Ayita Le Reve Wedding review 05/02/09 - LONG !
Posted 27 May 2009 - 01:11 AM
In spite of this, my wedding was absolutely perfect – it sounds odd to say knowing that I was missing people so close to my heart – but it really was.
To add to the flu, on the morning of our departure, it had rained and stormed all night. Most roads were flooded, and the stretch limo we had ordered could not get out of the depot. Luckily, the transportation company could provide us with a Suburban and we made it to the airport on time ! But really, it made wonder if the universe did not want me to have my wedding in Playa del Carmen…
It turned out that we had the best weather, the best atmosphere, the best food, the best set-up, and the best party. Maybe the universe wanted perseverance. If it was to be done again, I would do it without a blink.
Flight – A
We flew Continental, direct from Houston. I had upgraded us to First Class – it allowed us not to worry about carrying dress, suit, AND flowers in the cabin, plus you can check in up to 3 luggages per person, up to 72lb, compared to 2 / 50 lbs in economy. For a 2h30 flight, the upgrade is not really worth it… unless you worry about what you carry, in which case it's a treat. And what, this was our wedding, so I thought we could splurge ! Of course when you fly business, nothing can really go bad so this justifies the A. I was annoyed thought that our flight back was cancelled and they put us on a flight that was 2h30 earlier. That's 2h30 less of Caribbean !
Arrival in Cancun – C
Everything went smoothly until we got to the customs… Despite we both got green lights, we had to open all our suitcases. I guess with 3 checked luggage and one hand luggage each, we could hardly go unnoticed. We had to unpack everything. To no avail, as they were looking for expensive stuff and they did not find any… well there were the flowers, but maybe this was part of the stuff allowed to enter free ! We finally left with no problem.
Alamo Car Rental – B+
During our first trip to Playa, we had rented an economy car with National. It was awful. The car was so crappy, no radio, no electrical windows, manual gears, no suspension… they kept us an hour when we returned the car because we did not have the green paper – that they actually never gave me. Well, we changed to Alamo and it was much better. We took a higher car category (small SUV). It was a Chevy, not really the best car, but a total of 600$ including the insurance not on my credit card, for 14 days. Not bad, specially knowing that it did not consume a lot of gas. When we returned the car, I was again missing a paper (the one with the state of the car, this time I really had lost it, as I remember getting it in the first place) but instead of causing issues, they just looked at the car, made sure everything was OK and we were good to go. When we took the car, the guys set us up for a time-share scam. You get a free breakfast, and to listen to guys trying to sell you share time for 3 hours, and they give you back 100$. Given that the archaeological sites were closed, we decided to spend our first morning there. It was OK, athough a bit long in the end, and they did return us the 100$ in 5$ bills – perfect for tipping ! Anyway if you don't have time to lose, just refuse it. At the car rental, they don't tell you you have to listen to their selling stuff. DH knew what this was about, so we were not surprised. But if you're on a schedule, don't give the 20$ deposit and plan to go and have breakfast and leave… it's not working like that ! The scam and the not-so-good car make the B+.
Hotel - A+
1. Check-in - A+
Check-in at Le Reve was as smooth as the first time. We sat in the sofa with fresh welcome cocktails while we were filling the paperwork and paying the balance (contrary to most resorts, you only prepay 50%, balance is due only when you arrive !).By the time this was done, our car was parked and our luggage was upstairs.
2. General - A+ (Contractual process : D)
You can check my site review here :
The resort was still as beautiful as it was when we first visited it. It's actually a boutique hotel, 25 rooms, very small and intimate – just what we were looking for in the first place. Because it's so small, you get to know the staff very well and you truly feel like family. The staff is extremely friendly and nice, they will do anything to please you.
There is an elevator to go up and down between between levels (3 levels –lobby and horizon suites are on the 2nd floor, Garden Suites, restaurant, bars and pool on the 1st floor, and Master Suites on the 3rd floor). There is also free Wi-Fi in the lobby and in the restaurant area. There are two bars, one in the restaurant, one near the beach. In case of rain, you can have your ceremony on the deck in the restaurant area, or in the lobby.
I did have some issues with the hotel at the time of signing the contract, as some of you can maybe remember. I had visited them in December, gone through the planning process and in April, at the time of signing the contract, everything had changed. It was as if we had to start from scratch. Happily, I had an outside wedding planner that helped me a lot through this. I know that she spent time and energy so that everything reverted to where we were supposed to be after 4 months of planning ! For information, they also asked her a "referral fee" at the last minute, when it had never been mentioned before. Well, all got sorted out. I got what I wanted, and my WC did not have to pay a fee. My TA, who specializes in destination weddings, told me that she actually had never seen a commitment letter as generous as the one I got. She was also super surprised that they finally agreed not to make us pay the 100% of the rooms, after they asked us and we refused. She told us that she thought that all the turmoil with the contract was more due to execution inefficiencies, than to the hotel trying to get advantage of us.
Well, it turned she was more than right. My contract stated I was responsible for no shows, which was OK with me. Of course I could not have anticipated the flu… when 10 of my guests cancelled, I braced myself and prepared to pay for their shares. I had already prepaid the food and open bars. I was ready to also pay for the other half of their room. When I first talked to the hotel on the night of the first day some guests did not show up, I asked them to give me the bill for the remaining 50%. They said they would check with the manager. Then they got back to me saying they would not make us pay the remaining 50% ! They were just keeping the deposit. When the final bill came, and I looked at the details, I noticed that they had reduced down the food and drinks to the number of guests that were really here. Believe me or not : my check-out bill was… a refund of 100$ ! They also upgraded my parents for no charge when the guests that had taken the second Master Suite cancelled ; and gave them a great price when they had to stay 3 days longer because their trip to Cuba was cancelled. For my guests who cancelled, but could move the dates, they allowed them to change their date at no cost so they did not lose their deposit.
They really made it up to me and more. I am so glad I finally did not change the venue. Everybody was so happy, so diligent, and went above and beyond to make sure everything would be perfect. Coincidence or not, the owners of the hotel were actually there for our wedding ! There were three other couples we did not know on the Friday when all our guests arrived. So, we invited them all to the pre-party. No second thoughts. I learnt during the pre-party that one of the couples were the owners ! I would never have guessed. They are super young. They were really nice, the first day they came to us and asked us if they could help in anything – it did not check with me, I just thought they were nice, as the other 2 couples were. Maybe their presence helped. Anyway, everything went great.
They actually cared of the details more than me – asking me what color I wanted for the post-ceremony cocktail drink (for the toasts), and where did I want the tikki torches posted. They were really awesome.
The only lesson out of all this : this place is an awesome venue for a small, intimate wedding (they can actually welcome up to 100 guests, if I recall correctly), and they will make your day perfect, and they will not scr** you - but insist on having a contract well ahead of time to save you the trouble I went into 3 weeks before the big day !
3. Rooms/Housekeeping - A
The rooms are a combination of luxury and simplicity. It's hard to describe. The beds are super comfortable, there are some beautiful typical Mexican tiles on the walls. They have 4 types of rooms : the garden ones, that have a private deck and a small outside Jacuzzi ; the horizon ones, with a great view to the sea and a large balcony ; the bungalows, on the beach, with a private deck and pool ; and the masters, with a huge terrace that can hold private events. We had taken one of the Master for this week. I was a nice upgrade from the Horizon. One of the defaults of the smaller suites (garden and horizon) is that there are no table and chairs in the room. There are some low chairs and a low table on the balcony, and a bench at the foot of the bed, but that's it. A big drawback – specially for instance for the parents of DH, as his father just got hip replacement surgery and could not sit anywhere (and he did not ask for a chair, that he would of course had got if he had asked – we asked for a second table and it came in right away). Another inconvenience is that from time to time, there will be no hot water. Other than this, the rooms are great – you don't spend a lot of time in them anyway.
Rooms are cleaned every day. The day before the wedding and the day of the wedding they made sure to do it in the morning so that I could have the room to me starting 11am.
4. Beach/Pools - A
The pool is great, with a big deck, long chairs, and a Jacuzzi part. There's a bar by the pool. The beach is also nice, with palapas, hammocks, and long chairs. There's some coral in the water so you cannot go in there bare foot, but the hotel has some shoes and snorkeling equipment available at no extra cost.
5. Food/Restaurant – A+
The food at the hotel is just plain amazing. Even the burger and fries are awesome ! The ceviche, the different fish dishes… everything awesome. This was one of the main reasons for me to pick this place – food is very important to me. My parents also loved it, and they are super particular ! For me it meant everything. Drinks are also exceptional. You ask for a mango juice and they will puree the mango for you… One caveat, the chef that is here at noon is apparently not so skilled than the one that is here at night. He messed up a recipe for a dessert at one lunch – which resulted in us getting free desserts but still…
6. Spa – A+ for massage, C- for mani/pedi
The Spa is amazing for massages. First, its situation : right in front of the beach. You're getting massages to the sound of the ocean, and you pick at the blue sky when you open your eyes… Second, its masseuses: all excellent ! Everybody who had a massage – chocolate, relaxing, reflexology – LOVED it.
On the other hand, we had a manicure/pedicure the day of the wedding. DH, myself, Best Woman and MOH. It was terrible. It took them 3 hours – from 10am to 1pm – for a result not really great. Highly not recommended…
7. Entertainment/Things to do – B-
Well, Le Reve is a boutique hotel and you know you don't come for entertainment, but for relaxation and quietness. They have games available, books, and DVDs. There are no TVs in the rooms but they can lend you a DVD player. They also have snorkeling equipment. Otherwise, you can go for a walk along the beach and find various vendors for sea-sports : jet-ski, snorkeling, scuba, parasailing, etc.
Travel Agency – DestinationWedding.com – B+
I was not very impressed by my TA at first. I did not find her very helpful in helping me find the right place. I had to do most of the work myself, and when I would ask her about a place, she would send me the internet description – that I had already read ! However, she proved efficient, and useful, for the bookings (I did not have to handle them), when the hotel that had been booked by my brother and parents (the Azul Fives) decided not to open until this fall, and obviously when some guests cancelled because of the flu and again I did not have to handle it. She also helped at the time of the issues with the venue, and got us an upgrade to butler service at The Tides for our honeymoon ! So overall, she does not get an A because the first service (finding the venue) disappointed me, but she still did good in the rest of it.
Wedding coordinator / Hotel (Katherine) – B
One of the issues I had with the hotel is that their first wedding coordinator quit in the middle of my planning. I did not get to work much with the new WC, Katherine. First thing, she was very sweet, and speak a perfect English. Together with Juliette (see below), she made sure everything went smoothly, watched over the waiters late into the night (until 4am…), helped me with giving out the OOT bags to guests upon checking in, coordinated with the kitchen for the cancelled guests, etc etc. From the few emails I exchanged with her (and again, I really did not get to work with her, so my review is a bit flawed – more about impressions), I was under the impression that she would have needed much, much more time than Juliette to make my planning. I prepared my whole wedding in 4 weeks, due to the first planner quitting. Juliette was GREAT at meeting all my expectations. I'm not sure Katherine could have done it. I already took her 2 weeks just to go through my file (that was not that thick) and understand where we were… and then everything she said was not always backed-up by management ! So, a lot of sweetness (which helps with the relationships), a lot of responsiveness, but not a lot of efficiency… again, impressions !!!! Other brides might have a complete different opinions – especially if they planned their whole wedding with her.
Wedding coordinator / Papillons Wedding (Juliette Franze) – A++
Juliette was amazing from A to Z. She was not cheap, granted – but well worth it. First of all, she managed to plan my whole wedding in three weeks. And I asked a lot from her ! Tables, chairs, canopy, lounge furniture, oversized candles, cake, centerpieces, audio equipment, lighting, make-up and hair… all this of course with very precise ideas (no ows no Tiffanys no blablabla). The only thing I already came with was my minister !!! And she was very flexible – we changed the table sizes at the last minute, I downsized my cake, all was possible.
She was very professional at handling everything. It's simple : once I explained to her what I wanted, I let her in control. Everything was awesome and conform with my expectations. You can check out in my pics my centerpieces, the coffee-tulip-roses bouquet for the bar, the cake, the canopy… I let her take care of all these details. And I did not do A THING on my wedding day. Nothing.
We had our pre-wedding meeting on the Thursday, together with the hotel planner, the hotel sales manager, the head-waiter and the chef. We discussed everything – my plans for the big day, the back-up plan for rain, where to set-up the lounges, the tikki torches, the color of the post-wedding cocktail, where to put the tables, how to take care of the place cards with the wind… All the details. I even asked her to print some small flags for my cake topper – I had forgotten them at home. She came back on the Friday with Anne-Marie for my hair and make-up trials and we finished the last details. Then she arrived at 1pm on the Saturday, and started to take care of all the installations. After installing everything, she got changed and took care of my guests while I was finishing getting ready. From watching over the bottles opening (for corkage tracking…) to ensuring the kids ate when they were hungry, or moving the lounges from the beach to the dance floor side – she took care of everything and I did not have to even lift my pinky. She even added great touches – put some rose petals on the sand tray for the place card, or organized the guest-frame-signing table with the toss bouquet and the sand frame… that was awesome.
Hiring Juliette is probably the best decision I made in the entire planning.
Amongst the things that she coordinated (it was her suppliers), I want to rate :
1. Hair/Make-up (Anne-Marie Cote, firstname.lastname@example.org) – A+
I had a hair+make-up trial on the Friday, "reshuffled" for the Friday night welcome drinks, and then hair+make-up again on the Saturday. She was also supposed to the hair of two of my BM, who both cancelled, and the hair of my FG. She was super kind to actually trade my two BM's hair for a TTD make-up and hair, for just the transportation allowance (she was coming from Isla Mujeres) ! I was so happy about it.
Anne-Marie is a true artist. She made me amazing. Granted, I did not like the hairdo she did me on the Saturday. It was a bit blah when my head was full of images of elaborate low-dos. But it did resist the wind from 5pm to 4am ! And her make-up was AMAZING. She does airbrush make-up. It resists heat and tears and sweat for 8 hours !! And truly she made me beautiful. I'm a huge photo-censor, and did not feel compelled to delete ANY picture at all !!! And I must say that I LOVED the hair that she made me for the TTD. It was spectacular. DH could not stop telling me how he loved it and how he wanted me to do it again that way. I think I should have been a bit more specific about what I wanted – and she would have made it…
Anne-Marie is also super cool and made me feel really relaxed. At the time of getting down with my dad, the door of the room slammed shut and could not be opened again ! I could have freaked out, but with Anne-Marie in the room, it was alllll good
2. Flowers – A+++
My two types of centerpieces (tables, and bar) were absolutely stunning. Not exactly what I wanted, no – MORE. I loved them. They were done based on pics I sent. I don't know who the florist was – you would have to ask Juliette.
3. Lounges – A
Good looking and comfortable. What I had asked for. I don't know who the supplier was.
4. Oversized candles – B
I was disappointed at these. I expected bigger ones. It was still gorgeous at night.
5. Cake – B
The cupcakes got all eaten so either it was good, or people were hungry. Possible, with all the booze. Anyway, I give it a B because I did not like its looks too much, but it was what I had ordered and it met its goal : be there, and be eaten. Well done, cake. I don't know who the bakery was – again need to ask Juliette.
6. Audio/Lights – A+
The audio equipment and lights that Juliette had hired came with a technician that stayed up to 1pm. Great. Our party really looked like a party.
Photography – Claudia Rodriguez – Did not see the pics yet !
It's difficult for me to rate Claudia at this time, because I only saw 3 very small teasers of my TTD. The teasers are amazing but I'm waiting to see it all !!! I had a 3 hours package, a video package, and a TTD session with her. 2 more weeks !!!
Ceremony – Santiago Carranza – A+
Santiago was great. I wanted a bilingual ceremony. He could speak French, but not write it… he sent me the text of a standard ceremony, and based on the model I completely transformed it to make it very personal and bilingual. He rehearsed, and made my dream ceremony come true. A lot of people told me it was the most moving ceremony they had ever attended.
Dinner and cocktail hour – Food – A+++
Did I already say the food at Le Reve was amazing ? Well I say it again. Up to my expectations.
Wine, champagne and liquors – La Europea – A++++
To save on costs (the wine list at Le Reve is pretty expensive, they allow you to bring your own bottles and the corkage fee is reasonable), we went to pick our wine at La Europea, in Cancun. We had a car and it was easy for us, but note that they also deliver on the whole Riviera Maya ! If you warn them enough in advance. The huge advantage of La Europea is that they will take back the unopened bottles, so you take no risk in getting too much ! You have to keep the white wine and champagne out of the fridge, cause they won't take back wine that has been refrigerated. But that's only fair.
What's more, they gave me GREAT advice on wine. I bought "blind" (ie I did not taste the wine before) and got 18 bottles of red wine and 15 of white wine, trusting them with their advice. Well, it was so good that all the red wine was drunk, and only 6 bottles of white wine remained. Aheum. This is on top of the 31 bottles of champagne, the open bar from 6 to 8 that was without our bottles (but for the champagne), all the liquors (2 rhums, 3 tequila, 4 vodka, 2 whisky…) and we were only 21 adults…
Ah ladies ! It was so amazing ! I would like not to be married so that I could do it all over again !!!!
You can check my pics here :
Posted 27 May 2009 - 01:18 AM
Posted 27 May 2009 - 08:40 AM
Posted 27 May 2009 - 09:09 AM
Posted 27 May 2009 - 12:26 PM
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Posted 27 August 2010 - 01:53 PM
Thank you so much for your review!
We are so glad that you had such a beautiful experience at Le Reve!
We are really looking forwards to seeing you back in our premises!
Le Reve Hotel & Spa
Posted 03 February 2011 - 05:56 PM
Hi, my name is Caroline. I'm very interrested to get married at Le Rªve. I just start communicated with them to get more infos. So the minister can speak french? I'm also french and my fianc© is turkish, but together we speak English. I would like to know would you mind to share with me your vows (french/english?) cause i'm trying to figure out how to write ours. Also if you have pics and any advice to share, their are welcome. My email is email@example.com
Merci beaucoup l'avance!
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