My Hilton Los Cabos and Vendors Review (long)
Posted 08 June 2009 - 05:55 PM
Transport – Brown’s Private Services
Nadia at Brown’s was great. She always responded promptly to my emails and in the last few weeks before the wedding as guests were constantly changing reservations, she kept track of it all – she even sent me an excel spreadsheet with a summary of airport transfers for my guests when I started getting confused. Prices were reasonable and everyone was picked up on time- no problems. They also provided a 45 person bus for roundtrip transport for our rehearsal dinner. Nadia sent me a picture of the bus so I wasn’t renting blind and the bus was exactly like the picture, clean and air-conditioned and on time. We were very happy with Brown’s.
Deep Sea Fishing – Baja Raiders
We booked a charter for 10 people on the Muchacho Alegre through Baja Raiders. Judy at Baja Raiders was great, providing all the details and confirmation as well as driving directions to the boat. Price after license fees, lunch, bait and tip worked out to $140 pp which we thought was very reasonable. We caught a 175 striped marlin within 2-3 hours of fishing. Unfortunately, it was very windy and choppy and a couple guests got very seasick right after we caught the marlin so we cut the trip short. I can’t comment on how successful a full 8 hour fishing trip would have been, but we enjoyed what we experienced.
Accommodation – Hilton Los Cabos
We booked the Hilton without a site visit and I cannot say enough good things about staying at the Hilton Los Cabos. The property is gorgeous, the food and service outstanding (I could eat at the Madero Bar for a month straight) and the rooms were fabulous, whether they were two queen beds or a premier suite. Our guests could not stop talking about the hotel and there were a few guests that routinely stay in 5 star accommodations who raved along with everyone else. While the hotel is large, almost 400 rooms I think, it has an intimate feel and layout and I cannot wait to return. The staff was so friendly and genuine and kept thanking us for coming. Many of my guests went to the Hotel Lobby Bar after the reception (beautiful view and d©cor) and though it’s supposed to close at midnight, it stayed open past one for all of us that didn’t want the wedding to end – just amazing service.
Rehearsal Dinner – Sunrider Sunset Dinner Cruise
Our guests LOVED this cruise. We guaranteed 40 people (ended up with 44 guests) for a private 2 ½ hour sunset dinner cruise with open bar. The boat and crew were both great. Plenty of room on top and in the main cabin with a nice wooden bar. They put out small flower centerpieces in the cabin because they knew it was for a wedding. The staff hustled to get drinks for those sitting up top and the dinner was very tasty – way better than I expected for a dinner cruise. Mario was the contact person and was always responsive to my emails. We were thrilled with the cruise and recommend that everyone do a cruise for the rehearsal dinner! My only comment is that at the end of the cruise they stand on the dock with the tip jar that initially is sitting on the bar. Since I was tipping the entire crew at the end, I wished I would have known this so I could ask them not to ask guests for tips. So just be aware of this if you don’t want guests feeling like they need to tip too.
Ceremony & Reception – Hilton Los Cabos
I cannot imagine a more perfect setting than La Barca Beach for our ceremony and the Whale Watching Terrace at the Hilton for our reception. It was everything I pictured and more. La Barca beach is like getting married on a private beach because anyone going to the beach stays closer to the main part of the hotel and this beach area is off to the side.
The Whale Watching Terrace – from the first moment I saw it on the Hilton’s website and in someone’s Juan Carlos slideshow, I fell in love. The terrace sits underneath at the end of the infinity pool and above the beach overlooking the ocean. You also get the entire Madero bar for the evening when you have your reception here. It was spectacular – I kept looking around wanting to pinch myself. Also, the Hilton went above and beyond with d©cor. I had flowers of course, and lugged down pillar candles and 100 votive holders for decoration. Dulce and Jaira had told me that the Hilton would provide some lights and candles so I figured anything else would be a bonus. What a bonus – large lights like old fashioned street lamps, lantern candles along the terrace edges, vases with sand and shells in them along the steps and on cocktail tables, large potted reeds to hide speakers. I was in shock when I saw all the extra decorations – it was amazing. Oh - and dinner was fabulous and the presentation was exquisite.
Coordinator – Jaira/Dulce Hilton Los Cabos
Please note that I basically served as my own wedding coordinator. I researched and contacted all the vendors myself, even the ones booked through the Hilton. As such, I cannot review Jaira/Dulce on how they would design or offer suggestions about what to do for d©cor and work with vendors, because I had a clear vision of what I wanted and I never asked Jaira/Dulce to perform these duties. I basically relied on the Hilton coordinators to implement/coordinate the actual day of the wedding and Dulce did a great job in the last month stepping in for Jaira (Jaira was the coordinator but was on maternity leave during my wedding).
My experience with the Hilton wedding team was like other past Hilton brides on the forum. Early on in planning I read that the Hilton can sometimes be a pain to deal with, but on the day of your wedding, it is all worth it. Jaira was often slow to respond to emails and when she responded, she would only answer 1 or 2 of the 10 questions I had listed. As the wedding date grew closer, though, response time improved. If you’re not good at keeping track of details and you want someone to do all of that for you and prompt you to do certain things on a timely basis, just depending on the in-house coordinator probably isn’t wise, but that’s true with most venues. Since I planned on keeping track of everything, I just worried about whether they would do what they promised and coordinate the wedding day well – which Dulce did great. We arrived a week before our wedding and Dulce was extremely responsive, always available to meet and discuss details and was never late for a meeting. I gave her a list of things I needed the Hilton to accomplish on the wedding day as well as a timeline of events and she did a fantastic job the day of the wedding pulling everything together for me. While we had a couple small hiccups, everything got resolved and there were no issues the day of the wedding and that’s what matters. We could not be happier with how our wedding turned out at the Hilton and I would do it all again in a heartbeat. It was perfect.
Photographer – Juan Carlos Tapia
I don’t think I can add anything here that someone hasn’t already said on the forum. I felt like I was in a shoot for Vogue on our wedding day and I cannot wait to see the pictures. Juan Carlos also met with us and the Hilton coordinator the Monday before the wedding because I wanted his input on ceremony set-up on La Barca beach. He told the coordinator which way to set up so that the sun would not shine in my eyes and make me squint during the ceremony and adjusting the set-up angle also flowed better from the pathway to the beach and provided a better backdrop for pictures. That was extremely helpful and Juan Carlos mentioned that most people don’t ask for his input on ceremony location, so if you have any questions about how to position your ceremony on the beach make sure you ask him – no one will know better than him. As far as cost – as many others have stated, our photographer was an investment and the second thing we booked after the hotel. We worked our budget around these numbers and managed expenses in other places.
Florist – Mazarte Floral (Martha Zarate)
Flowers were amazing. I wanted periwinkle blue hydrangeas for huppa decoration and centerpieces and the ones Martha got were huge and the perfect color. I also rented hurricanes from her and additional vases to place bouquets so I could use them as additional decoration rather than have them just sitting on the dinner table. The bouquets were beautiful – ivory roses and pink peonies for me and ivory and light pink roses for bridesmaids. The flowers were fresh and lasted – I sent her two photos and she brought them to life. Martha was initially very slow to respond to my request for a proposal, but since she was a vendor through the Hilton I did not worry too much – after a few reminder emails she did send me a proposal and we had a phone conference on price and product to finalize details. Martha also provided and erected the huppa, which was perfect. I was extremely pleased with Martha’s work.
Hair and Make-up – Suzanne Morel
Suzanne is extremely responsive and very reassuring to deal with. My hair and make-up turned out great on the wedding day, as did my bridesmaids. However, I did not have a very good trial experience. Everyone on the forum says she’s expensive but worth it, so maybe I had unrealistic expectations of how smoothly everything would go at the trial. On the other hand, the coordinator that was assigned to my wedding for over a month and was at the trial was argumentative, unpleasant and it was just not a fun experience. I have talked to Suzanne personally about this and I’m not going to name the coordinator – I just hope she learns and improves. At the end of the (3 hour) trial, the coordinator also informs me that there’s another wedding the same day as mine that she needs to do make-up at now so she won’t be my coordinator – so why was she at my trial?! I was furious. In retrospect, it was a blessing in disguise because I did not like this coordinator and who we ended up with – Sylvia, was nice and great. But we still had to explain things to her and show her pictures the day of my wedding, not my preference. Lea, my stylist, was also great and remembered most issues, but given the expense, I expect the coordinator for my wedding to be at my trial – I thought that was unacceptable and Suzanne agrees with me – sounds like this is not a common occurrence, so I don’t know what happened with my wedding. At the end of the day, everything turned our fine for the wedding day and that’s what is important, but I can’t help feeling I didn’t get everything I paid for.
Minister - Reverend Marco
Reverend Marco was fantastic. All of our guests were impressed with his humor, wit and handling of the rehearsal and ceremony. I can’t say enough about how he made us feel and how wonderful he is. He should be every bride’s first choice in Cabo.
DJ – Ricardo Patino
I think Ricardo is the No. 1 choice for Cabo DJs on this forum and he did not disappoint. Always prompt in email responses, reassuring and professional. He had our entire song list and strung together the music masterfully. He also handled the sound set up for the ceremony and did an amazing job. It was very windy for our ceremony but there was no wind feedback on the microphones. He handled MC duties as well, introducing the bridal party and telling the guests if they wanted to see a kiss, no glass clinking, they had to sing a song with a spanish word in it (our idea). Of course then he had to accommodate guests seeking background music for La Isla Bonita, etc., which he handled effortlessly. I was extremely impressed with his equipment, everything on a mac computer and he was very organized. Ricardo is top-notch!! Oh – and ladies – remember to feed your vendors. Ricardo must have thanked me 10 times for dinner which made me think people don’t usually provide him dinner.
Cake – Jennifer Hatton
LOVED the cake. I asked her to combine the design elements of two other cakes I had seen on her website and it was beautiful and tasted fantastic. We had vanilla cake with white chocolate mousse and chocolate devil’s cake infused with kalua with chocolate nutella ganache. Delicious. Buttercream frosting was phenomenal. The Hilton served everyone a small slice of each flavor, which I hadn’t requested but was a great idea and on each plate was also a white chocolate starfish or shell which also tasted fantastic. I don’t know if this was Jennifer or the Hilton that provided the chocolate for each plate, but everyone loved the extra added touch and I appreciated it!
I hope this review is helpful. Despite the length, I’m sure I’ve forgotten things that I meant to tell everyone. I know you are all going to yell at me for pictures, but I have only seen a few, my guests are not on top of posting their photos. I’ve tried posting one picture of our reception below (hope it works) and I will try to post some more this week, once I get some and I promise to post Juan Carlos’ slideshow when we get it.
Posted 08 June 2009 - 06:22 PM
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Posted 08 June 2009 - 06:22 PM
Posted 08 June 2009 - 07:34 PM
Posted 08 June 2009 - 07:57 PM
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Posted 08 June 2009 - 08:09 PM
Your wedding sounds amazing. I'm glad that everything came out how you wished for.
Posted 08 June 2009 - 10:43 PM
Oh - Sunrider cruise was $40.50 pp, they matched another quote I got from another boat.
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