REVIEW OF OUR WEDDING - April 5th 2011 - Grand Palladium Punta Cana
I'm not going to make a detailed review as many did here. I'm going to make a bullet point review of things I had trouble finding info on along with some advice. Just know that our wedding was 100% the wedding we dreamt of for us and our 14 guests
PARTICULARITY of our Wedding : I know we are among the few who took the basic package. I know NOT not a lot of people go with the basic so here you'll have it - Basic packaging - We didn't took anyhting in extra apart from the dress cleaning! No video, photograph, DJ, musicians, beach party, cake, bouquet...NOTHING! Only the basic package. Just wanted to have a wedding with the sea in the background photo. Nothing more.
- FIRST ADVICE AND MOST IMPORTANT - Relax! People in this forum told us to relax and don't get worried. They kept telling us not to plan too many things in advance and don't get too much into details. You were right! Carolina is wonderfull. She knows her stuff. Relaxe. It's so easy. She takes care of everything.
- SECOND ADVICE AND MOST IMPORTANT- Relax once you get there. We were so stressed out about the wedding. Carolina told us that we would get a paper in our room telling us when we would meet her. We were so stressed out that we asked her twice when that would be and if it was normal that we didn't get the paper. We met her only 2 days in advance (we were there a week before) and for us it seemed too close. But inside an hour, everything was settled. You're not in the city. Get down to the Dominican Republic rythm and relax! It's going to be all Right!
- THE QUESTION : WEDDING CEREMONY ON THE BEACH OR IN THE GAZEBO? If you're like us, you were dreaming of the wonderfull ceremony with your feet in the sands and the sea at 2 yards from you. Well, yes you can have this. But you'll also have all the people in swimming suit around you and they don't really care if they get in your photo. The Gazebo in the Punta Cana section (just beside the Palace) is BEAUTIFULL. Once decorated with the drapes and ribbons (color of your choice) it look so much more like a big wedding movie than on the beach. The water is so close that in most of your photos you'll see it in the background. Plus, at the Gazebo, the wind is not too strong where on the beach it is often windy! The Beach ceremony looks great but you'll only have an arch with flower and the chairs (rows of 5) with swimming suit all around looking at you and getting in your photos! Unless you are a photoshop expert, the ugly fat guy in the blue speedo will ruin your photo.
- IS IT TOO HOT TO WEAR THE BIG DRESS AND THE TUX? - If you're getting married after May, I would advise you to take a late afternoon ceremony cause at 2h00PM it could be a little hot. Before April, the wind close to the beach is perfect. My wife had a light wedding dress and I had a tux with a small vest but without the coat and I didn't swet. WARNING - 5h00PM is a little late as you'll only have an hour and a half to do all your photos. I'm a professional photographer so my brother-in-law was doing the photos under my artistic direction and I had scheduled every shot I wanted with him in advance...and the last ones were a bit too dark to my taste. Again that was in April. I Guess, the sun goes down later in the year.
- WHAT ABOUT ALL THE EXTRAS? Well for us, we only had 14 guests total so it was a small wedding. The decors is well enough. You don't really need all the extras. Sure you'll get excited by the horse cart bringing the bride and the big cake in extra but all the extras are VERY expansive. The choices of bouquet is good and the basic cakes are beautiful. Sure the "extras" are better but remember that your guests have not seen the "other" extra one and I they'll see the "basic" stuff as beautiful as they are and NOBODY will say "Have you seen her bouquet...it's so basic". If you have a lot of people, the party on the beach might be a good idea though. As for the photographer and the video, well I can't really comment on that as I'm a professional photographer and I wanted some very special shot (nothing classic) so I decided to do my own. But I looked at other wedding while I was there and the photographer there were doing good and original shots.
- WHAT ABOUT IF IT RAINS? - Carolina told us that in her two years of services there (3 weddings a day, 6 days a week, 11 month a year) only 3 wedding had to be made inside because of rain. So, as I said before...Relax.
- AND THE CHOICE OF RESTAURANT FOR THE WEDDING- I've made a lot of search on this forum to try and determine which resto was the best (Al Recife or La Uva). Don't do this. Chances are that you won't have the choice anyway because one will be closed. Anyway, let me reassure you that both are very well situated near the beach and that EVERY RESTAURANT have very good food. Because we were a small wedding, every guest could choose their meal (where over 15 peoples you'll have to choose a meal for everyone) and EVERYONE were pleased with what they got.
- WHAT ABOUT DINNER AT THE BEACH - That was one of the big question for us. We wanted to have the diner reception at the beach but people in this forum said that it's a risk because of bugs, wind and rain. I don't know what to say about this one. Let's get the fact and you'll decide. You are in a small section where they normally play volleyball off the beach. You're about 200 feet away from the water where the restaurants are about 400 feet away. You have palm trees around you which is nice and all the chairs and table are decorated. This area are lighted by big white spot (like in arenas) so it looses A LOT of its charm and because the beach downward is in the dark, you don't really see the water anyway. But you get to eat with your feet in the sand. You risk having a windy night that's for sure. As for bugs, we only saw 3 in the entire time we were there. Could be the time of the season though. So what's my final verdict. At 75$/guest, it's a bit expansive. We were outside the restaurant (AL Recife) in a VERY private section. I made my speech without problems and really thought that we were alone in the restaurant where in fact it we noticed that is was probably full of other wedding parties. This is confirm by a previous post here as a wedding of about 40 was at the same restaurant at the same time and we never noticed them.
- IS IT A BIG HASSLE IF YOUR GUEST ARE IN DIFFERENT SECTION OF THE HOTEL - Not really. In fact it's almost better because everyone will go by their business and will not feel like they need to be with each other or with you all the time. You could meet at the Palace reception when needed and that's it. All of our guest were pleased with their accomodation. Since we had couple with children it was the best hotel for us. Our parents were in the Royal 18+ section and famillies were in the Punta Cana Section. We would meet some nights for diner and parted the rest of the day.
- IS THE ROYAL TURQUESA WORTH IT?- The Royal Turquesa section is two notch over the other sections. It has beautiful rooms. We had a corner unit (5530)....HUGE... with two TV's, big tub, a bathroom the size of living room at home and everything in marble. You have a lots of previledges. You get private transportation all around the site. You can make reservation at restaurant where other section goes by with a paget system (NOTE: if you like eating early like us at 6h00PM, you don't really need that previledge as restaurant only get full pass 6h45). Note 2- The paget system works perfecly. At worst you'll wait 30 minutes while drinking at the lobby. You may take as many beach towel as you need were other section may only take one. So you can change your towel everyday without the need to dry them each night. Access to the Royal's restaurant is not a big deal. We only eat there twice in the morning prefering the buffet. Sure the breakfast is a bit more high class but in the end you'll have to wait for it where at the buffet you get what you want, when you want it. The buttler service is good...if your buttler is there. The first week our buttler was not very good and that's where we needed him the most. We had to ask several times to have our fridge filled with what we wanted. The second week, the girl was much more efficient. TRY THE ROOM SERVICE for food. The breakfast are BIG and delightfull. Afternoon and late night lunch are also good.
- IN THE ROYAL TURQUESA - SHOULD WE GO WITH THE OLD SECTION NEAR THE BEACH OR THE NEW SECTION AWAY FROM THE BEACH BUT WITH THE SWIM UP? That was one of our biggest question. It all depends on what you want. Sure the room of the new section are beautiful. The swim up is to die for BUT...of the 2 weeks we were there we never saw people in their swim-up chair (only sometimes at night). It's true that the beach is far away (about 5 minutes walk. It may not seem a lot but it's enough to make you think twice before leaving the room or returning to it just to get something you forgot). The decors of the old section is beautifull and the room are also good. You are near the lobby and all the facilities where in the new section, you'll have to walk a bit. So if you're really beach people and don't really care about the "Royal look" of the room, go with the old section. If you are picky about the quality of the room and would like to relax in your private pool at night go with the new section. Note that during the day, there is NO wind in the new section so staying at your swim up pool during the day may be painfull where on the beach, the wind makes the sun very tolerable.
- IS THE A/C GOOD - Me and my wife need freezing like temperature when we sleep (we're from Quebec, Canada and sleeps window open in winter). We always bring a fan with us in case and this time we needed it. But the A/C is generaly good. The A/C is on all day in the ROAYL TURQUESA where in the other sections, it only goes on if you leave your card in the room.
- WHAT ABOUT THE INTERNET - In the ROYAL TURQUESA you'll have wi-fi....but don't think you'll be able to download a 10meg file in 2 minutes. It's very slow at times. You have access to computer freely in the lobby
- FOODS AND DRINKS? - only one word - PERFECT!
- WHAT ABOUT HE INFAMOUS BEACH CHAIR BATTLE? - That's my only complaint about this hotel but then again it's like that in every hotel when they get at 80% capacity. At 6h30AM in the morning, all palapas were occupied and by 9h30 all beach chair were gone. People go out and reserve their palapas at early as 5h00AM. You cannot reserve the chair with your buttler. NOTE - I was very excited about trying the sun beds as I like to sleep on the beach. They are exposed to the sun without any protection over them. It's way too hot.
- IN RESUM‰ - I've read EVERY critics on Trip Advisor before choosing this hotel and let me say that people who give less than 4 stars to the Royal Turquesa are very picky people at the limit of being dishonest! Me it's a 5 stars all the way down.