The Pure Chill Out Bar was formerly called the Looky bar. We haven't finalized all the reception details yet because, apparently, the banquets coordinator is away until September 15th. We haven't done a group booking - mostly because it was too much of a headache to try to get everyone organized. Besides, we have guests coming from across Canada, some from the US, some are staying for a week while others are just flying in and out. We should end up with the requisite equivalent of 50 nights stay to get the "renewal of vows" package for free but I'm not sure how the resort counts the rooms. I guess once I have a confirmed guest list, I'll provide that to Elena and see if it qualifies. We booked a suite as a result of some of the resort reviews on trip advisor. As I understand it, the free room upgrade is on a space permitting basis when you check in at the hotel. We booked our room through Vacation Express : Value-Priced Vacation Packages to Mexico, Costa Rica and the Caribbean and the suite really wasn't that much more than a standard or deluxe room.
I agree that the banquet menus do seem a bit pricey, especially as you point out it is an all-inclusive resort. Originally, I thought that you had to pay for the banquet charge per person and the $500/hour charge to use the Pure Chill Out Bar but the use of the bar is included as are drinks. If you have cocktails at the wedding site immediately following the ceremony, they charge 10 pp. We'll probably have 20-26 people so $1500 or so for a wedding reception including all food, drinks, and decorations seemed reasonable to us. When the banquet coordinator is back, I'm going to ask if we can modify the menus at all so I'll let you know what I learn. We had considered just having the reception in one of the a la carte restaurants, as Morgan had, but we wanted dancing. You could just have the dancing at the Pure Chill Out bar after the dinner but if you want the place to yourself, that's when the $500/hour charge comes in to play plus $100/hour for a DJ. So, really the banquet cost didn't seem too bad. Although, I know how quickly it all adds up!
One of the reasons that the Catalonia RM appealed to us was its proximity to Puerto Aventuras. It's a nice village and, not being huge fans of all-inclusive resorts, we like the idea of being able to easily get out of the 'compound'. We're planning to organize a rehearsal dinner away from the resort, so if you know of any restaurants that would be appropriate, please let me know.
Good luck and stay in touch.
Catalonia, Riviera Maya
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