Callie's Dreams Tulum Review
Posted 22 December 2008 - 07:32 PM
Introduction: My husband and I were engaged Dec 07, in Cancun, Mexico (he surprised me with a vacation). We loved the clear Caribbean waters, the warm weather, and the great service at the resort, and thought Mexico would be a great place for our destination wedding. We werenâ€™t too thrilled about large/loud crowds and very compact building in Cancun, so we started looking for resorts that did weddings, but were further away from the city. After many hours of searching on the internet, we found Dreams Tulum, fell in love with the resort and booked it with Orbitz.com in Feb 08. We booked the resort for Dec 7-Dec 21st for $1600 per person (which included air, transport, and garden-view suite).
The General Location: We loved the location! You could walk for an hour down the beach and only run into a handful of people (like I said we were sick of Cancun). We used the Gray Line shuttle service, and even with stops our trip was only 1.5 hours to the Cancun airport. Not to keep comparing to Cancun, but it took us nearly the same amount of time to get to our Cancun resort b/c of the large of amount of traffic and stops. As a side note, the Gray Line was great- 8 person vans, very punctual and professional in our experience. DT is near ruins, the jungle, snorkeling, and down town Tulum if you want trinkets. We felt like we were close enough to do everything we wanted, while we had more privacy and space by the resort.
The Resort: The resort was beautiful- well maintained, lots of greenery, nice fountains, and warm and invited architecture. It was the perfect size for a wedding- big enough to escape relatives if need be, but small enough that you had no trouble finding people.
The Beach: The beach around the resort is ok- pretty large area, and I never had trouble finding an open chair. The sand didnâ€™t seem that bad to me, but there were rocks in the water and lots of seaweed. That being said, the beach 30 minutes south of the resort is AWESOME. We walked to â€œour spotâ€ on the beach every day- the sand is soft and smooth and there is not a single rock or any seaweed even in the water. Most people arenâ€™t motivated enough to walk along the beach that far to swim so we had the beach to ourselves most days. Definitely worth the walk- although you will have to struggle through a few rocky patches at the beginning of your walk (if you have sensitive feet bring shoes).
The Room: We were upgraded from a garden view suite to the honeymoon suite upon arrival. The room was great- large canopy bed, seating for four, two balconies, huge Jacuzzi tub. We were in room 7311, which was on the third floor and looked out over the ping pong tables and fountains for the most part (you could only see the ocean from a distance). Iâ€™m usually not that fussy about rooms (why spend your vacation sitting in a hotel room), so Iâ€™m not sure if I would have paid for an upgrade, but for free it was definitely nice!
My guests stayed in both hacienda and dreams rooms. Everyone loved the dreams suits, but there were a few complaints about the hacienda rooms. In some rooms there was only one small table lamp to light the whole room, the ipod was attached to the same outlet as the light (so the alarm shut off when they turned the light off to go to bed!), some of the rooms didnâ€™t have a hammock on the balcony. For the most part though, people really liked the rooms.
General Service: The service was very good for the most part- everyone was friendly and helpful. The only have three possibly negative remarks- there really is a large variance in when the maid service will clean the room (they really mean 8am-5pm), they donâ€™t use the â€œprivacy boxâ€- even with our do not disturb sign up and after requesting the delivery be left in the box they just kept knocking until we answered the door, the quality of service at the buffet goes down when the resort becomes busier- as more people started arriving for holiday season, weâ€™d go entire meals without being offered water, etc.
Restaurants/Bars: With our 2 week stay, we had plenty of time to try out all of the restaurants! We enjoyed the food a lot- fresh ingredients and great presentation. Our favorite was Himitsu- we really liked the shrimp and the spring rolls, as well as the fish and chicken entrees. The French and Italian restaurants were both very good, although one of our guests complained that the veal was tough at the French. Iâ€™m not a big steak eater, so Seaside Grill wasnâ€™t my top choiceâ€¦but the Salmon was tasty. The buffet had a lot of choices and everything was pretty good. Overall we liked all of the restaurants!
We enjoyed all of the bars- although Veranda was closed for repair during most of our stay. The quality of the drinks seemed better at the lobby bar (maybe less busy?)â€¦but the sugar reef had a fun atmosphere by the beach. My only advice is that some of the more high quality liquor is not on display and will only be used if requested (but still at no extra charge)â€¦so if you are ordering a martini make sure they donâ€™t use Skull or something of the sort. Also, try each drink twice â€¦there is a large variance in how the drinks are made from one bartender to the next!
Excursions: During our stay we ventured off the resort a few times. We took the 3 in 1 snorkeling tour- they took us to Akumal (where the sea meets fresh water), a fresh water lagoon where you jump in, and the cenotes where you swim in the caves. They also feed you a very tasty lunch. We loved it! We saw many very colorful looking fish and the cenote was a very cool experience. My favorite snorkeling yet! In case anyone is interested the snorkeling was $86 pp (10% off with 8 or more), and went from 9:45 am to 5ish (they told us weâ€™d be done by 3, but that didnâ€™t happen).
We went to both down town Tulum and the Tulum ruins. Down town Tulum is not very impressive- maybe half a dozen blocks of souvenir shops and run down buildings and restaurants. I enjoyed the ruins- larger than I had imagined (but much smaller than Chichen Itza)- very pretty views and nice beach. They also have little informational plaques throughout, so you can learn about the ruins without a guide. FYI- they only take pesos for the entrance fee (I think it was 40 pesosâ€¦but not entirely sure).
A small group of us went to Coqui-coqui, which is a spa/perfumery/small hotel just outside of Tulum. In the main perfumery about an hour away they make fragrances/oils/candels/etc. out of fresh ingredients from the Riviera Maya. They also have other goods made from the local community. We really liked the place, and if you are lucky the owner (also a famous male model) will be there to greet you!
The Wedding: The wedding was beautiful- it turned out perfect! We had 35 guests, and there wasnâ€™t a single complaint. Everyone was very impressedâ€¦and we even convinced one of our soon to be engaged guests to have a destination wedding. Our wedding was on Monday, Dec 15th at 3 pm. We were the only wedding of the dayâ€¦although I saw at least 6 other weddings during our stay. We had our ceremony outside on the beach near the Seaside Grill, and the set-up was beautiful. I guess I will make wedding sub-categories to make this more organizedâ€¦
Hair and Makeup- I made appointments for myself and my sister for 11 am. I brought in a few pictures to give my stylist a general idea as to what I wanted. My hair didnâ€™t really turn out at all like the pics, but I still really liked it. My sister really liked her hair as well. I am usually not a make-up wearer and asked for a natural look, so I was a bit surprised by the large amount of makeup they put on us both, but it actually looked really nice in the pictures (even if it seemed a bit too much when first applied). My advice would be to skip down dos or tendrils framing the face. I loved the tendrils in my do, but on the beach the wind just kept flinging my hair into my face.
Photographer- I was not overly impressed with the photographer (I used the one provided with the resort). They come into your room a few minutes before the ceremony to take pictures of the bride, then they take pics during the ceremony and after for about an hour. In total they took about 300 pics, and as part of the package we got to pic 50 we liked (for $350 you can have them all on dvd). I had trouble finding 50 that I really liked. The photographer crouched on the ground and had us both twisting our necks at angles that gave two very thin people triple chins! If I could have afforded it, I would have hired an outside photographer. Iâ€™m just happy that the 50 arenâ€™t too bad, and we have a lot of non-pro pics too.
Flowers- I LOVED my flowers. A few months before the wedding, I sent Lizette my inspiration (an old pic taken with my cell phone of the flowers my husband bought for our first date). I was worried b/c the pic was low resolution and kind of faded looking, but the flowers turned out great. I had the wedding decorations match my bouquet- all looked very nice and was at no extra charge.
Ceremony- The ceremony went smoothly, and they did a great job setting up. My husbandâ€™s aunt is a judge, so she acted as the officiate. I went barefoot all the way from my room to the alter, and didnâ€™t run into any problems (maybe my feet were toughened up by this point). We brought tulle, and they decorated the chairs and arbors with it at no extra cost. About the tulle- go for a bright color, we used mint green and it was barely visible. Other than being very windy (one of our readers flashed our guests due to the wind!) it was great.
Cocktail Hour: We had our cocktail hour at the outside portion of the lobby bar (on top of the dual stair case). It was a nice environment- outside but out of the sun, and near the lobby to cool off if need be. I wasnâ€™t there for much of the cocktail hour, but everyone said the Carribean Trio was great and they liked the snacks (melon, stuffed mushrooms, and melba bread).
Reception- Our dinner and dancing was at the end of the adult pool. It was a perfect location- private and near the beach, and no $750 dollar fee. We had some extra lights put under the tables- it looked very nice. The food was delicious. Our menu was the following: shrimp quesadilla, ceasar salad, tortilla soup, salmon, fruit tart. People were very impressed with the dinner- even people who didnâ€™t like salmon enjoyed it. We had the tres leches cake with strawberries. It was sooo yummy. I was very full at this point, but I still managed to eat some cake. All the guests loved it. I sent in a pic and they decorated the cake similarly- with flower petals covering the cake table and small candles. We had the speaker system hooked up to the ipod and had dancing in the sand next to the pool (wasnâ€™t much room other than in the sand). We also rented a projector and screen for a slideshow (was $150 to rent). Overall had a very nice time, but would have started dinner earlier than 6:30- it was after 9 by the time dinner was over, which didnâ€™t leave much time for dancing.
Lizette- Lizette was our main wedding coordinator. Like most of you have experienced, she did not respond to our emails or even give us a meeting time before we arrived. Upon checking in, we received a letter from her telling us when and where to meet her. She was nearly 30 minutes late meeting us, but when she did arrive she was very well organized and professional. She really works her butt off, and you could tell she was a bit stressed out and over worked. She did a very nice job on our wedding, and really made everything perfectâ€¦I just wish theyâ€™d give her some time off!
Summary- I really liked the resort and the wedding turned out great. This review ended up being much longer than I had intended (sorry about that readers). Hope I covered everything, and I will post pics as soon as I can. Let me know if you have any questions!
Posted 22 December 2008 - 07:54 PM
Posted 23 December 2008 - 01:52 AM
The areas where you had your cocktail hr and reception is exactly where i want mine! I was wondering how the lighting situation was during the reception... was there enough light to see dinner and where you were dancing or would you recommend looking into extra lighting?
Did the speaker system come with a microphone?
Is there any other area where you can have dancing except on the beach?
Posted 23 December 2008 - 02:08 AM
- thanks for the tip on the beach, we will definitely make the trek to the better area!!
Posted 23 December 2008 - 03:36 AM
Posted 23 December 2008 - 10:44 AM
Posted 23 December 2008 - 10:47 AM
Thank-you so much for taking the time to write a review (and thank your husband for us, too)! It was soooo refreshing to hear a man's point of view (and humour) about his wedding experience. What a great idea... I wonder whether I can convince my FH to write one when we get back!
I'm glad to hear that once you arrive, everything will be organized. I haven't been emailing the wedding coordinators very much because it seems as though they don't respond, so why bother? I'm just hoping that when we arrive at DT, we'll be able to organize everything face-to-face. I've emailed them about MAJORLY important stuff (e.g. location and time of ceremony, confirmation of receiving 2007-2008 pricing, etc) so I'm hoping everything will be OK.
Thanks again! It's very much appreciated.
Posted 23 December 2008 - 10:47 AM
Great review Callie! Thanks so much for sharing your experience with us. And it was wicked to have a groom's perspective, very refreshing. Looking forward to seeing your pics...specifically, your flowers, your cake and your reception set up. I'm wanting something different than the options provided in the wedding guide, so these would be really helpful seeing as you asked for something different as well.
Congratulations on being a MRS!
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