Well I am officially a married lady as of the 3rd. Sorry I couldn't post earlier, but the new husband and I were running around like crazy before we left (Read: Husband accidentally threw away veil day before the wedding, we missed our connecting flight in Atlanta and were rerouted to Mexico City and didn't not arrive until late Monday, etc. :-)). But we are now officially on our honeymoon in Jamaica and its wonderful. A tip for any of you ladies planning on a honeymoon right after the wedding or going straight back to work: Take a few days after the wedding to unwind and do absolutely nothing - you will need it. I'm a pretty high energy person and all we have wanted to do was sleep and lay by the water then sleep some more. In fact I think I may have broken my husband :-) I have never seen him sleep so much. You are all going to have the most amazing time, but taking care of your guests and all the activities will drain you.
I only have a few minutes to post, but will promise to post a solid review and some pics very soon. The hubby keeps yelling at me to get off of facebook and this forum while we are on the HM :-) - I guess I can't blame him.
Overall Review - It was the most amazing wedding. We had a wonderful time with our friends and families and we were blessed with the most amazing weather. We didn't have any rain, there was an incredible breeze off the water and we had a full moon over the water during our dinner reception at Zocalo Al Fresco - it was stunning. Apparently it is good luck in Mexico to get married on a Saturday and have a full moon! We arrived on Monday, and the Wedding was Saturday. We originally booked a premium room for the first four nights and then an upgrade to a Honeymoon Ocean front suite for the last three nights. When we arrived at the hotel for our private check in they automatically upgraded us to the Honeymoon Ocean Front Suite for all seven nights. I have to say this was very nice as it would have been a major pain to move rooms the night before the wedding. The concierge and wedding staff were absolutely fantastic (Elena in particular) - they definitely go out of their way to make sure you are happy and do not have any concerns. Everything for the wedding ceremony was absolutely perfect. They did an awesome job on our decor. My only cons at this point were the difference in food quality from our site visit in april and now and that some of our guests had to wait around for their check in despite having provided them with a list of when our guests would arrive and room assignments. The hotel was only at 61% occupancy though, so we were able to secure upgrades to the premium section for several of our guests and family. Because of some mix ups during our site visit and as a result of the letter we sent to the hotel a few months back, all of our guests were to receive a bottle of champagne and some petite fours in their room upon check in, as well as a private check-in. The hotel was pretty good about this, but they did forget a few of our guests. For those of you who still have a lot of time - we definitely recommend having your guests arrive on the same day or only one other day. We had guests who arrived on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday - the largest groups arrived on Wednesday and Thursday. This is what exhausted us the most - I have never seen my husband so stressed out. He is a former green beret and handles situations pretty well - but this seemed to overwhelm him :-). We found ourselves running around ensuring our guests were sorted, getting upgrades or the right room, or sometimes getting into a room earlier if they made them wait until 3 p.m. You will still have a great time - its just a bit hectic for the few hours that they are arriving. Our only other con was the food. Not all the food was different - most of the restaurants were still fine. The issue we had is that the chef who was present for our food tasting in April was no longer working at the AS. They had a new chef who did not know how to prepare the food on the earlier edition of the banquet menu - hence the reason for the new banquet menu. Rather than telling us that he did not know how to prepare the food we selected, he decided to give us his own interpretation - which was completely off the mark. For my husband and I - food is extremely important to us and is one of the major reasons we selected this hotel. If they would have told us ahead of time when we arrived, then we would have had the option to have an impromptu tasting and selected food he was more comfortable making. For you ladies who have chosen off the new menu or one of the preset menus - you will not have any issues as he is very comfortable making this food. We had a very complex menu and he just wasn't prepared. I was very upset about this and I think at one point had called the chef down from the kitchen and told him that if he screwed up the next course I was going to chuck a plate at his head :-) -- but I finally decided I wasn't going to let it ruin the rest of my wedding day - at the end of the day none of your guests will remember the food and with the exception of my maid of honor, new husband, and mother none of my guests knew I was upset for a period of time. To be honest it almost became comical towards the end as each course became a mexican surprise. We are working with the hotel on some sort of compensation for the screw up and the wedding coordinator staff and the wait staff were very apologetic. The other food at the other events was decent and we didn't have any major complaints. The decor on our wedding cake was spot on too.
As for some of our other events - if you have it in your budget I would defintiely recommend the mariachis and the donkey fiesta party. Our only issue is that we separated these two - we had the donkey fiesta cocktail party as our welcome party on Thursday and the mariachis for our cocktail reception after the wedding ceremony. They were still fantastic, but I think they are better together.
I also highly recommend paradise catamarans for any excursions you may want - we hired them for a private sunset cruise on Wednesday and then for a private snorkeling catamaran cruise on Friday - they were fantastic. These two events really made the week special and this company really bent over backwards to accommodate us. In fact they even moved their boat up from puerto aventuras to the marina in Puerto Moreles to cut the drive time down and then on Friday dropped us off right at the Azul Sensatori - in fact I think we may have accidentally crashed Shandalier's wedding. We returned right about the time of her wedding - but asked the boat captain to wait to bring us in until after it was over. This gave us waterside seats of her event - It was beautiful by the way :-). I'll provide a link to them in my longer review along with some photos - but wanted to let you know how fantastic they were and how well they treated us. My step father in law is a charter boat captain in Naples, FL, and he couldn't stop raving about how wonderful the crew was. They even transported two of my bridesmaids to Playa Del Carmen free of charge so they could catch the ferry to Cozumel for an excursion they had planning early the next morning. They were also very much willing to give us a discount for booking two tours.
Ok - well the hubby just woke up and is already yelling at me to get off of the computer :-) so I will write more later!
Just to reassure you ladies who are still doing the AS - you will have a fantastic time and the hotel will go out of their way to make it special for you. You may have to make some minor adjustments when you arrive - but they are accommodating. Our guests couldn't stop raving about how beautiful the hotel was and how much fun they were having. So don't worry. Just be prepared - it goes by way too fast.
Here a couple of photos I was able to find on my camera - still waiting on the prof. photos and friends/family t