calchik's punta cana, gran bahia prinicipe bavaro wedding review. LONG and with pics!
Posted 01 July 2009 - 02:15 PM
Needless to say there was a lot of freaking out and crying on my part until my travel agent offered me a solution. We could move our wedding to Punta Cana, Dominican Republic BUT weâ€™d all have to get extra flights to Toronto because that is where the package is leaving from. My travelers were from Calgary, Edmonton, Moncton and California. Surprisingly everyone except 2 people from California paid the extra $400ish each to fly to Toronto to still attend our wedding. We had 24 guests and having a destination wedding and spending the week with them was the best decision I ever made.
Flight â€“ A
Our flight from Toronto to Punta Cana was with Sunwing and I have no complaints about it. They served us champagne and then wine with dinner. Appropriately they were showing Bride Wars as the in flight movie, but I didnâ€™t watch it. One of my friends was sneaky and told the flight attendant we were getting married so they announced our names over the speaker and the whole flight applauded our soon to be wedding.
Getting to the resort - B
There was a bus waiting for us to take us to the Gran Bahia Principe Bavaro. Once we were on our way, it was about a 30-40 minute drive and they stopped at 2 other resorts first, they gave us our information packets for our resort. This included 2 room keys, 2 towel cards, and a booklet about the resort: hours of restaurants, map, activities, phone numbers, etc. We did have to fill out a quick form and with the bumpy turning bus ride it made me and a couple other people quite nauseous hence the B
Resort â€“ A+
Check-in â€“ A+
There was no check in. Since we were a big group, 22 of us, they already checked us in. We were greeted at the bus with a yummy red drink and then our luggage was loaded onto trolleys and carts and we were zipped away to our room. Our entire group was in the same building of the resort which was very helpful as we ended always bumping into each other or just going along knocking on all the doors finding who was around.
Rooms/Housekeeping â€“ A
Being the wedding couple we could have asked for an upgrade to our room but we didnâ€™t want to be separated from our guests so we didnâ€™t bother. When we got there, there was a towel swan and balloons on the wall. Our room was great, very spacious which became necessary on wedding day when there was like 7 people in my room. King size bed which was a bit hard, but I prefer it that way. Then it opened up to a sitting area, which we never used as a sitting area. It became our disaster area since we ended up throwing anything and everything on the couch.
Bathroom was of good size too, which became necessary when I was lying on the floor on a towel my hubby put down for me after I was sick due to a ridiculous amount of rum on our snorkeling trip. Eek. We were on the first floor so our room didnâ€™t have a smell. But my MOH was on the third floor and their room had a musty smell to it.
Housekeeping was excellent, cleaned our room every day. We had a sunscreen explosion in the freezer bag that we packed it in and I was too lazy to clean up the bottle and throw out the bag but when we came back from the beach housekeeping did it for me. The day before my wedding I had my dress hanging and when we came back after the room was cleaned there was a different towel animal and a note that said â€œI am maid, good luck on wedding dayâ€. It was so cute and nice of her to leave me a note.
We had mini fridges that were stocked with pop, water, and beer that got refilled daily. Several of the guests asked for more beer and they got it no problem.
Posted 01 July 2009 - 02:17 PM
There were 3 pools on the resort but we only went to the one closest to the ocean. The other 2 were the quieter pools and the one we were at was the activity pool. Pool was nice, although a little deep for my liking since Iâ€™m barely 5 feet. When I was in the pool and not where it was really shallow I was on my hubbyâ€™s back cuz it was too deep for me to stand and be able to breathe. Lol. Ramone at the pool bar was fantastic, he made the best drinks and strong too. Weâ€™d tell him what type of alcohol we wanted and heâ€™d just whip up something good. The big hit was the Hulk drinks aka vodka whatevers.
The beach was fantastic. The sand was so soft, fine and pretty clean too. There were hundreds of beach chairs so never needed to save them and always enough that we could drag empty ones over to where the group was hanging out. There were tons of hut things if you wanted shade. The ocean was relatively warm so it was easy to spend a while in there. Walking out to the ocean was the same soft sand, water shoes werenâ€™t needed at all. One of the best beaches Iâ€™ve been too and Iâ€™ve been to Australia, Mexico and the Bahamas.
we stole sand from the beach to use in our sand ceremony at our AHR. Teehee.
Food/Restaurant â€“ A
Iâ€™ve been to several all inclusive before and I think the food at our resort was the best one. The selection was vast for every meal. My breakfast was usually from the omelet station and the cook always did fancy flips to get it on your plate, lots of fruits and I enjoyed the different flavors of yogurts.
Lunch was usually hamburgers and fries or fish/ pork with rice and veggies. And they had the best nachos ever! The guacamole was to die for and the chips were like deep fried tortillas maybe? I donâ€™t know but they were good, and once I discovered them I ate them every day with my lunch. Dinner had a good variety of meats and we usually had 3- 4 deserts and ice cream.
We went to Makato (Japanese) as one of our a la cartes. We got lazy and didnâ€™t book any other restaurants in time so they filled up. The food again was excellent, so was watching him cook it in front of us. Then he did a tenaka show for us with his spatulas.
There was a late night hamburger/ hot dog place, only open after 7 pm. Everyone loved the late night food option and we were normally there every night after the lobby bar or nightclub.
Posted 01 July 2009 - 02:18 PM
My MOH and I went to the spa for paraffin manicures. Iâ€™ve never had one before so I was enthralled with the wax part of it. I donâ€™t think my manicurist spoke very good English though. The day before we left for Punta Cana, I broke 4 nails on my right hand opening a file cabinet so they were short. But I kept the nails that I didnâ€™t break on my left hand long. She wanted to cut them down to match the right hand. Took a bit of explaining but she finally agreed to keep them long on my left hand because that would be hand that would be photographed more. The manicure itself turned out fine and my hands felt nice and soft after.
Entertainment/Things to do â€“ B+
There was a show in the theater every night, I only saw one but I heard the circus and Michael Jackson impersonator was good times.
We went on a snorkeling trip that was way too much fun. There was 20 of us so the boat was only our group. We snorkeled which wasnâ€™t exciting but then we went to a tank where we could snorkel with sharks and sting rays. Now that was super fun and cool. Sting rays feel neat when you touch them.
After we went to a natural wading pool created by a past hurricane, the water was calm and warm like a bath tub. While wading around we were served coco locos which is pretty much rum, coconut water with chunks of coconut in it. So good but so dangerous. I got ridiculously hammered and missed my own planned girls night that night cuz I was too sick to leave my room. Haha, oops.
Other people went on a horse back trip or deep sea fishing and enjoyed both excursions.
There was a nightclub on the resort which was full and lots of people dancing all the time. Iâ€™ve been to a few other clubs on all inclusive resorts and normally they only have staff in it and nobody dancing, but this club was always busy and fun. The music was pretty good even if the strobe light was on too much. Many a night we spent there dancing til we were tired and went to bed.
Travel Agency â€“ Marlin Travel â€“ F
*Gets long and ranty, feel free to skip ahead. Lol
I will never use Marlin Travel again. At first my TA Gary seemed like heâ€™d do a good job, I really liked him. He helped me pick a resort, we started to arrange things. So I emailed Paloma (WC) and asked for my date, she sent me back some forms asking me to fill them out and then sheâ€™ll confirm my date. On one of the forms is a booking number which Marlin Travel is supposed to give me. So I fill out the forms as much as I could and ask Gary for the booking number and he tells me heâ€™ll confirm the date with Paloma. Thatâ€™s fine, it takes him 3 days but but he gets my date, May 13.
Fast forward to 4 months later. I knew the WCâ€™s didnâ€™t really care to plan the wedding when it was so far in advance so I waited and then asked if I can pick my reception location. Paloma responds saying she doesnâ€™t have my wedding on the agenda and to send her the confirmation number, which I donâ€™t have. So I ask Gary since he â€œconfirmedâ€ my wedding date and he sends me an email from the Sales Director of the resort saying heâ€™s tentatively booked my wedding date for me. By this point Iâ€™m freaking out thinking I donâ€™t have a wedding date that I thought I did for the past 4 months. Everything revolves around my wedding date, I had a photographer booked, my AHR stuff booked.
Gary spent the next 3 days â€œsupposedlyâ€ calling and emailing to straighten out my wedding date. He claimed that the Sales Director is the WCâ€™s boss so I have my date regardless. But I was arguing that the Sales Director doesnâ€™t plan my wedding, the WC does so they need to confirm my date. Gary refuses to deal with Paloma since she reports to the Sales Director and continues to try to get in touch with the Sales Director. Weâ€™re talking emails, calling, even a Spanish fax to him.
After 3 days of thinking I have no wedding booked and getting very annoyed, frustrated, and depressed, I email Paloma with the tentative confirmation we were sent. She sends me the same forms she sent me 4 months ago to fill out. Gary asks me to fill out the forms (even though I did 4 months ago and sent them to him then) which I do and Gary provides the booking number. Paloma then gives me my wedding date confirmation and assigns Jazmin as my actual WC. Had Gary dealt with Paloma like I was asking him to this could have been resolved in a few hours, but he refused and wanted to waste time trying to hunt down the Sales Director.
Needless to say, my fianc© and I were pissed about this fiasco. We didnâ€™t trust Gary to do anything with our wedding trip. We didnâ€™t want to get to Mexico to find out he booked the wrong number of rooms or something equally as incompetent. So we talked to his manager, Wendy, who is really annoying to talk to in person. Sheâ€™s one of those constantly nodding at what youâ€™re saying kind of people and talks extremely fast. We called her the bobblehead. Anyways, Wendy of course backed Gary up and said he did the right thing by trying to deal with the Sales Director and not with Paloma. We told Wendy we didnâ€™t trust him to handle our wedding trip anymore so she took over as our TA.
In the transfer process from Gary to Wendy we had to give her a lot of information that we already gave Gary. Since he apparently didnâ€™t keep very good records of our trip. Wendy did okay at organizing our wedding trip. Iâ€™ll give her points because she got our package moved from Mexico to Punta Cana when it got cancelled. But otherwise, Iâ€™ll never ever use Marlin Travel again.
Posted 01 July 2009 - 02:19 PM
Wedding coordinator / Patricia & Claribel â€“ A -
Seeing as how we had to move our wedding from Mexico to Punta Cana in 9 days before we were leaving there was not much contact with our wedding coordinator.
I called the second I found out it could be moved to Punta Cana to see if they had a wedding opening on May 13 so I didnâ€™t have to change the week we were getting married. Somehow I magically got through and was told May 13 was free and to email her so she can email me documents I need to fill out. Yay I can still have my wedding date (which is also our actual anniversary date, DH was thrilled to only have to remember one date. Lol) so I email her and wait for her response. After a few hours I email her again because we needed to tell my TA if weâ€™re moving to the Dominican or not. She responded to the second email and sent me some forms
I emailed the forms back and didnâ€™t hear anything for a couple days. So I started calling to get actual confirmation and a wedding time for May 13. It took at least 4 tries before I got my confirmation because they were out of the office or nobody was answering. So I sent an email to Claribel saying when we get to the resort and weâ€™ll plan everything when we get there.
Sure enough when we get there we have a letter asking us to meet with Patricia, our WC, the next day to plan the wedding. Iâ€™m a pretty easy going bride so planning was easy and done within a couple hours. That and I was just so happy to still have a wedding that anything would please me. Lol. As long as everything was either purple or pink I was happy. We did have to change our menu because some of the ingredients were out of season but thatâ€™s fine. We went from Mediterranean to mixed grill.
The day before I gave Patricia our picture frame/ name cards and a seating chart, which they were a bit confused about setting up for the dinner but my MOH was there to help her out.
Claribel was there on our wedding day, helping my hubby spiff up. She was also wearing purple to match our wedding which I thought was a nice touch. And Patricia visited us during our dinner to make sure everything was going well.
The only hiccup of our wedding ceremony was that we told Patricia we had our own vows to say but it was Claribel who was performing the ceremony and it was technically a renewal of vows since we were legally married in Calgary. So she went through the normal ceremony and after everything I told her we wanted to say our vows too, which we did. It was just out of order since it wasnâ€™t in the middle of ceremony like it normally is.
We had a champagne toast after the ceremony and as we were taking pictures off to the side Claribel was giving our guests flower petals and setting them up along side our aisle. Then she announced as a gift to us she was adding some Dominican flair to our wedding. Dominican music started to play, we walked down the aisle as our guest threw flower petals in the air as we walked, we kissed half way, then did a little dance the rest of the way. This was a pleasant surprise for us and the pictures and video of it were great.
Location â€“ A+
One of the reasons I picked my Mexico resort was because I loved the gazebo. I was very happy to find that our Punta Cana had the same gazebo.
Iâ€™m glad I didnâ€™t pick the beach location since itâ€™s smack dab in the middle of hundreds of beach chairs.
Posted 01 July 2009 - 02:22 PM
My MOH did my hair for the wedding since it was originally planned for Mexico and I didnâ€™t hear great things about the salon there. We did 3 trial runs at home and then one trial run the day before the wedding to see how long it would take and how well it would hold up at the beach and in the sun.
My MOH did a super duper fantastic job. My hair looked great from every angle. Only at the beach where there were gale force winds cuz of a storm blowing in did my bangs escape a bit. Otherwise it didnâ€™t need to be fixed for the reception at all.
One of my other friends did my make up and it was also very well done. So glad I had my friends there to help me out and I didnâ€™t have to pay someone to make me look great.
Flowers â€“ A+++
I picked a bouquet out of the book and asked that the orange be replaced with purple. My bouquets were amazing, I loved my flowers! And all the flowers at the ceremony site were fantastic, which then became the flowers at the reception. And some flowers were put in our room after the ceremony. Also our flowers included pink star gazing lilies which were the flowers DH gave me when he proposed.
I was given 3 choices for boutonnieres for the guys which surprised me, but she didnâ€™t know which pink I would prefer so I got to choose.
Posted 01 July 2009 - 02:25 PM
Our photo book was given to us the very next evening, done in less than 24 hours! The photo book is so impressive, the pages are sturdy like cardboard and he told us how to clean if it we need to. We were given our CD of high resolution 434 pictures at the same time.
Since we confirmed our photographer 2 days before we were leaving, he asked us to come up with 9 songs for the video. It kept us up late one night because we were trying to prepare everything else and had this new task and we knew we had to pick great songs. He used almost all of our songs and very appropriately. Everyone commented on how great the video showed our personalities with the music choices.
We thought our wedding video would be cheesy and we’d never watch it again, but I’ve seen it so many times and I could watch it over and over again.
This is pretty much the layout of it and the songs that went with it
Girls getting ready – I could not ask for more – Edwin Mccain
Boys getting ready – Ladies and gentlemen – Saliva
Wedding ceremony – Canon in D (song I walked down the aisle to)
-Nothing else matters – Metallica orchestra version
Taking pics after the ceremony – celebration – kool and the gang
Taking beach pics – I love you – martina mcbride
Florin got comments from everyone about our wedding, it was so great to see what people said. Our video captured our wedding day very well, I love watching it. I wish I could figure out a way to post it online. It came in a DVD case with our pictures on it and has a menu like most DVDs so you can skip to different chapters, it even has ending credits like we were in a movie. Lol.
And just like the photo book and CD, we got the video the very next day. He even brought a mini DVD player so we could watch it right then and there. Again, so so so impressed. He asked if wanted any extra copies, we got 2 more for $20 each for our parents. He came to the resort and delivered the extra copies to us the next day. The service from them was amazing, we were totally blown away at what they delivered to us the next day. We showed our wedding video at our AHR and lots of people told us how much they loved it. It was entertaining and funny at parts, plus they got to witness our wedding and hear our vows.
Posted 01 July 2009 - 02:28 PM
It started raining after our ceremony and kept raining all evening. I had my brother sneak into the maidâ€™s closet and find me a big garbage bag so I could put holes in the bottom and protect my dress from getting wet and dirty walking to our reception.
Set up â€“ A
We picked an outdoor restaurant and itâ€™s a good thing that we picked the one with a big hut roof instead of the one with a lot of huts grouped together because it was pouring our whole reception. When the setup was explained to me, I thought it was going to be 4 tables in the shape of a square but instead it was one big long rectangle table. I was fine with how it was even though the other end was really far away. But it was still setup very beautifully so I had no complaints.
They cleared out all the other tables and chairs from the restaurant so there was lots of space for us to do our dances. We opted to use an ipod instead of paying extra for some kind musical entertainment. It ended up a good choice since we only had an hour or so to play our own songs. I would have liked a microphone for our speeches though, Iâ€™m not sure everyone was able to hear being at a very long table (we were standing in the middle talking loud) and with it raining outside.
When we got there we were all met with yummy blue drinks
Cake â€“ A
We picked the flavor of the cake and picked the one shaped like a heart that fed 10 people. We didnâ€™t mind that it didnâ€™t feed all our guests because we figured our guests would be full from dinner anyways. We didnâ€™t get a heart shaped one at all. Instead we got a way better more beautiful 3 tiered cake that was more than enough cake for all our guests. Again very pleasantly surprised and it was yummy too.
Dinner â€“ B
The dinner was a chicken cesar salad and mixed grill which meant 4 different types of meat, steak, pork, chicken and sausage. I enjoyed all of them, but I guess depending what part of the meat you got was how well or rare it was cooked. Also some sort of pudding thing as dessert. The food was good, but not mind blowing.
All in all my wedding was fantastic. Would my Mexican wedding have been as great? Probably. I admit I had low expectations since it wasnâ€™t planned at all until we got there so it was very easy to please me. Everything was more beautiful than I thought it would be. The wedding coordinators really are pros at their job and made our wedding memorable.
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