We just returned from my daughter's wedding at Sandos Playacar and everything was fabulous!
Instead of a welcome packet, the bride and groom decided to host an excursion to Chicen Itza two days prior to the wedding. They rented three vans in advance (from an independent rental place), and when they went to pick them the night before for a early start... they had no record of the reservation. (It's Mexico). They found another place to rent from. The vans were supposed to be delivered, but instead just the guys showed up and they had to go back to the rental place to pick them up. Then they only had one van and one car ready, and we ended up having to wait hours for the other van. (It's Mexico) So, everyone was prepared to leave at 7:30am. We actually left at 10:30am. BUT, it turned out to be a great excursion! We stopped to get lunch along the way (in Valladolid) and visited the city square... it was really nice for those who had never traveled to Mexico to a better feel for the culture... which you don't quite get inside the confines of the resort.
Now for the wedding review:
The flowers were absolutely amazing! Next to the stunning bride, and gorgeous beach, the flowers were as perfect as could be! She chose very colorful bouquets and they were spectacular and still looked great after two days! The bride and bridesmaids hated to leave them behind!
We had the female English speaking minister for the ceremony and she was perfect. Having little forewarning about what she would say or even what vows would be used... it couldn't have been more perfect and in line with what they would have chosen. It was a very meaningful ceremony!
Maria was deathly ill the day of the wedding but made sure the wedding went off without a hitch. We just felt so sorry for her because she was really, really sick! I think she must have had the flu, but she just kept saying she was fine and today was about the bride. She was out sick for the next two days, though.
We sent the dress down for steaming the day before the wedding. We were told it had to be in by 11am for a 24 hour turn around. They were a little late in picking it up (which was stressful) and we were extremely nervous when it wasn't back in the room by 11am on the day of the wedding. The dress arrived at 1pm for a 3:30pm wedding, so it was all good... but extremely stressful! So, I would recommend if at all possible to send the dress off for steaming two days prior to the wedding.
The day was gorgeous and the wedding itself was PERFECT!!!! We did the toast and first dances immediately after the ceremony in the wedding hut, followed by pictures with the group on the beach. We used the resort photographer (Frederica) and were quite pleased with the photos she took. We purchased the 90 photo print and disk package for $850, and skipped the disk of all photos for an additional $200. My niece who lived in Oaxaca, Mexico for many years brought a guest who is a professional photographer (and native Mexican) and he snapped shots of our entire stay, and along with other family members who got some excellent shots, we just didn't feel the need to get the entire disk. We got the â€œbest ofâ€ in the 90 print package. We were disappointed that the resort prints the photos on a laser printer so the quality is not great. We do have the disk, though, and will take them to be reprinted.
We ate at the Italian buffet with 32 guests, and they had the tables in a U formation. The bride and groom had both sets of parents sit with them, and everyone else wherever they wanted. The cake was served after dinner. We used the maraca idea I had read about here, and bought one for every place setting. We gave them to Maria in advance and they were sitting on the table when we arrived. We used them instead of clinking wine glasses to get the bride and groom to kiss. It was a fun twist!
We had a private pool side reception which was quite lovely. We had asked for the steel drum band for 1 ½ hours, thinking we'd have them from 8:930, possibly longer with a break. They packed up and left at 9:12 which was a disappointment and unfortunately my husband and I had gone back to our rooms for a minute when they left, so we couldn't even confer with them. I'm not sure what happened there. I know Maria normally stays until the end of the reception but because she was so sick (really sick) she left shortly after we arrived. I wonder if the band just didn't take advantage of that. But, no matter, we had brought a play list for after the steel drum band, and just plugged that in and it was a lot of fun. The steel drum band was really nice to walk into and I would do it again, but people let loose with more dancing once we plugged in our own music. The open bar was great and they stayed open until the pool grounds closed at 10:30. A little longer than we had paid for . At 11:00, many of us moved to the disco and had quite a fun time! I think they were happy to see a wedding come in because it seems to attract a crowd! The disco d©cor is graffit, so my daughter added to it.... Kelly and Nate 12-21-10 in a heart . Those still going can look for it!
Overall, our guests were exceedingly pleased with the accommodations there.
If you want to eat at a restaurant you should make reservations the SECOND YOU ARRIVE THERE. I had been forewarned of this, but we didn't bother to make reservations because food just isn't that important to my husband and I, and we don't like to commit to eat at a certain time. But, some of our guests were disappointed that it was so difficult to get into a restaurant, although most everyone who wanted to got into a restaurant one or two nights, but not their top choice. We should have stressed to our guests the need to make reservations on Day 1. I think the reservations being to be accepted on Sunday for the rest of that week. They tried to make them on Thursday-Friday for the following week and couldn't. My son in law tried to set up a dinner on the beach for them on their last night, but 48 hours was not enough notice. So, that was frustrating, too! They did pull the newlywed card and got into the French Restaurant on their last night, at 9:15.
The drinks were mostly great. It really depended upon the bartender. Sometimes they were plenty strong, other times not. Nobody cared much for the wine. Many just drank beer. I didn't mind the not so strong drinks because if you are drinking throughout the day and night you don't need so much booze. And if you want the extra booze, you can always ask for it. Once we got cosmopolitans that tasted like fruit punch, so we went up and got shots of vodka, and just added to our drinks.
We had one family with 4 kids ages 10-16 and they were especially pleased with the accommodations. The kids loved the buffets, endless chocolate milk and ice cream . They got involved with activities like water polo, etc. We had guests who parasailed (myself included), jet skied, and snorkeled. The beach was awesome. You do need to save spots early if you want to start out with them, but we found enough chairs would free up during the day that we often had 10-12 of us sitting together on loungers.
We did have a frustration with getting a wheelchair for my 83 old father. They had only a decrepit one when we first arrived at the main lobby. They allowed us to keep it, but it was literally a piece of junk. We asked if there was a medical supply rental because we were willing to pay for a better one. It was really unusable... too small and angled such that he'd slide right out of the chair. They were not very helpful in this regard. On the last day, my niece saw some one check out a nice wheel chair from guest services at the Meeting Point!!! Apparently the main lobby people do not know wheelchairs are available via guest services at the Meeting Point???? In the end, my Dad did a lot more walking than we thought he should, but maybe it was good for him. He is diabetic and has neuropathy in his feet, and deformed feet, and gets foot sores easily. But, he managed. We used the shuttle to the Meeting Point, and he walked from there.
Our rooms were nice. We had reservations for the Junior Suites, but they offered us the Riveria or Beachfront rooms because they were better for wheelchair (which we didn't end up using). We took the Riveria room because we had heard they were nicer rooms, and we could use the shuttle to the meeting point. In retrospect, we would have opted for the beachfront rooms for one reason... location, location, location. It would have been so much easier for my elderly father to be closer to the action. Our rooms were fine for us. There was a musty smell in ours, despite them otherwise being the biggest and best. It didn't really bother us. It is the smell that often comes with humidity and we could live with it. I saw the Junior Suite rooms that much of our family stayed in and thought they were completely fine. I never saw the beachfront rooms, but guests said they were ok. The distance was generally not a factor for us except when we found ourselves having to run back and forth about six times a day on a few days, either for $$ for jet skiing/parasailing, or things pertaining to the wedding. I don't know... the location of the beachfront rooms might make them more attractive to me in a future stay, although I never saw the inside of one. Our refrigerator didn't work, but we never even complained about it because we really didn't need it. All we ever drank in the room was water and room temp is my preference for water anyway.
I really can't think of anything else. We had a few minor frustrations as mentioned, but overall it was a PERFECT wedding and vacation there. The weather was gorgeous every day for us. The beach is spectacular! The wedding was spectacular! The resort flowers were super spectacular! The resort photographer captured some great shots and we were completely satisfied, except for the laser printed copies of photos. We haven't seen the video yet as we didn't stick around long enough to get it. It will be shipped.
We didn't spend a penny more on the wedding or rooms than we anticipated... in fact a few things came in under budget. We had planned in advance for every addition we wanted, and we didn't miss a thing. No surprises!
If you have any questions, just ask! When I get organized with photos on a public link I will let you all know. My husband and I actually do want to go back there and just relax without a wedding! A few guests suggested we return to celebrate anniversaries. EVERYONE really had a good time!