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ccunningham

Ror Review--10/31/08

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Iâ€m back and wish I could say Jamaica and the RIU Ocho Rios were the island paradise I had imagined, but unfortunately, the weather and a few other issues took the wind out of my sails a bit. However, Iâ€m a married woman now and couldnâ€t be happier to be home and moving on with life!

 

BIGGEST NEGATIVE: If thereâ€s one piece of advice Iâ€d give brides considering a destination wedding here, itâ€s that I wouldnâ€t go during the rainy season!!! You might luck out and not have bad rain, so if youâ€re a gambler and it wonâ€t bother you if it does storm, then go ahead and plan your wedding this time of year. We gambled and lost---the rain, storms, and howling winds that we had really put a damper on everything. I was optimistic before going, thinking that itâ€d be no big deal if we had the daily showers that I had read about that lasted an hour or so. The cloudy skies and driving rain daily from 2 pm through the night, however, dampened EVERYONEâ€S moods. My husband and I felt especially guilty since our guests had spent so much money to come to our wedding and we chose to go during the rainy season since it was the only vacation time we had together. Yes, yes, it was still fun to be with the group and they all tried to keep their spirits up, but as the bride and groom, we still felt guilty. Had we gone after the rainy season, I believe the whole experience would have been entirely different and positive for everyone. Keep this in mind as you read the rest of my review, as I truly feel that the stress of the weather really made everyone see everything else more negatively.

 

BIGGEST POSITIVE: Michael!! I had heard mixed reviews of Michael, the resort photog, and wasnâ€t expecting much to be honest, but he blew us away! He was so understanding with the rain that began at the end of the ceremony and even stopped the clock for us to see if it would clear (it didnâ€t). Luckily, the next day, we had arranged a TTD session at Dunnâ€s and it was BEAUTIFUL! We also got to take some beach pics first since our wedding day was so stormy. He did a fantastic job and was soooo nice. He said it was his first TTD at Dunnâ€s, as he had always thought it would be too crowded, but we went at 9:30 a.m. and didnâ€t see a soul until about 11 as we were finishing up (donâ€t pick a cruise ship day!). He said he was very happy with how it turned out and would perhaps start advertising. Iâ€d think he could easily charge an excursion rate and make it quite a business. However, heâ€s now doing photography at the RIU Montego Bay and travels back and forth. He has 72 weddings in November alone!

 

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FLIGHTS

 

My husband and I flew Northwest. We carried the dress on and folded it in half to store it in the overhead. This was pointless, as we had to roll it into a scrunched up ball for our transfer (see below). Miraculously, the dress barely needed any touching up at all. The dry iron in our room took out the one little crease that it did have. Snacks/beverages were available for purchase. All of our guests flew Air Jamaica and were treated to a champagne breakfast. However, on the way home some of our guests had a two hour delay on one day and the others returning the following day had a four hour delay! Apparently, there was a problem with the plane and they had to take it somewhere to be fixed both times.

 

TRANSFERS

 

Our transfer was included with our package and was through Tourwise Limited. It was AWFUL!! They must contract out to local drivers, as the van they packed us in did not have their logo. My husband and I had to sit in the super hot van (it was 90 degrees and humid out) at the airport with one other couple for about ten minutes until other people came to fill the van. By the time they crammed nine of us in there, the luggage was so high, it was stacked to the ceiling and you couldnâ€t see out. My dress literally was scrunched into a corner. The tiny little A/C vent in the front did nothing to cool us in the back. I started to feel claustrophobic and began to feel very sick. We made two stops on the way which made me very mad. I was actually crying at the first stop when I got out due to the heat and closed quarters—I didnâ€t think I could pull myself together to get back in that awful thing. My clothes were soaked through with sweat. The couple that was in the front graciously gave us their seats so that I could sit by the vent. By the time the driver stopped the second time, we all just wanted to get to the hotel, and most of us just stayed in the van. The driver obviously gets a kickback for taking us to his friendâ€s chicken hut for a $4 bottle of Red Stripe. The return trip was a bigger van with the Tourwise logo and was much better, but still dirty.

 

HOTEL/ROOMS

 

We were greeted with rum punch at check-in and given the key to a standard room. The open-air lobby was gorgeous! However, when all of our guests arrived two days later, as all 23 were standing there waiting to check in, a huge storm came up. The wind and rain was awful! It actually flooded the lobby all the way down to the check in desk. We had nowhere to put their luggage so that it wasnâ€t sitting in water. Iâ€m not talking about a wet floor---I mean about a half inch of water flooding the entire lobby. It was the only time I saw the lobby flood that badly, but it was so upsetting to see the looks on our guests†faces as we stood there welcoming them to “sunny†Jamaica after their long journey. You can see the sun has come back out, but the lobby was still flooded.

 

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While the open-air concept is very nice, because there was heavy rain from about 2 pm for the rest of the day on most of the days, the stairways and lobby were often wet. Two of our guests fell down at some point during their stay due to the always-wet main areas. This was one of the worst things about the hotel for me, as I felt I was always walking gingerly so as not to fall. The staff was all ready with mops to start cleaning it up, but they were no match for the rain. However, for anyone visiting when itâ€s not the rainy season, it wouldnâ€t be a problem.

 

Our first room, 2209 was a disappointment. Yes, it smelled very moldy, but we had bought a plug-in for that. However, we had paid $114 to upgrade to an oceanfront instead of an oceanview. It was only oceanfront if you went out on the balcony and hung your head around the side. I inquired at the front desk and they said that the room was classified as oceanfront. The front desk told us as the bride/groom, weâ€d get an upgrade before the wedding. Luckily, we spoke to Chandlyn the next day and she said that sheâ€d see if she could get us an upgrade a day earlier. She said “shhh, donâ€t tell them when youâ€re getting married. The upgrade is supposed to be the day before the wedding, so donâ€t say anything.†We were SO HAPPY to get moved that day to 2205 which was a huge wrap around suite with three balcony doors and didn't hardly smell at all! We were in heaven when we saw it. After unpacking, we set up all of our OOT bags and soon learned to our dismay that our room was infested with sand fleas or something tiny and crawling. They are attracted to food, so an empty drink we had left out for about 20 minutes was soon crawling with seventeen (I counted) sand fleas. Much to my horror, they were also now crawling all over and in our OOT bags. It was all I could do not to start bawling. We were so frazzled from our guests arriving in the flooded lobby, trying to change rooms and now the sand fleas, that we didnâ€t even ask to be moved, as the room was still very gorgeous. The hard bed didnâ€t bother us one bit, but the damp sheets and damp floors were annoying. We did use the jacuzzi tub, but it must have a timer where the jets shut off after 5-10 minutes, rest a bit, then turn on again. Odd.

 

CHANDLYN

 

I had emailed Chandlyn twice within three days of our departure and we had arranged to meet at 9:30 in the lobby. SHE is the one who told me to meet her at the front desk. At 9:40 and with no Chandlyn, we asked at the front desk. They didnâ€t know where she was. At 10:00 we asked again. They told us just to go up to her office. There she was just sitting there. GRRR!!

Even though it was just the two of us (no attendants), Chandlyn and Nekeisha both had us meet them on the beach for a quick run through the night before the wedding. It was about 2 minutes and was more like me asking questions rather than them telling us anything, but it put our minds at ease.

 

Despite my frustrations with her lack of communication prior to the wedding, she is very nice in person and always saying “no problem, no problem.†We had very few requests, but did ask that our cake be plain, as we had talked to a bride from the day before who said her cake was awful (which I had also read on here). She said it had strawberry filling, so we asked for plain. Somehow, we ended up with a lemon filling and yes, it was awful.

Our wedding gift from Chandlyn was a cute Jamaica mug with a bottle of rum cream (which is $3 in the gift store by the way). She was very competent on site and we were happy with her once at ROR. She stopped in at the reception to see how everything was going.

 

RENOVA SPA

 

I did the hair trial with Nicole. Nice girl, not very conversational, which is cool, as I just needed to decompress. I didnâ€t like it the first time, so she really worked with me to get what I wanted. On the wedding day, it turned out FABULOUS! I had it done again the next day for our TTD and did it down and didnâ€t really like it. It was actually pretty ugly, but once I got back to my room, I decided to wear my veil again and it pretty much covered it up. I was really worried the day of the wedding, as they got me in 25 minutes late, but it all worked out. The two or three girls working in the salon at the same time are usually speaking Patois, so you won't understand a word.

 

WEDDING—4 pm ceremony at the gazebo

 

Aside from the weather, one of the bigger disappointments was the appearance of the gazebo. I had seen pictures previously and thought it was gorgeous. However, now that the resort is three years old, it is quite tattered—so much so that we asked to move the wedding to the closed in gazebo in the grassy area. Chandlyn said we could not, however, as there was a rehearsal there at 4. This seemed very odd since both Nekeisha and Chandlyn were at our wedding. Iâ€m wondering if they just didnâ€t want us to move it? The paint is chipping from the steps and the screws are all rusty. I didnâ€t realize just how close the drug dealers sat to the gazebo, either.

 

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***BE HAPPY if you are getting married at 11 or even 1. By 4 every single day, there was a storm brewing or already in progress. Most mornings at 11 were beautiful! The day before we had switched our ceremony time to 3:30 which Chandlyn said was “no problemâ€. Then we reconsidered, thinking it might throw off our guests. We decided to stick with four. We really regretted this. If we had gone with 3:30, we wouldnâ€t have had to gone running from our ceremony (read more on that later).

 

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We had watched two weddings on the days leading up to ours, both with the same minister. He had a great, powerful voice. However, we used a stopwatch t o time the weddings and from the time the bride got to the end of the aisle to the time they said I DO, it was FOUR MINUTES. We were so thankful that we had written our own ceremony and vows!!

 

Michael did photos for about 10 minutes prior to the wedding. Nekeisha arrived at about 3:55 with my bouquet which was a little too close for me, since I really wanted to start the wedding on time at 4. PLUS, the sky was starting to darken and I knew the storm was coming.

 

We had a different minister than everyone else, and he was OK. He goofed up a few times with the order which made me mad since we had written the entire thing the way we wanted it. We were so glad we asked for a microphone!! If you are having it videotaped, the groom and minister will wear a mic, but we were not videotaping, so we asked for a microphone. It was wonderful, as the guests could still hear us despite the wind.

During the ceremony, the wind kept blowing my veil across my face. Michael came up and whispered for me to switch places with my groom. This was brilliant, as now the veil blew backwards, away from my face. The photo below is before we switched places, but there wasn't much wind at this time.

 

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We were performing our sand ceremony and signing our license while the steel drum played and all we had left to do was to go back to the gazebo and have him pronounce us husband and wife and kiss the bride. Well, Michael and Chandlyn came up and said we had two minutes to “wrap it up†before the skies opened up and the storm rolled in. Half of our guests had already gone to stand under the nearby tree for fear the rain was coming. We rushed, rushed, rushed through the pronouncement which should have been so joyous, gave a quick kiss and RAN to shelter. Just as we arrived, the skies opened up and rained for most of the rest of the night. We tried taking pictures by Tushima, but the lobby of course, was flooding and guests were trying to run to find a dry spot. Not exactly the paradise I had pictured.

We had hired the steel drum band. I loved them, but we essentially paid $350 for 15 minutes. They played for 15 minutes prior and one song during the ceremony and one after. They even brought a drum to the area by Tushima where we were trying to take photos which I thought was nice, but it just wasnâ€t the same. Had we all been hanging out on a sunny beach, it would have been perfect to hear the drums, but the way it turned out was not worth the $350.

 

RECEPTION/DISCO

 

Mammee Bay was fine, but service took forever, as we had been warned about on this forum. We started at 6:30 and ended about 8:30. The next 2.5 hours before the disco opened was pretty boring. The rain had stopped, but all of the chairs at all of the bars were soaking wet. All of the bars are basically in the same area with common seating, so the few seats that are under cover were all taken. We went to the front desk to ask for towels to dry off some chairs. They sent housekeeping instead with little washcloths to dry them off. We said we needed 25 chairs. Of course, all of the other hotel guests were like vultures and swooped up each chair as the hotel workers dried them off. It was frustrating and again, we felt bad for our guests.

Once the disco started, we had a blast. We wish it opened before 11! The music was great. Popular hip-hop stuff, although our guests who went back the next few nights said it was bad music and nothing theyâ€d ever heard.

 

PHOTOS

 

I already talked about Michael above in my “biggest positiveâ€, but I wanted to mention him again. If I had gone home without the experience of Michael, Iâ€d be even more negative than I am now! We have beautiful pictures to hang on our walls thanks to him. It helps to remind us that despite all of the negatives, we still had some beautiful moments with family and friends.

 

RESTAURANTS

 

CAUTION!!! The info posted on this forum about dining from past brides was not accurate during our stay!!! I think since it is off-season, they do not have all of the restaurants open. St. Annâ€s was the ONLY thing open for breakfast. We didnâ€t usually like their dinners, but Thursday night is Mexican night and itâ€s great! Luckily, that was our welcome dinner night, so we were very happy about that. For lunch, you can only choose from Piccola, Plantation and the jerk chix hut. Mammee Bay was NOT open. The reservation process was annoying, but not as annoying as the slow service at the sit down restaurants. We got in line at 4:40 to make a reservation. The line opens at 5. We had made reservations for four by 5:05. It was slick! We ate at Mandalay which was very good and a buffet, so quick. Other times, by the time our guests got to the front of the line, the only thing open were spots at 8:45 or 9. One night, they didnâ€t get done eating until 11, so they never made reservations again. We felt bad about this, as the food at St. Annâ€s night after night was not great.

So thatâ€s my summary. Again, I know it sounds negative, but I just wasnâ€t prepared for so much stormy weather. I really am happy just to be married, be home and have some beautiful photos. We feel guilty that our guests paid so much money to come to Jamaica during the rainy season. If you ask them, theyâ€d tell you it was still fun, but for us, we all know how much better it would have been to wake up to sunshine, sip rum punch on the beach and hear the steel drum band during photos, go to the beach party (which was cancelled each night), have dry chairs, dry floors, etc.

 

A big THANK YOU to all of you who post on this site!!! Hearing others experiences, knowing what to expect and having a forum to chat with others in the same boat was a lifesaver.

 

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Well you looked beautiful and have some awesome photos! Sorry everything wasn't as you thought it would be, the weather was a bummer. But it seems you made the best of it and that's what matters. Congratulations :)

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Congratulations!!

 

Thank you so much for your extensive review. I am leaving in 7 days and the information you have provided is beneficial!

 

One Question:

 

You talked about the disco not being open until 11pm. Did you reserve the disco or were you and your group just going there to party?

 

Pictures are great! I'm feeling a bit better about using Michael now wink.gif

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Congratulations! You looked beautiful and your pictures are amazing. I especially like the thank you pic. Sorry to hear there were some negative things but I'm sure the positives will out weigh the negatives when enough time has gone by. Keep smiling!

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