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Seaprincess' Grand Palladium Bavaro Review with Pics (warning LONG!)

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#1 seaprincess

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    Posted 26 February 2009 - 11:08 PM

    Hi ladies! I've been back for almost 3 weeks and I have finally put together my review. Here we go....

    Travel Agent- A
    We used Lisa from Marlin Travel in Ottawa who is a destination wedding specialist and made our lives sooo much easier. She arranged all the details for us, had us upgraded to the Romance Suite and our group upgraded to the Imperial Club (see below for more info). She managed our 50 demanding guests and was there to answer any questions we had immediately. She is extremely busy though, so some of our guests who are more high maintenance found it tough to get in touch with her.

    Air Transat Vacations and Flight with Westjet - A
    No complaints. Airport transfers and fees were arranged by the tour operator, so we really had nothing to worry about. The rep on the resort was Canadian and helpful. It was easy to bring any concerns up to him and it was usually taken care of immediately.
    WestJet’s service was good – they even put a note on our luggage on a large piece of tape that read “Congratulations from Westjet” that we didn’t see until we were in the DR. When we were departing we were almost seated separately but fortunately another agent came in and fixed it. We had waited to check in until all of guests had arrived, so the seat selection was limited. We weren’t worried b/c we knew that half the plane was our group and someone would have moved to let us sit next to each other.
    In the DR, we were concerned with the weight of luggage on the way back. They never even weighed anyone’s bag which was fortunate for us considering we were way over the max and would have been dinged about $200 in charges, had they been paying attention. We did get a meal on the plane thanks to AirTransat both on the way there and on the way back which was nice on the 4hr flight.

    Resort – A+
    The resort is a stay at one,play at three deal so it was absolutely huge. We stayed at the section on one end, and it was about a 15 minute walk to get to the amenities at the other end. For those who prefer not to do that much walking, there was a trolley that looks like a little train that tours the property until 2 or 3 in the morning. We never waited more than 20 minutes for the train and we used it almost every day to go to dinner, to the spa, the casino, shopping, or to watch one of the shows. Thank god there was a train otherwise I would have had blisters for sure!
    I was totally impressed with the resort including the pools, bars, restaurants, grounds and rooms. The rooms were in little villas with 8 rooms on two floors. They were immaculately groomed and super clean. The staff was efficient and friendly, which in my experience is not always the case in all inclusive restaurants. I would definitely recommend this resort to anyone who likes to have a lot of variety in a resort. The size of the resort made it feel like you were always exploring something new which I enjoyed. There was an inflatable waterslide on site that was well used by many of our guests including DH’s 12 year old cousin and his 60 year old great uncle! There were 4 pools all offering a different atmosphere.
    Lindsay and Jamie - January 28, 2009

    #2 seaprincess

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      Posted 26 February 2009 - 11:09 PM

      Spa - A
      I took advantage of the spa on three occasions. Once to fix a nail I broke the day before the wedding, and the second time my girlfriends and BMs all went and enjoyed the hot tubs and private pools the day after the wedding, and the third time my DH and I went and had a couples massage on our honeymoon. The spa is really beautiful with the entrance being a little bridge that leads you over water and a waterfall wall on either side. It is mostly glass and marble and feels relaxing the second you step it. Although it is indoors, it feels like your outside b/c the roof is so high and partially made of glass. The gym is also attached to the spa and looked updated, although I didn’t use it at any point. The use of the hot tubs etc was included in the price of our stay, and the massages were reasonable at about $60/each for a 50 minute massage. The nail repair on the other hand was ridiculously priced at $13 to fix one nail and $75 for a full set of acrylics. I was shocked, but I guess if people are willing to pay….All in all, the spa was a pleasant feature that I hadn’t anticipating using and was actually very nice.

      Room – A+
      Fantastic! We were upgraded to the Romance Suite which included a king sized bed with a canopy, a outdoor Mayan shower with a hammock, and a whirlpool bath for two in the huge bathroom. We were spoiled and had it for the entire two week stay. Fresh towels were dropped off twice a day; the mini-bar (which was included) was stocked everyday with pop and beer. The room was very clean and there were absolutely no complains. Plus on our wedding night they placed a banner across the door that said ‘Just married” and placed a bottle of champagne in the room which was a nice touch.

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

      Beach- A+
      Perfect! White sand, turquoise water and there were no shells or coral on the beach or in the water at all. I spent everyday in the ocean including the wedding day and it was definitely all I expected.

      Food- A
      There was tons of variety with 6 a la cartes, 3 buffets, a 24hr sports bar and 1 beach snack bar. The food was good, with themed nights from around the world at the buffet. Some of the a la cartes were better than others with the best being the Italian and the International. They didn’t seem to be limiting access to the a la cartes and we ate at one almost every night. I didn’t have any problems with the food and our guests seemed fine too – at least no one complained to me about it!

      Imperial Club - B
      This is an upgrade that we were provided for free which allowed us to reserve at the a la cartes for dinner rather than lining up to wait, provided free internet access, a bottle of rum and a fruit basket in the room, robes, slippers and beach towels in the room, and a few other minor perks. It was a nice addition, but I don’t think I would pay for this upgrade if I were going back on my own.
      Lindsay and Jamie - January 28, 2009

      #3 seaprincess

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        Posted 26 February 2009 - 11:09 PM

        So believe it or not I can review the experience with the doctor too. I ended up with cellulitis (infection under the skin) due to a bikini wax I got the day we left and the infection started to travel through my lymph system and I knew I needed antibiotics before it got to my blood soooo I had to go and see the MD on the resort.
        As a Canadian with covered health care, I was astonished by the amount it cost me ($400US) for two 10 minute visits plus the prescription. The office was clean and basic, and I the MD was a woman which was a relief when she began to clean the infection site (which was right under my bikini bottoms). This whole thing happened two days before the wedding, but thanks to the gigantic and heavy duty antibiotics it was gone by the morning of the wedding.
        The funny part was the MD tried to sell me jewelry at the end of the appointment when I was paying for the services….I had to try to keep it together while my MOH’s mouth dropped open b/c we couldn’t believe she was really trying to sell us her hand made goods at the end of my appointment!
        It was an experience and I’m glad it as done and over with before the wedding.

        Wedding Coordinator- A+
        Carolina is the wedding coordinator at the Bavoro section of the resort. She is a one woman show always taking off on her scooter to set up a dinner or translate a ceremony. She was easy to deal with when we were still in Canada and arranged a meeting the day after we arrived to nail down the details. She took did a great job and definitely earns her salary!

        Wedding package
        The wedding package cost about $1200 US and included the ceremony location (beach or gazebo), judge, the cake, the brides bouquet, the grooms bout, the dinner, champagne toast at the end of the ceremony and the d©cor that is standard for the ceremony including chair covers and sashes in three colours as well as the wedding arch. Upgrades to the package included a private dinner reception for an extra $1000, musical trio for $75 and upgraded flowers. We added the musical trio and extra flowers for the wedding party.

        Ceremony- A++
        My bridal party, mom and I was picked up for the ceremony by oversized golf cart even though my room was only a minute from the beach.

        Click the image to open in full size.

        The ceremony took place on the beach which is the reason we choose a destination wedding. It was wonderful to be saying my vows with sand between my toes….perfect. The judge performed the ceremony in Spanish and it was translated by the WC. I walked down a coconut lined aisle and met my FI at the end under a palm leaf and flower arch. There was a mike and all our guests were able to listen to our vows perfectly. They provide a security guard to keep people from gathering behind the ceremony location. The only issue I found a little off putting was that the ceremony takes place right next to the volleyball court, so the pics of me walking down the aisle have the volleyball net in the background. The good thing is that I never noticed at the time because I was too focused. The ceremony was perfect and followed by our sand ceremony and the signing of the registrar. I regret not being more specific with the WC about the sand ceremony set up b/c it wasn’t ready to go when we went to pour our sand. My DH had to fill his vase with sand (which was wet b/c it rained most of the day) and my sand was still in the package. We got it set up quickly and my brother did the reading. The ceremony was followed by the cake cutting and the champagne toast for the bridal party. The guests were all offered white wine to join us in the toast.
        Click the image to open in full size.
        Click the image to open in full size.
        Click the image to open in full size.
        Lindsay and Jamie - January 28, 2009

        #4 seaprincess

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          Posted 26 February 2009 - 11:11 PM

          Musical Trio- A+
          They were an excellent add on for sure. Our guests appreciated the authentic feel and it was something to be remembered. They followed me down the aisle and they played after the ceremony as well. The only thing is I was under the impression that if I didn’t have the trio I would be walking down the aisle in silence. When we got to the resort, I ended up seeing a wedding were speakers were set up and the bride was walking down the aisle to music she had brought. If I had known I would have considered that as well. I am not disappointed in the least by going with the trio, I just wish I had known.

          Click the image to open in full size.

          Flowers – C
          I was disappointed with the flower choices we had when we sat down w/ the WC. When I asked if I could pay to have tropical flowers, the only option I received were lilies. The other flower options were roses and daisies. Luckily, I brought a realtouch bouquet and DH’s bout just for this reason so I was able to carry my orchids and plumeria bouquet with pride. I chose white roses for the girls and the GMs bouts. I had to pay for 1 bouquets and 2 bouts b/c one of each was included in the price of the package. I asked them to split the brides bouquet in two to make two BM bouquets. I still wish I could have had tropical options when there are beautiful tropical flowers everywhere.

          Photographer: PhotoSouvenir– A++++
          The best decision I ever made was to hire PhotoSouvenir!!! It was absolutely fantastic working with Fran. I will be posting a separate review just for them because I can’t say enough!

          Reception- A-
          We all met in the lobby after pictures and were picked up my the train to go to the restaurant for dinner.

          Click the image to open in full size.
          We choose La Uva, which is one of the a la carts on the beach. We choose to have the dinner out on the covered terrace. The breeze off the ocean was perfect, although it made it impossible to keep the candles lit. We brought some d©cor and they decorated for me using their own discretion – so my advice is bring pictures of how you would like it to look otherwise you won’t get what you expect. It still looked beautiful and it was better than I had imagined. The WC asked if I had a request for room layout, table shape, and seating plan which I did not. I told them do whatever works and as it turns out, it was the perfect layout for our group. We had one long head table facing 4 tables of 8 people. All our parents/grandmothers were able to sit together and the rest of the group sat themselves.
          The one issue with the reception was that we were not offered the use of a mic or podium. This ended up causing the shy best man to cut his speech short after 2 weeks of work b/c he felt no one could hear him.
          For future brides it would be worth discussing this w/ the WC and potentially paying for the private reception in order to have a more traditional ‘dance’ portion of the evening. The younger guests all headed to the disco to dance which worked out fine for us, but a private reception might have been an option if we could have had the dance portion in the restaurant for just our guests (but b/c we are having an AHR I wasn’t concerned with the dancing since we will get our dance on it April anyways).

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

          Location Options - A
          We were offered La Uva or the International restaurant. We choose La Uva b/c we had the option of an app, a main and a dessert off any of the restaurants menus. At the international, we would only be able to choose the food off the international restaurant. The other determining factor was that at La Uva we had the choice of having dinner on the terrace, the international was only serving indoors. So it was an easy choice to choose La Uva for the menu variety and the terrace. Plus no other hotel guests were on the terrace, so we ended up with a private reception without paying for it.

          Reception Food- A+
          Mmmm, excellent! We choose garlic shrimp as the appetizer from the Spanish restaurant, beef medallions for the main from the International and cheesecake for the dessert (Spanish). We chose the menu when we arrived and it was fantastic! They even put together a printed menu for the tables, which was a pleasant surprise! Everyone raved about the food and I enjoyed every bite!

          Click the image to open in full size.

          Cake- B+
          The cake was really not a big deal to either of us – just another detail I didn’t really care either way about. Our package came with a cake and we opted to go with the standard cake without upgrading figuring most people wouldn’t eat it. As it turns out, the cake was served immediately after dessert and no one touched it.
          We did a cake cutting on the beach also, despite outlining to the coordinator in advance that we did not want the cake on the beach – it proved to be a good photo op. We did another one that was a bit messier after dinner.
          The cake was actually delicious - we chose strawberry shortcake – and also had the option of vanilla, chocolate or both. We chose white icing with blue detailing – which was by no mean a professional looking cake but pretty much what I expected. They also provided a little cake topper which was a cute memento.
          Lindsay and Jamie - January 28, 2009

          #5 seaprincess

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            Posted 26 February 2009 - 11:12 PM

            Cost breakdown
            Travel: $1665/per person for the 1st week plus $780/person for the second week (CAD)
            Wedding package: $1195 US
            Extra flowers: $59 US
            Day pass for photog: $59 US
            Musical Trio: $75 US

            Final thoughts:

            The Grand Palladium Bavaro has provided us with wonderful memories from start to finish. It really is a fantastic resort and I would be inclined to stay at Grand Palladiums all over the world knowing that their commitment to their guests really is evident. I will be recommending this resort to people for years to come, however for brides who are looking to have more control over the details of their wedding, this may not be the ideal choice. I have been laid back from the beginning and probably would have been happy with almost anything because I didn’t have any expectations. Our wedding was perfect for us, but it doesn’t mean it was perfect. Although they do a lot of weddings, we chose it as a good option for our guests which lots to do and see, and not as much for the wedding options it offered. If anyone has any questions about this resort just let me know cause I know there isn’t a ton of info on this site on this particular hotel.
            Lindsay and Jamie - January 28, 2009

            #6 kate.com


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              Posted 27 February 2009 - 01:03 AM

              so glad everything turned out so well! You were such a beautiful bride!

              #7 Simistar

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                Posted 27 February 2009 - 03:45 AM

                Sounds like everything went perfectly... and you looked beautiful:-)

                #8 Ana


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                • Wedding Date:April 1, 2009
                • Wedding Location:Dreams Cabo
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                Posted 27 February 2009 - 12:07 PM

                Congrats!!!! everything looks great!

                #9 *Heather*


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                  Posted 27 February 2009 - 12:16 PM

                  Congratulations! That is too funny about the MD selling you jewelry...I would have died. I'm glad everything worked out though. You looked so pretty!

                  #10 Helen_S81

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                    Posted 27 February 2009 - 12:37 PM

                    Congratulations on your wedding! Great review! Too funny about the Dr.

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