
The wait staff throughout the day was exceptional; they were fast, energetic and kind. With a group of 50 people who like drinking this is not an easy task. We had made a signature cocktail, martini and shot for our wedding day and every time I looked around they were handing them out to guests. At one point one of my bridesmaids ordered 100 tequila shots to get the party started and next thing I knew there were waiters filling tables with tequila and our signature shots.
When we were leaving to Desires, Fatima came up to me and asked what I wanted to keep and what I didn`t, I really wish I would have made a list beforehand because now I am missing some things I really would have liked to keep, like a copy of my program, some chair sashes were missing which I now owe money for back home, some aspects of the décor etc. This was not her fault, it was just such a rush and things got forgotten about on my end.
All in all we had an amazing day, and were so happy with the way everything turned out. We heard from multiple guests that it was by far the best wedding they’ve ever been to and were praising Dreams for their hard work and ability to cater to weddings. We are very happy we chose this resort for our wedding and for a two week vacation, it was perfect.
Restaurants: No one in our group had ever been to a resort with this grade of food before, we were all blown away to say the least. I am a huge fan of the no reservation system, if we were hungry we would go right at 6:30 and never had any problems getting into a restaurant, if we weren’t hungry we would wait it out until around 7/7:30pm and go get a disc from the hostess and sit at one of the nearby bars until our table is ready. I think all resorts should have this system; waiting in line at 7am to reserve a table for one night is ridiculous in my opinion.
The first night we arrived I had organized a welcome dinner at the Mexican Fiesta night on the beach, there was so much food to choose from I didn’t know where to start. I am generally not a big fan of Mexican but my husband loves it so I knew he would enjoy this; after filling my plate with various Mexican options I soon changed my opinion, I thoroughly enjoyed it and so did everyone else. We even had this sweet little boy make us all balloon hats to wear during supper, so fun.
Our favourite restaurant by far was the Seaside Grill, the location overlooking the rocks and ocean was too good to pass up. We generally had the same server, David, who was one of the best servers I think I’ve ever had. He kept our wine glasses full and same with our tummies, he liked to joke around and you could tell he actually enjoyed his job. Every time I go to Mexico and try the steak I am always disappointed, well not this time! The bacon wrapped beef filet is out of this world! When you go to Seaside you must try it. Also a big fan of their spinach soup, onion soup, calamari and walnut fudge brownie. The staff did an excellent job at presentation for each meal as well. Can’t wait to go back to the Seaside.
I went to Portofino twice, the first time I had heat stroke so barely ate anything but what I did have was really good. The second time I did the full meal deal, minestrone soup, pasta and pork. The pork was a bit dry but still tasty, the soup and pasta were very good. I ate way too much though and was very full when I left. Our waiter (Fernandez I think) was excellent; he kept saying “keep it flowing” and would fill our wine glasses to the top. He was a very sweet man. My husband unfortunately had been having issues with his stomach for a few days before and ended up getting sick after we left the restaurant, we’re not sure whether it was the flu or the food but something didn’t sit right with him. I know with food poisoning you’re generally sick for 24 hours and he felt much better afterwards so I’m sure it wasn’t the food itself, maybe just eating too much mixed with the stomach issues.
We ate at El Patio once, it was also very good and the service was once again excellent. We did not go back mainly because we loved Seaside so much and being outside instead of inside. Hubby said it was one of his favourites though.
We ate at Oceana once and hubby went with his family another day as well. The food was good however the service was terrible. The host who greets you was very nice and placed us in what I thought was the best seat in the house, all seemed well. The waiter however took about 30 minutes to take our drink and food order, another 15 to bring the drinks then we didn’t see him again for half an hour. Once he came back I asked him to leave us a bottle of wine on the table in exchange for a good tip, he did, but then we didn’t see him for the rest of the night. We had different waiters bring out our appy and main course each time, both were tasty but by the time we were finished we’d been there for well over two hours and hadn’t seen our waiter for an hour. Seaside was closed that day so the restaurant was lined up, needless to say we didn’t stay for dessert. I thought that maybe they were really short staffed that day but hubby said it was the same way a few days earlier when he was there. If you enjoy seafood then I would recommend trying this restaurant as we really enjoyed the food, however just take into account that the service doesn’t compare to any of the other restaurants.
The World Café had plenty of options for breakfast and lunch; we never ate there at supper so not sure about that. It was fairly basic resort buffet food. Coco Café had delicious cupcakes, sandwiches and coffee, a nice treat throughout the day.
One thing I would also like to note is that this is the only resort I’ve ever been to which serves Heinz ketchup. We bring a bottle of Heinz with us on vacation as the ketchup they usually serve is nothing like it so we were pleasantly surprised when they had it readily available. Also, for all you Canadians out there who enjoy a Caesar, they have Clamato juice at every bar, another first for us. Sometimes it’s the small things….
The 24 hour room service was a life saver on many occasions, I am known to get sick at least one day on vacation and need to stay in bed. Having the option of a good meal late at night or if you just want to sit on your patio and have breakfast in the morning was such a delight. We even ordered room service while getting ready for the wedding or we would never have had time to eat. The burger is sooo good, you have to try it at least once, also the chicken wings in blue cheese sauce, yumm. Don’t judge, I was on vacation ;)
Bars: We spent quite a bit of time at the Rendez-Vous bar, it’s where we met up with all of our guests each night, we brought cards and board games and had a blast. The service was really good, we always had the same waitress who treated us like gold (of course I can’t remember her name now though). Those little peanuts they serve are sooo good too; I have been craving them ever since I left.
We had great service at Barracuda and Desires with Carlos and Miguel at the swim-up bar was also very good. They make a pretty mean mojito so make sure to try one out. The poolside service at the adult only pool was very good too.
Also, most resorts we've stayed at had terrible house wine but we quite enjoyed the Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay from Chili that they serve at each bar and restaurant.
Pools: Las Palmas is very nice and private, it seems that a lot of the older folks like to stay here and read. You can easily swim laps in here if you wish as there isn’t a whole lot of people in it.
The main pool is nice for the more rowdy crowd and under the bridge on the opposite side of the swim-up bar is where you can do aquasize, this is also where the kids usually play. Closer to the swim-up bar is where you can find your all-day-drinkers. It’s a fun time and you can meet some very nice people. This pool tends to be warmer as well (take it however you want, not sure if they heat it or not…).
The adult only pool next to the preferred tower is one of my favourites, there is barely anyone in it, it is much cooler, there are lots of lounge chairs available outside and inside the water and they have another Jacuzzi attached to it.
There are three Jacuzzi’s around the resort and they are actually hot, unlike many resorts we’ve stayed in which are the same temperature as the pool just with jets. This is very nice for when the sun goes down or even around 5/5:30 when the pool can be a little too cold. You can also go in them at night if you aren’t being loud, not sure if this is actually allowed but we did.
Entertainment: We went to a few of their shows and the best one by far was the Fire Show. We went to Rhythms of the Night a few years back and thought this easily surpassed it. They did such an excellent job. The karaoke night was also fun to watch, lots of great singers out there.
Safety off resort: Just a quick note on safety when you go into PV at night. Always go in groups and never try to take cabs alone, especially if you’ve been drinking. If you do get into a cab alone, memorize the cab number or write it down when they are not looking. On my husband’s stag one of his groomsmen left the bar on his own and got into a cab while intoxicated, the cab took him to a group of 7 men who took all of his money and credit cards, then they drove him to an ATM and forced him to take out his daily limit, once he did they dropped him off in the middle of nowhere with no money, phone or credit cards. He was able to find another cab (which he had to trust to not do the same thing to him) and got back to the resort, that cab cost him $70. He is very lucky that he was not hurt but please just take caution when you are out at night or even during the day for that matter. Always travel in groups and try to not get too intoxicated. Also, if you’re a guy DO NOT pee on the Malecon, yes this seems like common sense to some but others not so much. The police wait for you and will shake you down for money (200 pesos usually) to let you go.
We went in to town a few times and I felt completely safe, even at night, it is the same as any big city, if you are alone and drunk you have a higher chance of being targeted.
Anyways, back to the positive Dreams review…
To sum up my extremely lengthy review I can easily say that this is by far the best resort I have ever been to and will compare all other traveling experiences to this. Dreams caters to brides but also treats every other person there just as good as the next. The food, staff, service, location and rooms add up to make a perfect home away from home. I can’t wait to return!
If you have any questions please feel free to pm me.