By redpoppies, · 1,282 Views · 2 Comments
We hosted a beach wedding at Secrets Wild Orchid Barracuda Beach on April 27, 2015. We chose Secrets after creating a spreadsheet of all the Jamaican resorts vrs. our needs and chose Wild Orchid because it looked beautiful, had a sand beach for our "toes in the sand" theme and offered so many activities for our varied guest list. Then I spent 6+ months reading every TripAdvisor review and Q&A, and tons of organic searches on the web for comments. So we knew what to expect from the resort...wonderful staff, lots of activities, gorgeous site and landscaping, modern rooms and mediocre food. Secrets delivered everything as expected. We provided welcome kits to our guests for some anticipated needs like bug repellent, tummy and pain meds, bath salts, tote/backpack, and key: insulated, imprinted mugs with covers and straws. A tip from an AI fan told us to do this and it was an awesome idea. The bartenders gladly filled the mugs and the insulation meant that in 90 degree weather we had ice in our drinks for hours.
The PROs: The staff is very attentive, housekeeping well done, the buffet for bfast and lunch is tasty and has something for everyone, the nighttime entertainment area around the restaurants and the piano bar is wonderful. The beach/sea was full of snorkeling options, sea life like rays, octopus, urchins, jellyfish and starfish. The loungers plentiful, the towels large, the pool clean. We spent 7 days discovering new places on the resort, and our guests really enjoyed the surrounds. THE WEDDING was beautiful, although hot, and the provided music in the Ultimate package was delightful, the appetizers presented nicely, the bartender attentive, the venue much more private than the other options of gazebos. The tent we rented with liner and chiller units made it possible to eat the reception food (although the soup was not a hit...too warm!) in relative comfort.
The CONS: The wedding concierges at this location as you have read elsewhere did prove to be difficult to work with, communicate with, and ultimately did not manage the event to our expectations. Fortunately we were located in an oceanfront room directly overlooking the venue, which was a gift in that we initially had the incorrect ceremony seating, the wrong configuration of the orchids on the wedding arch, and tent set-up. We used all their vendors for linens, custom flowers, entertainment and cake. We brought a photographer from the states and rented the tent from their provider but negotiated a better price direct. That was 2 VENDOR FEES of $300 each, even though the photographer was a 4 day paid guest at the resort. We were told they would budge on $150 of this $600 charge, after a lot of complaining. We never had ONE contact to manage our event, and so you would need to repeat requests in multiple emails that were exceedingly slow to come back, and never correct the first time. The challenges were for anything upgraded and custom. If you chose a wedding package and use the resort's options as your only upgrades, I'm guessing that you would have less complaints. They have forms. If it doesn't have a place on the form, pay attention.
We never were offered a groom's room on the eve of the wedding, so the MOB slept on the couch. Not ideal, but not a big deal. Golf cart from spa (no wi-fi) to room after hair/make-up is a must. Golf cart bride to ceremony, same idea.
The Wild Orchid servers, bartenders, room care and reception staff (really, anyone you come in contact with, even security) did a wonderful job with a smile and often a song. Tipping at your discretion, but you will want to leave small bills for these delightful people tending to your every whim. You get great service either way, but a couple of ones as you order a drink at the bar can result in a stronger pour...but you are drinking constantly so it's a personal choice.
The only items bringing the rating off from a perfect 5 is the lack of care from the wedding concierge (NOT the staff) and the beautifully presented but not so great dinner food (we ate at all 7 restaurants).
If you are considering a destination wedding in Jamaica, this venue is beautiful and full of activities and services for your guests. Just moderate your expectations from the wedding planners, and you can still have the wedding of your dreams here.