Barcelo Maya Palace Wedding Review - 4/27/09 LONG!
Posted 07 May 2009 - 11:03 AM
FLIGHT - Grade A
We flew out of Minneapolis on Northwest. My parents upgraded us to first class so that was great. First class was not full and there was another bride on the plane so they ended up laying both of our dresses flat in the overhead bin. It worked out great because the closet was too short for my dress.
Everything went smoothly through customs. It has been about a year and a half since I have been through the Cancun airport and it has significantly changed since my last trip. They have added x-ray machines and upgraded the stoplights (or the red light green light machine) that determines if your luggage is searched. I never saw the x-ray machines in operation, but a couple of guests that arrived after us said they were running them. The general flow is the same though. The lines were pretty long when we arrived, but we made it through in about 20 minutes.
AIRPORT TO RESORT TRANSFER - Grade C (only because it took forever)
We traveled with 4 others from our group. We were on a transfer with my aunt and uncle and my parents were on another transfer. We had four stops to make on our transfer and it took over two hours. From the time we got off the plane until the time we checked in it was around four hours. If our guests had one complaint it was this process. If you are okay with the cost I would suggest renting a cab to get to the resort. It will save you time and lots of anticipation on just getting there. Other than that our transfer was good. Our guide had Corona for sale and by the time we got to the resort I think we had cleared him out.
CHECK-IN/CHECK-OUT â€“ Grade B
Check in was quick and easy. We had a room very close to the pool and were happy with it. Some of our guests were way back in the back and had a long walk everywhere.
My wedding coordinator was Claudia and I did not have a note indicating the time we were supposed to meet her. I had the reception desk call the wedding coordinators and we were given a time of 9:30 the following morning to meet her in the Palace Lobby. We also were not given our VIP wristbands that were included in the Ocean Scents Package. When I inquired about it he said we would need to talk to our wedding coordinator.
ROOM- Grade A
We were in the MichoacÃ¡n building and had room 8113. It was a short walk but it was on the first floor, I know some people donâ€™t like this. The rooms are amazing, let me rephrase . . . the bathrooms are amazing. The shower and tub area were really nice to have. All of our guests commented on how nice the rooms were.
Our room was cleaned everyday and our fridge was completely restocked. We did tip the maid every other day around $5 and left a couple bucks in the fridge. We did also receive turn down service every night but the first two.
RESORT - Grade A
I have stayed at 3 different Riu palace resorts and the Moon Palace in the Riviera Maya. I was expecting the BarcelÃ³ Maya Palace to be nice but not as nice. I was wrong. It was beautiful and very clean. My DH likes to call it the Disney of the Riviera Maya. We are already talking about doing a reunion trip next year. It was the perfect resort for our group.
The resort also does a great job of making a very large resort feel smaller. I was expecting much more walking but the way they break the resorts up you donâ€™t have a need to go to the other resorts unless you want to. They also have a shuttle that runs very frequently between the other BarcelÃ³ Maya resorts. We did utilize that a couple of nights to get to the Disco.
The food at the resort was very good. There are lots of choices and they are very accommodating. If alcohol is important to you this resort has top shelf everything. My DH now tells me he is a tequila snob because there is no way he would ever do another shot of Jose when he knows how good Don Julio Blanco is. We did notice at the disco the liquor was not as high quality, but it was still good. We had the VIP wristbands so if we ever wanted something different we just walked upstairs.
We had no problem getting large group reservations at the ala carte restaurants. The resort was not at capacity so it was pretty easy. You will need a couple room numbers though in order to do this. The day after we arrived a bunch of us went up to the reservations desk and were able to get reservations for between 15-20 people for most nights. Our favorite was the Japanese restaurant, but they were all good!
SPA â€“ Grade B
As a part of our wedding package we both received pedicures, manicures and massages. I also had my hair and makeup done before the wedding at the spa. The pedicure and manicure included in the wedding package are an hour long session combined. You do not get the full service. I treated my MOH to a pedicure and manicure with me so I upgraded my package. I had to pay the difference. The service was good but overall I think the spa is overpriced. It was a good service, but not the best I have ever had. My DH and I thought the massages were amazing. We scheduled ours for the day we were leaving for our honeymoon hotel and it was such a great start to our honeymoon. It was so relaxing!
Now for the good stuff hair and makeup. I had brought some pictures of how I wanted my hair for the wedding. I liked how my hair turned out but it looked nothing like the pictures I brought. The flowers they used held up great all day. If you are going to use the flowers they provide for your hair you will need to stop in to the wedding coordinators office before your appointment. They are right next door to each other. I will say they were great to work with. At one point I was really disappointed in how my hair was turning out. The lady doing my hair was on the same page and took it all down and started again. They worked with me until I was happy. I really had no idea on makeup. I was going to let them do it and if I hated it I was going to wash it all off and do it myself. Since I was running so far behind on my hair the makeup lady came over and started doing my makeup while I was still getting my hair done. I didnâ€™t even have a chance to tell her what I wanted but it turned out great. I got tons of compliments on my makeup and looking back on pictures they did a good job.
WEDDING COORDINATOR â€“ Grade B
We had originally dealt with Claudia as our wedding coordinator; however when we arrived for our meeting Victoria was there to pick us up. She had our file and everything worked out just fine with the switch. She took us to a couple different locations but could tell we were not very happy with the choices. We ended up deciding on the Palmeras Beach and the Palmeras grill for the reception. She was very good at listening to what we wanted and finding a good location for us. After that we went back to the wedding coordinators office and went through the details. If I have one piece of advice for future brides it is not to worry about lack of communication before the wedding. These ladies work very long days with the brides that are there and I still canâ€™t figure out when they send e-mails. Rest assured once you arrive everything will go as planned.
If you prepay for the wedding package through your travel agent make sure to bring your receipt to your meeting with the wedding coordinator. They do not receive records of what you pay for ahead of time so this will quickly clear up any miscommunications.
After we finished planning the ceremony and reception Victoria gave us the total of the bill we owed. One thing I was unprepared for was that we had to pay in cash for the Mariachi band and our centerpiece flowers. I think there might have been another item as well. So long story short, make sure to bring cash if you are planning on any of these items. There is a cash machine in the lobby that dispenses US dollars, but the fee is pretty high.
After our meeting Victoria took us back to the front desk and had our wristbands switched out.
During the week Randy and I went to the shopping center that is located right outside of Jaguars Disco. We had wanted to buy maracas as favors but by that time no longer wanted to go into Playa Del Carmen to get them. This was a great decision. We were able to buy 40 maracas for $75 and they put our name and our wedding date on them right on site . . . bonus. We brought these back to Victoria to place at our reception.
My only reason for giving her a B and not an A were a couple miscommunications. When we got to the reception our Maracas were not there. She quickly went and got them but it was as if she forgot them. We also asked her to get us a reservation at a buffet for our group. She told us this was done but when we went to the buffet that night there was no reservation. We anticipated this and I sent Randy to talk to the buffet about an hour before our group was scheduled to arrive. He gave the manager a tip and from there everything was set up perfectly.
Another thing I did not realize is the wedding coordinator stays with you through the whole reception to make sure everything goes perfectly. That was a nice touch.
WEDDING CEREMONY â€“ A++
Our wedding was at 6 pm. I originally thought this was too late but it was the only time they had when we booked. I would now recommend to any future brides that are still planning their time to go for later. The beach had cleared out by then and it made for a more private event. The earlier weddings in the day can get a crowd drawn pretty quickly.
We choose to have a violin play for the march and it was perfect. If you are wavering between the wedding packages I really thing the live music added a lot. We choose to have everything done in white. Iâ€™ll post a couple pics at the end, but it looked really nice in pictures.
The part of the wedding that really surprised me was how great the minister was. We did a symbolic ceremony and were not expecting a lot out of the actual ceremony but it was really good. The minister pulled Randy aside before the wedding and got some facts about us and incorporated it into the ceremony. The ceremony was very personal and had some very touching moments. We were really impressed. We brought a videographer with us, when I get the video back Iâ€™ll post it for everyone to see.
The scariest/funniest part of the whole ceremony was when Randy started to go through his vows. The minister was standing behind him and he was doing them on his own. Problem with that was we were not planning on doing our own vows. I had a heart attack at the alter because I did not have any vows. Turns out after three minutes of my panic that the minister was feeding lines in his ear . . . I just couldn't see it. I can't wait to see how freaked out I look in those pictures!
RECEPTION â€“ Grade A++
We choose to have our reception in the Palmeras Grill. The week we were there was pretty windy and having it in the grill helped make sure no one was eating sand. The set up was perfect. That area of the resort is very quiet after the beach clears out so we really felt that we had the whole place to ourselves.
The reception was set to start at 7:00. This gave us about a half an hour for family pictures first. We hired a Mariachi band to play for the first 45 minutes. This was defiantly worth the cost! This gave everyone a chance to grab a drink and enjoy the music before everything started. We originally were going to do a cocktail hour with food first but I am so glad we changed our minds. The food at the reception was plenty and any more would have been way too much! Dinner was served around 7:30 with the first 15 minutes still having the mariachi band there. This was great because they put on a little dance for the first couple minutes of dinner. Everyone really enjoyed it.
The food was amazing. I am still getting e-mails today about how good it was. We choose the surf and turf. The lobster was out of season, but the shrimp was to die for! I am glad we ended up with that. The chocolate cake that came with it was also out of this world . . . so good.
After dinner the head server broke out a bottle of Don Julio and started in with a tequila toast. They put a hat on my DH and me and did a little show with some shots. It was a great way to get everyone into the reception mode. Throughout the night they had different drinks or shots that they would bring out as a show. Of course there was still the bar. The servers did an excellent job and we ended up running back to the room to get a bigger tip because we were so amazed at the service and entertainment they provided. One tip - if they bring you a flaming shot . . . DONâ€™T drink it. It is horrible. One of our guests ended up setting a server on fire because he ended up blowing it back out at him accidentally. He wasnâ€™t hurt and it ended up being funny, but long story short even though it looks fun, donâ€™t do it!
We opted to bring our own music and it worked out great. The BarcelÃ³ provides you with the sound system in the package and it worked out perfect. When people were giving speeches they immediately brought up the microphone. The wedding coordinator also ran the iPod for us. We didnâ€™t have to worry about anything!
Overall there is nothing about the reception or the wedding ceremony I would change looking back on it. Our guests cannot stop talking about how great it was and how everyone should get married that way.
Photography and Videographer: Grade ?
So a couple of you know how much I struggled with this one. I originally had booked one of Claudia Rodriguezâ€™s associates. I liked her work, but I started to struggle with the idea that the photography would be limited and I would not have someone there for the whole day and the investment for a TTD and the whole day shoot would have been more than bringing someone from the states. I know she would have done a fantastic job but I ended up deciding to cancel and bring my own photographer. After a lot of research I ended up bringing Spencer Combs from Minnesota. Letâ€™s just say without seeing my photos it was the best decision I made. Instead of a second shooter we had a videographer Matt Brue with Capture Studios come to do video with Spencer. They are friends so it worked out perfectly. Spencer is younger but he is very talented! He and Matt also worked really well together. We also did a TTD shoot the next day with both photography and video. I am dying to get them back! They also were a great addition to the group and troupers as we were there through the whole swine flu outbreak. Iâ€™ll hold back a grade at this point but there is no doubt in my mind that I will be giving them the highest marks once we get photography and video back. Best of all too, in my opinion his prices were very reasonable. Of course Iâ€™ll post pictures as soon as I get them and the video too!
OVERALL : Grade A
I really enjoyed every moment of the trip and the wedding. The only negative thing I can say about the experience is that the BarcelÃ³ does a lot of weddings. When we arrived they had already done 97 in April alone. This means they are very good at it but it also means you will see a lot of other weddings and a lot of other brides. One day during our stay there were six weddings all on the same day.
I would also say the extra money we spent for the beach wedding and private outdoor reception was worth it.
I am sure I have missed some details, but feel free to leave any questions and Iâ€™ll try to answer. I'll post more pics as soon as I have them!
Posted 07 May 2009 - 11:07 AM
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