Accommodations: I contacted the concierge before leaving and inquired if it was possible for ourselves and my parents to be upgraded. They quickly responded and said that a complimentary upgrade wouldnâ€™t be a problem. I printed out the email just to be safe. We received an Oceanview Suite, my parents a Junior Suite and most of our guests were in the Hacienda rooms. The glass shower and Jacuzzi tub in the Oceanview suite was lovely I would say overall everyone was very happy with their accommodations. All the rooms are fairly largeâ€¦rooms really werenâ€™t of great importance to us. We are the type of travellers that merely use the rooms to change and sleep in.
Accommodations on Wedding night: They filled our tub with bubbles and placed rose petals throughout the room. Champagne and fruit were waiting for us upon entering our room.
Food: The best all inclusive food I have ever had! My family and I have hit most Carribbean islands and my DH is an Executive Chef here in Toronto (who also worked for 10 years in the Carribbean) so food was of great importance to us. We were NOT disappointed. The Mexican (El Patio) was the biggest hit. Try the Dorado fish for dinner and the Mahi Mahi for lunch MMMMM! The service at dinner is astonishingly fast! It was so awesome that our dinner party of 10 all order second entrees at El Patio! Gluttony at its best
Seaside Grill: We went for dinner and DH had steak which he enjoyed and I had the salmon. A lot of guests raved about the food, us not so much. But again, to each his own.
Portofino: My DH and his family are Italian sooooo. I had the snapper and absolutely loved it! The risotto was delightful! Gnocchi received mixed reviews but the mussels were a hit.
Himitsu and Gohan: We hit the Sushi bar almost every night for a little appetizer especially if we were waiting for dinner some place else. My DH and my brother la la love sushi and they couldnâ€™t get enough. Gohan was also very good. We went with 8 of our guests and the service was great.
We occasionally had to wait for tables but we simply drifted over to the closest bar and relaxed. The longest we had to wait was one hour but this was most likely due to our table size (8-10 people). When my DH and I ate alone we got right in.
Food at the Wedding:
Hors dâ€™ oeuvres: My DH and I were off with our photographer during the hors dâ€™oeuvres but our friends and family said that they were fantastic. The proscuitto and melon was a big hit apparently. The only thing we did hear is that they went really quickly.
Again, my DH is passionate about the food. So I left the choices up to him. We decided on the brushetta (ok), seafood bisque (great), shrimp & mango salad (disgusting), surf & turf (great), and vanilla puff pastry cake with Cognac sauce (good). Our cake selection was vanilla with peach filling (good). As mentioned before we are self described foodies so our expectations may be slightly higher but overall we were happy with the food as were our guests.
Beach: As some brides have noted, the beach is fairly rocky. However you can find some beautiful pockets of soft sand to go swimming in. If you are facing the ocean and continue walking to the right of the resort the beach is as soft was cornstarch! Absolutely lovely. We would take walks a few times a day to go for a dip. We say sting rays and all sorts of fish at this end of the beach as well!
Wedding Ceremony: We had the ceremony on the beach at the gazebo. We provided Natalia with plenty of inspiration photos. They did a wonderful job with the tulle on the gazebo and the hanging orchids. It was exactly what we wanted. Truly magical!
We had sent Natalia an email prior to our arrival with the hand ceremony and our desired ceremony words. My brother and SIL both read poems and we wrote our own vows. As Natalia had the ceremony flow prior to arrival it ran very smoothly without any issues. I would also recommend sending your desired ceremony words, etc. prior to your arrival so that the WC can practice and know what to expect. The ceremony lasted around 20 minutes.
Wedding Reception: Ah yesâ€¦.we really wanted to have our reception at the Massage Hut. We sent multiple emails and even on our last confirmation email (2 weeks prior to our wedding) to the resort we stated that this was our very first choice and secondary being the Seaside Grill. During our initial meeting with Natalia she TELLS us that our reception is on the deck of the pool!! I think my face went white because my DH grabbed my hand and asked if I was ok. I almost lost my mind. Again ladies, BRING YOUR EMAILS!
I showed Natalia all my correspondence between her and Annabel. She continues to inform me that they tore down the Massage hut â€œ5 months agoâ€ I told her that this was impossible as Sarah Blake had her reception less than 1 month ago at the Massage Hut! She was taken off guard that I knew this and her response was â€œMaybe youâ€™re right but we have destroyed the Massage hut.â€ I expressed my sheer frustration that no one bothered to send us an email with this latest development. I told her that the pool was NOT an option and that the Seaside Grill was our second choice. She was reluctant as we did not want to pay the $750 private event fee (we had 30 guests so we would take up most of the restaurant anyhow and didnâ€™t mind the few â€œon lookersâ€. We told her that we would have our dinner at the SG and our dancing portion on the beach close to the restaurant. She reluctantly agreed. I think the lesson learned ladies is to tell them what you want versus ask.
We somehow managed to forget our tealights for the reception table. We asked Natalia to provide 30 and we would gladly cover the costs. She said that they would only have 10 (we laughed) so thankfully we had friends who were staying in Playa del Carmen and they picked up 50 for around $3. In a resort of DT size and the fact that all the restaurants and lobby utilize tealights in the evening, we thought it was quite comical that Natalia said they only had 10. Lesson learned, bring everything and anything you want with you.
With all of the extras we brought (glass candle globes, lanterns, seashells, tulle, batteries, hanging orchids) we paid $60 USD extra baggage charges. Which we thought was well worth it considering the costs that the resort wanted to charge for centrepieces. We bought the glass candle globes at the dollar store, lanterns/batteries through ebay, and tulle at a discount fabric store. We spent perhaps $80 for all these little extras but soooo much cheaper than the $60 centerpieces + $10/table overlays that DT wanted to charge.
Wedding Flowers: Flowers were important to me. I sent plenty of inspiration photos ahead of time and kept receiving responses â€œwe are still waiting a response from the florist.â€ So I was a little hesitant that they would be remotely what I wanted. But OH MY GOD! They were stunning! We didnâ€™t receive them until about 10 minutes before the ceremony but they were sooooo worth the wait!!
Makeup and Hair: I had my hair and makeup done and paid for three other hair appointments to take advantage of the 15% discount for my mom, sister in law and cousin. It cost me $102 and the other ladies covered the tips. I was very happy with my hair and simply had to â€œsoftenâ€ my makeup. Again, I brought pictures of both my makeup and hair inspiration photos. My hair is super straight so I brought my own hairspray (Osis) provided by my stylist back home. My hair held the curl well into the night.
We went with the Ultimate Package ($2650USD) because we had 20+ guests. We booked prior to the new rates and had received confirmation that they would honour them but upon meeting with Natalia (our WC) the wedding contract showed the increased prices. They have changed some of their fees (yet again) so I do recommend printing out and bringing with you any correspondence you have had with the resort in regards to the costs of various items. Even though we booked the older prices they still wanted to throw in some hidden costs. They wanted to charge $150 for the ceremony sound system and then another $365 for the reception music!!!!! So ladies, if you are having a relatively small reception where you donâ€™t anticipate having to utilize huge speakers, bring an iPod docking station! They ended up giving us the ceremony music for free (I think because of the huge oversight with the Massage Hut on their behalf). Also it was $165 US (cash) for the blood work versus $150 in our booklet and $50 US (cash) for the judge. They didnâ€™t charge a set up fee which surprised me considering all the little extras we brought but again I think this was because of my expressed disappointment and frustration with the Massage Hut.
Photography was VERY important to me (DH not so much). So after months of research we went with del Sol. We were torn between using Matt or Vincent (their associate photographer). We went with 5 hours coverage and ladies, OH MY GOD! If you havenâ€™t decided on a photographer, USE VINCENT! He is so utterly passionate about his work and truly went over the top to find interesting and unique settings. My father who is an artist and photographer could not stop talking about how hard Vincent worked to get â€œthe perfect shot.â€ We were blessed with what Vincent said was one of the best sunsets he had seen in a while so we took advantage of the lighting in every imaginable way. My DH who originally was not concerned with the photographer was so incredibly impressed with the shots Vincent showed us on his camera he had wished we booked more time! We can NOT wait for the photos to be ready and I will totally share the link with youâ€¦again, if you havenâ€™t decided on a photographer, we HIGHLY recommend Vincent from del Sol!!
Conclusion: Besides the hiccup with the reception site, we were VERY happy with DT! It was truly magical and everything in the end was perfect. Again, if you are still undecided on your photographer we can't say enough wonderful things about Vincent from del Sol!