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Hopels' Coral Cove Resort, Little Bay, Jamaica Wedding Review! - LONG!


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#1 Jenn

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    Posted 12 February 2008 - 07:20 PM

    For anyone looking for a more intimate location for a smaller wedding in Jamaica (with a true Jamaican feel), Coral Cove Resort was really a perfect location! We hadn't visited it before, so we were a little nervous, but as soon as we arrived, we knew we had picked the PERFECT place! The place is gorgeous and the staff is amazing! The resort only has 13 rooms, but for our wedding, which was 20 people, it was fantastic.

    Coral Cove is an all-inclusive located in a small fishing village about 30 minutes southeast of Negril. Its about a 90 minute drive from MoBay, but with a few stops for Red Stripe, the drive flew by. The road is a bit rough the last leg of the trip, but you really get a feel for what Jamaica is like beyond the tourist areas. The town and resort are safe, probably safer than some of the larger areas, and you won't get attacked by the hawkers selling their stuff. In fact, the resort was so safe, we NEVER locked our door, and I don't think my mom ever actually got a key to her room! They have a private beach/cove with loungers, and they supply snorkel gear and water shoes. The water is a bit rocky, so you have to wear water shoes or flippers in, but there is pretty good snorkeling right on the property which was a hit with everyone. The sealife on the property is very cool - anemones, snails, crabs, and pretty fish. The property also has about 10 hammocks, which were well used by us and our guests.

    All of the rooms are a little different, and they are a bit more rustic than a large resort - no marble or granite, and only 2 rooms have AC, but we never wished we had it. Some of the rooms have open air showers which were very cool - not outdoors, but with a hole cut in the ceiling so you can look up at the stars or sun while you're showering. Some of the rooms had private balconies. Most of the rooms had a fridge, which they will stock with whatever you want - liquor, Red Stripe, Ting, whatever. The beds were very comfortable, which was fantastic, and almost all of the rooms have an ocean view. All of the furniture in the resort and decorations (paintings on the walls) are done by local artists, which just adds to the unbelievable feel of this place. It's like staying at a good friends house, instead of feeling like you're in a big hotel.

    Our room was the Doctorbird, which is one of the honeymoon suites. It is actually 2 floors on the top of the main building. The first floor is a private bar area, and then you go up a stair to a large balcony that leads to the room. The room was a decent size, with windows on all 4 walls so you can let the breeze in and hear the ocean. It was truly a little slice of heaven!

    Coral Cove is all-inclusive, and the meals are more like they are at a bed and breakfast. Breakfast is usually about 9:30am, though there is a coffee pot on at the main house porch 24 hrs a day. Lunch is around 2p and Dinner around 6:30-7p. The women in the kitchen truly are phenomenal! Every meal was delicious! There are typically at least 2 main courses and then a bunch of sides. They cook like they are cooking for their families - its all Jamaican, but they want to know what you like (or don't like) and will accomodate any request. We had a vegetarian guest and she never had trouble finding enough to eat. It was without a doubt the best food we had in Jamaica, and we were there for a total of 3 weeks and stayed at some other nice resorts! The drinks are also fabulous... the guys who run the bar are there from about 10am - 10pm. They make these amazing smoothies with fresh papaya (from the papaya tree on property) and coconut! And, if you want something before or after they are there, just go behind the bar and make it! By the time we left, the whole staff felt like new friends, and we had really gotten to know most of them.

    After we got settled the first night, we met with our WC - Dawn. Some of you may know that I had been pretty concerned with the WC. She was a bit difficult to deal with prior to the wedding, but she really shined when we got to Jamaica. I had brought a lot of stuff with us, and done a lot of planning on my own. I think this was probably a good thing, though she would've done a good job if we hadn't. We had been pretty frustrated with her over issues like flowers and photography, but in the end, everything was wonderful. We did decide to arrange for our flowers and photography ourselves though. We are lucky in that my mom's b-friend is a florist.

    The first morning we were there, we met the owner, Steve Zindars. He is actually from Illinois, but fell in love with Jamaica many years ago. He still lives in the states, but had flown down to make sure our wedding went exactly as planned, and I believe he does that for all larger weddings. His motto is "If there is something you want, let us know and we will do whatever we can to make it happen... and if we can't... we'll wish we could." They really went above and beyond to make sure everything went perfectly and that every detail was the way we wanted it!

    We had decided to bring down lilly bowls for our centerpieces, and in transport, 3 had broken. This was a last minute thing, so we were a bit worried that we wouldn't have anything to use! Little Bay is near Negril, but there really aren't a lot of places that would sell this sort of thing. Steve made a few phone calls and Dawn located a florist that rented them to us for $5 a piece. We had a few other things that came up along the way that they figured out for us as well.

    The evening that everyone arrived we had a Welcome Party on the beach. We hired an amazing local steel band and had a beautiful bonfire. The party was really a great way to kick off our wedding weekend. Everyone had a blast! The band was fantastic - most of our guests bought their CD - and the party was a huge success!

    The next day we took our group by bus to Negril to the straw markets, Margaritaville and Rick's Cafe. Margaritaville was really pretty cool! They have a huge trampoline out in the ocean, which was a lot of fun. Everyone had a great day lounging on the beach, and the sunset at Ricks is gorgeous! We then went to a fantastic Jamaican restaurant at the suggestion of our driver - Sweet Spice. If you happen to be in Negril, this place is a definite not-to-miss! The food is fantastic and very affordable!

    The following day was the wedding. I was actually totally relaxed the morning of the wedding! The place was buzzing with everyone getting ready for the wedding. One of the bartenders, Donal, was making a braided arch for the reception area; Steve and some of the guys were making our ceremony arch; the ladies were in the kitchen cooking; one of the local guys, who is affectionately known by one and all as Uncle Sam, was starting the smoker and making us jerk chicken; my mom's b-friend Chuck was getting the flowers ready; Dawn was setting up the reception area; and Robin DePaula was running around taking pictures! It was amazing that with all that going on, I was chilling with a red stripe and a "no worries" attitude!

    Sam and I had a couples massage by the beach around 11p, and after a quick shower and lunch, I went to get my hair and makeup done. The girl who does this is Hope. I would definitely recommend bringing pictures of what you want, but don't expect to get it exactly. I like the way my hair came out, but it was way more plastered with hairspray than my hairdresser had done. In Hope's defense, it was an extremely windy day, so it was probably the right move. My makeup looked good, though in hindsight I might have done it myself and saved the money. I had practiced a lot with it, and probably could have done the same thing. I would definitely recommend bringing your own makeup so you know what's going on your face.

    A little while later, I got dressed, and then it was time! We used an Ipod for our ceremony and cocktail hour, and it was perfect! The ceremony and sand ceremony were wonderful - though I think I cried through most of it - lol. We took a few pics with Robin, and then we went back to the cocktail hour and reception. For the reception, we hired a local Reggae Band, Fox Trot, and they were also fantastic! Everyone was dancing on the beach well into the night, and we had another bonfire. The food was amazing, as always! We had jerk chicken and lobster, with a bunch of really good sides. The appetizers were patties, shrimp, conch fritters, and a veggie plate. Everything was awesome! Our cake was also delicious! We had chocolate and vanilla, with a rum cream and buttercream frosting.

    Overall, everything was fantastic! Our guests had a great time, and are already planning a reunion at Coral Cove for our first anniversary!

    Now - I know this is long - but I want to take a minute to rate a couple of things...

    Resort - overall, Coral Cove got an A++ - everything was exactly the way we wanted it, and we definitely plan to go back. To anyone looking for a small hotel that's a little more affordable and has a really intimate feel, I would HIGHLY recommend Coral Cove. Even if you are looking for a vacation and not a wedding, Coral Cove was wonderful!

    Wedding Coordinator Dawn - B - she was a bit laid back before we got to Jamaica, but she definitely pulled everything together. That being said, plan on doing a lot of work yourself. I think we all do this anyway, but certain things were a bit difficult to deal with. We didn't like the photographer that the resort uses, and ended up doing all the research ourselves to find someone else. There are other Jamaican photographers, but the one we liked (again, we found them) in our budget was booked for our date, so we decided to hire Robin DePaula. We also had flower issues. The hurricane season had wiped out the resorts flowers (what they typically use) and the options and prices from the florist were not well described. We ended up doing the research and found a florist for wholesale in MoBay. She wasn't very helpful for this stuff. But, in the end though, she pulled it all together and the wedding was beautiful.

    Florist - TPG Distributors in Montego Bay (they have another location in Kingston) - A. The prices were a bit higher than quoted, but they were a lifesaver when we were freaking about flowers. We got 10 dozen roses and some stuff for our centerpieces from them, for about $230. They are a full scale florist, and can do your centerpieces/bouquet, but you need to pre-order.

    Photographer - Robin DePaula - A++. Robin did a fantastic job! She and her son, David, came in with our guests, shot our welcome party, the entire wedding day, and a TTD before leaving. Besides being an amazing photographer, she is also a total sweetheart! At the few points when I was getting a little freaked, she totally calmed me down. Her son is also wonderful - probably the most well-mannered 12 year old I've ever met! Sam and I are completely happy with our decision to hire her.

    #2 Jenn

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      Posted 12 February 2008 - 07:33 PM

      The Main House
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      View of the Second House
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      The Beach at Coral Cove
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      Open Air Shower - there was a hole in the ceiling as well - Tower Suite
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      The Ceremony Area - after the wedding
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      The Reception Area
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      Our Cake
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      If there is anything else you want to see pictures of, just let me know. I don't have our pro-pics yet to post, and my guests haven't all uploaded their pics, but if I have it, I will post it!

      #3 Alyssa

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        Posted 12 February 2008 - 07:35 PM

        Jenn - great review!! your pics are not showing up for me -they are red x's

        #4 Jenn

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          Posted 12 February 2008 - 07:43 PM

          Quote:
          Originally Posted by Alyssa
          Jenn - great review!! your pics are not showing up for me -they are red x's
          Are they working now? I was playing with the pics, and editing, so that may be why... is my signature pic working? I'm using kodak to host the pics - I usually use photobucket, so I wonder if that's why...

          #5 Alyssa

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            Posted 12 February 2008 - 07:45 PM

            no your siggy is an x too - i can see your avatar, the link to your slideshow and ticker but that is it

            #6 JUSTUSTWO

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              Posted 12 February 2008 - 07:54 PM

              I couldn't see the pics at 1st either, but for some reason they just popped up! Everything looks great. I'll definitely keep Coral Cove on my list of places to visit in the future. Too bad I didn't know about it before. The initmacy is really appealing.
              Anyway, glad to know that everything came together as well as it did. And you must've really had a great time since you said you extended your HM! : )
              Congrats again.

              #7 Jenn

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                Posted 12 February 2008 - 07:54 PM

                Quote:
                Originally Posted by Alyssa
                no your siggy is an x too - i can see your avatar, the link to your slideshow and ticker but that is it
                Arghhh... they were working 2 seconds ago on my computer... and now they're not! Alyssa - is your computer screwing with my computer? Has anyone had this problem with the kodak site before?

                #8 Jenn

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                  Posted 12 February 2008 - 07:56 PM

                  LOL - and now they are working again - weird!

                  #9 *JillD*

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                    Posted 12 February 2008 - 08:19 PM

                    you can't use kodak to host your pics, I had the same problem.

                    #10 Jenn

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                      Posted 12 February 2008 - 08:51 PM

                      Okay - changed most of the pics to photobucket - was just trying to make it a little easier rather than uploading everything again. Hopefully you can all see the pics now!




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