Barcelo Maya Palace Brides
Posted 13 January 2010 - 04:00 AM
Dates of Travel: January 4 – January 11
Resort: Barcelo Maya Palace
Wedding Day: Friday, January 8
Number of Guests: 20 adults and 4 children (ages 2, 7, 8, and 9)
This is going to be LONGGGGGGGGGGGG…so please allow yourself lots of time to read!!! Here goes!
The two of us traveled out of Newark, NJ on January 4 on Continental and booked our flights through Expedia. We used Apple Vacations for the hotel. Once we landed in Cancun the Apple Vacation representatives were waiting for us outside. Us, along with 2 other couples from different resorts were transferred in a van. It was raining the entire drive to Barcelo (a little over an hour drive). As soon as we got to Barcelo the sun was shining strong! We were both completely speechless with the resort. It’s pushed back off the road and the grounds are gorgeous covered in foliage.
Check In/Lobby: Check in was speedy and simple. The lobby is HUGE and on the modern side. Right off to the side is Carey Bar. It’s also HUGE! The resort wasn’t filled to capacity…at least it didn’t appear to be. So, we didn’t have to wait to speak to anyone at the lobby or grab a drink from the bar. Guest services are also in the lobby. That is where you make restaurant reservations. We went ahead and made reservations for the French restaurant (Brasserie) and also the Japanese restaurant (Coral). I highly recommend to make dinner reservations ASAP as they do fill up quickly! Our families wanted to make reservations for their first night there and everything was filled.
Posted 13 January 2010 - 04:01 AM
Buffets: We only ate at the buffets at the Palace. They are open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. They have SO MUCH variety!!! There is absolutely no reason for anyone to EVER complain about the food! There is everything and anything. There’s also bars in every buffet…so no worries about drinks Which fyi…have a mango margarita or mud slide! DELICIOUS!!
Restaurants: We ate at the French & Japanese. The French restaurant is beautiful! The d©cor is breathtaking with black and white damask chairs, white leather couches and black sparkly chandeliers (yes, I know I’m nuts…but design is something that interests me, lol). We had escargot (amazing!) as an appetizer. Then we each had a soup (I had French onion and Mario had a seafood broth with shrimp and mussels). Both were YUM! For main entr©e, I myself had filet mignon with cheesy potato gratin and vegetables. It had a delicious cream sauce (I mean, it is French!). Mario had grilled salmon with a rice pilaf. It was also really really good. For dessert we had apple stuffed crepes with vanilla icecream. We practically licked the plate, LOL. Another night we went to Coral, the Japanese restaurant. It was really good also, but only if you’re into that type of cuisine. We had assorted sushi as appetizer (not as good as here in NJ/NY). It was just OK, nothing special. Our main entrees made up for it however. I had teriyaki chicken skewers on a bed of jasmine rice and Mario had a chicken noodle dish with a really unique sauce. We both liked it a lot. But like I said, you have to have an open palette and enjoy Asian cuisine to like it. For dessert we had tempura icecream. Yum! Those were the only 2 restaurants we ate at. Some of our family ate at the Brazilian restaurant one night and enjoyed it. It has a salad bar. Then you’re served rice/beans and assorted meats that are cut on your plate. You have to love meat, haha.
Posted 13 January 2010 - 04:02 AM
Bars: What can I say. We’re drinkers. Haha. There wasn’t a single beverage that we didn’t like. Margaritas and mojitos galore! It’s all top shelf so they’re even yummier. But like I mentioned before, try a mango margarita and mud slide. They’re great!
Beach: BEAUTIFUL!!!!! The sand is like powder. The water is warm and delightful. The area right in front of the Palace is a little rocky with coral. But walk down a couple of minutes and it’s clear and perfect for swimming. Which we all did…and lots of it! There are plenty of lounge chairs and we never had a problem getting one at any time. When you check in you get a card for a beach towel. You just bring the card and get your towel right by the pool. At the end of the day, give the towel back and get your card for the next day. Or exchange it at any time during the day if it’s wet or sandy.
Activities: There were plenty of them going around. On our second day there we played water polo in the pool with a bunch of strangers like one big happy family! It was lots of fun! They have water aerobics, salsa dancing lessons, ping pong, pool, foosball, volleyball, soccer, tennis. You name it, they have it. They also have 2 gyms (one of which is in the Palace) with a sauna. The day after our wedding it poured all day ( I felt so bad for the weddings that day!) and they had plenty of activities to keep guests busy being they couldn’t enjoy the pools/beach. There are 3 theaters and each one has a different show at 9:30 every day. They alternate the shows, so they never play twice at the same place. We went to a couple of them and they were both good. They had one for the kids also. Oh which reminds me, Barcy Club waterpark right next to the pool for the kids is GREAT! The kids in our party loved it there!
Spa: Nicer than I thought it was going to be! You walk in and it relaxes you right away! It’s all set in white…very spa like, haha. The hair/makeup/nails area is all in one open space where you can see everything that is going on from every direction. I myself got a manicure (it’s part of Strawberry package) and I gave my pedicure away to my sister in law because my toes still looked great from my pedi back home. Makeup is also included in the package but I gave it to my mom because I hired Adrian Guerra (I’ll get into him later!) to do my makeup. Her makeup was nice, but nothing in comparison to mine by Adrian! He is FANTASTICO!!! My hairstyle was included in the package also and the hairstylist did a great job! I told her I wanted it parted to the side in a low chignon bun and she did it exactly like the picture! There are plenty of books and magazines, but if you already have a picture of what you want, bring it along! She put plenty of hairspray and it lasted ALL DAY without a single hair falling out of place. I LOVED IT and am very very picky about my hair! The day after the wedding Mario and I had our massages (part of Strawberry package). We were both pleasantly surprised. We’ve both had massages back home so we know what’s good to say the least. It was in a couples room with 2 therapists. Lights were dim, music was soothing and the massage oil smelled like a magical orange wonderland. Mario slept, lol.
Posted 13 January 2010 - 04:02 AM
Staff: Everyone at the resort is super nice and very accommodating to all your needs! I speak Spanish and I’m a huge people person, so I’m guessing that helps! We didn’t have a single problem and neither did our families/friends. There is always someone around to help with anything.
Posted 13 January 2010 - 04:03 AM
This is what we brought from home:
Wedding sign (it’s wooden and says Sandra & Mario Wedding…Shoes Optional)…I bought it from a store in Kansas for about $70 with shipping. Everyone LOVED it, especially our photographer! It was hung on a palm tree with an arrow pointing to our ceremony.) We also brought chair sashes, petal organza bags and tags (one for each of our guests to throw petals at us as we walked down the aisle!), sand ceremony kit, menu cards, place cards (we all sat at a long table with Mario and I at the head) so place cards were a must, tags for maracas, thank you cards, and backup CDs for our DJ. We also brought welcome OOT bags for all our guests (1 per family or couple). They were stocked with everything from shower gel, crosswords, flip flops, chapstick. We greeted all our guests in the lobby at their arrival. They LOVED their bags and used them the entire time to carry their things to the beach, dinner, etc. The bags I purchased were gorgeous and well worth the price of $15 a piece. We were all stopped by guests at the resort who questioned where our bags were purchased. That’s how nice they were! I have pics and information if you’re interested. I’m pretty sure I have 4 extra ones if anyone wants them for their moms, sisters, bridesmaids, etc.
Coordinator/Planner: Claudia Vasquez. On Monday when we arrived she left a message in our room letting us know she’d be meeting with us on Tuesday morning to go over all the wedding details. We didn’t have to contact her at all. That impressed us right off the bat! On Tuesday morning we met her in the lobby. She was incredibly welcoming and speaks PERFECT English! We even joked saying that it couldn’t possibly be her writing the emails! LOL. She took us in a golf cart over to the wedding office which is right next door to the spa in the Colonial part of the resort. We sat down and she went over each and every detail. We had already emailed her with some of our options so those were filled in already. After we took care of everything we all went back to the Palace lobby and paid for our wedding. We used a credit card. They accept Visa, Mastercard and also Traveler’s checks. Every room has a safe which is bolted to the wall. You create your own password to access it, so don’t fear bringing credit cards/checks/money/jewelry/etc. We kept all of that in the safe along with my wedding jewelry.
Package: Strawberry Passion $3,080 ($300 of this amount is taken out to pay the minister/justice of peace/etc…it must be in cash). The only other thing we paid for in cash was $400 for a mariachi band which we had during cocktail hour for our guests. We were off taking pictures so we didn’t partake in the mariachi festivities…however we heard them singing from across the beach! Our guests LOVED them and have a blast singing along. I heard my mother in law even performed a little dance for my father in law! I can’t wait to watch our wedding video, haha!! This is what we added to the package…hoopa for our ceremony (it was exactly what I envisioned!!!) with extra flowers on the hoopa, extra flowers for the moms corsages, petals for flower girl basket and guest bags, ring barrier and dads boutonnieres (additional $500), extra layer of wedding cake ($65), 9 extra guests after 15 in the package ($66 per), an extra hour of reception (we had already booked our DJ for 4 hours and the Strawberry package only includes 3 hours), and an hour of cocktail hour. In total, it ended up costing about $4,500 give or take and it was WORTH EVERY SINGLE PENNY!!!!!!!!!!!
Posted 13 January 2010 - 04:04 AM
Hair: I already mentioned this above. The stylist did an incredible job and matched my picture to the T! My flower girl also got her hair done. It was a side pony with curls. Our package included an orchid for me, but I wasn’t going to use it so I had them bring a hot pink orchid for my flower girl instead. Her hair cost $77 (a bit pricey) but it was excellent.
Makeup: After seeing so many brides pictures and reading reviews I decided to splurge and hire Adrian Guerra to do my makeup. He came the day before our wedding and did my “trial” for our welcome dinner. Actually, it was a totally different look. He did a fantastic job for that night and I knew my makeup for the wedding would be just as excellent! He is extremely talented and so much fun! He lives right in Playa and knows everything about the area. We hit it off right away and spent the entire time chatting away! I told him what I wanted and he worked his magic. Fake lashes and all! I wanted smoky sexy eyes and that they were! I LOVED my makeup and received compliments from everyone! They’ve all seen me wearing makeup before as I wear it when I go out and such, so it wasn’t a shock. Because his makeup did stand out, and that’s what I wanted! I can’t wait to see my pictures so I can admire his gorgeous work! I have all his information if anyone is interested.
Ceremony: Our ceremony was at 4:00pm right on the beach in front of Palermas Grill area. It’s a more rocky area and it’s one of the locations because no one will swim there or around the area, which makes complete sense. It was perfect! I was picked up from my room at 3:50 and went to the ceremony in a golf cart. In the cart was the driver, myself, flowergirl, my parents, my photographer and videographer. We arrived and I got a quick glance of the ceremony set up. It looked beautiful. I even got chills. There is a shower area right in the front where I was able to hide while the procession began. My flowergirl and ring barrier walked in first and then Claudia gave me the “go ahead”. I walked in with my parents to Cannon in D on saxophone. It was amazing. Truly, truly amazing. All I saw was Mario and we smiled at one another the entire time. I will never forget that moment for the rest of my life. It was breathtaking in all aspects. We had a justice of peace marry us. We’re not really religious so we wanted to keep our ceremony fairly neutral and focused on us and our marriage. Our vows were exactly what we wanted. You could either use theirs (there are options) or you could bring your own. Either way is fine and entirely up to the couple. We also had a sand ceremony. It was lovely. All in all I’d say the ceremony lasted about 25-30 minutes. After we were announced as husband and wife we walked down the aisle and were greeted with champagne for us and all our guests. We all hugged and kissed. It was magical.
Cocktail: We decided to have our cocktail hour from 5 to 6pm. It was on one of the roof decks right off the lobby overlooking the ocean. It worked out great. Although we weren’t present because we were off taking pictures, our guests said it was fantastic. We chose the Mexican theme cocktail. Everyone said there were plenty of choices and plenty of food. There was also a bartender set up. We had the mariachi for an hour for the entirety of cocktail hour. Like I mentioned above, our guests LOVED them! We showed up right as cocktail was ending and managed to have a couple of pictures taken with the mariachi in the lobby. Our photographer had them raise their hats in the air as they stood behind us and we kissed. I’m sure the pictures are awesome!
Posted 13 January 2010 - 04:04 AM
Music/DJ: We decided early on that we wanted to hire a DJ and make it easier on ourselves. We hired DJ Mannia. Luis was our DJ and he was EXCELLENT! A few days before the wedding we sent him a list of songs divided into categories (dinner, slow songs, fast songs, not to play songs, etc)…he did a fantastic job at not only playing the songs we wanted, but mixing them one into the next as if they were all meant to be together in perfect harmony! He announced us when we walked into our reception, the toast from the best man, our song, our parents songs, and cake cutting. I highly recommend them. Extremely professional, quick to respond to emails, perfect English, fun and affordable. A+ all the way!
Photography: Where do I even begin?! When we first got engaged and decided on a destination wedding we originally wanted to have it in Cabo. Photography is extremely important to us and we both love the art and enjoy taking pictures ourselves. I fell in love with Juan Carlos Tapia right away being he was based out of Cabo and we loved his style in photography. There was something very zen about him. I emailed him and quickly got to know him. We then decided to have our wedding in Riviera Maya for multiple reasons but still loved Juan. So, we decided to fly him in from Cabo. He stayed with us for 3 days at the Palace and his assistant Gaby stayed our wedding night He joined us for our welcome dinner and snapped a few pics. He was with us our entire wedding day shooting away. The following day we had a trash the dress session. The weather was rainy and windy so it didn’t quite go according to plan, but we still made the best of it and managed to get a few great pictures near the Tulum area at a spa like resort where they rent old fashioned cabanas. It was a beautiful location…very much us. Juan was incredible to work with. He is extremely professional, yet he’s such a humble down to earth individual. He met with us as soon as he checked into Barcelo and we went over exactly what we wanted. Not only did we get to know him at not only a professional level, but as a friend also. Our families and friends adored him. It was honestly sad to see him go on the third day. Our pictures won’t be ready for a few months, but it’s well worth the wait! We know we’ll have amazing pictures that we’ll cherish for the rest of our lives. Mario and I even said that when we have our kids one day that we’ll take a trip to Cabo and have Juan photograph our family. That’s how much we loved him.
Posted 13 January 2010 - 04:05 AM
Welcome Dinner: We decided to host our welcome dinner the night before our wedding day off site from the resort. We had it at Tiramisu Restaurant in Puerto Aventuras. Donna, the owner is originally from Connecticut and now lives in Mexico with her husband, Memo, the chef. They are such a lovely couple with incredible respect for food and their guests. Donna not only arranged our dinner but also helped me along the way with any questions I had about anything. She’s so personable and kind. Our entire party adored her. We arranged a set menu a few months prior to the day. Mario and I are design nuts so we brought along menu cards that we created for all our guests. She decorated the tables with palm leaves and candles. Everything looked great when we arrived. Which by the way, she arranged to have us picked up from Barcelo by Paco, her driver. I LOVED him!!! He was so much fun and very cute. My sister in law ended up with a little crush on him! Our menu consisted of a grilled shrimp appetizer (perfection!), soup or salad, and choice of artichoke chicken or grilled grouper. Also included was a margarita for each guest, slice of tiramisu and coffee. All of this plus the pleasure of meeting Donna and Memo for $40 per guest. There wasn’t a single piece of food left on anyone’s plate. Cheers for Tiramisu Restaurant!
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