I will post a resort review on TripAdvisor for the sake of brevity and a wedding review here. I still think this will be loooonnngggg....
A little background first:
My husband and I are a little bit older than some of you here, I think, AND this is our second, (and BEST) wedding. We traveled alone and did not have to plan for guests or receptions, dinners, etc. I found this resort on TripAdvisor and contacted a TA that was highly recommended here in town for prices. I don't remember exactly, but I don't think she had heard of Sensatori. I know a lot of people book directly or through online TAs but I wanted to have protection and support since it was my wedding.
My first contact with the resort was on the Karisma website via the "Live Chat" option. That is where I found out about the "Vows Renewal" package. Since we had our legal paperwork done here, and were traveling alone, we were eligible for this much cheaper package. For $1000 USD it included on-site wedding coordinator, tropical bridal bouquet and bout, bottle domestic champagne, and minister/judge. Also a simple beach gazebo. Haha, how that "cheap" package grew and grew and grew....
Next, I filled out an online form for the wedding and Fabio emailed me within a few days. We initially wanted 2nd week of October, but due to hurricane season being through October, we backed it up to first of November. Glad we did! As October came, and it was clear the resort was not open, my TA kept calling Karisma for updates. They said they would move us to Azul Beach, but we like to WING IT, so we did!
I know what you mean about asking questions and getting long emails with virtually no answers. Very strange. Not important now that she is gone. Nancy at some point sent me an email asking about optional package items. I did not like the bouquets on the Lomas website, well, not as much as one I could directly pick out, so i emailed her a few I did like. She asked me to specify one and I emailed that one. I decided not to get too worked up about not knowing if the bouquet would look good or not, because, after all, we like to wing it!
I also specified Ivy wrapped gazebo, which is the 4 poles on the beach. I never asked about other sites on the property, I just wanted my toes in the sand! Anyway, nobody knew anything about alternates sites as it wasn't completed, as you know!
Time of Wedding
I sort of had a mini-freakout about the wedding time. I had chosen 4 PM initially. Well, then I read about how this part of the coast does not see true sunsets, and if you look at a map, you will see why. I also figured out, and Nancy did not mention it, that the time would change in Mexico the week of my wedding, so it is totally dark by 520 PM. So, then I started the email chain of getting it pushed back to 3 PM so the photos would be nice and bright. They had already booked the Minister so this was an issue right up until the week before we left, but it was changed for us.
I really liked the minister that married us. I will later post a photo from another wedding held Nov 8, and the woman in the braid is the same woman who married us. I will post her name later, too. We asked for English speaking and we had to pay $50 extra for that. Ha.
This was our *real* wedding, if not our legal one, and we specified a truly Christian wedding and vows. Nancy emailed me the standard vows. I prepared something nice to say also, as Claudia (photographer) said there might be a time when the minister asks if we have something to say, so be ready!
I was very pleased with the comments and the website for Claudia Rodriguez. She was personally booked, but her brother Erik was available, as was someone from her husband's, Miguel Cantarall, videography business. (Have you seen his videos? WOW!!!)
I got tired of waiting for Nancy to confirm her, so I contacted Claudia through her website. She responded right away and sent me a paypal link for the $200 deposit. I chose a package off the Lomas website for photography and she quoted me the video price. She was very nice, she called me a couple of times, too. She was adamant about staying out of the sun before the wedding! Of course! I asked about the Trash the Dress sessions and she said once we got to Mexico we could discuss it. You can deal directly with her on that on prices, etc. because you will leave the property, most likely.
I booked through Nancy a manicure at 9 AM the day of the wedding.
It is one week before we leave. We do not know if it will be open. Carolina calls me, I think because my TA knows I am nervous. She assures me it will be great. Whatever.
OK-time to go!
Saturday-Arrival at Sensatori
As we approach the side road leading up to the resort, I can see that they probably aren't 100% ready for guests. I will not post a review of the resort here, but I will post a link to my review on TripAdvisor when it goes up.
We are the 4th couple to arrive.
Let me make a note here about the wedding that was held Saturday night. From what we understand, this was an employee/friend of the owner who was married. If you have seen the photos, the man marrying the young couple is the Italian owner of the Azul resorts and the groom is possibly an employee of his at his palentology dig sites. According to some lists we saw, there were approximately 55 rooms booked that first weekend with about 48 of them COMPED for the wedding. That is why the guys over at TripAdvisor have been so upset about the reviews. Probably are a bit skewed.
Anyways, we arrive around 1230 and are scheduled to meet with a wedding planner around 300. We come back to the lobby at around 300 and meet with Gilberto, the planner for Azul Beach. Carolina is also around, but Gilberto handles us. (The G is pronounced like H for all you non-Espanols). He is young and we find that he is actually from Los Angeles. Awesome! Me and Gilberto:
Totally irrelevant thought:Gilberto and I are similar heights if you notice. My husband thought everyone in Mexico was so petite. Everybody there thought I was Mexican. Stacey and Gilberto:
He asks if we would like a tour. Since no one else had done that we accepted. And then after we thought about it, we wondered what the heck all the other guests were doing to figure it all out...
He took us down to the beach and showed the wedding spot. I think they were still building the permanent poles...Here is a photo of the spot later in the week:
If you look closely you can sortof see the permanent concrete beach bbq bar in the foreground. I used it to lay all over for wedding pictures....ha
Then he took us to the spa to view the bridal suite. Saturday night's bride was getting ready so i didn't take any photos but here is a photo from the Spa later.
You are actually looking at the pedicure stations but just to the right is an elevated room with a long mirror. Really just a section off the main room, not very big and I think the lighting is poor. But they were in there using it. Don't know if this is the permanent area or not.
Then we got down to business. We reviewed the photos I had emailed Nancy. He had them in his file. He confirmed the Ivy wrapped gazebo and bouquet choice. He asked what color tulle on the gazebo and what color ribbon on the bouquet. We discussed having a flower petal aisle and I decided to go with it for $100 more. We confirmed Claudia Photo and the time of the wedding. He said someone would come to my room about 10 minutes before the ceremony to get me. My husband could either go ahead out to the beach or walk with me. He said the photographer would generally arrive one hour prior to the ceremony. He asked about dinner options for that night and wanted a candlelight dinner by the beach prepared for us, but for the money, and the resort being 90% empty, we figured anywhere would be just as pretty and private. We paid our balance on the photography as we had only paid the $200 deposit and we were finished!
OK nobody asked me about music. I assumed there would be none in the basic package. Gilberto asked us what he should play when I am walking, when we are signing the certificate, and when the ceremony is over. I tell him I want the traditional classic music for the first 2 and he suggested U2's Beautiful Day for the end. Crazy we didn't know to pick that but OK.
Please see my review for Sat night/Sunday. Kind of comical but I did meet with Gilberto/Carolina informally in the lobby on Sunday and said we were considering moving to Azul Beach. They said, we were their first bride and groom, everyone was so excited about Sensatori, yes, we could move but not to worry, they thought it would be great. So, we stayed.
Dress Hanging in Room
I arrive for my 900 AM manicure. 5 people are seated at the desk and greet me warmly, but as in other parts of the the resort, I am not sure what any of them were actually doing...
There is confusion, but they finally decide, yes I have an appointment. They sit me in the aforementioned pedicure/manicure area and within 10 minutes, another woman comes around for the manicure. It becomes immediately apparent I am the very first guest. Ever. There is no running water, contractors milling about, and no nail polish remover. They dig for more colors, as the spa is not actually unpacked yet. Yaye. Long story short, after my cuticles are cut until they are bleeding, they run to Azul Beach for remover and my nails are painted with no primer, the manager comes over and offers a free massage for all the trouble. My manicure takes 2.5 hours. I sigh deeply and go back to my room and remind myself that it is opening week. Of course, everyone is so super nice and wants to please! I tip anyway. Cost-$55 I will spare you a photo.
Closer to Wedding Time
I become distressed because I realize no one has contacted me today. I nix getting ready in the spa due to the issues above, namely no water, and it depresses me as I did not want to get ready with my husband. Whatever, I get over it because I realize I am in a beautiful country with my beautiful fiancee and who cares about a subpar manicure. Finally my hotel phone rings. It is Erik, my photographer and the videographer and they are in the lobby. I still think it is wierd that it is never discussed how anyone will contact you if you aren't sitting by your hotel phone. Oh, and the voicemail system at the hotel hasn't been turned on yet. oops.
In short order, Gilberto calls to say he is bringing up the bouquet. I am now officially nervous and excited!
Here is the bouquet photo I found online:
Here is what Gilberto brought me 2 hours before the wedding:
I was really shocked! I think it's pretty darn close!
I asked for an Ivy wrapped ''gazebo"-what they call the 4 poles in the sand. Here is my inspiration photo:
I don't have a professional photo of mine yet, or even a non-professional photo because I didn't have our camera at the ceremony, but here is a crappy pic of what the gazebo looked like that night at our candlelight dinner:
He sort of got it right. I still had to pay extra $500 for the ivy and it WAS real. They placed the bamboo walkway in an "L" shape leading up to the gazebo and threw out wet mango rose petals right before I walked up. Hopefully when I post the professional pics you will see how, hopefully, lovely it was! He could not place the bamboo sticks on the top, however. There was no table inside the gazebo at the time of the ceremony or tiki torches. The table was off to the side.
To be continued in next post....too many photos...