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Hilary's PV/LC Vendor Reviews

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#1 hsrose14

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    Posted 08 October 2008 - 02:10 PM

    I created this thread to post my different reviews - Las Caletas, Adventure Vallarta, Velas Vallarta, Marriott, Photog - Lauren Wright, etc....

    #2 hsrose14

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      Posted 08 October 2008 - 02:18 PM

      Velas Vallarta - welcome cocktail, rehearsal dinner, etc.
      We had 54 people staying at one resort in PV. The resort was Velas Vallarta, and it was amazing. We had about half of the group staying in RCI rooms that my father-in-law booked, and the other half were staying in a room block that I set up. My father-in-law basically cashed in his RCI points until 2009 for suites. The bridesmaids and myself were in a three bedroom suite for eight. The groomsmen and my husband were in the same type of room. My mother and father-in-law were in another three bedroom suite with other relatives. Lastly, he got a two bedroom suite for my Mom, grandmother and uncle. So basically cashing in those points got us those awesome rooms for $805/person for one week. So we had about half of the group there for a solid week (Sunday to Sunday). Now the room block I set up came with perks such as reduced prices, discounts around the resort, a private welcome cocktail, group reservations for dinner, etc. So the room block group could come and go more easily – which made OOT bags a challenge - but that's another story.

      Velas Vallarta is an all inclusive resort so drinks and dinner being free don’t sound super exciting right away. However, the welcome cocktail (Monday) was nice because we got to get everyone together in one place to give out OOT bags (for those that were there so far), welcome them all there, let them mingle/meet, etc. And because it was private, it was easier for them to meet and be sure that the person they were talking to was, in fact, there for the wedding instead of just some random guest at the resort that was getting a drink at the same time. Also we got great service because they were there exclusively for us.

      The rehearsal dinner (Wednesday) was an interesting situation. The room block contract said we had the benefit of making large reservations for our group. Now when I tried to make a reservation for 60 (we originally had more that backed out at the last minute) for 6:30 pm at one of their restaurants – they cringed. They tried to talk me into doing a dinner in one of their ballrooms – which had a fee of $75/person. I stuck to my guns and pointed out repeatedly that the contract stated we could make group dinner reservations – with no stipulations to the size of group or location. It took awhile to get any response about whether or not they were going to let us do this, which was stressful. But it turns out that the reason it was taking forever is because the group coordinator, the food and beverage manager, and the general manager were trying to get together to meet about it. They finally did and decided that we could do a private dinner in one of their ballrooms – for free. They let me pick an appetizer, a main course, and a dessert for the menu. I was really nervous that it would be late, sketchy, etc. So on Wednesday night, Nicole (from LC) came to the resort and met the wedding party in the lobby. She met everyone, did a quick speech about how things were going to run, helped us make decisions we hadn’t even thought of yet (how people were going to walk), and we were done. I went over a few more details with her and gave her wedding stuff to talk out to LC for me. Some people were concerned that since she didn’t have us do a “practice walk through” that it would fall apart day of – silly non-believers. Then we got over to the ballroom where the rehearsal dinner was supposed to take place. It was gorgeous! They had decorated the room with these huge bamboo poles with gauzy fabric draped down them and pinned to the floor. They had done centerpieces at every table which were rectangular little things filled with sand with a vase in the middle with fresh yellow flower floating in it. They had a sound system set up with music playing. They had waiters walking around with trays of cute little different flavored margaritas. Everybody kept walking up to me and telling me how good a job I did, and I was flabbergasted – I didn’t do any of that!! I just smiled and nodded and handed out the rest of the OOT bags. They served the exact menu I had requested, and it was delicious. The presentation of the food was really neat too.

      About the resort in general, it was gorgeous! There were iguanas and peacocks and cats running all over the place. There were tons of lush plants and flowers everywhere. The servers at the pool were awesome. We made friends with them at the beginning, and they hooked us up all week. Obviously they served food at the pool – it was very good. We rarely sat down for lunch. It was too much fun at the pool to leave. The “suites” had huge balconies, but the “studios” did not. I would definitely recommend getting a room with a balcony. Don’t’ worry about if it is “ocean front” – they all are. The balcony is really nice to look down on the gorgeous garden, pools, ocean, etc to eat your room service breakfast or whatever. There were tons upon tons of activities going on every day/night. You could participate if you wanted or not, but you couldn’t claim boredom at this resort with all of the options.

      There are two restaurants on site at the resort. One is a sit down, white table cloth, tons of courses, yummi’ness. The second was open air, also delicious, in front of the ocean, etc. We basically split the group of 54 into “20-somethings” and “adults” for dinner each night. One group would go to one restaurant, and the other group would go to the other. We would send someone from the pool around lunch each day to make the large reservations, and it always worked out. We never got bored of the two restaraunts either because each night was a different theme (Italian, steaks, Asian, etc). Velas Vallarta is also linked to Casa Vallarta (and another resort I think). So with your all-inclusive bracelet, you could take a two minute van ride to their other location. This restaurant was amazing – even more up-scale than the place we were at all week. Definitely worth visiting, and it was still free! The only catch was you had to book a day in advance, but we figured that out towards the end of the week. The last place we ate was room service – and, boy, did we ever eat room service. Every night the 20-somethings gathered in the “groomsmen room” to drink, play cards, listen/dance to music, order room service, etc. until the wee hours of the night. (Room service HATED them the next day because of this) Getting the alcohol was the trick. We started to figure out that we could get bottles of wine to-go from dinner, and six packs of beer to go from the bars. Other than that, we’d try to order from room service, but they would bring it in small portions - until you started tipping them heavily. I’ve heard this is a common situation in Mexico, but it stood true for us too. The boys always found some way to get their booze though -gotta love an all inclusive resort. In general, the planning over the phone/email for the room block, the welcome cocktail, and the rehearsal dinner was somewhat of a pain and was super scary to imagine if they were actually going to follow through – but it far surpassed my expectations. The service for our large group was amazing, and the quality of what we got for the reduced prices was amazing. I would highly recommend this resort. The group coordinator (Selma) will do everything you ask – I would just recommend poking her a lot to get her to realize you are serious about doing things in advance.

      Overall, I was really happy with Velas Vallarta and will be staying there again whenever I get back to PV in the future.

      #3 edna

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        Posted 08 October 2008 - 03:01 PM

        Hilary thank you for this awesome review !!! We have part of our grup staying here so, is great to hear everything was great and better !!!

        #4 hsrose14

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          Posted 08 October 2008 - 04:11 PM

          We went to the Marriott for our second week in PV. This time instead of 54 people, it was just us alone for our honeymoon. We had problems as soon as we arrived.

          (Disclaimer: I know several of you girls had a great experience here. Our situation really may have been a fluke so don’t be super discouraged if you are set up to be here. I imagine they are tons better if you have a group, event, wedding, etc. I think a main reason we were so disappointed with the Marriott is because we had just come from Velas Vallarta (AI) – which we thought was amazing. So this was partially based on comparisons between the two. Additionally, it barely rained at all our first week in PV, but as soon as we checked into the Marriott – it rained a ton. I can’t imagine that helped with our view either.)

          Anyways, there was a lot of confusion surrounding the check-in to our room, which frustrated us. The line was long. It didn’t seem to move. Once we did get to someone, they couldn’t help us resolve the issue and offered to find us a manager but had no idea how long that would take. I hate to be that couple that drops the “honeymoon” line, but we totally did it. And they could care less. I guess when you are located in a gorgeous place like PV – the word “honeymoon” doesn’t matter as much. We also dropped the fact that my father-in-law is at the maximum level of Marriott stays – strange they didn’t care about that either… Maybe we should have dropped something about hotel review boards?? Haha

          Once we got checked in, we were disappointed with the room. It was an upgraded room and was TINY compared to our rooms at Velas Vallarta. (And I realize we were in a suite at Velas Vallarta which was bigger, but we also visited several normal non-suites that our friends were in.) The Velas Vallarta normal room was much, much larger than the Marriott “upgraded” room. I felt like I was on a cruise ship with the size of the room. Not to mention the fact that they tell you that you have an oceanfront balcony, but in reality you have a tiny balcony that kind of faces the ocean. If you are sitting in your chair, you can’t even see over the balcony. And there is ONLY room for two small chairs outside – that’s it. Throughout the week, we found a roach in our room. That was lovely – I killed it and had someone come get it. I think they knocked a little money off our room to make up for it but didn’t ever come talk to us about it or apologize – which irked me. The very last day, there were also little ants all over the place – including the bedside table – which was inches from where I slept. Yes, we had open soda cans in the room, but we weren’t even on the first floor. Ants that are prevalent enough to climb three stories – must be around quite a bit. At this point, I didn’t even bother with the management – just went to the airport early because I wanted out of there.

          So moving along, the Marriott was under construction, which was loud, dusty, and annoying. Most of the construction was right outside the spa – which is not very relaxing to walk into/out of – but hopefully it will be done before wedding season for you ladies. The spa was one of the only things that we really liked about the resort. It was fabulous. It was probably the best spa I’ve ever been to with tons of amenities, great staff, and great service. They had like four different types of whirlpools and four different kinds of showers – it was really neat to try them all out before the massage. Make sure you get there early to enjoy!

          We really didn’t feel like there was as much to do at this resort in the evenings. There was a place that people hung out, but they didn’t put on shows, games, themed nights, or anything like that. We went out in the city more this second week because the resort wasn’t doing it for us. (Note: There is a Champs sports bar – if you’re future husband is a sports fan, beware of becoming trapped in sports land.) We did enjoy the Japanese restaurant on site though. It was probably our second favorite thing about the Marriott. The outdoor area surrounding the pool was so-so compared to the other resort. It was much smaller and less well kept. There was also less seating/shade around the pool. We missed our pool towels from the other resort here (You had to use your little bath towels down at the pool – which don’t even cover the chair completely).

          Basically, I lost faith in Marriotts in general and will not be returning to this one under any circumstances due to the lack of response we got from management through several encounters, the small room size, and quality of room/amenities. Better luck to you ladies!

          #5 hsrose14

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            Posted 08 October 2008 - 04:12 PM

            Originally Posted by edna
            Hilary thank you for this awesome review !!! We have part of our grup staying here so, is great to hear everything was great and better !!!
            No problem! I'll be posting any and every review I can think of as soon as I can get the chance to write them :)

            #6 clmarti1

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              Posted 10 October 2008 - 11:50 AM

              Hilary that was a very helpful post! I'm so glad to everything worked out with the wedding!

              #7 Selene

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                Posted 12 October 2008 - 09:42 PM

                Thanks for the information! Great review. Do you have any pictures to share? Still trying to find a location and any help is greatly appreciated.

                #8 hsrose14

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                  Posted 13 October 2008 - 06:59 AM

                  Originally Posted by Selene
                  Thanks for the information! Great review. Do you have any pictures to share? Still trying to find a location and any help is greatly appreciated.
                  No problem! Here are the photos. Let me know if you have a question about where something is taken, and I'd be glad to explain :)

                  Picasa Web Albums - Hilary

                  #9 dinogomez.com

                  • Sr. Member
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                    Posted 13 October 2008 - 11:12 AM

                    Great info, Thank you!!!

                    #10 DB2B

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                      Posted 03 November 2008 - 01:16 PM

                      Thanks for the reviews! We're heading down to PV next weekend for our scouting trip and I'm definitely going to check out Velas Vallarta now! And, I have to say, I feel a little better now - we were going to check out the Marriott, but they are booked for the first part of November 2009 and asked if we could change our wedding date to Thanksgiving. I was rather bummed, but I'm glad we have another option now!

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