By okiebride, · 1,136 Views · 2 Comments
Gran Porto Review
The planning process was scary in the fact that we had never been to the Gran Porto, or Playa del Carmen. We have friends that stayed at the Royal across the street and other friends stay at Real Resorts in Cancun, in which all recommended a Real Resort. We picked items from what we liked. It turned out that everything was good. We arrived on Monday, May 19th and left on Tuesday, May 27th.
About the hotel: It is nicer than what we imagined. It has a very nice Mexican hacienda feel. You can always sit outside at the restaurants. The pool area is very nice. Everything is so clean. The food, drinks, and service were outstanding and went above our expectations. The only downside for staying 8 nights is the lack of restaurant options (not all of our guests had privileges at the Royal – the Royal has many more restaurant options which were good too, highly recommend Asiana). Marias and Pescatore had wonderful food, and a variety of options on the menu, which made it easy to eat at these restaurants on many nights. At Marias, get the Mayan Coffee for desert – it is a fun show to watch! The sushi bar on the third floor pool was great food as well, in which we ate there every afternoon. The sushi bar includes a swim up bar from the pool. The 24-hour snack bar was always stocked with anything that you could want – alcohol, sodas, coffee, water, beer on tap, sandwiches (wonderful at 2 a.m.), fruit, cereal, etc.
The Gran Porto is a block away from Fifth Avenue. We never felt uncomfortable or unsafe, in which we were out walking Fifth Avenue at various times of the day, including mornings, afternoons, nights, and a couple of early mornings! The hotel has incredible security and verifying everyone that walks through the doors. Not sure if it was the time of the year, but there were not many kids around at all.
The pool areas are nice. We went to the Royal pool area once, but it was too big. Our guests wanted to hang out together, which made the smaller atmosphere at the Gran Porto easier for our guests to find everyone. The beach access at the Gran Porto is not the best. The better beach access is at the Royal, which is very close. Anyone can go to the beach areas at the Royal to hang out. However, our guests enjoyed the pool area more, so we spent the majority of our time at the pool.
Our wedding week included a welcome cocktail hour on the beach on Wednesday, rehearsal dinner in the ballroom on Thursday, and reception with dinner and dancing on the beach on Friday. We were married in the Catholic chapel on Fifth Avenue. Our wedding group included 35 people, 3 of them children.
Check-in: Very easy. Everyone was courteous. We were greeted with a cocktail for all of our guests! A few of our guests that arrived had rooms were not ready when they got there, but it was no big deal. Their luggage was secure, and each was given a wristband to start enjoying their vacation.
We stayed in the Gran Master Suite. It was absolutely amazing and very clean. The bed was comfortable. The view was incredible. The room overlooked the pool and ocean. Rafael kept our room stocked with water, beer, and anything that we wanted. We were spoiled with champagne every night. The room was cleaned twice a day, and you get to select when that happens (very cool feature).
Wedding planning: We met with Lorena the morning after we arrived for roughly two hours. Let us start by saying she was incredible and very helpful. We felt so much better about our selections after we met with Lorena. On a side note, we were not very happy with our wedding consultant during the planning process. There was a language barrier and some of our questions were not answered or explained very well. Please know that all of the concerns you may feel during the planning process will be completely relieved. Lorena sat down with us with a long agenda. We literally drew out the arrangement of every event. For the wedding we drew out our cocktail hour, reception tables, dance floor, DJ, bar, where to cut the cake, speeches, where our guests sat, etc!!! We had a couple of last minute changes with food and guests and there were no problems at all! We were so overwhelmed with how beautiful and perfect everything was! We wished we could have worked with Lorena from start to finish. Lorena was personally at every event, for the entire event, making sure everything was absolutely perfect!
Welcome cocktail hour on the beach: We had a one-hour welcome cocktail hour with appetizers and open bar. We were all greeted with champagne! No one had an empty drink the entire event! The food was delicious! The set up on the beach was beautiful. There were high and low tables to sit and stand at, an area for the food, a bar, and they provided an area for us to place our welcome bags at. They provided a sound system for music to set the tone! One of our favorite waiters from nightly dinners at Marias was Joauqin, he was one of our servers at the event and it was a wonderful surprise! The only thing we would have done differently was had a two hour event instead of one because everyone was enjoying themselves.
Rehearsal Dinner: Our rehearsal dinner was in the ballroom. When our guests arrived, everyone was greeted with watermelon champagne! It was delicious. We paid for the computer equipment for slide show and it really made the night! We played the slide show during dinner. We had a sit down 4-course Mexican dinner that was excellent! A menu of the dinner was on each table and the wait staff announced each course. The room was very nicely decorated and elegant. The wait staff again did a wonderful job with service and drinks. They provided tables and again a sound system for music. The open bar was great, but our guests never had to move to the bar because the waiters were constantly checking everyone’s drinks. We had the ballroom reserved from 7 pm to 10:00 pm. We started dinner at 7:30 to allow guests to arrive and mingle. Everyone stayed the entire time. We had to tell Lorena to kick us out or else we would never leave because we were having such a good time!
Day of the wedding: We got married in the Catholic Chapel on Fifth Avenue at 4:00 pm, so we needed transportation to get the guests there. The concierge was very nice in arranging taxis and vans. It all worked out. Lorena was available all day long, waiting on the flowers, getting the reception ready, and being there for anything that we needed. The day started for the bride with a mani/pedi at the spa across the street at The Royal, with Nataly. She was wonderful and helped calm nerves with her warm personality! The mother of the groom had her hair and makeup done at the spa. The bride and bridesmaids ordered room service and mimosas while getting ready and it was perfect! The groom and groomsmen had breakfast at Albatros and hung out by the pool. The day was easy and we were greeted by our transportation for a quick car ride over to 5th avenue to the chapel. It seemed like everyone knew it was our wedding that day, the service we received was above and beyond!
Wedding Reception Cocktail Hour: 5:30-6:30pm on the North Beach, towards the pier between Gran Porto and The Royal. The view was breath taking, especially with the sun setting, and the sand was perfect! The area was fantastic for picture taking! Lorena was waiting at the front entrance of the hotel for our guests when they arrived back for cocktail hour. She escorted them to the beach where they were greeted with open bar and appetizers. There were high and low top tables for the guests to sit and stand at. Again there was a sound system to provide music. The menu consisted of papaya rose salmon (basically a small piece of smoked salmon on a piece of fresh fruit papya-delish), stuffed mushrooms, and turkey meatballs. Lorena had the appetizers stay available during the reception because our guests continued to eat them!
Reception: Our reception was absolutely beautiful, more than we could have asked for and exactly what we had envisioned and planned with Lorena. What we requested was delivered, a dream come true! First and foremost spend your money on the light up dance floor, it was totally worth it, especially when the sun went down! Again, if you need to cut out some flowers or decorations to cover the expense of the light-up dance floor, do it! Seriously, it was so cool to dance on a light up dance floor on the beach, with the waves splashing in the background and the beautiful scenery. We used DJ Mannia through the Gran Porto and they delivered! The props and the fireworks they provided were a huge hit! Two months before the wedding they e-mailed us with a song request form asking what music we wanted, they really came through on this! The groom even changed a few songs the day of the wedding and they fulfilled the requests! Lorena ensured that our schedule we requested was fully met. She even offered some very helpful suggestions to make sure we had even more time on the dance floor! She kept the dinner moving forward making sure each course came out at the right time between songs, made sure our guests were enjoying themselves, and that we had everything we needed. The wait staff continued to keep everyone’s glasses full the entire night! Our menu for dinner was caprese salad, surf and turf calamari with vegetables, and added garnish of mashed potatoes. Dessert was mango parfait au tequila and wedding cake. The wedding cake was provided by the resort, and was a big hit! The cake was vanilla with fresh strawberries mixed in the cake, absolutely delicious!
For the decorations, we had brought our own votives – all 90 of them! Lorena made sure they were spread throughout the tables for the cocktail our and reception. She was so kind to spend time to wrap them back up. She made sure that all of the stuff that we brought was put back in its place – votives, candles, guestbook and pen, cake cutting knife and forks, cocktail napkins, table runners, pictures of family members, and matches (for the cigar table). We had a separate area with the couch and chair lounge area, which was nice to have and guests enjoyed it.
During the days after the wedding, our guests left at staggered times. The concierge service made sure that everyone’s baggage was accounted for and safe so they could enjoy every last minute with us!
Many of the guests went to the spa for massages during their stay. We never heard a complaint and everyone said they enjoyed it. The spa is very clean and everyone is friendly. The bride had an amazing 50-minute massage with Landy, and would definitely use Landy again. At check-in at the spa, they give you a locker and a robe. Then you proceed to the Jacuzzi and steam room. You will not be disappointed.
All in all, an incredible trip. All of our guests continue to rave about how much fun they had. We could not have been happier. We look forward to our next trip to the Gran Porto!