I was married at Sandos on June 18th. As you can imagine, I put in many hours reading reviews and agonizing over which resort to pick. First I will discuss the resort and then focus on the wedding part.
This is my third all-inclusive, and unlike the other places (Riu Palace in Cabo and Gran Bahia Principe in Akumel), this place had ALOT to do. There was the typical cheesy pool side activities that all resorts have, but what set this place apart was the multitude of atmospheres to choose from. During the day there was the lively pool or the luxurious and quiet Riveria pool. Around the lively pool were some neat things like a guacamole-making demonstration, Spanish lessons, or a lively game of water polo. On the beach, there were several lively beach volleyball games that were open and inviting to joiners. You can take out mini catamarans for free, which we did several times. (Just sign up early) Also, there's a fabulous smoothie bar with tons of fresh fruit that somehow I didn't spot until the end of my trip! I assumed it was just another bar, but actually it is a fabulous all natural smoothie bar - definitely a big plus.
At night there are different themes every day in the plaza. My favorite was a little Mexican bazaar. There are live bands some nights. Other nights they have a great DJ in the bar area. Unlike other resorts I've been to, their bar FELT like a bar. It was lively with lots of people hanging out. The crowd (at least when I was there) seemed very classy. There were never groups of people that seemed overly obnoxious or intrusive. Ok, so you've got the plaza area and the bar area right next to it. Then you also have different shows in their theatre area and movies being shown. The movies were all current Pixar type films, which I think are great for kids and adults alike. The shows were things like brazilian dancers, etc. I actually never made it to a show, so I don't know how good they were. There is also a huge game room area with LOTS to do. We were there for ten days, and I didn't feel like we came even close to utilizing everything that was available. Meanwhile, there are plenty of quiet sitting areas around the resort if you just want some peace and quiet. We loved sitting on the beach at night; it was always peaceful.
I thought the drink quality was much better than other places I have been. Everything was made from scratch - no weird syrupy premixes. Their mojitos are awesome! I'm also a big fan of the "dirty monkey". I thought the food was very good. If you like Mexican food, you will be in heaven - fabulous guacamole, salsas, etc. The restaurants were sort of hit or miss. We always ate in groups and half the people's entrees would be fabulous and the other half were usually not so great. It seemed to me that the best restaurants were the Mediterranean and the Steak House. However, at the steak house only the filets were good. The other cuts were actually pretty terrible. I was told that the Asian restaurant was completely terrible, but I didn't eat there myself. The French restaurant was as I said with the hit or miss - some things yummy, some not so good.
The spa and gym are excellent. I'm someone who works out everyday, so I appreciated their morning spin classes and their nice equipment. They even have yoga mats. The area itself is very spacious and airy. They have a fabulous pool there with all kinds of massaging jets - very nice. I had several spa treatments that were all wonderful. If you get burned, I definitely recommend their after-sun treatment ;-).
As everyone has said, the beach is gorgeous, and the water is great. If you walk past the resort towards the jungle, there are some beautiful coves to explore. They are not that far - maybe a half mile walk. Speaking of walking, I'm amazed at all the people who think the resort is too spread out. First of all, if you stay by the beach, you are extremely close to everything. If you are worried about walking, just stay there and you will have no problems. The only way for their to be less walking from that area would be to stay in a lounge chair by the pool. Seriously, the beach area rooms couldn't possibly be any closer to the action. The hacienda section is less than four minutes away. The far end of the Riveria section might be ten. We are younger people who enjoy being active, so I can understand that it might not be for everyone, but if so, they have shuttles that run all the time. We walked all around the resort and never felt it was much of a walk at all. We were truly amazed that anyone could think it was a far walk. It was the equivalent of walking down a city block. If there was an ocean at the end of your block, would you think that was too far to walk?
Ok, let's talk wedding. First of all, Maria (the wedding coordinator) is absolutely wonderful! Please give her a nice tip if you use her and are pleased. One of the reasons I ultimately selected this resort is because of how much more helpful she was than other wedding coordinators I contacted at other resorts. She communicates quickly over email and also answered the phone when I called. She is flexible with the packages and can price everything individually for you so that you can figure out exactly what you want/need. On the day of our wedding, I got nervous about possible rain. I didn't like their rain location (convention center) so I scoped out some other areas. The area in front of their theatre is a beautiful open terrace (with a roof) with a red curtain covering the entrance to the theatre. There are fountains bubbling nearby and lots of foliage. They had never had a wedding in that spot before, but Maria was perfectly willing to set it up there for me. It did not end up raining, but I still preferred the venue to the beach area because it was shaded and less windy. If I had it to do over again, I would pick the exact same spot. After the ceremony, we walked down to the beach and got tons of great beach photos. I really think our guests were much more comfortable than they would have been down in the sand and the sun. I couldn't be happier with the location we ended up choosing.
I could see Maria from the spa (where I was getting nails and hair done), and she was working tirelessly for hours on every detail. She even had her staff move all of the trashcans that were in sight of the ceremony so that everything looked as beautiful as possible. I really can't say enough good things about her. She really did everything she could to make the day very low stress for me. Our reception was at the Italian Restaurant because we had so many guests (62 people), and it worked very well.
In summary, this is a great resort! Go with a good attitude, and you should have a great time.
Picture of ceremony on patio in front of theatre
Ring bearer (You can get an idea here of how the aisle was set up)
Italian Restaurant for reception (table was set up like a U)
We walked down to the beach after the ceremony and still got fabulous beach shots!