Lulu's review of Dreams Tulum
Posted 08 February 2009 - 03:37 PM
My husband (!) and I had always planned on a destination wedding. We both wanted something casual and low-key. We picked DT because we were looking for a resort in the Riviera Maya area and had read all the positive reviews on this site. They also seemed to do a lot of weddings and we wanted something hassle-free. We had a total of 19 in our group. Originally, we were going to go with the complimentary package but we realized that we really wanted a private dinner and with 19 people it just made more sense to go with the Dreams of Love package.
We loved the resort. I really liked the Mexican-feel of the place. The size of the resort was manageable and it was easy to navigate. It was nice to walk around and always run into people from our group. Our entire group booked the basic gardenview room. We got upgraded to a Dreams Junior Suite without asking and several of our guests got upgraded to gardenview suites. I think if we had been more demanding more of the guests might have been upgraded, but to be honest, I donâ€™t think anyone really had an issue with the basic gardenview rooms. We stayed at the resort Jan 30-Feb 6. The resort was definitely not at full occupancy. The first few days seemed busier but the last several days things were very, very quiet on the resort, particularly at night. It may have been the weatherâ€¦it was cool at night so people may have opted to stay in. Several nights the temperature got down to 15 or 16 degreesâ€¦definitely needed a jacket. Apparently, this was not typical for this time of year. The nightly entertainment was quite goodâ€¦better than at other resorts Iâ€™ve been to (in Jamaica, DR, Cancun). The group really enjoyed Friday night (Fire Show and live band). The staff was really quite friendly. This was something I was concerned about but I need not have been. Everyone was smiling and greeting us with â€œHola!â€ and were happy to help us with whatever we needed. There was one waiter in the buffet one morning that was not as friendly and attentive but really that was an anomaly.
I am a self-declared foodie and so I was really hoping that the food would be good. And for the most part it was! The buffet had a very good selection for breakfast and dinner. I only had lunch there once and was not too impressed (burgers, pizza etc.). We opted to have lunch at the Seaside Grill or El Patio most daysâ€¦the grouper and the mahi-mahi were fantastic! I tried all the a la carte restaurants for dinner. Portofino was by far the best in my opinion. The rack of lamb was to die for! Bordeaux was also very, very good. My uncle had the scampi tails and calamari dish and he raved about it and went back twice to get the same dish. Gohan was alrightâ€¦I am a sashimi/sushi lover so I have pretty high expectations. I would say it was passable. The pieces of sashimi were thin and small but the fish was fresh and cold. The hamachi was tasty. I was disappointed with the Asian restaurant. I ordered Pad Thai and it was really not Pad Thai at allâ€¦more stir-fried noodles with soy sauce...but some in our group loved it! I also found the food was salty. However, others in my group raved about the food here (particularly the green curry and the spare ribs). The thing is that with food, everyone has different preferences. Overall, I was very happy with the food at the resort. The service at the restaurants was great. They actually accommodated quite large groups several of the nightsâ€¦we had a group of 14 at Porofino one night and a group of 13 at Bordeaux (although this latter arrangement did require some persuasion). If you are a seafood lover, you will have your fill! I also found the drinks quite good. The mojitos were excellent with lots of mint and lime. Also, the pina coladas were good. They had a good selection of top-shelf liquors but the selection varied from bar to bar. We ordered room service twice and both times we got our food within 20 minutes. The room service selection is pretty standardâ€¦sandwiches, pasta. Not fantastic but decent.
The spa was absolutely beautiful! My girlfriends arranged a hot stone massage for me and it was heavenly. 90 minutes of pure relaxation! The facilities are fantastic. There is a big circular Jacuzzi tub surrounded by comfy lounge chairs. If you get a treatment they let you use the facilities all day including sauna, steam room, cold plunge pool. All the girls got treatments at the same time and we had a nice spa day. They will bring you cucumber slices for your eyes, hot tea, cool drinks, cookiesâ€¦it was terrific! My mom got the reflexology massage and she loved it! My sister had a pedicure and they did a good job. I had read on here about the disappointing manicures and I warned my friends but they opted to try them and well, they were not good. Very amateur. One of my friends went back the next day to get them redone and another lady did them for her with no issue and it was much better.
I got my hair done the day of the wedding. I brought pics with me and Trinidad did an excellent job. Pretty much exactly what I wanted except for my bangs, which she straight ironed and then were too flat. I just re-wet and blow dried them again in my room. I am so used to this thoughâ€¦I find that when you have bangs, itâ€™s easier to do them yourself! I brought my sister with me so that she could watch to make sure the hairstyle wasnâ€™t too tight or shellacked lookingâ€¦but she did a beautiful job. My mother-in-law and one of my girlfriends also got their hair done and both turned out great! I did not use my makeup application and just gave it to my mother-in-lawâ€¦she was happy with it.
We did a trip to the Tulum ruins. We just took cabs ($7 each way) and paid the entrance fee (51 pesos). It was fun to walk around. In retrospect, I think we should have gotten the tour guide. Would have made for a more interesting time. Unfortunately, we could not use the beach because they had the red flag up. We had heard from friends we made on the resort that there was a public beach close to the ruins called El Paraiso (spelling?). It was about a 20 minute walk away and it was awesome. White, fine sand and turquoise waters. Very, very nice. They have all these beds on the beach with umbrellas but you have to pay to rent them. I think it was 150 pesos for the bed and umbrella and something like 40 pesos for a regular lounge chair. Some people in my group paid and others just put their towels on the beach (note: for any of the day trips itâ€™s not a problem to just take towels from the resortâ€¦there is no signing out of towelsâ€¦.they are just in baskets around the pool). They also had a bar and snacks available. We bought some drinks (about 60 pesos each) and they were good. I am so glad we visited this beachâ€¦much, much nicer than the one on the resort.
My husband did the swimming with the dolphins trip with his family. He enjoyed it and said it was worth the money. A bunch of us also did the Coba trip (visit the ruins, rappelling, ziplining, kayaking, cenote). It was good but not as â€œextremeâ€ as some people were expecting. This trip is geared for everyoneâ€¦so if you are an adrenaline junky this trip would not excite you. I thought it was nice to just dabble in all the activitiesâ€¦but thatâ€™s what it isâ€¦you get a little taste of each activity.
We also visted Tulum for shopping. It was good. Most of the shops have the same merchandise so if you donâ€™t get a good deal in one, just try another. And definitely bargain with the shop ownersâ€¦my sister got a stone carving for $10 when originally he wanted $25. Tulum is small so you could probably see most of the shops in a couple of hours. I donâ€™t really buy much when I travel but there are lots of knick knacks and souvenirs for those who like shopping. My mom bought my sister and I some silver jewellery. Some of the shops had quite good quality jewellery and much cheaper than in the gift shop on the resort. We looked at a bracelet that she got me in town for about $60 and a similar bracelet was double the price in the resort shop!
We worked with Natalia for the wedding. Overall, she did a good job. I have to preface by saying that I was pretty relaxed about most aspects of planning the wedding day. I did not communicate with any of the coordinators before arriving (except to confirm the wedding date and location and to send them all the paperwork about what we wanted). We did a symbolic ceremony so no blood work or papers were needed. We met with Natalia the second day we were there for about 90 minutes. She had all our info and it was pretty standard. The only issue was that I didnâ€™t realize that we needed to pay an extra $150 for the sound system for the ceremony. My husband was not impressed with this and I agreed. If they are to provide you with the location and minister is music not a mandatory component? Natalia told us that some people choose to just walk down the aisle with no music, which I find really hard to believe! Anyhow, we had brought an IPOD player and thought we might just use this. Natalia offered to provide a table and extension cord. However, we tested the player out on the beach and it was not loud enough. With the sound of the waves and the hustle and bustle from the Seaside Grill, I think that if you want music for a beach ceremony, their sound system with big speakers is a must. We ended up getting the sound system â€œfor freeâ€ because we did not use the resort photographer (we had Citlalli Rico booked). So that was pretty good. We planned to use the IPOD player for our dinner music.
So the plan was to have the ceremony on the beach, cocktail hour on the terrace near the lobby, and dinner by the dolphin pool. The one major stress for me was that the weather forecast called for rain, rain, rain on our wedding day. I asked Natalia what the plan was in case of rain and she was pretty vague (just that there were indoor options). In retrospect, I should have gotten more information from her about exactly what the plan was during our meeting because the next two days she was away (Sunday is her day off and Monday was some sort of Mexican holiday) and I just ruminated about what would happen if it rained. I did NOT want my wedding ceremony and dinner in one of the convention rooms. Not that they arenâ€™t nice and well-appointed but we had a small group and I did not want to be sitting in a huge ball room. The night before our wedding day it just poured and I was worried. But everyone kept reassuring me that the weather is very changeable and that it would likely be fine. Well it was! The day was partly cloudy and I was just so happy that I could have the ceremony on the beach! The ceremony was great! I wasnâ€™t too picky about the set up and we got the basic one (flowers down the aisle) and it looked nice. The DJ did a good job with the music. The minister that we got thought the ceremony was supposed to be religious but it wasnâ€™t. We are not religious people. My husband told him we didnâ€™t want any prayers or mention of God. So basically the minister had to wing it! He did a reasonable jobâ€¦talked about love and commitment and all that jazz. We wrote our own vows which Iâ€™m glad we did because I think the ceremony was way more â€œusâ€ because of it.
The cocktail hour was terrific. It was nice to get photos on the terrace and staircase. We had lots of champagne (enough for many to have 2 or 3 glasses) and the horâ€™deurves were tasty (smoked salmon, mushrooms, prosciutto and melon). It was relaxed and really fun just to chat with everyone.
The one change was that we did have to move our dinner location. It was windy and Natalia felt that we needed to move the dinner to a more protected area. She said we could have the Seaside Grill or El Patio instead (both were closed that night â€“ the grill because they were doing repairs and I guess El Patio was just closed that night). This decision was made at 3:45 and the ceremony was planned for 4:00! We opted for El Patio because it was farther from the beach and so less windy. I was a bit worried because during the day, El Patio is pretty casual with square wooden tables and I wasnâ€™t sure what it would look like, but I just had to go with it! It turned out fantastic! Natalia set up one long table (with our seating arrangement) and set up candles and place cards that I had brought. It was gorgeous and I actually think much better for us than the pool would have been. It was very intimate. Plus, because we were in the restaurant, they played our dinner music (from our IPOD) over the restaurant sound system so we didnâ€™t need to use our player. The food was great! We had the silver menu (vol au vent, Caesar salad with chicken, flank steak, 3 milks cake). We had two people who did not eat red meat and it was no problem to get them fish instead (one said it was the best fish she had ever had!). They had someone cooking on the grill right there in the restaurant so all the food was hot and fresh. We also gave Natalia specifics about how everyone wanted their steaks done and they did a good job with that as well. I was worried that the flank steak would be tough but it was very tender. Apparently, flank steak prepared this way is very typical of Mexican cuisine. The sauce was a bit spicy and very tasty. Presentation of the food was great! Service was great! We did our first dance here and it was very romantic. So private and absolutely no one around! After dinner we went and checked out the Mexican Fiesta night and some of the guys rode the mechanical bullâ€¦hilarious! Then we went to the disco, which was empty when we got there and the DJ just played our requests. Later, several more people showed up (may 5 or 6) but basically we had the disco to ourselves and the DJ was really accommodating. I thought this was great given that we did not pay anything extra and had an awesome time dancing the night away!
A note about our flowers. I was not so thrilled about the bouquets they had in the brochure so I sent them a picture of one that I liked and they did a very, very good job. I wanted something white and classic. They made up a bouquet of white roses, orchids, and cala lilies. The corsages and boutonnieres were quite nice (white orchids). I provided Natalia with some extra turquoise ribbon that I had (used for my candle arrangements) and the florist made up all the flowers with the ribbon. We also had 2 small flower arrangements for the dinner table but I canâ€™t comment on these because I never saw them! My husband said he saw Natalia with them on the beach but I think in moving our dinner location they got left behind somehow! Truth be told, I did not even notice that they were missing! I clued in about them the next day! So that was not great but given that I didnâ€™t even realize they were missing, it was not a big deal at all! However, if I had not brought my own candle arrangements, the dinner table would have looked pretty bare!
Now, a note on our cake. I picked one of the silver menu cakes (the one with the dots) and asked for the dots in blue. Ok, I never even wanted a cake. We are not traditional in anyway. I did not want to even do the cutting of the cake. But, the package included one so I thought, why not! If the cake had been really important to me, this would have been where I was disappointed. The cake did not look anything like the picture. It was lopsided (we dubbed it the leaning cake of Pisa). I asked for white flowers on top and they just stuck some white roses on there but with the stems showing! Actually, it really looked kind of ridiculous! However, it was absolutely delicious! We got the bottom layer in chocolate and the top two tiers in vanilla. It was moist, creamy, lightâ€¦so yummy! So a word to brides out thereâ€¦if the cake is really important to youâ€¦please really be specific about what you want. I would not get the â€œdotsâ€ cake. It sort of looked a bit cheesy to me. I would opt for plain white and then specify the flowers you want. But thatâ€™s just my opinion.
This was one part of the wedding planning that was important to me. We booked Citlalli Rico. She came with Tamara, her assistant, and they both did such a fantastic job. They came for 3 hours the day of the wedding (getting ready, ceremony, cocktail hour) and then returned for 2 hours the next day for a TDD session. They were prompt, friendly, and helpful. I havenâ€™t got the photos yet but I have no doubt that they will be great. Citlalli has an artistic eye and she got us to do a lot of interesting poses (e.g., me lying on the floor with my feet up on a wallâ€¦felt weird but Iâ€™m sure the pic will be interesting). My dress is completely trashed (grass stains, sand and coral from rolling around on the beach, chlorine from jumping in the pool) but the experience was so fun and it was totally worth it!
So thatâ€™s it folks! Wow, this is really long! Hope the information is helpful. I loved my experience at DT and really would have changed very little looking back on things.
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