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Shellb's Melia Caribe Tropical and Wedding review (LONG)

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#1 shellb

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  • 533 posts

    Posted 09 May 2009 - 06:33 AM

    We had a wonderful week in paradise. We wish it had been longer, but we had quite a few first time travelers with us that we wanted to ensure got home safely with as little stress as possible. So we decided we are going to do another getaway later this year down south for just the two of us. I’ve sat down to write this a few times and always seem to get pulled away, going to finish it this time though…so here goes...

    Melia Caribe Tropical Resort – A

    Royal Service Rooms and Amenities – A – We stayed in Royal Service for the week. Our room was very nice with separate bedroom and living room. I will note that the room could have been cleaner, one of our bathroom doors was covered in sunscreen from a previous guest and the light switches were spattered with dirt. Tell me I have OCD, but I did end up cleaning them myself because every time I looked at them it made me feel as though the rest of the room was dirty which it really wasn’t. We loved the Gabi room service feature that comes with Royal Service, they offer a really good smokehouse burger. The private beach was great as well and the RS pool was a great place to relax without all the hustle and bustle that was around the other pools. I would say Royal Service is the way to go if you stay at the resort.

    Standard Rooms (Junior Deluxe Suites) – B- - All of our guests were spread between the Caribe and Tropical side, so we got to see the rooms on both sides throughout the week. The rooms are generous in size with great views of the gardens from all the ones we were in (buildings 9, 28, 29, 31, and 32). From reading reviews online I thought the Tropical side needed refreshing more so than the Caribe, but I was surprised that it was actually the Caribe side that needs a refresh. Our guests had issues with patio doors that didn’t lock, a bed that had a piece of cut wood for a leg that wasn’t even attached, some very run down bathrooms. I think Transat should reconsider the 4.5 rating they give for the Caribe side. I think a 3.5 to 4 would a better rating for a fair description of the rooms. For our guests, their main concern was a clean bed to sleep in which they did have. I don’t want to sound like a snob, but I want other couples to be sure to give their guests a fair expectation of what to expect of the regular deluxe suites when booking. Our guest spend a lot of money to come to our weddings and we want them to have a great vacation as well.

    Grounds – A++ - The grounds are beautiful, mature and well maintained. The grounds staff is continually working to keep things gorgeous. You will see flamingos, peacocks, turtles, cats and a variety of birds around the resort. Our whole group loved the spaciousness of the resort, the grounds and walking around. This is not a resort for you if you don’t like walking or waiting 10 minutes for a tram to take you to the restaurants or the pools & beach.

    Service – A+ - The staff is so friendly. Always a warm “Hola” wherever you went. If you want something just ask and they will do there best to help you. Jose, one of the Royal Service concierges is the best for making you feel at home and going that extra mile. Reg, one of the RS shuttle drivers was always super helpful, especially after my husband sprained his big toe the day after the wedding. Stubbed on the sand doing the Trash the Dress, don’t ask, I still have no clue how he managed it, but it look like it really hurt.

    Restaurants – A – If someone complains that they can’t find anything to eat at this resort, then they are a very fussy eater. We always found something, whether it was at one of the 9 a la cartes or the 3 buffets. Most of our family preferred the Market Place buffet since it was easier for everyone to find something they liked. The Supremo con Polo at the Mexican is wonderful.

    Beach and Pools – A+ - The Royal Service pool and beach area is awesome, who can beat being served drinks and food while you soak up the sun. A great getaway for newly weds the day after the wedding. We spent a fair bit of time with our guests at the regular Caribe pool and on the beach. We found that there were always plenty of chairs and the walk and the swim to the pool bar wasn’t too far.

    Wedding – A

    Our wedding was beautiful and we were so happy we chose to get married in the Caribbean. Despite any hiccups we wouldn’t have done it any other way.

    Wedding Package – Melia – we opted for the free Melia package and to pay for the numbers beyond the 12 included guests as well as a few extra’s like the Horse & Carriage and the Trio. This package suited our needs perfectly fine. Our group of 18 really wasn’t large enough to justify the larger packages and the small amount of time between ceremony and dinner really would have been a waste for a cocktail reception which is included in the other packages. The Horse & Carriage was more for Jeff’s Mom because she didn’t think it was proper for us to arrive via golf cart. The Trio was a beautiful addition and really added to the ceremony.

    Ceremony – A - We chose to have the ceremony in the garden Gazebo, which was the main reason for choosing the Melia for our wedding. The gazebo is gorgeous, better than in photos. The ceremony went smoothly with the exception of signing the documents for posterity in front of our guests which was overlooked. This is one part I should have been more specific on in our meeting with the coordinator prior to the wedding. Other than that the ceremony was perfect. One thing to note if you are having your parents both walk you down the aisle, have them meet you on the opposite side of the bridge before you enter the gazebo. It’s hard to walk in a poofy dress arm in arm with your parents across the bridge.

    Coordinator – A – We had Evelyn Reyes as our coordinator and Emy Rose Aquino briefly during our planning. It was nice to finally put faces to the emails I had received over the past year. I know we all stress over the details, the emails back and forth, the miscommunications and delays in responses. Our meeting lasted about a half hour. We gave her our decorations and discussed details such as menu choices and the logistics of the day. Evelyn was organized, had a checklist that we went through to finalize the details of the ceremony. Evelyn was there during the ceremony, advised on how we were doing time wise to ensure we stay on schedule (another wedding right after us), checked in with the staff during the meal and did a great job ensuring my decorations got set up as requested. We were pleased with the service we received.

    Salon Services at the Caribe Spa – B - I didn’t love the way my hair had turned out. I did a trial at home and took photo’s that I brought with me. All I wanted was a simple updo with room at the back to put my veil and hair pulled slightly up at the and the bulk of the curls on top front to help give me some height. When the salon lady did my hair it was off to one side on the top. I had her adjust it so I didn’t look like I had a big lump to one side of my head for photo’s. My hairdo did not last past 7:30 PM regardless of all the hairspray that was put in. I don’t think I had enough pins because there were half the pins that I had for my trial. My MOH on the other hand had the better of the 2 stylists because her hair looked great, just like the photo we brought to show for her style. Hers actually stayed in for a day and half (we did a trial to see how long considering mine fell out).

    Restaurant – A – Our dinner was in “Ma Maison”. We had wanted El Guarapo, but we were choose the Melia package that was free with our room in Royal Service, so we took what we were given. We were seated along the window in a T- shape, Jeff and I with our MOH & BM at the top, guests down the sides. We opted for a menu that we felt our guests would enjoy best. We chose a green leaf salad with chicken poached in almond milk, a minestrone soup (other options were either seafood based or something we felt guests wouldn’t like), and an entr©e of chicken breast stuffed with goat cheese, spinach and almonds served with vegetables. Dinner was wonderful and our guests loved it.

    Cake – A – I am not a huge cake fan, so I am relying on the feedback from our guests. We went with two tiers of vanilla and one layer of chocolate with just plain frosting and our cake topper of roses. The cake came decorated with fruit, a little different than we requested, but people liked it so we really can’t complain. I will warn though that they use a ton of frosting (ours was an inch or so thick).

    Other wedding notes:
    April is a very busy month for weddings and we had to hurry out of the gazebo and hurry with the horse & carriage because there was another wedding at 6 PM. Things felt a bit rushed. I thoroughly get why some couples choose 1 wedding per day resorts. Overall, Jeff and I were still happy with our day regardless of feeling a bit rushed.

    The only issue I did have relating to the wedding, I am partially to blame for. I forgot my flowers at the restaurant that evening when I was caught up in all the excitement. I realized about an hour after we had left the restaurant and figured everything by that time would have been picked up to make room for guests having dinner at the restaurant that night. The coordinator wasn't back in until Monday to ask to get my flowers and the table decorations we had brought with us. On Monday, the flowers were returned missing my little picture frame and photo of my grandmother with the ribbon that was holding them sloppily retied. I could care less about the frame, but who steals a photo of a dead woman. Since it was 2 days after the wedding and the day we were leaving we decided the chances of getting it back or finding out who took it would be unlikely. It was disappointing though that someone would steal something that obviously had sentimental value to someone. So ladies, make sure you don’t forget your bouquets especially if they have a memory frame.

    Overall, our day was beautiful and we were happy to have it at a resort with such beautiful grounds and beach for photos. If you are a couple that does not want share your glory with other couples on your day, this isn’t the resort for you. I believe if memory serves me correctly, there were 3 other weddings on our day. Brides as far as the eye could see. Also, of note, the Melia Caribe Tropical has some different rules for photographers compared to other resorts and now as of specific May 1st commercial release photographer fees that you should be aware of before choosing this as a location. We had a lot of confusion surrounding paying for a nights stay versus guest passes during the planning stages. I think because we had proof of permission for guest passes prior to booking our photographer we were allowed to use the photography company we wanted. The rules are getting stricter though. If you are ok with using the resort photographer and ok with more than one wedding per day, then the Melia is a good choice, especially if you are staying in Royal Service which we recommend as the way to go when staying at the Melia.

    Pastor – A+

    Pastor York did a beautiful job. Couples who have chosen to use his services will not be disappointed. He delivers a lovely ceremony and works with couples to compose the ceremony that you want. Jeff met him a half hour prior to the ceremony and said that he is very jovial, and easy to talk to. Personally, I wish that I had had more time to talk to him on the day. We wholeheartedly refer him and his services to other couples. Our guests commented on how nice of a ceremony he delivered.

    Photographer & Videographer (Photo Souvenir) – A++
    Let me begin by saying Jeff and I really do not like getting photographed. We can never seem to relax and be comfortable and get a nice photo of us together. That being said, I can’t rave enough about Photo Souvenir for their professionalism and the specialness they brought to our day.

    Our videographer was Francois Vergnette. Francois was very professional and you almost didn’t know he was there capturing the ceremony on video. I really hope he didn’t catch when Jeff dropped cake down the front of my dress and Jeff thought it would be funny to make the move to reach in and get it…like that was gonna happen in front of everyone…lol. After the ceremony, Francois and I talked briefly about editing and the music to be added to the video. I can’t wait to see the finished product.

    Our photographer for the day was Francisco (Fran) Rodriguez. Fran was very professional, sweet, personable and did his best to capture the moments of our day while making us relax and be comfortable in front of the camera. Due to the fact that we were on a tight timeline, another wedding following ours and a prompt dinner at 6, we didn’t get as many photo’s or pictures with certain people in the locations we wanted. I can’t blame Fran for this, he was doing his best to stick to the timeframe he was given. Fran described in one word is AWESOME. We are so looking forward to seeing the photos. Fran did show us a few on his camera and they looked great. Some of our friends came to watch the “Trash the Dress” and they loved the poses he was setting up and told us that they looked awesome as well. Once we get the photos I’ll be sure to update this post.

    If you are thinking on Photo Souvenir, go for it. It was the one thing for the wedding that we truly splurged on and even without seeing the finished product I can say it was worth it. We are so happy we had Fran and Francois capture our day.

    La Barcaza – A
    Let me begin by noting, that we are not doing an AHR because we would end up doing two AHR’s because our families are spread on either end of the province and across Canada. We decided that we’d make our trip more memorable by doing a sunset dinner cruise the evening after the wedding as a thank-you to our guests for coming such a long way to share in our day.
    We met with Flori three days before the cruise and to make final payment. She explained how the evening would go and described the boat in terms of set-up and the itinerary (asked if we needed extras like flowers for tables and photographer). We arranged to meet on the beach at the end of the Melia resort (close to the Jellyfish restaurant) for pickup. Mental note, the boat that ferries you out to the La Barcaza has high sides for us shorter people and it is hard climbing in with a dress.

    You sail along the coast past other resorts to the natural swimming pool where you stop for about an hour before having dinner. The swim in the natural pool was beautiful. The guests that didn’t come in spent their time up top on the coaches chatting, taking photo’s and laughing at us in the water. For dinner, we went with the Open Bar Grill option. Dinner of the grilled chicken and beef with a salsa and plantain was delicious. Dessert of caramelized pineapple was even better.

    It was nice to spend more quality time with our guests and they thoroughly enjoyed the cruise and the meal. The crew and Chris the manager are really friendly and make the trip even more fun. If it is in your budget, you might want to consider it as an option.

    #2 August2010Bride

    • Jr. Member
    • 369 posts

      Posted 09 May 2009 - 08:46 AM

      Congrats! Can't wait to see the pictures.

      #3 erinleigh

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      • 316 posts

        Posted 09 May 2009 - 10:17 AM

        Congratulations Shellb, thanks for the great review! I'm getting married at the Melia in November with my reception on the La barcaza, so it was great to hear your detailed review of both. I'd LOVE to see some pictures!

        #4 eloping789

        • Jr. Member
        • 290 posts

          Posted 09 May 2009 - 10:52 AM

          Thanks for the review!! Makes me even more excited about our wedding there in two months! Did you happen to see a beach wedding while you were there? That's what we're doing and I was just wondering how it goes.


          #5 imapepper

          • Newbie
          • 89 posts

            Posted 09 May 2009 - 11:01 AM

            Thanks for the review and CONGRATS!!!!

            #6 shellb

            • Member
            • 533 posts

              Posted 09 May 2009 - 04:06 PM

              Thanks ladies, a DW was the best decision ever.

              Originally Posted by eloping789
              Thanks for the review!! Makes me even more excited about our wedding there in two months! Did you happen to see a beach wedding while you were there? That's what we're doing and I was just wondering how it goes.

              No, just the set up for what looked like a beach reception. We planned on going back that evening to take a peek to see how pretty it turned out, but got tied up with our guests. I also saw the set up for a romantic dinner in the new beach gazebo which is situated next to the beach over close to the Royal Service beach. It has these blinds you can pull down on the sides to give it some privacy from the people on the beach.

              #7 melette

              • Member
              • 893 posts

                Posted 10 May 2009 - 12:15 AM

                Congrats! thanks for the review! I can't to see the photo's. And i'm sorry about your grandmother's picture! That's awful!
                http://i36.photobuck...ette12/mcc1.jpgFirst Dance as Mr. & Mrs 01/21/2010http://tickers.Ticke....1911/event.png

                BRIDE&GROOM + 85 Family & Friends BOOKED and had a blast!

                #8 eloping789

                • Jr. Member
                • 290 posts

                  Posted 10 May 2009 - 08:57 AM

                  Originally Posted by shellb
                  Thanks ladies, a DW was the best decision ever.

                  No, just the set up for what looked like a beach reception. We planned on going back that evening to take a peek to see how pretty it turned out, but got tied up with our guests. I also saw the set up for a romantic dinner in the new beach gazebo which is situated next to the beach over close to the Royal Service beach. It has these blinds you can pull down on the sides to give it some privacy from the people on the beach.
                  Oh, how nice! We may have to do that as the celebration dinner after our wedding. Thanks for the info!!

                  #9 michellepicksbrent

                  • Sr. Member
                  • 1,448 posts

                    Posted 10 May 2009 - 09:17 AM

                    Great review, thanks for sharing! Congratulations on becoming a Mrs.!

                    #10 DarcyJAde

                    • Jr. Member
                    • 305 posts

                      Posted 10 May 2009 - 10:28 AM

                      Congratulations ShellB!!!!! What a detailed and wonderful review!!

                      [/SIGPIC] 40 PEOPLE BOOKED!!!

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