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Simistar's Secrets Maroma Wedding Review, Dec. 7/08

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#1 Simistar

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    Posted 28 December 2008 - 08:28 PM

    Sorry this took a bit longer than planned to get done!
    I know lots of future Secrets Maroma brides have been eagerly awaiting this…so here ya go!:-)
    I know not many girls have been married here yet, so I’ve made it pretty detailed…sorry to anyone wanting a quick read:-) Seriously, I think I may have broken a BDW record for longest review…yikes ;-)
    Maybe just skip to the heading(s) you’re interested in ;-)
    My suggestion -- grab a glass of wine and a seat and make yourself comfortable…this will take awhile :-)

    Some basic info…We had 24 guests, plus us, so 26 total. Most people flew in for about a week. We stayed for two. We purchased the “Secrets of Love” wedding package.

    Continental Airlines
    I’ve never flown Continental before, so wasn’t sure what to expect.
    Overall, they were fine. But just a heads up – the closets on Continental planes are half-size closets…so even if they are nice enough to hang your dress in there, it will have to be folded in half and kind of shoved in. I opted to put my dress in the overhead bin and guard it like a madwoman :-)

    ***WARNING: no matter what airline you’re traveling, when you come into Mexico, you’ll be given a card…I THINK it’s part of your customs forms you fill out (can’t remember exactly). Mexican customs hands this card back to you. HOLD ONTO IT!! You actually need to show this card again when you leave Mexico!! One of our guests did not have theirs when they were leaving and had to pay about $100!

    Airport Transfers – CancunTransfers.com
    There were five of us on the same flight, so we opted to pay extra for private transportation to and from the resort. (Our package included transfers but that shuttle would have stopped at other hotels along the way, and we just wanted to get to Secrets Maroma as fast as possible!)
    We used CancunTransfers.com.
    We booked online and had no problems! Because there were five of us, I’m not sure of the exact cost per couple, but I think it’s about $80 return. A man was there with a sign with our names as soon as we exited the airport. We paid him cash to cover our return trips and he was great! We LOVED not having to deal with waiting for a shuttle, either coming or going. We were in a large SUV/Expedition. Pick-up service when we left was equally prompt and nice. I would totally recommend this service.

    #2 Simistar

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      Posted 28 December 2008 - 08:32 PM

      The Resort
      The resort is beautiful! And the staff are very friendly.
      We booked an ocean-front suite (these are in two buildings, 17 and 27). The rooms are all basically the same, you just pay more the closer you get to the beach:-)

      Plus, if you’re in ocean-front, you get access to the “preferred club”, which unfortunately we didn’t use nearly as much as we should have!! There are computers/Internet, food, servers, drinks…VERY nice:-)
      I’d say, if it’s in your budget, book an ocean-front room.

      BTW, if you’re getting married on the beach, weddings happen in front of building 27, so it’s very convenient if you stay in building 27. (less walking all over the resort in your dress before your ceremony:-))
      If you’re getting married at the gazebo by the pool, it might be easier for you to stay in building 17, as it’s right beside the gazebo.

      The beach BTW, is REALLY nice. The sand is white and super soft. Plus, they clear out all the seaweed, so it’s just clear blue water…

      The beach....
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      The resort at night/dusk...
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      Click the image to open in full size.

      The biggest thing this new resort has to work on I think is how inconsistent the service is.
      Things like turndown service, re-stocking the bar…some days great, some days didn’t happen at all :-)
      Also, some of our party were greeted on arrival with a cold towel and a glass of champagne…others weren’t. My DH and I were in the preferred club suites and we were NOT greeted with champagne :-)

      Also, a heads-up -- many of the staff don’t speak great English. Of course, we’re in their country, I think it’s a bonus they speak any English at all. However, they won’t TELL you they don’t understand!! So, you may ask for one thing -- but get something entirely different. For food and other items, this is not a big deal (just order a different meal)…but when it comes to things for your wedding, this can be very frustrating!!

      The food is also good! I wouldn’t call it five-star dining (as the resort does) but it’s still very good. Some things are better than others…I recommend ordering the coconut ice cream with EVERYTHING! Soooo good. The burgers grilled on the beach are good too. I also recommend the flank steak at the Mexican restaurant.
      The best part is 24-hour-room service. I really do miss that :-) Also, you’re obviously not required to tip, but tipping definitely gets you better service!

      #3 Simistar

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        Posted 28 December 2008 - 08:34 PM

        Cecilia – Resort Wedding Coordinator
        I really have mixed feelings about Cecilia. She is lovely and very sweet. And she works very hard! Seriously – she works like 15 hour days and I think she had one day off our entire stay (we were there 13 days).
        HOWEVER, she falls short when it comes to actually following through – and we had several problems on our wedding day because of this.
        Basically, I think she needs an assistant. She is doing everything herself…up to two a weddings a day, and I just think it’s too much for her, especially since she is new-ish to the job.

        While we were there, we saw several weddings. All of them were 10 people or fewer. Ours was the biggest by far…and we only had 26 (including us) ! I just think this was too many people for Cecilia to handle.

        I should also say that I was VERY organized. Among other things, I had sent Cecilia a list of our vendors with contact information beforehand, a timeline of when certain vendors were arriving, a timeline of our entire day so she’d know where I was and where my DH was…I even sent her a checklist I had made up to help her with checking-off all the details. I didn’t do this to be a bridezilla, I did it b/c I’d had so many problems communicating with her leading up to the date, that I wanted to help her out with the details, as I worried she’d overlook many of them. As it turns out, she did anyway, even with aid of the lists I sent her.

        As well, I had assigned a few close friends some small tasks on the day (meeting our photographer in the lobby, checking that the ceremony site was set up on time, etc) so she was off the hook for lots of those types of things. I suggest you do the same. It’s just too much for her to handle everything.

        Actually, I would recommend if you are having more than 10-15 guests at your wedding, and it’s in your budget, to hire an outside wedding coordinator as well. I had considered doing this leading up to our wedding as we had problems communicating with Cecilia (e.g. we were told three weeks before our wedding that we couldn’t have our reception where we’d planned on having it since we booked in the summer…We did finally work this out, but it was a pain in the ass). However, an extra wedding coordinator was not in our budget. Looking back, I kind of wish I’d made room for one.

        Now, before I get into how everything went, I want to preface this by saying ALL OUR GUESTS HAD A WONDERFUL TIME! and no one, except a few close girlfriends who were helping me out, noticed anything :-)
        Also, I don’t want to freak anyone out! I am going to go through everything that went wrong – SO FUTURE BRIDES CAN AVOID THE SAME GLITCHES!!! But I’ll also mention everything that went right :-)

        I’ll go through everything in chronological order, so you might just want to skip ahead to the parts you’re interested in…

        Welcome Meeting and Welcome Letters
        We had arranged prior to arriving to meet with Cecilia at 10am the morning after arriving (we arrived at night.)

        We were in the lobby exactly at 10am to meet with her. She was not there. We asked at the front desk and the staff pointed to another couple waiting in the lobby, and said they knew Cecilia was coming b/c she was meeting with this couple as well.
        Needless to say, I was little put-off by this. Our home time zone is two hours behind Mexico, so it was actually 8am for us that we’d woken up on our vacation to meet with Cecilia and not only was she late, she had arranged to meet with another couple at the same time! I was pretty grumpy:-)
        Cecilia came about 10 mins late and met with the other couple first. We were about to leave after 25-30 mins of waiting, but Cecilia finally came over to us.

        At this time we picked out flowers (*more on the flowers later), dropped off all the centerpieces and other decorations we’d brought down with us, and went through many of the details. She didn’t have time to walk through different locations with us, so we scheduled a meeting for Friday (two days before the wedding) to finalize locations.

        At this time, we also gave her our “welcome letters.” I had e-mailed with her prior to arriving and asked about having these (which included an itinerary for the weekend for our group) delivered to each room. Cecilia said no problem, it would cost $2 an envelope and she would have them delivered that evening.

        Our group went out that night, and it wasn’t until the next day when we were all by the pool that I heard some of our guests making plans for dinner that night. Well, we had scheduled a welcome dinner bonfire -- and the info for this was in our welcome letters. NO ONE HAD RECEIVED THEIR WELCOME LETTER!! Cecilia did not deliver them. I had to hunt her down and ask her to have them delivered ASAP as people didn’t know we had something planned for them that night! She had them delivered in the next hour and thankfully didn’t charge us.

        #4 Simistar

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          Posted 28 December 2008 - 08:37 PM

          Welcome Dinner
          We had a welcome dinner bonfire on the beach.
          The cost for this is $25/per person.
          SMB doesn’t charge extra for the actual bonfire – which some resorts do! So that was a bonus:-)
          Cecilia helped with this as well, and did a good job on making sure everything was set up properly. (i.e. we had requested a table set up with some gifts we’d brought for the guests) Also, there were mats put around the fire so after eating we all sat around the fire drinking and telling dirty jokes :-) It was a lot of fun!
          The food is served buffet style and you can choose from different menus. Everything was delicious.
          We also paid an extra $2/pp to have s’mores as dessert…which ended up being good, but they weren’t really s’mores! :-)

          Picture of our bonfire party
          Click the image to open in full size.

          Golf Day for the guys/Snorkeling day for the girls
          We had this the day before our wedding…it was kind of our version of a stag and stagette, since neither of us had one of these at home.
          I had tried IN VAIN for weeks to book a group spa day for the girls, but Cecilia was no help with this, nor was the head concierge whom I e-mailed with a few times any help. So instead I booked a girls’ snorkeling day – which turned out GREAT!

          Golf -- SMB actually has a “complimentary green fees” offer for two Cancun golf courses. The head concierge was no help with this either. He actually told me the offer (that’s clearly stated on their website) didn’t exist! Believe me girls – it does:-) It runs to the end of August 09 I think.
          In the end, I e-mailed one of the golf courses directly (Cancun Golf Club at Pok-ta-Pok) and within half an hour had transportation to the course (costs extra) and the tee times confirmed and booked! If you plan on doing this, I suggest you e-mail the golf course(s) directly.

          The guys said they had a GREAT time! They said it was really nice – though maybe not the BEST golf course –and they all had fun hanging out together anyway :-)
          They just had to pay for clubs, golf cart rental and transportation, which worked out to about $90/pp.

          Snorkeling – I booked this with Mexico Blue Dream, Playa Del Carmen, Mexico and I HIGHLY recommend them! They come recommended on TripAdvisor, and they did not disappoint. It’s run by a French husband/wife team and they’ve been operating the business for years. They PERSONALLY take you out on the tour and make sure everyone’s comfortable and knows what they’re doing! (We had a few in our group who had never snorkeled before…)
          We did the Yal-Ku Lagoon excursion which was beautiful and includes a stop in Akumal to swim out to the sea turtles – VERY cool.
          Cost was about $40/pp.

          #5 Simistar

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            Posted 28 December 2008 - 08:38 PM

            WEDDING DAY


            The short version: do you own hair and make-up!!! Or find someone to hire from outside the resort!!! This turned out to be the worst part of my day!

            The long version:
            Included in the wedding package we bought is the bride’s hair and make-up.
            I was pretty worried (turns out for good reason!) about them doing my hair and make-up since the resort is new and there hadn’t really been a lot of reviews of the salon.
            So, I used the hair and make-up credit that was included in our package for my trial hair and make-up. (I figured if I liked it, I would go on our wedding day and just pay. If I didn’t like it, I wouldn’t go back.)
            My trial went pretty well…We tried two different styles and she did my make-up.
            It wasn’t the BEST make-up, but I figured I would just touch it up afterwards. The hair was pretty good too, though b/c we’d tried two different styles, it didn’t look exactly how I wanted. But the woman ASSURED me it would look how I wanted on the actual day. Oh, she could NOT have been more wrong!

            I arrived at 12 noon for my appointment on our wedding day. I was supposed to meet up with our photographer and my FI on the beach at 3:15pm for pictures of us before our ceremony, which was scheduled to start at 4:45pm. (Since we were getting married at sunset, we wanted some pics of us before when it was lighter out…)

            At 3pm (so, THREE hours later!) she still wasn’t finished my hair or my make-up!
            And STUPIDLY, I had been talking to one of my girlfriends who was in the bridal suite with me, and had not been looking in the mirror to see what she was doing. I trusted that she would do what she did on the trial day! WRONG!!!!!!
            At 3pm I turned around and looked in the mirror, and I think I nearly threw up.
            Sadly, I don’t have a picture of this monstrosity :-) It’s hard to describe what she had done…the best I can come up with is that she had tightly curled my hair, so that it was in separated, crunchy sections and then piled it on top of my head, so it looked like I worked in an 1800’s saloon in the Wild West! :-)

            Anywaaay, I bolted from the salon to my room, and washed out my hair. Keep in mind, I was supposed to be at the beach at that moment starting pictures with our photographer!!
            Two of my close girlfriends were in the room with me, we had three hair dryers going at one point! I blew out my hair and one of my friends half put it up, and in the end it looked OKAY, but certainly NOT how I wanted to look on my wedding day!
            If I had time, I would have re-done my make-up too, but as it was, I was 45 mins late meeting our photographer and FI for pictures!

            This of course, had a domino effect…We were later doing pictures than planned, which meant some guests had started showing up at the ceremony site, so a friend of mine had to tell them to wait near the pool, while I ran up to our room so no one would see me!

            If anyone wants the woman’s name who worked on my hair and make-up so they can AVOID having her, PM me and I’ll send you her name.

            **** as a side note – Anyone from our group who had a manicure, pedicure or otherwise at the salon/spa, said they were NOT happy with the results. A funny story…my DH actually went for a mani/pedi the day of our wedding. (We figured if we were having any pics taken, since we’d be barefoot, his feet better look nice, and if we had any pics of our rings on our hands, his fingernails should look nice:-)) So, anyway, the girl, without asking him, put on baby pink toenail polish!! He asked her why she put on pink polish and she said it was b/c I had asked her too! When really, I had no idea! It’s the weirdest thing…not sure if she was playing a joke? A mystery til the day we die

            #6 Simistar

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              Posted 28 December 2008 - 08:42 PM

              Ceremony Set-Up
              We chose to have our ceremony on the beach. I know I’ve read on TripAdvisor, and on here, that mosquitoes are a problem, but honestly – our group had NO problem with bugs our entire stay! I guess it all depends on what time of year and the weather etc…

              The biggest problem we encountered with the set-up, was that we had asked for and paid to have sound system set up! This costs $180. (But it’s worth it b/c the wind and the waves are LOUD!) Anyway, we had paid to have this set up – AND IT WASN’T!!!! And by the time we realized it, it was too late to have it done. Cecilia did refund our money, but really, we would rather have had the sound system!

              We were saved by the band we had hired (outside band, not through the resort) as they had a spare microphone (although it was the head-set kind, so we had to pass around this head-set, which was kind of funny :-)) Without that, no one would have heard ANYTHING!

              The set-up on the beach includes (i.e. you don’t have to pay extra!) a decorated arch/gazebo. They decorate it with white tulle and it truly does look beautiful! They also line the aisle with big starfish, no extra cost.
              We brought chair bows and paid extra to have tiki torches ($8/each) line the aisle and stand at the front. Cecilia and staff will put up the decorations you bring for no extra cost!

              Overall, other than the sound system, Cecilia did pretty much everything we asked for in terms of set-up for the ceremony (i.e. she had the chair bows put on, put out the programs, the ribbon wands, and the reserved seats signs for the parents). It really did look beautiful and like I said earlier, none of the guests noticed anything except for the weird-looking microphone :-)

              Some pics of the set-up...
              Click the image to open in full size.

              Click the image to open in full size.

              Click the image to open in full size.

              First of all, our “officiant” was awesome!!! His name was Alejandro Monroy. If you can – request him! Our room overlooked where the weddings on the beach take place, so we got to see and hear a lot of ceremonies in our time there – and he was the best!

              We didn’t write our own vows, or our own ceremony (which was symbolic…we’d been legally married before leaving, though only two of our friends knew that!) – but he made it very meaningful…I think EVERYONE was crying when I looked out at the guests :-)
              (Even my DH’s dad and uncle!)

              As for our ceremony start time…well, that was another bit of a problem with Cecilia. It was set to start at 4:45pm – but with all the craziness of dealing with my hair and getting some pictures done before the ceremony, I had NO IDEA what time it was! I was up in our room waiting for someone to come get me...
              Meanwhile, unbeknownst to me, everyone was seated and waiting! And waiting…and waiting!
              Finally, my DH saw Cecilia at the site and asked to her to PLEASE go get me as we had to start because the sun was setting and it would soon be dark!

              Cecilia did come to my room…BUT TOLD ME I HAD LOTS OF TIME!!!
              Seriously! And since I had no watch on or clock around, I believed her! (Plus, I was in the bathroom trying to fix my hair and make-up, so wasn’t looking outside :-))
              Apparently (I found out later) it was almost 5 pm when she came to our room!! And she told me I had lots of time…yeesh! Still not sure what she was thinking…
              The sun sets VERY quickly, so even a few minutes at this time of day are critical in terms of light. I HAPPENED to go to our balcony a few mins after 5pm and saw my DH waving his arms frantically…so I ran out of our room and down to the beach…Cecilia trailing behind me :-)
              I pretty much made it JUST in time! Any later, and we would have had dark pictures for our ceremony.

              #7 Simistar

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                Posted 28 December 2008 - 08:44 PM

                Flowers & Cake
                Okay, so let me start by saying I am not picky when it comes to either of these things.
                HOWEVER, both were disappointing.
                The package we bought included my bouquet, a floral centerpiece, two or three boutonnieres and two corsages. It also includes a cake.

                FLOWERS -- After looking through pictures of the different bouquets, I decided on one that was all calla lilies. In the picture it looked beautiful…very full and pretty. We had to pay $130 extra for it (and for the corsages, boutonnieres etc to match).
                What I actually got – was about 12 nearly dead (and some already dead) calla lilies. Seriously – all the outer flowers were so limp they fell over and one of the stems was so mushy it actually made a small stain on part of my dress! (REALLY small and not noticeable, but still!) I ripped off all the outer flowers.
                The rest of the flowers (centerpiece, corsages etc) looked in better shape, so I didn’t complain about those. But I did complain about my bouquet, and Cecilia refunded us some of the cost. But once again, I’d rather have had a nice bouquet than our money back :-)

                HOWEVER, I must add, that other brides who got married while we there had beautiful bouquets!! And I think from the few I saw, they were the ones that were included in the package…so the girls probably didn’t pay for an upgrade. So I guess my advice is – DON’T pay for an upgrade! You’ll get a better bouquet :-)

                CAKE – Again, not picky. It was just…okay. It came with some cheesey-looking roses made of icing or something on top. Really, we didn’t concern ourselves with the cake, so this wasn’t a big deal. I just thought I should mention for girls who really do care about the cake – maybe bring a picture and pay extra.

                The weirdest thing with our cake was that after we cut it (we cut it towards the end of dinner, not at the beginning of the reception, as most people do…) – the resort staff didn’t serve it! My mother got up and started cutting it up and serving it to people! I tasted some just for the picture, and I guess it tasted OKAY…a little bit mushy for my taste, but okay I guess :-)

                The cake...
                Click the image to open in full size.

                Bouquet & cake
                Click the image to open in full size.

                #8 Simistar

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                  Posted 28 December 2008 - 08:45 PM

                  Cocktail Hour
                  Our cocktail hour was held on the beach as well, about half an hour after our ceremony ended. We wanted to make sure there was time for our photographer to do some group shots, without us having to hunt people down :-) We also kept it on the beach b/c we had a band (outside vendor) playing for our ceremony and the cocktail hour, so to save them moving all their equipment off the beach, we kept the cocktail hour at the same location.

                  We had actually requested that we do our champagne toast at our reception, but they had set up all the champagne and glasses at the ceremony site, so we did it right after the ceremony. (They also set the cake up by the ceremony, which was weird…eventually they took it up to the reception site, which was by the pool.)

                  For the cocktail hour, they set up four high, small tables, where people could stand around (no seats). They put one candle on each table, which looked nice, but there wasn’t too much light so it was pretty darn dark! But our band (more on them in my vendor review section) was great – and kept people entertained.

                  As for the service at the cocktail hour…TERRIBLE!!
                  Our package included a cocktail hour for 20 people. So, since we had 26 people, we had to pay extra per person over 20. Perhaps I wouldn’t have minded the bad service if we hadn’t had to pay extra…but we did, so I minded:-)

                  I think maybe one server was there initially, just bringing around a bottle of champagne, with no glasses, so anyone who had misplaced their glass was out of luck. He took some drink orders then disappeared for a LONG time. Finally he re-appeared with some drinks and another server. We were now about 25 mins into the cocktail hour with barely any cocktails and no food!
                  My DH’s parents hunted down Cecilia and told her people were hungry and where were the hors d’oeuvres? She came down to the beach to tell us they were coming…Which they did about 10 mins later. But there were only about four small plates with about 8 hors d’oeuvres on each. Certainly not what we’d paid for. And they weren’t very good. But at least they were now bringing drinks!

                  As I said, people mostly hung out for the band!

                  #9 michellepicksbrent

                  • Sr. Member
                  • 1,448 posts

                    Posted 28 December 2008 - 08:49 PM

                    Thank you for sharing such a detailed review from your wedding! I'm sure it will help many future Secrets Maroma brides-to-be. And I must admit that I got a bit of a giggle when I read about your DH's pedi experience :P

                    #10 Simistar

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                    • 645 posts

                      Posted 28 December 2008 - 08:49 PM

                      Reception Set-up

                      We had our reception by the pool, next to the wedding gazebo. If you want your reception outside (as opposed to inside one of the restaurants) – I think this is THE best place to have it! It’s gorgeous. The way they light up the pools, it really does look beautiful…Plus, it’s pretty sheltered from the wind.
                      We had four round tables set up, plus one table for the guestbook, escort cards, cake, etc.

                      Overall, the set-up was well done. Cecilia put out the centerpieces as we requested, the menu cards, the favours at each setting, etc.
                      *** A suggestion -- I set up our centerpieces and place settings with menu cards etc the way I wanted at home and took a few pictures from different angles. I then e-mailed Cecilia those pictures so she’d know how we wanted things done. Without that, I don’t think things would have gone so smoothly in this department :-)

                      The tables...
                      Click the image to open in full size.

                      A few things she did NOT do that we had requested…. She did not have the chair bows moved from the ceremony chairs to the reception chairs. (Which was too bad b/c by the time we arrived at the reception, it was too late to get this done, as people were already sitting down…) So, no chair bows in the reception pictures :-)
                      Also, we had specifically requested SEVERAL times (b/c I wanted to make sure it happened!) that the tiki torches be moved from the ceremony site to the reception site. This was NOT done!
                      I asked Cecilia if they could be moved and she had it done.

                      So basically, I felt like we had to constantly keep on her for the details. The big picture was lovely, it’s the details she doesn’t do very well with. Again, these are things none of our guests noticed:-)

                      Some shots of how the reception looked...
                      (this is one of the resort photographer's shots BTW...)
                      Click the image to open in full size.

                      Click the image to open in full size.

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