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Site Visit: Esencia, Maroma, Ana y Jose, Al Cielo, Azu-lik, Eurostar Blue Tulum


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#1 San Fran Sarah

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    Posted 09 June 2008 - 11:40 PM

    Just back from a site visit. We were looking for small and intimate venues.
    There are plenty of pictures on-line (and on Matt and Sol’s posting) of these venues so I will just mention a few things about each: 1) Esencia, 2) Al Cielo, 3) Ana y Jose, 4) Azu-lik, 5) Maroma and 6) Eurostar Blue Tulum. All these places comped our tasting except Maroma where they said they only do tasting for confirmed weddings. Some even comped our drinks!
    Please keep in mind these estimates are based on the menu options and alcohol options we chose. Usually a mid-range food option, and 3 hours open bar (cocktail hour and two hours after dinner) and 1-2 hours wine and beer with dinner.
    We also visited MANY hotels in Tulum looking for potential places for our guests to stay including Zamas, Mezzanine, Dreams, Copal, Posada Margarita, and Pedra Escondida, Maya Tulum Wellness Spa. We also visited Sams Club in Playa del Carmen to see what they had for gift bags and alcohol. Let me know if you have any questions about any of these places. We also met with Sol who we LOVED and would highly recommend as a photographer (so far). Choosing her and Vanessa Jaimes (florist) were the easiest decisions we had to make. Now we just need to decide on our site! We are choosing between Esencia and Ana y Jose Beach Club

    1) Esencia— 15 minutes south of Playa del Carmen on Xpa Beach
    Vibe: Upscale and luxurious without being pretentious
    Cost: Estimated Cost per guest 250 dollars. That includes site fee, wedding coordinator, Food and Beverage.
    Pros—
    --fantastic attention to detail
    --food was AMAZING, service was outstanding
    --beautiful big beach
    --very private location
    --Fabian (wc) hosted us and made us feel welcome in the middle of a wedding which was being moved inside due to rain. Clearly he is organized and responsive
    --no policies restricting outside vendors
    --On site spa looks like heaven
    Cons—
    --not many other hotels located nearby, particularly for guests with small children or guests on a budget.
    --Room policy (see below)
    --Cost

    **Esencia was by far our favorite venue. It is a magical, romantic, and beautiful place. Our only concern is that they require at least 50% of guests to stay at the hotel for 5 nights (in the high season, less in the low season). Our guests will likely stay at the hotel but we feel uncomfortable committing to pay for rooms in a contract if our guests don’t stay at the hotel for that many days. Especially because the food and beverage will already exceed our budget as is.

    2) Al Cielo— next door to Esencia
    Vibe: Rustic and bohemian
    Cost: 400 per guest (all inclusive flowers, photo etc see below).
    Pros—
    --on the same beautiful as Esencia
    --Donaji (wc) has a lot of experience as is really nice
    --charming and rustic vibe
    --food was great
    Cons—
    --new wedding packages don’t allow flexibility and seem costly (see below)
    --inadequate rain option (it was raining while we were there and there is only a little area of the palapya that doesn’t get wet)
    --only 4 rooms. The rooms are all wood. They are beautiful and peaceful with a hammock in each room and a beach view but they will cost 300-350 per night during the high season (which seems like a lot for these simple rooms)

    **If it weren’t for the restrictive new policies we would probably get married here.
    They are in the process of raising their prices and requiring the purchase of a wedding package. This package costs 11K and includes: Wedding coordination, photographer, florist, A/V, music and flowers, minister, marriage certificate coordination. This isn’t a bad deal but we want to use our own florist and photographer and this isn’t allowed. Also, this isn’t a bad deal if you want all these services but if you don’t want some of them (like a marriage certificate or a minister) you are paying for them regardless. Food and beverage is additional and will cost around 150 per guest (more or less depending on alcohol choices). The food prices (86 per person) seem a little costly given the rustic laid-back feeling of the place. This is perfect for the couple who don’t care too much about the vendors they use and want a no-fuss, show up and get married, package.

    3) Ana y Jose (Beach Club) Tulum
    Vibe: Rustic but with a bit of an urban edge (lounge furniture and lighting)
    Cost: 185 per guest (including wc fee, set up (chairs etc), and food and beverage)
    Pros—
    --On a big beautiful beach
    --lends itself to d©cor—beach beds and trees and lots of places to hang lights
    --Jackie (wc) was our absolute favorite. She is sweet, personable, and calm under pressure (we saw her hours before a big event)
    --Location at a beach club in Tulum gives guests MANY options for accommodation in all price ranges along the beach near-by.
    --cost is more in our price range
    --no restrictive vendor policies
    --allow BYOB wine and Champagne (but pretty steep corkage)
    Cons—
    --Will be open to the public for dinner unless you pay 4000 private event fee or have 120 guests
    --the food was ok but it wasn’t as good as most of the others
    --not available on our first choice date

    ** We are probably going to choose ana y jose because of the cost, the beautiful venue, and our confidence in Jackie. We are still trying to figure out what to do about the privacy issue. The restaurant is a big rectangle so there isn’t a way to have a private section for our party. We don’t really want to share our intimate wedding with other dinner guests in the same area. One thing we are considering is renting a tent and doing everything outside in the yard by the trees (see tulumweddings.com to get a sense of the set up). We are likely going to stay at Eurostar Blue Tulum (formerly Azul Blue). We like that our guests can stay wherever they want but that there are options in every price range within walking distance of the wedding site. The only reason we wouldn’t have our wedding here is if we decide to risk it and book the required rooms at Esencia or if they are willing to compromise on the room booking policy. By the way, Ana y Jose also has a hotel which you can get married at if you stay there. We liked the ambiance at the beach club so much more though.

    4) Azu-lik/Copal Tulum
    Vibe: eco-conscious, rustic (almost campy), secluded jungle-feel
    Cost: 100 per guest (food and beverage)
    Pros—
    --this place is very accommodating they will tailor everything to your needs. Fransciso and Jesus at the Copal Restaurant are genuinely interested in making couples happy. There is nothing cookie-cutter about their approach. They have no outside vendor policies and they have low corkage fees for BYOB
    --the staff make you feel like guests in their home—very ma and pa type of feeling but very welcoming
    --the cost!
    --the food was surprisingly good

    Cons—
    --Jungle atmosphere would be really difficult for elderly guests and guests with disabilities. For instance, there are like 100 stairs to get to the beach for the ceremony
    --there are three sites for receptions but we didn’t love any of them: restaurant (right on main road without a view of the beach), tun tun bar (great area on cliff above beach but small for dinner and dancing) and on the beach directly (no bars or structures)
    --two options for accommodation: simple affordable cabins at Copal or the tree-house like cliff cabins with hanging beds and outdoor cliff jacuzzis at Azu-lik (fabulous but pricy given there really isn’t a bathroom—just a wood tub in the middle of the room and a toilet in a bamboo closet).
    --WC Maria lives in Brazil and the operations people at the hotel do all the work with her planning (people say it works but it sounds like a strange set-up to me). Still, Maria has been super responsive on email, even called me to talk through my reservation and tasting.

    ** We ruled this out because we are concerned about the comfort of our elderly guests. They will have to walk down many stairs to get to the beach and then there won’t be any shade for them down there. For a reception everything will either have to be carried down to the beach (including bar set up) or we will have to do the reception far from beach in the restaurant or tun tun bar. Still, for the right couple this is a personalized, affordable and environmentally conscious option. FYI they specialized in Maya weddings. They have a sweat lodge and spa and free morning Hatha yoga classes.

    5) Maroma (orient express) Maroma Beach
    Vibe: luxurious lush paradise
    Pros—
    --the best beach of any we visited
    --the property is so so beautiful
    --the food is phenomenal
    --they let you do a bon fire
    Cons—
    -- a bit pretentious. Even though we were seriously considering this property the wc didn’t even meet us in person. She had her assistant do the site visit
    -- room policy (see below)

    ** this was the most striking and breathtaking place we visited. You drive through the jungle to this hotel which is an adapted house of a famous architect. There are parrots and so many beautiful details everywhere. They require you to commit to 80% of your guest staying at the hotel for 3-5 nights. The rates start at 350/night. We just don’t feel comfortable committing to our guests all staying at the hotel in our contract. We plan to go here for our honeymoon unless we get married at Esencia and then we will stay there.

    6) Eurostar Blue Tulum (formerly Karisma Azul Blue)
    vibe: striking, elegant, modern
    Pros—
    --all inclusive with GREAT food (for an AI) means that food and beverage for event is SIGNIFICANTLY cheaper. Plus guests can all stay together in separated villas with rooms that can be attached
    --great wedding packages and good discounts for guests
    --most comfortable rooms in Tulum—the only place besides Dreams that you can use a hair dryer
    --amenities such as dress ironing and mani/pedis on site
    --no policies preventing outside vendors
    --they are trying to build their wedding business up so they are willing to negotiate and throw in freebies such as free night stay for you and your parents (with certain # rooms blocked)
    Cons—
    --NO SAND BEACH. The hotel is on a rocky beach so they pay for you to take a cab to a beach 5 minutes away). There is a “beach” which is a plot of sand next to the water.
    --Not many weddings have been held here so it is not tried and true

    Sorry this is so long. I hope it helps someone else. It at least helped me to think through the pros and cons of each place!
    I'm excited for questions, suggestions and comments
    Sarah

    #2 starchild

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      Posted 10 June 2008 - 02:24 AM

      Helpful info for our RM brides, thanks for posting :)

      #3 adias.angel

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        Posted 12 June 2008 - 01:05 PM

        Thank you so much! The only one I couldn't find any pics for from Del Sol is Azu-lik. Did you happen to take any while you were there? Carla

        #4 San Fran Sarah

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          Posted 12 June 2008 - 01:43 PM

          I didn't take any pictures because tragically my new-ish camera decided to break on the first day that I was there. I have some pictures that they sent me but its not letting me upload the pics . . .maybe they are too big or something. Can you send me an email with your actual email address and I will forward them to you? Maybe you will have better luck uploading.
          Sarah

          #5 adias.angel

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            Posted 12 June 2008 - 01:46 PM

            Quote:
            Originally Posted by mexico09bride
            Can you send me an email with your actual email address and I will forward them to you? Maybe you will have better luck uploading. Sarah
            Thanks! I PM'ed you my address.

            #6 adias.angel

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              Posted 12 June 2008 - 02:13 PM

              For any other ladies looking for the pictures here they are. Carla

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              #7 adias.angel

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                Posted 12 June 2008 - 02:14 PM

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                #8 San Fran Sarah

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                  Posted 17 June 2008 - 08:44 AM

                  Donaji emailed me today and told me they decided they WOULD still offer al a carte weddings at Al Cielo (allowing us to bring the photographer and florist of our choice). I'm so glad that they reconsidered their policy. It may be a bit costly because it requires 6000 in wedding coordinator fees but we are waiting for the quote to see if it is within our means. Thank you all so much for your help and advise! Thanks to Al Cielo for being reasonable. I don't totally understand why the WC fee is so large simply for bringing a few of your own vendors but at least they decided they will still allow those vendors.

                  #9 pribrzl

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                    Posted 17 June 2008 - 05:48 PM

                    Thank you for sharing the great feedback. Did you setup appointments with all the resorts in advacen? I am going next week and have a few appointments already setup, but think I could try checking out a few more. So far, I am going to Barcelo, Blue Bay Grand Esmeralda, Azul Beach and Royal. P.

                    #10 San Fran Sarah

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                      Posted 18 June 2008 - 10:23 AM

                      I set up appt in advance except at Eurostar Blue Tulum which we just wandered into. I wanted to see Azul beach but couldn't reach anyone there!
                      Good luck!
                      Sarah




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