By Schwaa2, · 648 Views · 0 Comments
Writing this review, I am feeling mixed feelings for various reasons. I really really wanted to give Now Amber/Secrets Vallarta a 5 star review, but due to the lack of accountability and conflict we experienced, unfortunately I cannot. Although we had a terrible experience with the wedding department and general manager, Alex, I will still do my best to highlight the wonderful parts of the resort, but also warn of the possible mishaps/give advice if you are planning or considering a wedding at Now Amber. Although the resort was great in itself, due to the way our concerns were handled, I can honestly say I wish I had my wedding elsewhere. If you are completely using all their wedding services, you may receive better service.
The resort is amazing, modern, and large - always something to do. The pools and swim-up bars are great. The Preferred Club option is worth it, the rooms are luxurious and most have beautiful water views. The sunsets are amazing (especially from the lobby). The food is great (especially the french restaurant - Bordeux!). Spa seemed almost world-class, loved the massage. The location is great, since it is in PV, and you can taxi anywhere very quickly if you like to experience local culture. At least 50% of the staff are extremely attentive and seemingly trying to provide the best service possible (although we felt that sometimes this comes with stipulations, that being money spent and tipping). Overall beautiful resort with many great staff, activities, and possibilities for beautiful memories, I'm sure.
Beach sucks. Extremely rocky and needing of water shoes if you plan on swimming in there. All my guests (especially since my family is from the Caribbean) were very disappointed with this. If you are a beach person, this resort may not be for you. I have heard Hyatt Ziva is much better for this. The houskeeping did not do a good job our entire stay. I have traveled to various 5 star resorts (Cuba, Jamaica, Cabo, Cancun, Playa Del Carmen, Dominican) and can honestly say this was the worst houskeeping I experienced. Items were never stocked properly (towels, water, facecloths), nor our own personal items organized (as many other resorts will do). We only had a mini hand-held steamer in our room and it was terrible - really wish they had a regular iron. It constantly leaked and even burned our hands where you held it. Safe to say I had a lot of wrinkled clothes hanging in the shower to steam the entire time lol; very inconvenient. Also out of 40 guests we brought, about 60% got stomach issues and illness although they were only drinking bottled water. Really fe;t bad for everyone, including myself - bring tons of Imodium and Pepto! Also, common sense, but make sure you have medical insurance. To make a long story short, a guest of ours slipped on the marble floors, dislocated her elbow (but was attended to by another one of our guests who is a Dr., and they still insisted in bringing out their Dr. who said the exact same thing and did less than our guest (the Dr.), then wanted to charge $150. An argument ensued with management and most of my guests thought it was very irrational and defensive in the way the resort acted (I wan't even there but heard about it from everyone after). Many of my guests complained that the floor was slippery in their rooms, so just a caution. Also, sometimes bartenders were overwhelmed and understaffed so you had to wait a very long time for drinks (some of which never came) at various bars.
The communication via email from the beginning was excellent. I felt satisfied with the level of care and confident the wedding team was warm, understanding and accommodating. I brought my own wedding planner along with me and she was the one corresponding with the resort planner, Lorena, the entire time. She even said she was impressed. When the day of the wedding came, everything changed. Our wedding planner was the one working with Lorena on our behalf, as it was an emotional time for us and hard to handle much (my husband's mother passed away exactly a year earlier ON our wedding day, hence us waiting a year and having another at Now Amber). We didn't meet with Lorena, as our wedding planner did, and also was clear from the beginning that we were bringing all of our own decor along with us (they did not have what we wanted, plus we wanted to save money, as many brides do - if you see their detailed price list, you will know what I mean).
Firstly, it was communicated with us last minute about our dress/suit being steamed and on our wedding morning we were rushing down to try to figure it out. Both items did not arrive at the time that they told us, so in the middle of my hair and makeup I had to run around trying to figure out where my dress was. I'm unsure if it was Lorena's personality, or her frustration with me being behind schedule 15 mins, but she came off very cold, rushing me and honestly made me feel as if I was just an inconvenience when I was trying to get ready (I am a very particular person and was doing my own hair and makeup). Then the photographer shows up and literally makes me cry since there was no communication about what they actually provide (fyi - only 1.5 hour coverage of ceremony/cocktail hour) and I had not responded to the general email they sent me since it said to so we could request an additional package (I had already hired a photographer ahead of time so no use of contacting them for the package). I asked the resort photographer at that time to correspond with Lorena and my wedding planner to figure out what he would be doing, and he just didn't show up! He was supposed to be there, we had paid for the Now to Eternal package which includes photos and he just didn't come....we were so confused. The DJ screwed up on our first dance song somehow (there was a pause or something weird happened) although eventually it ensued. He also initially played the correct song for the cake cutting, but then instead of choosing an appropriate song or repeating it since the song had ended, he played a very inappropriate song (TLC NO SCRUBS IS MY WEDDING CAKE CUTTING SONG LOL - if you don't know, google to lyrics). Then when they screwed up the cake after very particular instructions (and wasted $60 worth of cake decor I bought, even my guests said it looked really bad) and I asked for it to be taken back to be re-iced, literally 5 of my guests witnessed the resort wedding planner Lorena roll her eyes - how embarrassing! When one of my guests was out of his seat also acting as a videographer, he didn't get served a plate of dinner until 10:00 pm, and it was an argument with them about this. Also, they were having a show at the pool (we were at the La Vista Terrace) and it literally drowned out all of the speeches which were at 8:30. I am unsure why nobody thought to inform us of this show or address that they had done anything about it. My wedding planner did not receive all the decor to the reception area to set up as promised at 4:30, but around 5:30 - 6, and therefore was extremely stressed trying to put everything together, with no help from Lorena. My poor wedding planner's husband literally had to setup the ceremony area himself. Candles were not lit on the table, and even one of my guests had to ask for a lighter and go around and light the candles on the tables. To top it off, they asked for payment the exact day of the wedding (why would they not mention this ahead of time, like why do it during such a busy stressful period, or just inform us ahead of time?).
When we went to speak with Lorena and Edith at the wedding department, all we received was excuse after excuse. Literally all we wanted to hear was "We are so sorry you felt this way, you are right certain things could have been handled differently with communication, etc.", but we didn't get that at all. Absolutely no accountability or even any alternatives to de-escalate the situation. I have worked in premium client care and customer service for years - I was shocked and so upset by the responses we received, I literally had to leave the meeting before I said anything uncharacteristic and make the situation worse. Once I left, Lorena told my wedding planner that as soon as she met me, she knew I was just going to try to get a discount. I was very hurt and offended by this, because this was never our intention. We felt unheard and the lack accountability and service in this regards on their part for a 5-star hotel was outrageous.
Our last day we tried to talk to the GM, and that was literally a disaster, I'm sure for various reasons - some our fault and some on their end. I think he already had a bias, considering I had seen another bride and simply recommend they check if there was a show going on at the pool during their reception so they didn't go through what we did with not hearing speeches, and he was furious about this. If you look at reviews on destination wedding sites, you can see this has been an issue before (not only my review). Alex's demeanor was very prideful and righteous (somewhat like my husbands at times, I'll be honest) so they completely clashed, ending the meeting and my husband saying he wasn't willing to pay anything. Things were paid (of course) but we both left feeling unheard and almost like the service there is all a facade - behind it they are just money makers wanting you to spend a ridiculous amount of money on wedding services, workers wanting to keep their jobs (hence the lack accountability or ability to say sorry), and treatment that is lacking unless you were using all their wedding services (and tipping them) - I mean, how else would anyone feel? My guests witnessed much of it and due to our upset nature, although enjoyed the resort itself, would never return for that reason and likely write a bad review.
If you are looking for a nice vacation without any event aspects, I would recommend completely.
If you are looking to do a wedding, definitely save yourself the headache. I am so happy we brought my own wedding planner and had all of my family and friends for support, because if not, we have no confidence the positive aspects of my wedding would have turned out how they did.
Sometimes a simple, "I'm truly sorry you felt that way" goes a mile. That's all we wanted and we never received it.