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

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#21 SoonToBeE

  • Jr. Member
  • 198 posts

    Posted 10 June 2009 - 06:54 AM

    damn pictures! I need to delete that last post and try again with pictures that work! Mods - can you please delete the above posting? And this one too :)

    #22 SoonToBeE

    • Jr. Member
    • 198 posts

      Posted 10 June 2009 - 07:08 AM

      Part 3: Resort: appearance, rooms, location, pools, food, fitness center etc…)
      Here is installment #3.5 of my wedding review focused on the resort.

      The property is very nice and very well-maintained and the beach is no exception. All day long you see resort employees raking the beach and making sure that the sand is beautiful and clean.

      That said, it’s not the best beach you’ll ever see. But chances are if you’re going to the Mayan you probably aren’t going for crystal clear blue waters and white sandy beaches…..

      So as long as you are expecting that you won’t be let down. The water is clear in parts, but the beach is pretty windy – so it’s not amazingly clear. The beach is brown sand and beautiful. I didn’t really go in the ocean that much, but when I did it was very nice.

      The beach is broken up into two parts – one part has the beach beds and is swim-able with immediate access to the ocean, the other part also has beach beds but has a retaining stone wall that removes access to the ocean. For obvious reasons the swim-able beach is more popular.

      Here is the beach from the right showing the gazebo:
      Click the image to open in full size.

      and the beach from the left
      Click the image to open in full size.

      The beach also has the notorious ‘beach whales’ – they are very close to the resort on the retaining wall side of the beach and far away from the resort on the beach side. They don’t impede the beach on the swim-able side and make the beach, well, swim-able!

      We noticed that the sand flies were bad our second week, but didn’t have any issues with them the first week. Not sure what the cause was, but we were glad that we had the swim-up suite to get away from them!
      Click the image to open in full size.

      Beach Beds
      The beach beds are a luxurious take on the standard resort beachfront. They are comfortable and private, allowing you to feel like you’re on your own private piece of heaven. And they feel much more chic than a regular beach lounger! There are beach loungers scattered along the beach as well, but for the most part the beach beds are where people want to be.

      Click the image to open in full size.

      Because people love the beach beds people tend to get up very early to reserve their favourite bed for the day. If you want a specific bed in a good location you will have to get up early to reserve it with towels. If you don’t care where your beach bed is you can usually find one somewhere along the beach later in the day.

      People do reserve the beach beds with towels, but it seemed like people will remove the towels on good beds if they aren’t being used for a long period of time.

      There is towel service, and a beach butler along the beach, so you always have a waiter coming to take your drink orders while you sun bathe. Service is slow, but it’s better than getting up I guess!

      There are also swinging beach beds and double decker beach beds. Both seemed pretty cool to me, until I went in them! The swinging swing with the slightest movement and the double decker beds seem pretty rickety. I didn’t like spending a lot of time in either one of them, but the definitely make the resort look nice!

      Click the image to open in full size.

      Overall the beach was okay. I have seen much better beaches, but our guests all seemed happy. I really think the upgraded beach seating makes up for the lackluster beach – they make the beach look much nicer than it is.

      Wedding locations
      There are three main wedding locations (Pier gazebo, beach gazebo, and white gazebo), with only one being private (beach gazebo).

      I like the pier gazebo the best, I just think it looks simple and classy and really allows you and your wedding party to decorate it - without a lot going on.

      The pier gazebo is on display and is not well protected by greenery or beach beds - this is good and bad. You feel somewhat exposed to strangers on the beach, but it's also private because it is really hard for strangers to get close to your wedding. This is important because resort guests LOVE watching weddings!

      Here are some shots of the pier gazebo:
      Click the image to open in full size.
      Click the image to open in full size.

      The beach gazebo is set up on the far end of the beach at the edge of the resort. You can really decorate this as you want, and I think decorating is important. Not enough decorations and you'll look like your standing between four sticks!

      This set up is a few feet from the beach beds and the main beach. The hotel reserves the closest beach beds, but resort guests will clamor as close as they can to the boundaries to watch your big day. It felt really intrusive because gawkers were only about 3-4 metres away from the wedding.!

      Here are some shots of the beach gazebo:
      Click the image to open in full size.

      The 'aisle' for the beach gazebo:
      Click the image to open in full size.

      The white gazebo is located in the middle of the resort. It has the same issues as the beach gazebo, except that it is a permanent structure. It seems a bit overpowering and I'm not sure how good the pictures will look from the inside of the gazebo, during the wedding. I don't think they'll look great, but I don't have anything to back that up other than the pictures below:

      Click the image to open in full size.

      Overall I would say that the best location is the beach pier. It is private and provides some of the nicest pictures (in my opinion :)). Again, the other locations are basically in the middle of the beach, with curious onlookers sitting and gawking a few metres from your wedding ceremony.

      I was one of those gawkers while we were there (blush). While some of the gawkers are polite, some are not – the topless woman with a mohawk smoking and drinking a few feet from one of the weddings we saw comes to mind. Not exactly what one dreams about on their wedding day

      #23 SoonToBeE

      • Jr. Member
      • 198 posts

        Posted 10 June 2009 - 07:40 PM

        Part 3: Resort: appearance, rooms, location, pools, food, fitness center etc…)

        I had to post separately for instalment #3.5 of my wedding review to ensure that I could get in as many pictures as possible!!


        The resort boasts that it has 5   la carte restaurants (Speciality Cuisine, Sandwich & Pizza, Latin Fusion, Mexican, Italian, Asian) with gourmet cuisine at all restaurants. They do not disappoint. If you recall from my first posting, one of our deciding factors when choosing a resort was food. Our specific metrics were:
        -A la Carte availability for all meals – no maximum number of visits
        -High quality food
        Having been to the Royale we knew that this resort should have great food and we came with very high expectations. The food was very good and our expectations were met. Some meals were outstanding, some did disappoint, but overall I would definitely say that the resort delivered!

        I think the EDR has slightly better food but we definitely had gourmet experiences while we were at the EDSS.

        None of the restaurants required reservations (first come first serve basis) and we were never really met with long waiting times with the exception of the one time we went as a group of ten and asked for a table together.

        The restaurants do not seem to be able to serve large groups without advance notice – so if you want a table with more than 6 guests you do need to call ahead in the morning and book a time for your group to eat. They will accommodate, but you really do need to give them a few hours to plan.

        The portions are small but we always felt full because we always ate several courses. Unless you are used to eating 3-4 course meals of epic proportions you should be able to leave feeling satisfied.

        We did eat at each restaurant and here are our thoughts:

        ARRECIFES: Specialty cuisine. Garden grill & Margarita lounge.
        We ate breakfast, lunch and dinner here. We weren’t overly impressed with the meals here. We would say the food seemed more generic and was not as fancy as the other restaurants. I think our experiences at all the other restaurants was so good that this restaurant seemed only ‘okay.’

        Click the image to open in full size.

        We did have our welcome dinner at this restaurant and the service was unbelievable. The resort appears to bring in it’s managers to oversee large events to make sure the service is great. The manager kept a watchful eye on our group and kept popping by to make sure everything was going perfectly.

        Breakfast was the best meal this place has to offer. You can sit in the open garden area and eat outside. The area is shaded with lush trees and tables are separated with palm trees, so meals here feel fairly private.

        You can order off of the Arrecifes menu, can get a custom omelette made at the grill, or can grab some food from the small breakfast buffet that they set out every morning (hashbrowns, yogurt, cereal, fresh fruit, roasted tomatoes and veggies).

        I loved the buffet, I would wake up early every morning to go to the gym and afterwards I could grab a quick snack before our ‘real breakfast’. The buffet was also great because you could grab some food ‘to go’ if you were going on any excursions.

        SANDWICHERIE: Wood burning oven pizzas served to order, and a selection of Angus burgers, gourmet snacks among other succulent Mexican preparations.
        We ate lunch here several times and the food was very nice. You eat in the same lush area where the Arrecifes breakfast is served. The menu was nice and light and was perfect for an afternoon snack or a full blown lunch.

        Click the image to open in full size.

        VIDA GARDEN GRILL: A truly creative Latin fusion cuisine. Intense yet easy going flavours and colourful presentations in a spring garden complemented with an extensive Margaritas menu from its own bar.

        This was our favourite restaurant by far. The breakfast menu was very good (I think we tried everything on there..!), the lunch menu was outstanding and the dinner menu was very good as well.

        This little gem seems to get missed because it is the farthest from the beach. It is located by the hotel lobby and it tucked into lush gardens. The service here was great.

        Click the image to open in full size.

        LA CARRETA: Features a la carte Mexican Gourmet cuisine.

        The resort says this restaurant is seasonally open for lunch and breakfast, but we never went. I don’t think they were open while we were there, but I can’t be sure. We went here once for dinner and I got sick and missed my meal. Everyone else said the food was good, but this restaurant wasn’t one that many of our guests visited multiple times.

        Waiters will come and take photos of you in Sombreros and the ambiance in the restaurant is pretty nice with a beautiful high thatched roof. I guess this is why you never see family portraits with sombreros on….you always seem to lose a few people!

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

        MIA CASA: Contemporary Italian cuisine. Air conditioned and outdoor dining.
        This restaurant is only open for dinner and is one of the more popular restaurants at the resort. This restaurant features an open air patio that is beautiful and very much in demand. If you order an expensive bottle of wine the resort will upgrade your seating to your own private gazebo beside the restaurant.

        We loved eating here and made sure we had a few dinners here before we went.

        Click the image to open in full size.

        KLAY TALAY: Fine Asian cuisine including sushi.This restaurant is also only open for dinner and features private Japenese dining rooms and an open air patio. This was another popular restaurant.

        The sushi was very good and we couldn’t resist ordering all of it one night. The waiter was very accommodating and we feasted on delicious sushi that night. Sushi aside, the rest of the menu is very good and perfectly suitable for those who don’t like raw fish.

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

        We ordered room service for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The service was very quick and the delivery people were always very nice. The portions were fair sized and the quality was good as well.

        One thing we found out about when we arrived is that each day the hotel puts on a beach buffet. Each day has a different menu – grilled fish, burritos, baked potatoes etc – and the hotel serves signature cocktails a well.

        We really enjoyed the beach buffet because you could stop and grab food without having to sit down at a restaurant. The Sunday fish fry is the best day with fresh fish, grilled vegetables and rice served (at least we thought it was the best day) Check with the concierge and they will tell you when the buffet happens and what is being served each day.

        OPEN GRILL
        The Sandwicherie area becomes an open grill at night and during the night you can grab a plate of fries, a hamburger or other grilled food (I think you can almost order the room service menu, but really we ordered fries – because they were SO GOOD!). The Open Grill is a great place to grab food if you are having a late night with your wedding party, or if you get a little hungry after the show.

        Click the image to open in full size.

        #24 SoonToBeE

        • Jr. Member
        • 198 posts

          Posted 10 June 2009 - 08:49 PM

          Part 3: Resort: appearance, rooms, location, pools, food, fitness center etc…)
          I had to post separately for instalment #3.5 of my wedding review to ensure that I could get in as many pictures as possible!!

          The bars at the resort never seemed full and it was always quick and easy to grab a drink. The bar staff are unbelievable and are sweet, charming and truly work hard to make guests feel great.

          I know many of our guests knew the bartenders on a first name basis and they were sure to wave and shout a quick hello to many of us. Since the resort is so small the bartenders do get to know you fairly well if you are at the bar a lot :)

          This is the main bar in the middle of the resort and is the area where everyone congregates. The Open Grill is right beside this bar and the show takes place at the outskirts of this bar. During the day this bar is fairly busy but your wait should not be very long as they always have a few bartenders on hand to make sure no guests go thirsty!

          This bar is also a ‘swing bar’ with swings that serve as stools. The swings are pretty fun and do give the bar a relaxed, tropical feel.
          Click the image to open in full size.

          Lap Pool Bar:
          This bar is quiet at all times of day and can be a bit slow if a few people go up at once, there is usually only one bartender serving people. We didn’t spend much time here, other than when we were waiting to get into the Italian restaurant.
          Click the image to open in full size.

          It is a very nice looking bar and is also a ‘swing bar.’ There are hammocks right beside the bar and we enjoyed grabbing drinks and spending some time on the hammocks once all our guests had left.
          Click the image to open in full size.

          This is one of the three swim-up bars in the resort. We actually didn’t spend any time at this bar until the second week. This bar is located in the middle of the resort and was the quieter pool because it didn’t have the entertainment team there all day.

          This bar is surrounded by rooms and, as such, makes the rooms adjacent to this pool a little less private. I wish we had spent more time at this swim up bar because the bar gets sun the whole day as opposed to the main swim up bar where we spent all of our time.

          We had great service at this swim up bar and then spent some time swimming in the pool and lounging in the beach beds beside this bar.

          We also got some of our formal wedding pictures done at these beach beds and they turned out great!
          Click the image to open in full size.
          Click the image to open in full size.
          Click the image to open in full size.

          Main Pool
          We spent most of our time at the main pool where all the activities took place. Because we spent most of our time here we spent most of our time at this swim-up bar. The bartenders became fast friends with our group and they always provided amazing service and were quick to greet us whenever they saw us around the resort.

          This bar is mostly in the shade so it tends to get a bit cold during the day because the pools in general are fairly cold.
          Click the image to open in full size.

          Click the image to open in full size.

          Other Swing Bar That I Don't Remember the Name Of
          There is another swim-up bar located at the far end of the resort. It gets beautiful afternoon sun and was the main meeting place for our group at the end of each day, during our second week we spent a lot of time at this bar because it was attached to our swim up room.

          Click the image to open in full size.

          The bartender here was amazing and this is the bar where you can order a ‘coco loco.’ We made arrangements the day before to come back to get a coco loco and had fun doing our own special coconut themed photo shoot. Again, the water is pretty cool, but the bar gets enough sun so it doesn’t get too cold.

          Click the image to open in full size.

          Bar Service On Beach
          There is bar service on the beach, it is a bit slow because the drinks are made at the swim up bar at the far end of the resort. The servers are constantly moving along the beach asking if you need a drink but with the number of people on the beach it will take a while to wait for a server.

          We usually went and got our drinks only because the bar was so close that it didn’t make sense to wait.

          Quality of drinks & Service
          The drinks are made with top quality alcohol and are fairly consistently made. We did get a few boozy drinks in our time there, but most of the time the drinks were great and were very enjoyable. Overall we were very happy with the service, serving size, assortment, and quality of the drinks.

          The resort has shows every night and they are pretty well attended by guests. We don’t really care for the entertainment so didn’t bother to watch. Our guests seemed to enjoy the shows but they did say that they seemed very amateur and low budget.

          The carnival and the fire show were the shows that got the best reviews. The karaoke and the band nights were rated the worst by our guests. A few nights a week they have a DJ after the show.

          We actually made use of the DJ on our wedding night after our ipod rental had expired. Our entire party stormed the dance floor and, with the help of a Spanish speaking bridesmaid, were able to make song requests and proceeded to party the night away.

          The DJ did want to play his own music, and didn’t speak English so it was great to have a Spanish speaking person in our party.

          The entertainment during the day was pretty good – our party was pretty busy playing volleyball, doing water aerobics, playing water polo, and taking part in ‘lazy game.’

          The animation team are really great and personable. That said, the absolute worst part of the entertainment is the dance they do every day. I can’t even articulate how badly done this dance is….just go and see for yourself. I feel humiliated even thinking about it.

          Fitness Center
          This may not be relevant any more because I think they are in the process of revamping the fitness center. I was in the fitness center almost every day it was always well maintained with staff coming to clean, and stock the unit many times during the day.

          The equipment is a bit old and worn, but not bad by resort standards. During our stay they removed the universal weight machine, so when we left there were only 2 bikes, an elliptical, a treadmill and free weights for use.

          The space is a decent size with air conditioning, a tv, water and towels. Guests from the nude resort can come over to use the machines (clothed!) so it can get busy at certain times, but if you come back later it will likely be empty.

          I also brought my gps and did some running around the resort. It is about 3 miles if you run all of the paths around the resort and then run to the front gates. A few other guests ran down the beach to the other resort but since I was running alone I didn’t feel comfortable doing that.

          It was a nice run overall, I’d bring your running shoes if you do like to run, because you can get a short run in on a treadmill or around the resort.

          #25 SoonToBeE

          • Jr. Member
          • 198 posts

            Posted 10 June 2009 - 09:29 PM

            Part 3: Resort: appearance, rooms, location, pools, food, fitness center etc…)

            Phew....there is the final review of the resort. Next installment is our wardrobe, accessories and bridal party outfits! Should be fun!

            The resort has spa workers roaming the beach offering free massages with the intent to sell spa services. We didn’t find it annoying because the people were always very gracious and nice. I could see people getting annoyed by it, but it wasn’t a huge problem.

            A number of our guests used the spa services – massages, facials, body treatments, nail polish change, hair appointments, etc – and everyone seemed pretty happy.

            One of my friends got me a massage with a facial and it was okay. The ‘massage therapists’ are not really professional quality, but the massage was relaxing and soothing. I decided to get a morning massage on the beach which was nice and relaxing, and I would recommend it.

            Click the image to open in full size.

            I do warn you that the masseur will massage your whole back, which means that they will lay the towel really low, exposing a bit of your butt crack. It made me a little anxious at first, but I was glad I booked an early morning massage because no one was around to see it : ) If you are worried about this, they do have massage facilities inside (not shown because they're only okay)….

            Click the image to open in full size.

            Click the image to open in full size.

            I also got a free 'facial' but it was...well....not very good. But since I didn't pay for it it didn't matter!

            Hair Salon
            I decided to get my hair done for the wedding at the salon. I went to my local salon and asked my stylist to do my hair exactly the way I wanted it done at the wedding. Then she took a ton of pictures from all angles. I printed the pictures out and brought them with me to show to the woman in the resort salon.

            Click the image to open in full size.

            Click the image to open in full size.

            I am very happy that I did this because the woman at the salon did not speak English and this allowed her to see what I wanted. Again, my fabulous Spanish speaking bridesmaid happened to be there and she helped translate when there was a small misunderstanding about the size of curls I wanted.

            No biggie, and in the end my hair was what I wanted. I do remember the prices being a bit high, but at the end of the day, I stopped caring about money once we got down there.

            Click the image to open in full size.

            Ignore the lack of make up : ) But as you can see I was pretty happy with the final results, and the hair lasted all night!
            Click the image to open in full size.

            Okay….here’s a better shot : )
            Click the image to open in full size.

            My sister in law and a bridesmaid also got their hair done. The salon will wash your hair with unsalted water which is worth the cost of the treatment if your hair reacts badly to constant salt (in the shower, pool and ocean water). Both girls were happy with their hair, the salon was never busy and the hair styles seemed to last all night.

            Phew.....that was a mouthful! I need a break!

            #26 Sita&Nate

            • Jr. Member
            • 349 posts

              Posted 11 June 2009 - 10:54 AM

              You looking positively radiant and beautiful in your pictures! I can only aspire to the caliber and thoroughness of your review when it comes to my turn. I am in awe....

              #27 SoonToBeE

              • Jr. Member
              • 198 posts

                Posted 11 June 2009 - 12:32 PM

                You are too cute :) Thanks for the kind words. I'm trying to be very thorough because there are so many limited reviews on this resort.....so just hoping to pass on what I saw. And the BDW forum was a huge help for me planning the wedding, just trying to pay it forward with a few tips and hints!

                All the best with your planning, less that a year! Are you getting married at the EDSS?

                #28 chipmunkkc

                • Newbie
                • 8 posts

                  Posted 24 June 2009 - 03:54 PM

                  I leave on Friday for my EDSS wedding, and I've been reading over your review whenever I get overwhelmed and stressed out with everything I have left to do. Thank you for this, because of your review, I am always able to smile and look forward to the trip instead of fixating on the details!

                  #29 desouc

                  • Newbie
                  • 17 posts

                    Posted 16 November 2009 - 12:42 AM

                    Jen, you deserve an award for the most extensive and organized review on bestdestinationwedding! From the photos, your wedding looks lovely. Your review has reassured me that I've selected a great resort for my wedding : ) I can't wait!
                    I wish I read your review sooner though- I would have used your brochure idea - it's fantastic!!

                    Any tips on heels in the pier location during the ceremony?

                    #30 sjmacphe

                    • Jr. Member
                    • 291 posts

                      Posted 16 November 2009 - 02:31 AM

                      Wow, great job - I want to see more close ups of your dress, it looks beautiful! I am sure future brides (or guests) will be extremely appreciative! Congrats!!

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