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Akumal's CEA Center ~ a unique non-resort alternative (tons of pics)


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#1 MarieSam

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    Posted 29 October 2008 - 07:29 AM

    *** Sorry this post is so long ~ but I wanted to cover everything and hope it helps!! Tons of PICS are below. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask!!!

    * * *

    I wanted to share my current plans in hopes that it might provide a great alternative for brides seeking a non-resort venue (if you’re looking for an upscale or ritzy place this would not apply), or excellent caterer/bakery or wedding coordinator in the Riviera Maya area …

    First off both FI and I don’t do all-inclusives, mainly because we spend most of our time out exploring and don’t spend a lot of time at “home” when on vacation so our food option would go to waste. Also because all of our families own timeshares so we normally stay in units with kitchens and enjoy cooking for ourselves. But finding a location that wasn’t all-inclusive was a bit difficult in the Cancun/Riviera Maya area, leading us to the idea of finding a place that could cater and host our wedding celebration.

    In searching for a caterer, I was bit overwhelmed by the prices. Our families are serious “foodies” and we definitely wanted a buffet style dinner that was laid back and open. But I was getting quotes that ranged from $75 to $110 per person, excluding drinks. Then I happened upon Turtle Bay Caf© in Akumal, a town that our families visited and fell in love with during our vacation in 2006.

    COORDINATOR/CATERER:
    After several emails and photographs received from TBC’s owner, Jennifer Smith, she proposed that we have our reception in the Centro Ecologico Center in Akumal’s main bay. We visited Akumal in June to ensure it would suit our needs – the day of our visit, we were lucky enough to catch a wedding reception at the CEA center, and saw Jen in action ~ she was great!

    After spending roughly 10 hours with Jen over 3 meetings, we knew this was the place we wanted to have our special day. She was incredibly sweet, helpful and her prices were fair all around, she does not add extra fees to gain a commission. Best of all, the food they had was DELISH!!! FI, myself and my daughter ate at their restaurant 4 times, including our free food tasting where Jen encouraged us to try exactly what we wanted on our buffet menu. We stuffed ourselves, and the last day we were there, she sent us to the airport with a dozen of tres leches cupcakes ~ so yummy!

    Our pic with Jen – sorry I look like crap, we just finished up about 5 hours of snorkeling before this pic.

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    When Jen was showing us accommodation options in the area, we happened upon a couple who had just gotten married at the CEA center a week before ~ they had nothing but great things to say!

    FOOD, DRINKS, CAKE:
    I would highly recommend Turtle Bay for any catering needs, their menu offers a variety of choices from local food, specialty dishes, traditional “american” dishes, and excellent seafood choices. They also have a bakery so they make desserts and cakes for all occasions. And they use BUTTERCREAM frosting YAY – I was told most bakeries in the area use whipped frosting. We’re having them make a small cake for us, for cutting purposes for pictures, and then having cupcakes in a variety of flavors for our guests. I haven’t been quoted yet on the cake but Jen mentioned $4/slice and then cupcakes are $3/each.

    If you want details on our buffet menu – 3 passed appetizers during cocktail hour, 3 stationary appetizers, 2 salads, 3 side dishes, freshly baked breads, five main entrees (pasta w/grilled veggies, fish, chicken, beef, shrimp) -- please PM me. I will say that it is costing us about $44/per person, including taxes and service charge (waiter service). We’ve also chose to bring our own alcohol (from Costco/Sam’s Club) and hire 3 bartenders ($75 each) and pay for ice/glassware ($5 a person). This saves us tons of money and all our guests can drink the night away!

    CEA CENTER:
    As for the CEA Center, I will preface this by saying that it is an old rustic location (open air shutters facing the beach, no a/c, has ceiling fans). It is normally used to host and promote ecological programs for protection of marine life, specifically turtles. If you’re seeking an upscale venue, this is not the place. If you want something private – can hold up to 150 people with a dance area -- and so beautiful when decorated and lit with candles, this is definitely something to look into. The cost to use the facility is a $500 donation toward the CEA Center programs, and it’s tax deductible – I LOVE that my money is going toward a good cause.

    There are of course regular charges for chairs, tables, linens, d©cor, etc. But all fees are within reason.

    CEREMONY SITE OPTIONS:
    Charlie and Maria (local Shamans) will be presiding over our Mayan/Cosmic ceremony on a small private beach area in front of Las Casitas Villas (we rented a unit to have full access to this area of the beach). The CEA Center is about 50-foot walk from here, so a really close for all our guests.

    Another alternative is having the ceremony at Akumal’s Cannon point, there is a fee to use this area. But it is equally as beautiful (there are pics below)!

    If you decide to inquire with Jen ~ please let her know I (MarieSam) sent you!!! Her contact info is on their website Click the image to open in full size.

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    A panoramic view of the ceremony site and surroundings.

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    Akumal’s Cannon Site – another great area to have a ceremony

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    More to come in next post ....

    #2 MarieSam

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      Posted 29 October 2008 - 07:31 AM

      CONTINUED ...

      Beach views walking to the Cannon site

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      Walkway toward the CEA center from the ceremony sites

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      Beach area in front of CEA Center ~ they light the area up with tiki torches and white lights so your wedding guests can wander around outside

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      Approaching the CEA Center – from the exterior you can see it looks old and simple – some describe it as “ghetto” lol, I can see that.

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      Front of the CEA Center

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      The oh so important bartenders!!

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      Open air shuttered windows in front of Center, lined with candles

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      Wait there's still a lot more ....

      #3 MarieSam

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        Posted 29 October 2008 - 07:34 AM

        CONTINUED ....

        CEA center d©cor in red – hope my reception will look just as nice!!

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        I think this pic was taken by BDW photographer Jay Reilly during Jen’s sister’s wedding early 2008

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        Other table setting options:

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        D©cor in blue on another night:

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        Panoramic photos of the reception area on the day we visited – the couple getting married were divers and wanted things to be decorated as simply as possible. Nevertheless, I think it was still quite beautiful:

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        Yep, still more pics to come!!!

        #4 MarieSam

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          Posted 29 October 2008 - 07:36 AM

          Last post for pics, I promise!!!!

          The beautiful candle wall, which has 35+ candles and makes the room glow at night


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          Area where the DJ usually sets up

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          Beautiful mural painted on one of the walls inside, it can be covered during your reception, but I think we’ll keep it open, I think it’s amazing!

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          Rear area of CEA center – it’s an open area that you can also put chairs and tables at for lounging and relaxing. Jen also said some people have their DJ and dance floor out here.

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          That's all!!

          #5 PaulSchrank

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            Posted 29 October 2008 - 11:31 PM

            I shot video for a photo shoot around the CEA Center and on that beach. You can see it here:

            Gerard Tomko Photo Shoot on Vimeo

            The first half is shot in Playa del Carmen and the second half, when the music changes, is at Akumal. It's full of great photo opportunities. This video was shot at the Canon House with a photo shoot on the same beach.

            Stefanie & Dave Wedding Day Edit on Vimeo

            #6 MarieSam

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              Posted 30 October 2008 - 01:34 AM

              Quote:
              Originally Posted by PlayaWeddings
              I shot video for a photo shoot around the CEA Center and on that beach. You can see it here:

              Gerard Tomko Photo Shoot on Vimeo

              The first half is shot in Playa del Carmen and the second half, when the music changes, is at Akumal. It's full of great photo opportunities. This video was shot at the Canon House with a photo shoot on the same beach.

              Stefanie & Dave Wedding Day Edit on Vimeo
              Hey Paul, I am actually your 6/26/09 bride ~ so you will be shooting my CEA Wedding in Akumal!!! And of course I'm super excited, yay!!!!

              Both of those videos are awesome, I especially LOVE the pre-engagement photoshoot. I never realized how many great locations there are in that area for photographs. Thanks for sharing, it makes me even more excited about my big day!!!!

              #7 Jenn3878

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                Posted 30 October 2008 - 10:21 AM

                Wow beautiful site! I am daydreaming now of that beach!! :)

                #8 Jen_S

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                  Posted 30 October 2008 - 10:35 AM

                  Wow really pretty looks like a great place to have a wedding.
                  Our Honeymoon In Ireland!!

                  #9 *Casey*

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                    Posted 30 October 2008 - 11:11 AM

                    It looks heavenly!!!

                    #10 MarieSam

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                      Posted 01 November 2008 - 07:51 AM

                      It really is a beautiful place *sigh*, I'd kill to be in that water right now swimming with the turtles instead of here at work. Oh well, only 237 days till my wedding day ~ and I CAN'T WAIT!!!!




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