I started the planning process for my wedding in February 2011, the wedding was to be set for Feb 2012 so I thought we were good, I began a series of phone calls and emails designed to tour resorts in the Playa del Carmen area in April. I sent multiple emails, multiple calls to the miami booking number, no response at all I finally sent an email to a rep that another bride on a blog I frequent had as a contact and managed to arrange the tour.
We settled on Aventura Cove Palace as we have 3 children that would attend with us. I tried to plan the wedding, multiple emails with no response again, no one would help, it was indicated that the planning process was to take place 60 prior to the wedding and not before, as I am a cancer patient I knew that was not an option for me and I pushed the envelope.
I eventually hired, photographers, an event planner who handled the Mayan Shaman for our ceremony and hair and makeup as I was not able to have my hair done with my children otherwise.
there were multiple changes in the wedding planner and I had to explain my needs 6 times, the last planner being Edith who to her credit tried really hard to make my day work well.
We arrived at the hotel at 11 in the morning on Jan 27 2012, there was a Herbalife convention arriving. After 3 hours of standing in the lobby of the cove trying to check in my family my friends and I were sent to the Spa lobby, our luggage was lost track of in the jump and the Spa was obviously not notified of us arriving.
I am a handicapped traveller as is my mother in law. There was a request in place for a ground floor room we were located on the third floor she was on the second floor, suggesting this wouldnt work got us told there were no other rooms, further they separated all of my guests everyone scattered all over both resorts, and there was no other option. I further had requested long prior to our arrival to be upgraded to a concierge or honeymoon suite upon our arrival, using some of our 5000 points to cover the additional cost. This never occured
Several of our guests were checked in and not given wrist bands, and for the first part of our stay those wrist bands were the only way to have access to the resort. My guests were denied help at every turn, as they had no proof of their stay, going back to the front desk entailed another lengthy wait as all of the people from herbalife were utilizing the resource.
Now dont get me wrong, conventions are a hotels bread and butter, but if you are marketing yourself as a spa, resort, convention center and wedding venue, you should in fact be set up to handle this. The response for everything that went wrong, we were not ready for having this many people on the grounds. This is in fact a company that is in the hospitality industry, I heard from more unsatisfied guests in my first three days there than you can imagine. At this point we did not complain or otherwise say much. We tend to roll with the punches and make the best of things. My guests were not happy and I felt responsible for having unhappy guests but we were there best to make it happy.
Keep in mind at this point in the story we have been there one day. A sad statement I know.
Day two we left the resort at 8 in the morning and returned at 10 at night. I had thought the wrist band issue would be resolved not so much we had a really hard time getting my dad and brother on the resort.
At this point I met Johan at the front desk, he was my hero, he handled the wrist band issue and cleared up the problems my guests were having at this point, he did indicate that with the cove so full with the convention there was nothing he could do for the rooms but the moment the convention was gone he would fix it.
Day three brought a whole host of its own complications. I am still on the third floor with any elevators unknown or unavailable, it is raining the room is leaking, the patio allowing the rain to cover the floor, and the security wont let the makeup artist I hired through the door. I paid the guest pass for her, but the information had not been sent to the security desk, she was detained for better than a half hour, leaving me wondering if she was attending, back up the stairs to my room I went, and glad I did as the security called the room to ask if I had indeed arranged for this. She arrived and my kids directed her to my room, I would not have been able to get there given that the initial walk tired me dramatically.
That evening all of my friends and family staying in the resort got together for Dinner at Mundaca, the steak house at Aventura Cove. My husband to be and I went to the restaurant at three and asked if there was room for us, they said yes, we arrived at 5:00, an hour prior to the opening, to be sure that we and our guests would get a table, we were, in fact, the first group seated in the restaurant. We sat there for 3 hours, we were served one drink, we went and got bread ourselves and made the best of it. The restaurant was obviously busy, tables were filled with Herbalife reps cheering loudly for this or that. When our waiter finally attended to our table we were informed that the restaurant was out of steak, we had the option of one kind of meat and chicken, there was no soup, no appetizers no mushrooms etc. My guests politely ordered what they were able to and I looked for a manager, I found Jesus and Jorge. Nice men they did the best they could for us providing us with a lovely desert in place of a lovely meal, and they promised me that my wedding would be better but a group like Herbalife had to take precedence. My opinion, no one group should take precedence in the hospitality industry but ok, at least my wedding would be perfect.
To their credit while the Herbalife group was there, a pizza oven was in operation at the pool with the most amazing home made pizza you have ever eaten, once the group left that an a number of other amenities were gone.
We spent the spent day four in Playa and avoided the resort, the morning of the wedding brought more rain.
February 1, 2012. We were asked if we received our welcome champagne, nope, asked if we received chocolate covered strawberries nope, just not there. Again the patio doors are leaking like crazy an entire suitcase of clothes is wet, but its my wedding day, no hard feelings. Again the makeup artist was detained at the gate, but we got through it, the photographers arrived and I was ready to go. I had a Mayan ceremony and Edith the wedding planner was supposed to pick up my husband to be and I up for a private moment prior to the wedding and then collect me at 3:45 for the wedding to commence at 4:00, no one ever arrived - at the ceremony my husband to be was asked if we had our moment and he said we just figured it was a loss and my photographer went and got Edith and Nancy who had my carriage prepared for me, I was a half hour late but its ok they cant exactly start without me. I attributed this to a miscommunication
The ceremony was perfect the cocktails were perfect and the fireshow was perfect, and Edith was there every moment. Then the dinner.
Dinner was set for the terrace of the Mundaca steak house, the set up was lovely, the cake while not exactly what I was looking for was pretty. We sat down to dinner and the service was attentive. So far so good, We all placed our meal orders salads arrived etc things were moving smoothly, Edith had to go, (turns out she was decorating our room in the most amazing way. Flower petals bubble bath towel sculptures the whole bit, to be honest this went a long way for me) The main course arrived at the table, three people did not get their orders, in fact they were orders that never made it to the kitchen, 4 people received their steaks not to their liking, mine for example was not a t-bone which I had ordered and was blue rare, I only ever order and eat steak that is well done with no pink, in fact I specify that my preference is leather. When everyone else was done eating two of the three people who never received their meals were brought their meals, one never was fed. As an aside, the staff is amazingly nice, they were very apologetic for the mix up, and I have to say that it is very hard to stay angry with people who so genuinely want to make things better, but again in the hospitality industry how does my group seem to get hit so bad.
Turns out it was not just my group another group of people that night were discussing their visit, two gentlemen who had travelled together to be put in a room with two beds were given a room with only one king bed for 4 of the 7 days of their vacation, when asked why they are not happy with their room they were very clear, they are not gay! they had to share a bed in a room for more than half their vacation. More people were discussing the issues with the Herbalife group than you can imagine, but they are gone now so things should be better. They are not.
After getting back to the room and finding the lovely decorations and full bubble bath we turned on the jets and were about to get into the tub when we noticed the jets were filthy. The jets were spewing brown and black chunks of I donâ€™t know what into the bath water, scratch the bath have a shower and into bed. Note we never had our toilette paper replenished in the room, and called down to the front desk to notify them, we were completely out of toilette paper in that room until 2 in the afternoon the next day.
Honeymoon breakfast arrived and was good they eggs were rather runny but what can you do, turns out that they finally have rooms for us to move to but our guests leave tomorrow we will fix it when they go so that we donâ€™t loose time with our guests.
I had booked a spa service the first day we arrived, I knew that I would be sore after the wedding and thought a deep tissue massage would be great. I had booked it through the arrangements counter in the lobby and planned to use our points at the hotel to pay for it, I had a paper arranging it and it should have been done. I arrived at the spa and was told there was no record of the service being booked. I was upset, they suggested trying to book for another time in the day. Ok, return to the cove, go to my room and call reservations, I was told there was nothing available until Sunday this was Thursday. At this point I became agitated and asked to speak to the general manager of the facility. I was declined his name or contact information and was directed to public relations, again I was not given the name of the manager of Public Relations but was directed to Elias who has a higher level of Public Relations. Elias apologized for my inconveniences promised that we would be moved to a nice room on Saturday, on the ground floor in a building closer to the hotel services reducing the amount of walking I was doing. He further arranged for me to have my massage at 4pm, we had plans to go to Cozumel that afternoon, I cancelled the plans and stayed at the resort to have the massage as I was hurting rather badly and the service would ease my discomfort
When we returned to the room after being at the pool for a bit prior to going to the spa, we found that room service had taken a part of my wedding gown thinking it was a napkin that came with breakfast.
At this point I called Edith the only person I felt that could fix some of these things and laid on the bed and cried. None of my guests were happy, they all had many many issues that you just cant apologize for, my wedding was a comedy of errors and now part of my wedding gown was gone. I had photos that were very expensive planned for the next day. They found the dress panel in the laundry and returned it to me, I had my spa service which was very good and I tried to calm down. The resort indicated that they would pay for the cleaning of my wedding gown as an apology
My 12 year old daughter had left her 64 gig ipod touch on the bed of the room in the hotel. I donâ€™t think the ipod was stollen, but I do think it was in the bedding and taken with the dirty bedding to the laundry.
I could not get anyone to provide me with any information about the ipod they indicated they would have the laundry searched for and notify us of what is or isn,t found. To date we have no information the day we were leaving we tried to get that information but there were no public relations people around. Further the gps on find my ipod indicates it is in the Aventura area.
That evening we had dinner at la hacienda, I have to say that in my memory that was going to be the wedding dinner for my wedding it was perfectly planned executed and fun for my guests the Mayan coffee being the highlight
The following day we said goodbye to most of our guests and went to dive a cenotes in an underground cavern. My dress was muddy as heck, so that evening I went to the front desk knowing that we were moving rooms in the morning and requesting the new room number for the laundry and was told to just put it together with a laundry tag and leave it in the room, they will find my new room. Keep in mind I was told several days prior to this that a nice room on the ground floor would be chosen for me. Apparently not, I was that evening requested to view rooms to choose from in the morning.
Further the last of my guests were checking out the next day. Their pick up time from the resort was 9pm. It was indicated that even though the resort was now almost empty they had to check out at noon. The front desk offered to do her a â€œgreat favorâ€ and allow her to stay in her room until three with no charge. Three is the normal time for check out as listed on all of the information the hotel puts out. The time frame was extended to 5pm in an effect to mollify my disgust with this entire situation, and further extended to 8 when I simply lost my temper and requested to speak to public relations.
The following morning the front desk had no clue what I was talking about when I went to â€œseeâ€ the rooms they were planning to show me, my thinking was all of the rooms are identical. We had already been declined to move to concierge or Honeymoon, none of the promised amenities had been provided to us, in fact on almost every avenue the ball was dropped by this facility.
I sent my family on a prepaid excursion to Xplor, this is a loss of 169.00 USD to my family, I stayed behind to â€œviewâ€ the room. at 11:00 they told me my room was ready, there was no viewing, and no opinion needed, I moved with my luggage to the room. All but one light was burnt out, again the jets on the tub were disgusting, this room at least the previous occupant belongings were no longer left in the room. At this point we were told that the issues arising in our stay were because of the change of management. The facility had transferred to a HardRock enterprise on Feb 1, 2012 interesting given that all of the information on the web indicates that happens in several months. Wrist bands were no longer needed. We were further told that given this was no longer a palace property we would not be allowed to use the facilities at the Playacar or Cozumel Palace resorts.
Frustrated I asked many many people who the general manager of the facility was, I requested information on who actualy owned the property. I was told that this information was not to be given to customers. I was directly told that I could not have the information and I should only direct my concerns to Public Relations, who could not in effect mollify my concerns.
I approached Johan at the front desk that evening and he indicated to me that no this was no longer a Palace property but we could access the other venues via the arm bands that are given at the bell desk in the morning for bus transport to the golf course.
We stayed away from the resort the balance of our vacation. We did utilize the resources at Playacar Palace and the food is by far and away superior.
The last day of our visit I contacted the front desk to make arrangements for our morning check out, there was still no information about my daughters ipod and no one in customer service as there was a group checking into the spa side and they needed them there. My bill had charges on it $200.00 for purchases with points, apparently there was an issue with the system, and the charge for the laundering of the wedding gown. At this point my patience had reached its limit. I will pay for the laundering of the wedding gown, I donâ€™ need the apology I just want to never avail myself of this properties services ever again, and I will make sure to tell everyone I can find about my experience, so that is what I am doing. By the time we checked out of our hotel they had reversed all of the charges, and I was not required to pay for the services but at this point my wedding which included 2 weeks in 2 rooms at Aventura palace, guest stayin in 5 other rooms for 1 and 2 week stays, had in fact been a horrifying experience. I brought all of the decor except for the lanterns, I had made arrangements for the photographers, hair and makeup and the events surrounding the actual ceremony with other outside vendors and I paid for that privilege dearly. The only thing Aventura was responsible for was set up, transporting the bride, location and the dinner. The total cost for just us and our family of five was $28000.00, this price does not include any of the outside vendors, we rarely ate on property and the wedding was a fiasco. I am to say the least disappointed in my experience. I have still no word on my daughters ipod and to be honest I am disgusted with the entire experience.
Points to note:
- the grounds and scenery at Aventura are amazing and beautiful
- the entertainment staff are excellent
the entire experience at La Hacienda is amazing
- the staff in general are very nice people, very nice people that make very large mistakes but very nice people all the same
- Edith Camacho seems to take her job very seriously but is at the mercy of other people following through
- issues some of my guests faced - negative room locations
- a water beetle landing on a steak and then hanging out in the baked potato, the server grabbed a napkin squashed the beetle and didnâ€™t replace the meal was confused by the request to replace the meal
- there are small bugs that live in the closet and bathroom, my assumption is they come in with an open window or patio door, but I cleaned the out and sprayed bug killer on them and we didn't open the patio left the room for several hours upon return they were there again, in canada we call them black flies, troublesome and the bites are itchy
- the fridge in several rooms were not working, leaking or just in general warm as opposed to cold
- When I asked if we could arrange transportation to Playacar Palace I was told that we could take the bus in the morning, turns out on the bus we found out that it took us to the golf course, a short 15 minute walk to Playacar. a 15 min walk for a handicapped traveller can be very difficult, the bell boy winked and said don't worry. Once on the bus the guide told us we could get off at the golf course then said if you can keep a secret we will drop you in playa, the cab fare from the golf course is 7 dollars so keep that in mind with your tip. He then got off the bus and showed us the "best" place to shop and his cousin will give us a 30 percent discount at that silver store. So the trip in to playa included a 7.00 "tip" each way
- you are warned about the lack of beach in advance but the cove is often murky and the bottom is very sharp rocks and there are Jelly fish in the cove as in the ocean, not a huge deal if you are aware, and know the response you body will have, my 12 year old was bit and her leg blew up so large her skin split, I, fortunately had the products required to deal with this on my own, but beware
- the spa is often booked, and even if you have a booking it is not necessarily there
- if you go thinking you can use your points in any valuable way, think again, the excursions they offer are minimal at best, do not remotely match what is shown online and are often unavailable
- no one in our party received a turn down service at all
- my children 12, 15, 17 were all wearing their purple wristbands and were all served alcohol repeatedly, even if they ordered an ice tea
- using golf carts to get from the spa to the cove side they drive very quickly at one point going around the corner the cart rode up on the curb and grass and tipped flinging my father from the cart
- if you do use your points, there will be a lengthy several hour long process to fix the issue or you will be billed for the purchase on your credit card.
- there are many online complaints about the food, the lack of change, this to my mind is at least viable given that then you know what not to get, if it is horrible the first time, it will likely be horrible the second.
- if you dont like iguanas then Mexico is not the place for you, they are everywhere, I like them others donâ€™t
- the rooms and the floors are all marble or tiled, which is beautiful to look at but very slippery, I fell breaking a toe and tearing a tendon, you will occasionally find signs noting the floor is wet, but go with the expectation of being careful.
- bring jet cleaner or dont use the tub in your room, we went out in playa and purchased some so we could use it.
- LaHacienda is the only restaurant I would recommend and the Mayan coffee is an amazing show, the singers are great fun and honestly if I had eaten only in that restaurant I believe my experience would have been different
- be careful of the patio door leakage in your room during rains, three guests had rooms flood to the beds two of them including myself ended up with very wet luggage, and my Louboutins purchased for the wedding were soaked through, not a happy moment
- the bell men are often not available in the front drive area and if you try to order a taxi inside they will send you back outside, it is not very well organized
- a group in attendance means you will receive little service but if the groups are not in attendance many amenities and restaurants will be closed to you
- there is a rumour that you will be met with a cool towel and a drink at check in, I say rumour as I never saw that occur
- the day we spent at playa car Palace my children could not go into the pool as there were so many gulls swimming in the pool, and they were aggressive in protecting the territory. At Aventura they would swoop down and steal your food at the pool but at least didn't choose to make the pool their home.
All in all I would not recommend this hotel to anyone, I have yet to hear from anyone regarding my daughters ipod, nor have I heard from anyone regarding my issues, no member of management has taken the time to assuage my feelings and while I now have the information about the owners the DelToro family in conjunction with the Hard Rock franchise and I further online have been able to ferret out the general Manager being Senior Julian Castaneda at the resort I was not afforded that information. I will send this letter to the people at the resort with the hopes that they do in fact do something to try and rectify this situation. That said you only have one shot at the wedding, its sad that I spent the first part of my week crying about unhappy my guests were and the second crying about how horrible my special day turned out. I lost 3 days in time of my vacation and time with my family standing in line, trying to resolve issues or talking to public relations. I do not know what the issue is with this facility but they cant handle large groups effectively, they drop the ball on important events, the rooms are substandard at best for the cost and all in all it was a sad experience. Effectively if they are not responding to your calls in the beginning best not to assume it will go well in the end.