Hi as I promised, here is my review. This website helped me a lot during the process for our wedding, so I hope it is helpful for some of you.
We got married at the Grand Sirenis Resort and Spa on Saturday,May 26th 2012. Overall, it was a Fantastic experience!!! Our guests really enjoyed our wedding!!!
We were a little nervous because of all the bad reviews on the internet regarding the resort, but also because during our site visit in December 2011 we were not sure about the quality of the resort. Being part of this website really helped us to relax.
Happily and perhaps to our surprise we had a fantastic experience, the resort was clean and the food was fantastic. All the staff was very friendly and helpful. It seems that they just finished maintenance, and it looked great.
We decided to arrive a week in advance with some family members. We felt that arriving early would help us to spend some time with family, make wedding decisions, but most of all that our families could meet because we are a mixed marriage (USA-Mexico), living in California, and many of our family members didnâ€™t know each other.
We arrived at midnight a week before the wedding and the person at the reception was very friendly and even sent sparkling wine to our room as a welcoming gesture.
That day it was raining and kept raining for the next 4 days. Suddenly, the sun came out and we were sooooo happy, but it did rain very hard during the wedding reception.
We got the Hotel package that includes the upgrade to the presidential suite. This was one of the best things we did. The suite was fantastic, big, pretty and with many amenities. We hosted a cocktail party with our friends when they arrived at the resort, and had a lot of fun. We purchased the Diamante package.
A nice touch by the staff was that each night they brought a different snack to our room and also created a different towel design on our bed.
Elizabeth was our wedding coordinator. She is fantastic! We had a 4 to 5 hour meeting 4 days before the wedding day where we reviewed all the details .She was very patient and dedicated to us. If you are still in the planning process save yourself some stress and frustration. The WC seems a bit disconnected to your event in the months preceding. The reality is they are hosting several weddings a week. This means they cannot dedicate exclusive attention to your wedding honestly until the week of your event. Recognize this and make this meeting as productive as possible by organizing all your ideas prior to the meeting and bring all your ideas, pictures, decorations and stuff to this pre-wedding meeting.
Elizabeth worked very hard to make sure our welcome dinner was in the restaurant that we chose and that everything was going to be ready for that day. Even in our romantic dinner at the French restaurant (included in the package), she stopped by to be sure everything was ok. She was very responsive to all our concerns. There were things that were not perfect as our reservation at the French restaurant was not booked at our arrival, but at the end things worked out just fine.
Hair and Makeup trial.
I decided to book a trial for hair and makeup. I was very happy I did this, because I was able to make some decisions for the wedding day but also because I used it for the welcoming dinner.
Maritza did my hair and makeup. She is just fantastic, she is super nice, smart and she definitely knows what she is doing. I just showed her what I wanted and she made it happened. She has a lot of training in different countries plus she is a lovely person.
Welcoming dinner. (Included in the package)
This was a very important part of our party because we wanted to give our guests a surprise-thank you gift for coming to our wedding. It also provided another opportunity for everyone to meet and mingle. I have been taking belly dance classes for many years and I decided to put a little show together for them. I used the DJ included in the packet during the welcoming dinner. We hired our own DJ for the wedding. The DJ was ok, I wish he could have put the volume louder for the performance, but things were fine. All my guests loved the Italian restaurant. The dÃ©cor of the restaurant is white and black and we were wearing white so it really looked magical. We chose the lasagna for dinner and the food was delicious.
After the 2 hour dinner (we picked 9-11pm so the restaurant was just for us) we went to celebrate my sister's birthday at the disco. It was a lot of fun! My husband says the only thing we could have done differently was to have assigned seating and seat people together who did not know each other. This would have been a good opportunity for our guests to mingle more. That night we had 43 guests and 56 for the wedding day.
The day looked a little overcast. I went to the Spa at 11 am. Our catholic wedding was planned for 5pm, and photos shoot at 3pm. I had enough time for everything. Maritza was able to do my hair and makeup and then I dressed in the Spa suite. I was waiting for the photographer that was doing our pictures. He was a little late, at the end he had some troubles with the cart because the resort is very big and he was waiting and waiting for one to come. At the end we had more than enough time to have pictures and video at different spots.
We chose the beach, the ruin and some shots on some rocks.
We hired an extra cart for us; I think it was great because the cart waited for us in the meantime we were doing the pictures. When we were done with the cart it went to help pick up guests.
It began to rain about 30 minutes prior to the wedding, so I didn't have a chance to walk all the way to the church. Good thing we had a catholic wedding because the ceremony was held at the on-site chapel. My parents and I were waiting with an umbrella for the procession to start. Thank God I added an umbrella in the emergency kit that I put in the bathroom so we were able to use it. (Note, the resort was not to prepared for rain.)
The chapel looked beautiful with the perfect set up. The priest was my husband's cousin, he is American but bilingual. He did a wonderful job transitioning between Spanish and English. The ceremony was very moving and everything looked perfect to me, everyone was very relaxed and we were sooo HappY!.
After the ceremony we took more pictures with family and friends. At this moment it was really raining so we moved the cocktail hour from the beach to the palapa. The WC made the change. We had discussed this plan B during our meeting earlier in the week. It was the correct decision.
People needed to move directly from the chapel to the palapa but the down side of this was that the staff was not ready for them. The staff spent some time finishing with the decorations for the tables. People were a little confused because they didn't know if it was dinner time or the cocktail hour. It would have helped if someone could have explained to them what was happening. At this point the saxophone player began playing. He was very good and relaxing (this was included in our packet), as well as the canapÃ©s (these were fine and enough).
Even though things were not perfect (rain) we were moving along well............. until the toast..........when my maid of honor was doing her toast the rained increased substantially, thunder started in the background with a lot of wind. In no time we were in a near hurricane with lots of rain, strong winds and eventually sideways winds that resulted in rain landing on several tables and many of our guests. Happily it remained tropically warm.
I promised myself that nothing was going to bother me that day, somehow I followed my promise. Ultimately the capitan (head waiter) arrived and consulted with us about the possibility of moving our party to the buffet because the salad was ruined during the storm during their attempt to prepare and serve. We really didn't want to move because everybody loved the palapa and the music and dance floor (included in the package) all arranged so well. My husband asked him if we could skip the salad and continue with the soup and/or main dish or in the worst scenario bring pizzas (at this point we really didnâ€™t care, everybody was having a blast despite a near hurricane with incredible amounts of wind and rain.) We checked with our guests and everyone was having fun, laughing about the weather, etc.
The staff definitely made it work despite the conditions. We were very grateful that we didn't have to move, of course the food was late (at least an hour), and there was some confusion about who ordered what due to the rain. The guests moved their tables further into the center of the palapa as the storm intensified to stay dry (It would be nice that the staff did that for them). This confused the waiters a bit but we all worked through it. Ultimately the staff brought towels for people that got wet. They even squeegeed and dried the dance floor, and then the dancing commenced.
We brought Chinese lanterns from USA (12), and the resort charged us $5dls per lantern installation.
We brought cylinders with floating candles as centerpieces, (of course they were lit just in the beginning, but they looked fantastic).
We brought printed menus, programs for the weekend, and fans as favors.
I read a lot of bad reviews about the Resort DJ so I decided to hire another DJ. I chose DOREMIXX, they were great!!! (I found them on this website, and I paid extra day passes for them).They brought a good sense of humor to the situation. At one point they Rock Me Like a Hurricane and later the theme to Titanic. All the guests were fine with the weather. Everyone wanted to stay and deal with the situation; we really made the best of it, and we were very thankful for such a wonderful-understanding group of family and friendsJ.
After about 3 hours of intense rain and wind, the rain finally stopped and the party continued. The good side of all this was that the wind was very refreshing. At the ceremony I used a fan because it was hot but it was not hot at the reception . Around 1 am we did something that we call Tornaboda (not included in the package), it is a Mexican thing where you bring more food. They served chilaquiles in a buffet style (delicious, spicy), tacos and other kind of food. It was great and people loved it. At that time the mariachi arrived and played for around 45 minutes (extra fee, because I used the sax already).
Because of the weather the capitan told us to stay longer without a charge if we liked, we stayed until about 3 am. It was very nice of them.
By this point Elizabeth, our primary wc, left for the evening and the person in charge was Cecilia. Cecilia was very nice but I donâ€™t think she understands the job. I needed to approach her instead of her approaching me to get things done. Later in the evening the waiters were asking me at what time to serve the dessert, etc. I feel that is a decision for the wc not me. I really didn't care but definitely would have preferred not to be involved in these decisions..............at that point (in my opinion they should run the show, and we agreed on that).
Included in our package was a "honey moon spa" or something like that, a massage treatment. We decided to book it for Sunday and it was fantastic. We booked it for the afternoon which allowed us to spend time with friends earlier and still relax with a fantastic hot stone massage.
We and all our guests enjoyed the water circuits. We had 12 included in our packet and I believe the resort offers 1 circuit per room. Several guests commented that the food at the spa was delicious.
Recommendations and things to improve
Something that was disappointing was that all the thematic restaurants were either booked or closed every time that we wanted to make a reservation for dinner with friends. At the end we used the steak house twice because it was the only place available. It was fine, but we would have preferred to dine at several of the restaurant choices.
Internet connection was poor in our suite. We needed to go outside the room or balcony to get good reception. They have good connection at the lobby.
The resort should have been better prepared for bad weather at the palapa. During our honey moon, we decided to stay one more week in a nice little hotel in Tulum. That hotel also has a palapa and we realized that in there little palapa (restaurant) they have long plastic curtains that can be lowered during bad weather to protect the guests. This simple innovation would have made a big difference at our reception. Having those big curtains in the entrance or even better around the palapa would have saved us a lot of struggle.
Also having some food cart with plastic protection, or at least big umbrellas for the waiters to transport the food could really change our experience. I think they could have used two more staff members as well. The service was good but it felt a little understaffed. I don't know if it felt that way because they were dealing with the weather/food emergency or not.
The good thing was that we didn't move and at the end the dinner was served. They could benefit from being more prepared for rain and wind.
Consider using a travel agency/ booking agent before making the reservations directly with the hotel. I read that a lot of brides hired a travel agent to deal with the reservations with the hotel. I live in California. We did not know of a travel agent or service so we worked directly with the resort. I didn't know how to work this out with my Mexican and American guests so I decided to work directly with the hotel. It was very difficult. A lot of my guests complained about the person assigned to us. He was not prompt in answering e-mails, questions and then he didn't keep good track of the reservations. Every time I needed to intervene things were fine but it was very stressful and time consuming for me.
There were several misunderstandings and of course everything was coming back to me because I guessâ€¦ I was the bride and spoke Spanish. If you can, save yourself stress and hire a TA, let them be aggravated if the communication is poor.
The good side of booking with the hotel was that for every 20 nights they give you a free night. We were able to pay for some nights of my parents stay.
Communication could improve. At the end, I definitely understood the reasons why they donâ€™t return e-mails as fast as one can expect, but it would really make a difference if they explain this to you and you know what to expect. Thanks to this website I realized this in advance and I calmed down when I didnâ€™t receive a prompt response. They really work very hard, but when you are planning a wedding from another country, you donâ€™t know whatâ€™s happening, and communication its super important. Please relax and trust that at the end they will do a great job! (That was our experience)
We used the transportation included in our packet (10 places). We split it among guests, some got picked up at the airport while others got dropped off. On a recommendation we suggested people use USA Transfers. They are reasonably priced and everybody was happy with them. (I discovered them on this website).
After the wedding we were simply exhausted, my husband wished we could have stayed longer in the resort. He felt he really didnâ€™t get to explore the resort and participate in the daily activities prior to the wedding because we were busy organizing the event and greeting our own guests. I was quite happy with our decision to travel to Tulum and stay in a boutique hotel on the beach, very quiet, peaceful and romantic. He agreed and we both agree we enjoyed the resort experience and the quieter boutique experience too.
Overall, we had a fabulous time; we definitely were pleased with the entire experience! We had our first challenges as a married couple and at the end it all worked out great, we handled well. And it was a lot of fun!.