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El Dorado Seaside - EDSS - Review with lots of pics and details! 03.19.09

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#1 SoonToBeE

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    Posted 25 April 2009 - 03:27 PM

    I’m giving credit for the template of this review to SunBride and paraisobeachbride2009. I've borrowed their review templates and added a few pieces of my own. I hope I didn’t forget anything. I am going to post in pieces so I (and you) don’t get overwhelmed!!

    My review will be structured like this…
    Part 1: Planning a DW and Invitations
    Part 2: Pre-Travel, Travel and check-in
    Part 3: Resort: appearance, rooms, location, pools, food, fitness center etc…)
    Part 4: Clothes (ladies, men, us), Accessories (rings, shoes, veil, jewelry), Hair and Makeup.
    Part 5: Flowers, and Food
    Part 6: Wedding Details: ceremony and reception
    Part 5: Now that we’re back….

    I’m posting Part 1 today, but the latter parts will come over the next few weeks. I’m sure someone will feel that some of this should be in the planning thread, but I think all of the pieces are important to my overall DW review :)


    Choosing a Resort
    I wish I had made more notes as we began planning. What I do remember is that it was stressful. After relishing in the glow of being engaged for a few days my DH and I almost immediately decided to do a DW. We scavenged the internet for details about different resorts and found that we were more confused because there were soooo many places out there and it was really hard to narrow them down.

    Finally we sat down and developed a matrix to say what we wanted. For us we selected:
    -Adults only resort (we had been to a few resorts that allowed children and we both agreed that this wasn’t exactly what we wanted for our wedding)
    -Ala Carte availability for all meals – no maximum number of visits
    -High quality food
    -Around $1500 per person
    -Mayan Riviera
    -4+ star resort
    - Have a wedding package and experience planning weddings

    This really narrowed it down for us to a small handful of resorts (to be honest the ‘Adults Only’ quotient was really what narrowed down the list).

    From there we narrowed it down to 3 resorts (based on trip advisor reviews, resort pictures and any wedding reviews we could find). We approached a few different travel providers to quote us, and then began aggressively negotiating cost. We have teachers in the family so really could only travel during Christmas or during March. March worked best for us, but if you have the flexibility I wouldn’t pick March for this resort - solely based on cost. It seemed like in mid Feb the rates were pretty cheap, and that the weather down there is pretty good as well.

    Finally we decided on the El Dorado Seaside Suites. Out of all of our options (GORM, EDR, and some other resort I forget the name of) we chose EDSS for the following reasons:
    -It was and Adults Only resort
    -We had been to the EDR a few years before for a wedding and were very impressed with the food, the resort, the service etc. We felt comfortable choosing the sister property of the EDR.
    -No buffets, and the resort prides itself on providing gourmet food for all meals.
    -It was more expensive than we were hoping for, but for March break anything we looked at in the $1500 range didn’t seem to be the type of place we wanted to get married at.
    -It was a 4+ star resort.
    - After scouring reviews on the BDW, reviewing the wedding packages on the Karisma site (owner of EDSS) we were comfortable that the resort would be able to plan an amazing wedding for us. It also helped that they had a dedicated wedding department and a site (Lomas Travel) where we could view items we could purchase for the wedding. That visibility definitely came in handy during planning.

    I’ll provide more detail later, but I can say that we were not disappointed with our decision. The resort lived up to the expectations we had regarding food, hospitality, grounds, wedding etc.

    During this whole process we discussed dates and timing with our friends and family and let people know what we were planning. I think it took us about 3 weeks to pick and book the trip.

    Of note....During and after the process we had to deal with some frustration from a few friends and family members….again, annoying, but it all ended up okay!

    Booking our Trip
    We booked through Flight Center and, as there was only one provider for our resort, we ended up booking with Signature Vacations. We never had to deal with them directly, so I can’t make a comment either way. I have booked with them before and have had no issues.

    So. We picked a date. We picked a resort. We then had to put down a deposit for our guests to reserve our special group price. It was still 10 months before the trip, so it was really hard to figure out how many people would be coming. We did a quick check with most of our guests (the ones we knew would consider coming) and picked a number that we thought would come (24) and put down a deposit for those people. In the end we had 37 book.

    As people confirmed their booking, they paid us back the $200 for the deposit. All final payments for the trip were made 4 months before the trip, and were made directly with our travel agent. I didn’t mind doing it this way, but it did feel weird asking friends for money. I’m glad I did it to make sure that people knew what was going on, but I did need to ask some friends for money a few times which was a bit annoying.

    We booked our trip through Romina Zaver (travel agent) at the Bayview Flight Center in Toronto.

    We also did contact the hotel a few times during this period to see if there was availability, and to confirm we could get married on the day we wanted to. The hotel was very prompt at returning our emails and they were pretty good on the phone as well. This instilled us with confidence…..

    A few of our guests did not book with Signature Vacations and booked ‘land only’ rates with the resort through our Travel Agent, Romina. This was the best part about dealing with the travel agent, Romina got us great hotel rates and made sure that all the guests who booked this way were lumped in with our group so that we could all get rooms together. She did a great job and took care of so many details for us.

    After we booked and put down our deposit we sent out invitations. We did this nine months before to ensure that people had enough time to plan, book time off and save. I feel like 9 months was a perfect amount of time. I designed our invitations and went with a travel theme.

    The classic boarding pass was our chosen design and, in each guest's package, we included a brochure about the resort that would (hopefully) get guests excited, answer any questions they would have, and make them feel okay about spending what we were asking them to spend. We wanted to make people know all the great things about the resort. Here is our brochure from our invitations.

    Click the image to open in full size.
    Click the image to open in full size.
    (the colours did match in the final pieces :)

    And you can check out my invites on this thread: http://bestdestinati...om/forum/t34172

    People really seemed to like the brochures. Most people didn’t even bother to look the resort up online, so it provided a great deal of information for these people. I would highly suggest doing this! Hope this brochure helps other EDDS brides :)

    We also got a wedsite from Wedding Window which was amazing! The site was so easy to use and the final product looks so professional. We are so happy that we had a website. We continually added pictures and content to our site to keep our friends and guests informed and excited about the day. It also allowed us to put up some FAQ details so that people could check the website for any details they required.

    Our guests RSVP'd directly to the website which was very helpful for keeping track of everything....

    Next Posting
    Okay…that’s it for now!

    My next posting will focus on pre-travel details, traveling and checking in!

    #2 edssbride09

    • Jr. Member
    • 233 posts

      Posted 25 April 2009 - 08:54 PM

      You are setting the bar high for the rest of our reviews!!! EDSS Rocks though, i can't wait to read the rest of your review!

      #3 evtalbot

      • Jr. Member
      • 173 posts

        Posted 25 April 2009 - 10:13 PM

        I love your brochure! Can't wait to hear about the wedding!

        #4 SoonToBeE

        • Jr. Member
        • 198 posts

          Posted 26 April 2009 - 12:27 PM

          hOkay, here’s my second installment of my wedding review:

          Part 2: Pre-Travel, Travel and check-in
          PRE TRAVEL
          I like to be a little organized and like to take care of my guests (whether at my house or traveling hours on a plane to watch me get married ). So, when it came to planning our event, I wanted to make sure I set our guests up with all the information they would need before, and during, the trip. That’s why I came up with The Mexico list – a list that goes through key details about the resort (packing list, overviews of each restaurant, property map, customs details, etc). I’ve attached it here…..
          and our guests loved it!

          Our pre-travel was pretty simple. We qualified for the EDSS Click the image to open in full size.

          This is a shot of the road leading up to the front lobby.
          Click the image to open in full size.

          We stepped off the bus and were instructed to find our bags (ie. Make sure they made it on, and off, the bus!). All the bags were left under the arch and we were ushered into the lobby the check-in.

          John grabbed my hand (I think he could tell I was a little worried) and we went into the lobby and I immediately began to feel a bit better….

          The Lobby and Checking In
          Everyone was so friendly to start with. We were offered sparkling wine and water and were moved to the back of the lobby to sit down to go through check-in. And it was only 9:30 am because we had such an early flight. At this point in time my body clock was absolutely confused…..fortunately champagne is suitable at any time of day

          This is a shot of half of the lobby, the front door is on the right. There is a gift shop, 2 computers with internet access ($6/hour, $3/ half hour) and a excursion desk.
          Click the image to open in full size.

          This is the area we were ushered back to:
          Click the image to open in full size.

          They moved all of the seats to the walls to create sitting room for everyone. The hotel completes all the paperwork they need before buses arrive, so check-in is really quick and easy. We sat through a 5 minute speech by the front desk staff (welcoming us to the resort, going through the check-in process, etc). We then were each called by name and given our documents to sign. The hotel gave us our safe key and were told to come back at 3 to check-in to our rooms.

          The process took about 1 glass of champagne….which I think is about 10 minutes : )

          This shot is the back of the lobby looking to the front doors. The bell boys (I guess?!?) are amazing. You can see them there. They keep track of all arrivals and departures and shuttle you to and from your room. We made quick friends with them as we had friends arriving each day. We wanted to make sure we were at the front desk to welcome each guest, and with their help we were able to!
          Click the image to open in full size.

          The lobby computers (2). You could also borrow books from the ‘library’ and borrow movies from the front desk. We didn’t do this, but we did see people doing it.
          Click the image to open in full size.

          So we had our room numbers, our safe keys, and no place to go for five hours. We stepped out of the lobby...
          Click the image to open in full size.

          …..hmmm what to do. Oh, right….we’ll go to the swim up bar.
          Click the image to open in full size.

          Okay...that's it for today (phew!!) my next post will review the resort and have more pictures of the resort!

          Also, most of these photos are mine. But others have been sourced from here: jtrue24's photos and albums on webshots
          They have lots of pictures of many other resorts if you are interested!



          Attached Files

          #5 beach2009

          • Jr. Member
          • 299 posts

            Posted 27 April 2009 - 03:32 PM

            Wow, the detail in your review is amazing. Patiently awaiting the next installment....

            #6 Jodz10

            • Newbie
            • 8 posts

              Posted 27 April 2009 - 04:13 PM

              Awesome reviews!!! So helpful :) Thanks for all the hard work you are putting into them!

              #7 ~*Kathy*~

              • Sr. Member
              • 5,649 posts

                Posted 27 April 2009 - 04:58 PM

                Great review so far, thanks for sharing! Looking forward to reading the rest. Congrats on your wedding!!

                #8 SoonToBeE

                • Jr. Member
                • 198 posts

                  Posted 27 April 2009 - 11:41 PM

                  Part 3: Resort: appearance, rooms, location, pools, food, fitness center etc…)
                  Here is installment #3 of my wedding review focused on the resort.

                  We really wanted to stay in the Mayan Riviera and this was one of the reasons we chose our resort. Even though we were about an hour and a half from the airport we were very happy with the location of the resort. To the right of the resort is a huge open beach area with the next resort about a 25 minute walk away. The beach in between the two resorts is pretty barren (and not maintained – it’s sad how much garbage you see), but you can always spot a few people on walks between the two locations.

                  To the left of the EDSS is the Click the image to open in full size.

                  The activity pool – is the main pool. It is much louder and constantly has activities going on throughout the day (water polo, volleyball, bingo, dancing, etc). I didn’t personally take part in the pool activities (that scene in ‘Meet The Parents’ kept coming back to me. Volleyball in the face….not thanks : ) but DH and many of the other guys did. They seemed to enjoy the activities (and the drinks at the swim up bar). The Activites crew were fantastic – so friendly and welcoming. They really did a great job at making us feel part of the action.
                  Click the image to open in full size.

                  The activity pool is surrounded by beach beds which go quickly. You have to get up and reserve them or you could be out of luck. We didn’t really care because, with 36 of us, we always had a bed….inevitably someone would get up early enough to reserve a bed!
                  Click the image to open in full size.

                  The Gaviotas swimup bar also has a larger pool beside it. It is a quieter pool (depending on who is staying in the rooms beside the pool!). We only went there the second week. We wish we would have gone here more. This swimup bar actually gets sun the whole day, vs the other bars that have the swimup ‘bar stools’ in the shade.
                  Click the image to open in full size.

                  It should be noted that all the pools are salt water pools. Not great for hair – but great for clothes when you are deciding to do a trash the dress!
                  Click the image to open in full size.

                  Click the image to open in full size.

                  Click the image to open in full size.

                  We did swim up along the lazy rivers and into a few swimup bars. The temperature of the water was really cold! It was refreshing after a long sit in the sun, but not something you would really hang out in for long. Also, we noticed the swim up river we were in was continually filled up with a garden hose. A few of our guests got a little sick, now I wonder if it was from accidentally ingesting water from the swim up pool. I’m guessing that the water from the hose wasn’t very potable…..?!?

                  We stayed in block 36. It was far enough away from the Colibri swim-up bar for us. For those who want to be part of the action I would suggest having you, and your guests, in block 39 and 40. If you are there you are basically on top of a giant bar and guests will literally swim up to your room (we saw this with one wedding while we were there).

                  You can see here how close the rooms are to this bar. I liked being farther away.....but you may not.
                  Click the image to open in full size.

                  I’m not sure if our travel agent arranged it, or whether the hotel arranged it, but our entire group was spread out in blocks 35 and 36. It was amazing to have everyone so close together. If you can get this done, I would highly suggest it. We went to a DW a few years ago and everyone was spread out – I feel like it made it harder for people to become closer because everyone was so far away. We were always meeting people in and around our rooms – on the way to the beach, on the way to dinner, etc. It was great!

                  The rooms at the resort were fabulous. Marble flooring, glass showers, a Jacuzzi in each suite, very very clean. We each had a robe in our room, which came in handy on the day of the wedding. Nothing says ‘I’m fabulous’ like hanging out in a robe with all your dearest friends! The showers were huge, but were salt water – so beware of scary hair!
                  Click the image to open in full size.

                  We loved our swimup room and spent many hours laying out on the beach chairs (and swiming down to the bar) during our second week there. It was perfect for us. We were able to order room service, nap, apply sunscreen, listen to music and avoid sand flies all at the same time.
                  Click the image to open in full size.

                  Each room has an in room mini-bar. We went and spoke to the concierge one day to ask for more beer (8 per day) in our fridge. They obliged and fully stocked our fridge with lots of beer every single day! Hurrah. This came in handy when people would inevitably come back to our room for pre-dinner drinks. My suggestion is to make friends with your concierge and to let people know (in a polite, nice way) that you have brought many people to their resort and that it is your wedding. Usually you get spoiled when you mention those things…

                  We did have some troubles with our toilet and our AC (leaks!). The service staff was almost immediately dispatched to our room and the problem was quickly fixed each time. The toilets are not a huge issue….it’s hard to expect 1st world toilets in a third world country.

                  The room had lockers in each room. They were great –decent sized with no issues.

                  Also, each room has a dvd player. We brought music and listed to music when we were sitting on our swim up patio and when getting ready for dinner. It was great!

                  Laundry Service
                  We did use the hotel’s laundry service. It was cheap and quick. I got my dress steamed and my DH got his suit steamed. We are very glad we did because our clothes on the wedding day looked crisp, not rumpled.

                  The grounds were clean, lush and well landscaped. Workers were always cleaning (raking the beach all hours of the day, painting a wall, trimming a hedge….always working!). The property had no litter on it and we were very happy with the grounds of the resort.

                  As I said before, make friends with your concierge! And…if your hotel has a time share or property presentation you should consider going. As we were ther for a week we were content to spend 2 hours in the presentation. It was a hard sell for about 2 hours, but we did get to go tour the other suites in the resort and got $200 USD for it! We used the money against room charges and a trip to Coba. The hotel is very flexible with their gift certificates from the presentations – you can use them for anything at the resort – jewelry, tours, room upgrades, internet charges. I really liked how flexible they were.

                  Okay….that’s all I can write today. I’ll finish off part 3 later, it is quite a long post. Still to come…the beach, wedding locations, restaurants, bars, fitness center etc….

                  thanks for the kind words. The BDW fourm was a huge help to me when I was planning my wedding. I only hope I can pay that forward a bit with these reviews!

                  #9 Tracy_S

                  • Jr. Member
                  • 268 posts

                    Posted 28 April 2009 - 01:50 PM

                    Wow Jen! Good job! Keep em coming!!!

                    #10 iwantadreamswedding

                    • Jr. Member
                    • 327 posts

                      Posted 29 April 2009 - 03:46 PM

                      great photos, congrats!

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