Playa del Carmen
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By Sebastiansonia, · 854 Views · 3 Comments
Pros: Resort, private, food, music, service, attention to detail
There are two reasons I am writing this review about my wedding at Banyan: 1) It was amazing and Katherine Heisinger (our wedding coordinator at Banyan was extremely helpful!) and 2) I owe it to other brides out there looking for options as it was very helpful for me to read other brides's reviews.
I had about three months to plan my wedding so I had to do everything pretty quick and needed people to be responsive and to deliver when they said they would. This is obviously different for every person, but I'm just saying that as a disclaimer to anyone who has more time and can visit the different places etc. My brother got married in Cancun and we all speak Spanish so we knew the area and knew we could manage just about anything if needed, which is why we picked the Playa del Carmen area.
So back to Banyan Tree Mayakoba (BTM), as soon as I wrote with a date, I got a response from Katherine H. She sent me a slideshow and a brochure describing everything. I had seen very limited things on BTM on any website that was not the Banyan Tree chain and much less on weddings there. I think I found two blogs if that. Anyway, we figured out the date and spoke with Katherine several times on the phone before getting into a contract. She was always very helpful and available to speak, as well as, accomodating and very patient with our MANY questions and requests. Can't say the same for some of the other resorts I looked into including Azul Sensatori.
The wedding planning is relatively easy if you just want to decide between what the hotel wants to offer, but if you want to add some personal touches, that's where it can get cubersome to the bride. Although, Katherine was very flexible and helped ensure the timing of everything so that everything went without a hitch. I had prepared welcome bags for the guests and Katherine helped arrange to have guests receive the bags at their turndown service.
As a side note, the Fairmont and Rosewood are part of the complex in case guests would like to stay there and it makes it fairly easy to move between the resorts. Playa del Carmen and the million other resorts are nearby so if guests choose to stay there it's fairly easy to get them to BTM.
I have to say there are many reasons why we chose BTM, among them availability but also the fact that what you get for your money is worth every penny at every level: accomodations for guests, service excellence, attention to detail, etc. It is high end, so if you are looking to spend less, this may not be the best option but if you want to make sure you have the wedding of your dreams, this is without a doubt the place for you. BTM's setting can't be beat. The entire resort is a zen experience, where you are relaxing, not the crazy masses of tourists in some other resorts (it's also not all-inclusive which personally works well since you have a fabulous breakfast and then can go do your thing at the resort or elsewhere) and private. One of my biggest pet peeves was having tourists or strangers walking around and taking part in our celebration particularly because all of our family and friends had flown from far away to be with us and I wanted to have that privacy.
There are several things, aside from what I mentioned above about privacy and service excellence that make this place perfect. You have various settings for pictures that you would not otherwise have in any other resort, e.g. golf carts and a pristine golf course (btw, the PGA tour was there 5 days later and this resort works like a well oiled machine where you can tell everyone is proud to work there!), a gorgeous wooden electric boat with a white canopy (for those of you like me who don't know what the difference is of an electric vs. gas boat, it's for environmental conservation which is another reason I respect Banyan Tree so much more!), spacious balconies and incredible architecture (any video you find online does not do it justice), the integrated environment of the resort with nature so you are constantly surrounded by all the elements.
The day of the wedding Katherine is able to make it all work, I had my hair done at the Spa (I also had a massage here and everything was great and very relaxing!) and also had a villa for me to get ready (separate from the groom) which made it very helpful.
Ok so now on to details of the wedding. The ceremony itself, we held at the beach. Katherine did a great job of reserving a villa for guests in case they needed to go to the bathroom, they had cold water bottles as well, they also set up a place where guests after walking on the beach barefoot could wash/dry feet and put their shoes on for the ceremony. The officiant we chose was great Santiago C. He made a very meaningful ceremony (which included G-d but was not overly religious in any direction), he was also great at suggesting a poem that was read and other readings. We did the sand mixing as well. At the beach ceremony we also had a violinist, Guillermo, who was able to put just the right music to the ceremony. One thing to think about here (but this is just to give an alternative to BTM's sound system), is we bought a sound system that we were able to use for less than the cost of the actual renting... just something to think about, obviously if you think this is a good investment of money and lugging the thing to mexico do it, otherwise, just go with what BTM provides. Our wedding ceremony started at 4:30, thinking it would be dark by 5:15... it actually doesn't become dark in feburary until 6 pm, so if you were to rent lights, do it for anything outside AFTER 6 pm, but before.
Cocktail before reception. We had the cocktail reception in one of balconies near the lobby, very spacious, gorgeous view, great breeze. We did this simple and decided against serving too much food since the seafood buffet we picked for the reception would be plenty! Can't say anyone noticed or would have wanted it differently. The groom and I were happily strolling BTM with the photographer so we didn't get to enjoy the cocktail but the guests did. One of the great things about holding the wedding at the beach and then coming back to the lobby is the groom and you can come back to the lobby on the boat (as the bride, I went to the beach on the boat) and then be received by your guests. I highly recommend doing this and ensuring the boat at the beach has been reserved for you and the groom regardless of how long you take taking pictures after the ceremony. The pictures on the boat are worth it!
Reception. The reception started 6:15 and was allowed by the hotel to last until 11 pm. Probably the only drawback... since most of my guests, would have gladly despite the early start stayed until the wee hours of the morning dancing. The DJ was given a list of songs (via Katherine) and I'm happy to say he played most of them, but more importantly he never played one of the DO NOT PLAY SONGS. Everyone commented on how great the music was and how much we danced, of course!
As far as the food, we did the seafood buffet and it is a little more expensive then the other buffets so clarify this in case this makes a difference to you, but it is totally worth it. A week before the groom, his best man and I went to the tasting of this buffet and it was incredible. All the guests raved about the buffet, including the 8+ different kinds of dessert which were finger liking good. The alcohol was plenty and we went with payment based on consumption because we have a few drinkers but the majority were not. Again, these are all preferences of what I did, but other options may fit you best. We had about 40 adults and 10 children (prices and food options for children vary as well). We also had a slide show and Katherine helped us set it up without a glitch. She was also there the whole day ensuring everything was perfectly orchestrated, and so were the managers for the different areas e.g. beach, catering, etc. which were all also very helpful. Because we had a good number of guests who did want to stay after 11 pm, we had to figure out options, this was tricky but I think if this is important to you make it a point when you talk to Katherine to find a feasible solution. We ended up getting a wedding cake but honestly I think we could have done without given the vast number of desserts, and personally, I didn't miss it until I was reminded to go cut the cake. We also had menus and place settings that Katherine ensured were perfectly placed. Since we had requested specific flowers, we were allowed to bring in flowers that the hotel vendor did not have... our florist was great, but the flowers throughout BTM always looked great, so I'm sure you can't go wrong.
Overall, our wedding was beyond what I had imagined and everyone had a phenomenal time. The venue of BTM is unbeatable as far as scenary, location, dedication to the environment, commitment to excellence and making you feel relaxed. If price is no object, I wouldn't think twice about where to hold it as BTM is the best for cancun, playa del carmen, and riviera maya, hands down. Thank you to the wonderful staff that made it all possible.
I had an amazing photographer, Martha Bloque, here is her website: http://www.photosbymartharoque.blogspot.com/
She is wonderful, and has a lot of experience taking pictures in this area of Mexico so she can give you great suggestions, as well as, for the Trash the Dress session, which if you haven't heard of this, you have to do it! It's worth it and your dress, no joke comes out cleaner than after the wedding! Plus we enjoyed it so much with the groom and again, BTM had so many other settings, like the dock of the boat, quaint bridges, etc. to take pictures. So make sure you have a great photographer! Obviously, I can't say enough about Martha and her team for pictures and video.