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Moon Palace 2008 & 2009 Brides - POST HERE!

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#2241 Camie78

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    Posted 06 May 2009 - 06:15 PM

    Hi Ladies,

    I am going to preface this review in stating that I believe our wedding and experience at Moon Palace is vastly different than any other bride has experienced previously. The reason for this is that the Swine Flu (H1N1) hoax/media blowout was announced 3 days prior to our departure date and nearly a week before our wedding date. One could say that I am very bitter about the way the situation has been and continues to be handled by the media. I stressed out the entire time wondering if my guests were going to cancel, if flights would be canceled, and if we would be able to get to back to the US. This made the trip less than enjoyable for me but that’s neither here nor there at this point.

    Due to this Swine Flu BS, travel to Mexico came to a screeching halt and occupancy at the resort hovered around 35% when we arrived and around 25% by the time we left. They said that they had less than 1,000 guests at the resort and they usually hover around 5,000. It was not uncommon for us to look around and see a 1:1 ratio of staff to guests in any of the restaurants, bars, or pool areas. We had several guests who flew down on planes with less than 20 other passengers (these planes have a max capacity of 250 passengers). Our flight to Mexico contained 50 passengers and was roughly 50 on the way back as well.

    So here goes…

    Wedding Package: Classic Catholic
    Wedding Coordinator: Pilar Capilla (preliminary) and Lily Sanchez (permanent)
    Wedding Site: Chapel Gazebo @ Moon Palace Golf & Spa Resort (Cancun)
    Wedding Date/Time: 05/02/2009, 6pm CST
    Number of Guests: 24 including Pete and I – 3 guests cancelled their trip the night of our departure

    Air Traffic Noise
    On average we heard maybe 2 plans per day while we were at the pool. Monday was by far the busiest day when we heard maybe 6 planes. Overall, I would say that plane noise is a non-issue.

    Size of the Resort
    My first impression when we walked into the Nizuc lobby was “this isn’t as grandiose as I thought it would be.” The property overall is very large, however, not as large as I thought it would be. You can walk from the far end of the Sunrise pool to the beginning of the Grand side in about 10 minutes. It’ll take you 15 if you stop for a drink refill in-between Sunrise and Nizuc:) We did venture to the Moon Spa/Golf Course one night for dinner and that is when I really realized how large the resort it. First you get on the lobby-to-lobby bus which will take you about half-way to a bar that is located in the middle of nowhere. From there you have a drink and wait for the golf carts to come and pick you up and take you on the rest of your journey. It seemed like the restaurants on the golf course were super far away from everything. If the resort had been busy, the size would have been an issue for us when trying to find guests. Since there were so few people at the resort we had no issues finding anyone; this has its draw backs though because there were times when we just wanted to be alone but someone would always find us.

    I spent a couple hours one day walking around the resort taking pictures of the property for you guys. You can access the photos by clicking the link below. I named each picture with what it was and added comments to some of the photos. Enjoy!

    Kodakgallery.com: Slideshow

    OOT Bags
    Canvas tote bag filled with a beach towel for each guest, a card with the itinerary of planned events, and travel size toiletries including: sun screen, hand sanitizer, lotion, Shout wipes, lint roller, J&J first aid kit, Rolaids, and ibuprofen. In addition to those items we included a snack size bag of candy of both of our favorites: sour patch kids and peanut M&Ms.

    I didn’t see a single bug or mosquito in the 7 days we were there.

    Cleanliness of the Resort
    The resort is exceptionally clean aside from the stupid pigeons and birds that feed off all the food that people leave out at the pool. Often there was bird poop on the chairs because the birds hear the food come out and they are like hawks – they even know how to open the Styrofoam containers.

    There is also a black cat that seemed to live on the property that we saw meandering around several times.

    I recommend bringing thank you cards (pre-written out because you’ll forget to do this on your big day) and having a set amount of what you think is acceptable to tip prior to arriving at the resort. Below are the tips that we gave throughout out time at the resort - no idea if this is what we should have done but I feel it was within reason.

    WC #1 Pilar = $20
    WC #2 Lily = $60
    David (photographer) = $80
    Maid service = $2-3/day
    Room service = $2-3/per room service order
    iPod DJ = $0
    Servers at cocktail hour and private reception = $50
    Father Benedict = $40

    Wedding Coordinators
    We started our process working with Pilar who is the manager of the wedding coordinators. She was really great to work with and recently had a baby so is out on maternity leave. Our permanent wedding coordinator was Lily Sanchez and I can’t say enough good things about her. She is absolutely adorable – she’s like 4’10” (I’m 5’10” so I felt like a giant next to her) and so quiet and patient. We met with Lily 2 days before the wedding and she had everything all laid out in our folder and had all of my emails organized into an Outlook folder with our wedding confirmation number. We went through every decision and she made notes on the paperwork, drew pictures, etc.

    The wedding office is very organized. I work in software development so I was impressed to see that they have their own internal application to schedule, create invoices, and organize all the little details of your wedding electronically. I recommend you take notes during your meeting because a couple days and several cocktails later (coupled with nerves) you may forget some of the details that she told you at the meeting. For example, I couldn’t remember if she said they were going to deliver the flowers to the room or at the chapel so I was stressing about if we should stay in the room or go to the chapel. Take notes, I wish I had as I didn’t realize I would go to brain dead on my wedding day.

    Lily was with us from about 5:40 – 8:30. She pretty much owned me and ran the show. She had to tell us when to eat, cut the cake, etc. She’s the only one that kept the show on track as we were sidetracked with our guests and drinks. “Ms Camie, please walk down the aisle now.” “Ms Camie, you should eat now.” “Ms Camie, you should cut the cake now.” Never once did she tell me that I should drink. Apparently I had that action item under control. LOL.

    Beauty Salon
    My overall impression is that they were for the most part unorganized. We opted to only have manicures (I felt their hair dos were like 80’s prom hair. Seriously.) and we had no issues getting appointments but I have no patience for un-organized people so I was annoyed.

    In our opinion, the best restaurants are: Los Caporales (Nizuc, Mexican) and Palapa Barracuda (Sunrise, steakhouse). I would recommend you have your welcome or wedding dinner at the steakhouse if at all possible. Other restaurants we ate at were: El Manglar, Arrecifes, and La Trattoria. Overall the food at the resort is much better than any other all inclusive resorts I have been to (RIU, Radisson, Barcelo).

    Room Service
    Hamburguesa anyone? The fries taste like McDonald fries (not kidding). Order them at the pool bar fresh and you’ll see what I mean. Other excellent items on the room service menu are: mixed fajitas, chicken nuggets, hamburger, and fries. Love the room service idea except that I think I gained 10 pounds from it.

    Dress Pressing
    $50.40 and it shows up in your room magically the day before your wedding. It was fabulous and I would never recommend getting your dress pressed at home because its going to get wrinkled. It was so hard to carry the dress through the airport with all our luggage. I wish I would have just packed it to begin with.

    We requested David Pena and he is who we got. There was a communicate issue where either Lily did not tell David that we wanted the family photo session prior to the ceremony or he just didn’t understand but he showed up at my room at 4:50 expecting to take pictures of me getting ready which I was already in my dress and ready to go as we had the family photo session at 5. He did a really fantastic job when it was his time but then kind of lost his place at the cocktail hour. I saw him standing around and then ran over to him and said that I love candid shots and then he started taking lots of them.

    We had photo package E which included a family photo session, the ceremony, bride/groom session, and 1 hour of cocktail hour. The total was $950 + $65 because they need 72 hours to touch-up/print and we had left the resort before the minimum 72 hour time limit. Currently waiting to receive the photos and will post as soon as I have them.

    I had a bunch of calla lilies and then the bridesmaid had smaller bouquets of a similar flower. We also purchased two bags of flower petals – highly recommended and then got calla lilies for the altar (not necessary). The flowers did not show up until about 20 minutes prior to the ceremony so all my photos with the wedding party and family will not have any flowers. Not the end of the world but I was wondering where they were the whole time and if they were going to show up.

    The chapel gazebo is the best gazebo. Not because this is where we were married but because I truly think it is the most elegant and gazebo. Note: if you see pictures of the pews with pew covers, know that those are the protective covers that they put on the pews when the chapel is not in use to prevent them from being destroyed by bird poop, cleaning solution, and salt water. We had the red carpet removed and I am glad that we did – just tell your wedding coordinator when you meet with her and it’s no problem.

    I’m not Catholic, or religious at all for that matter so I really have no idea how things go during the ceremony. This part was all Pete. The one thing that surprised me/upset me was that the priest threw water on my head/in my face when we entered the chapel. There was so much water on my face that I had I spent the next 2 minutes wiping it off on my hand. The priest struggled with English and went on with a bunch of nonsense. He became the running joke for the rest of the trip. I’d recommend bringing your own priest.

    Horse Carriage
    Over the top and not worth the $130.

    Cocktail Hour
    Lots of food with high top tables, some folding chairs, a couple servers, and a bar. Ours was held at Venado Garden which overlooked the beach and is kind of in front of the Grand side.

    Private Reception
    Well worth the money – we had ours at Venado Terrace which overlooked the ocean. I would not spend any money of custom decor - the scenery does all it needs to do. The food was excellent (Cajun buffet) and the service was tip top. Since we had planned to go to the disco after the reception (and it was closed), I asked Lily if she could hook us up with a ballroom or if we could stay on the terrace longer. She allowed us to stay on the terrace until 11 when we were originally to leave at 10. At 11 we had golf carts waiting for us to take us to the Sunrise lobby bar.

    Music – iPod Package (4 hours)
    I spent MANY hours picking out music for the cocktail hour, dinner, and private reception. I was surprised to see that there actually is someone manning the iPod station with his own iTunes. I had to lay down the law with him twice because I had one super drunk guest who requested two different songs in the middle of my dance playlist and the iPod DJ played them! Overall it went well but there was no tip for iPod DJ. They provide the cord for the system and the music played for the cocktail hour, dinner, and dance.

    Liquor Selection
    Excellent liquor selection. Absolut Vodka, Stoli, Crown, Jack Daniels, Bacardi. The problem for our crew was that all the flavored vodkas are located at the lobby bar at Sunrise. We didn’t find this out until we had been there for two days which was sad. From then on we ‘imported’ flavored vodka to the Nizuc side via water bottles that the bartenders filled up for us. This act was somewhat trashy but well worth it.

    Helpful Hints
    1. If you chose to do your own hair or have someone do it for you, I recommend bringing a power strip because outlets are sparse in the rooms. Also consider bringing an extra hair dryer if you think you will need to have people using the mirrors and drying hair at the same time. The area by the bathroom sink is very cramped.
    2.Use room service. It was so nice to come back to the room after being at the pool all day and order room service to tide us over until dinner.
    3.Bring lots of $1’s to tip. I have been to many all inclusive resorts and I have never tipped as much as I did in the first two days at the resort. There were tons of things at the resort that I was not expecting to have to tip for including: room service, when they bring the bottle of champagne to your room, when they bring the rose to your room, when they bring the other bottle of champagne on your wedding day, when they deliver your after-wedding breakfast, when they deliver your wedding cake the day after, bartenders, bellmen, tour operators, etc.
    4.With the passport promotion, each room gets a $25 credit to the casino. All you have to do is go to the front desk at Sunrise, get your gaming card and then head over the casino. If you feel like having the cash instead of gambling, play a game and then cash in your gaming card.
    5.If you plan on going on the zip line tour, bring a pair of tennis shoes and clothes that you do not care if they get ruined and lots of bug spray. While we did not take this tour, we inquired and were told that our shoes and clothes would be ruined after the trip and that we would be eaten alive.
    6.Bring your dress and ceremony CD to your appointment with your WC.
    7.Bring a list of photos that you want to get with designated people to keep the family photo session running smoothly and efficiently. This saved us.
    8.Prepare notes to be given to your guests as they arrive prior to getting to the resort or right after you find a good meeting spot at the resort. Its not worth the stress of trying to run to the lobby to find people when you “think” they are going to arrive. Have them meet you.
    9.Bring a drink mixing book and insulated mugs.
    10.Bring a waterproof watch with you to the pool or wherever you are at as there are no clocks ANYWHERE!
    11.Bring an iPod dock station where you can play music when you and your bridesmaids are getting ready. My SIL brought hers and the first night we used it when we had ‘modified discotech’ in room 6310 because the disco was closed but we also used it during getting ready time.
    12.Rent the bikes and take a ride around the property one day.
    13.Be sure to visit Moon Grand – it’s fabulous. We spent most of our time there, mostly because its happy hour every day, even when you don’t need two drinks at a time
    14.A 15” laptop will fit in the safe in the room. I’d question a 17” laptop. Bring yours if you have one or you can use the public terminals located in ‘Sweet & Coffee’ in the lobby.
    15.Reconsider getting flowers for the altar. At the end of the day I thought they were a waste of $180.
    16.Consider getting the bags of flower petals for your guests to toss when you walk out of the gazebo. $35/bag and we had 2 bags for about 25 guests.
    17.Put sunscreen on the tops of your ears, hairline part, hands, and tops of your feet. Not sure how I forgot these areas but I did.
    18.All the pool bars serve food. Ask for a menu if you want something because it’s not really apparent where to order or what they offer.
    19.Ask your wedding coordinator for special alcohol for your private reception (for example, flavored vodka)
    20.If you do decide to get your dress steamed at home, consider putting it in a space bag to prevent it from re-wrinkling.

    #2242 TinaM2b

    • Jr. Member
    • 445 posts

      Posted 06 May 2009 - 08:08 PM

      Originally Posted by n&n112109
      HEY EVERYONE!!!!! I'm not getting married at the Moon Palace BUT I am getting married at the Sun Palace.... Since they are both Palace resorts most of the wedding info is the same..... Since NO ONE else on here seems to be a Sun Palace bride..... here I am :)
      Welcome n&n!!

      I don't know how similar the two resorts are but I heard your beaches are better than ours! LOL!!

      There is a lot of info on this thread so hopefully it helps you out some!

      #2243 TinaM2b

      • Jr. Member
      • 445 posts

        Posted 06 May 2009 - 08:36 PM

        Camie, GREAT review and tips! Welcome back!!

        #2244 soon2bemsleblanc

        • Jr. Member
        • 181 posts

          Posted 06 May 2009 - 09:56 PM

          Great review Camie! Thank you so much for all the advice about tipping, where to eat, and how to plan for our pre-wedding meeting. Our dinner reception is also at the Venado Terrace and I'm happy to hear the scenery is all we need without spending the extra $$$. Your so funny about Lilly keeping you on track except with the drinking (I'll probably be the same way). I love your idea to bring a drink mixing book and mugs!! Sorry to hear you didn't like the horse carriage..any particular reason why? How did your lop-sided cake turn out? Your pictures of the grand side look amazing...I want to stay on that side now. Is that where you stayed?

          Congrats newlywed!!

          ~Mr. and Mrs. and 18 Guests Booked~

          #2245 cutierosie

          • Jr. Member
          • 191 posts

            Posted 06 May 2009 - 10:20 PM

            Camie, your review will be very helpful to future moon brides! Looking forward to the pictures of your wedding~!

            #2246 Camie78

            • Newbie
            • 148 posts

              Posted 07 May 2009 - 11:25 AM

              Originally Posted by soon2bemsleblanc
              Great review Camie! Thank you so much for all the advice about tipping, where to eat, and how to plan for our pre-wedding meeting. Our dinner reception is also at the Venado Terrace and I'm happy to hear the scenery is all we need without spending the extra $$$. Your so funny about Lilly keeping you on track except with the drinking (I'll probably be the same way). I love your idea to bring a drink mixing book and mugs!! Sorry to hear you didn't like the horse carriage..any particular reason why? How did your lop-sided cake turn out? Your pictures of the grand side look amazing...I want to stay on that side now. Is that where you stayed?

              Congrats newlywed!!
              Hi sooon2bemsleblac!

              We stayed on the Nizuc side in the Mariposa building which is located between the Tucan and Chapel Gazebos. At any given time we could walk out the hotel door or on our balcony and see either gazebo.

              The lop-sided cake turned out OK. From what I remember, (it was dark when it arrived) the bottom layer was lopsided but the top 2 layers were not so it kind of looked un-finished and our guests were unsure if it was suppose to look like that or if it was a mistake. The bakers definitely got the flowers and plane w/plane trail cartoon design accurate, maybe just not the whole lop-sided effect. If I had to do it all over again, I'd opt for a one-layer square cake and then have them do the flower/plane design on that one layer. We paid $240 for the cake and barely even dented it as we only had about 25 people there - I'd save the $200 and go for the smaller cake for $40.

              I'll post the pictures of the cake as soon as we get the pictures from the resort (we didn't take any pictures with our camera).

              The one thing about Venado Terrace was the bathrooms - they were the worst bathrooms on the resort and were connected to the Venado building but did not have A/C, had a plastic door, and were out of hand soap. The Grand bathrooms are not much more of a walk, so I'd suggest scoping out the closest Grand bathrooms and directing your guests there instead of using the other bathrooms (there will be a 'manager-type' person at your reception to direct everything to bathrooms, etc).

              #2247 Camie78

              • Newbie
              • 148 posts

                Posted 07 May 2009 - 11:27 AM

                Originally Posted by soon2bemsleblanc
                Great review Camie! Thank you so much for all the advice about tipping, where to eat, and how to plan for our pre-wedding meeting. Our dinner reception is also at the Venado Terrace and I'm happy to hear the scenery is all we need without spending the extra $$$. Your so funny about Lilly keeping you on track except with the drinking (I'll probably be the same way). I love your idea to bring a drink mixing book and mugs!! Sorry to hear you didn't like the horse carriage..any particular reason why? How did your lop-sided cake turn out? Your pictures of the grand side look amazing...I want to stay on that side now. Is that where you stayed?

                Congrats newlywed!!
                Horse carriage ride...

                I think it came down to me just not being into the whole fairytale type wedding and being the center of attention. Personal preference - I just didn't need all the hoop-la with it I guess.

                #2248 nibsmom

                • Member
                • 564 posts

                  Posted 07 May 2009 - 11:36 AM

                  Camie! What an awesome review! Thanks for all the info and tips - I was wondering about a lot of that stuff!! And thank you for taking the time out of your vacation to take all those pictures! They look great!

                  I'm so glad to hear that your WC was so nice and helpful. My WC is Kalena - I'm a little nervous about it. Hopefully she's just as wonderful!

                  #2249 doblauvelt

                  • Jr. Member
                  • 380 posts

                    Posted 07 May 2009 - 11:58 AM

                    Camie, thanks for all the tips! This helps a lot in terms of knowing what to expect and what to bring, like a notepad to write down what the WC says at the meeting.

                    #2250 TinaM2b

                    • Jr. Member
                    • 445 posts

                      Posted 07 May 2009 - 12:12 PM

                      Camie and all recent brides, I will probably have more questions but would like your opinion. We are going down with a crew of party people. We originally chose the Sunrise side since that is where most of the bars/dance places are but I really think I would prefer the new Grand side or Nizuk. How much of a hike is it to each of the areas? How bout at night? How many bars and do you know the hours are there in the Grand section?

                      I know about the Roof Top Bar, I was actually thinking of everyone meeting for happy hour there on Friday night. Our biggest nights with friends are Thursday, Friday, and Saturday and I was thinking of listing meetings places in my brochure for Thursday and Friday. Any other suggestions on places to meet a crew of people?

                      another question.... Do cell phones work in Mexico? We have Sprint.

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