Starlitk's Dreams Tulum Wedding Review 6/27/09 - SUPER LONG
Posted 06 July 2009 - 10:02 PM
This review is crazy long! I found everyoneâ€™s so helpful, that I wanted to be as detailed as I could in an effort to give back. I canâ€™t believe itâ€™s already over. Wow â€“ does the time fly by! Thanks to everyone on this forum for all of their help. I honestly do not know what I would have done without this forum. Special thanks to Tammy and Sunbride! I hope my review will be helpful to brides-to-be out there who are planning. Best of luck!
DREAMS TULUM RESORT: Overall B -
Dreams Tulum was my first experience with a resort, so I don't have anything to compare it to besides my expectations.
Check-in for us was great. A waitress came and brought us champagne while we were at the front desk, and a bellman gave us cold wet hand towels to cool off. There were no problems with our reservation. We asked to get upgraded, but were told there were no ocean front rooms available. When we were done at the desk, a bell man took us on a golf cart to our room with our luggage. Our guests did have more problems (e.g., rooms not being ready, 1 king instead of 2 queen beds, etc.)
Our Dreams section garden view suite was very nice, almost all marble. Everything in it worked just fine (a/c, safe, clock, etc.) We were in the building closest to the SSG and the wedding gazebo, which was very convenient. We could kind of see the ocean from our balcony, which was very nice. My only complaints about the room are probably that the water pressure is not that great, and the beds are not that comfortable (i.e., very firm mattress and only decent linens). The pillows are not comfortable at all. The air conditioning blows right on you in bed (this is a deal-breaker for me), but we found that if you kicked up the a/c before bed, we were fine just shutting it off for the entire night (even in late June). Our room was missing a few things (robes and slippers), but did receive them when we asked for them later in the week.
ROOM SERVICE: D
Horribly slow. With one exception, every time we ordered we waited over an hour to receive what we needed (even things that you donâ€™t have to cook like a wine corkscrew and bottles of water). A few times, room service never even came and we had to call again and ask for our stuff. The menu/food available is okay, but definitely does not compare to what you can get in the restaurants.
Overall, the staff is really great. The entertainment staff is very inclusive and they work their butts off! They are at the resort for 12 hour+ days, and still seem happy at 11pm when they are doing shows. Housekeeping service was great, and the resort is extremely clean. Bar service is kind of slow, but only because they are constantly making complicated, blended drinks. The poolside service is very good â€“ they come around often and keep the area clean of used drink glasses, etc. Everyone is extremely friendly! Almost everyone you pass says â€œholaâ€ with a smile. Overall, the entire staff (waiters, room service, bellmen) also did not seem to expect tips (i.e., they didnâ€™t wait around for it), which was nice and made you more happy to give them!
We loved the food. Some restaurants were better than others, but overall, we really liked almost everything we got!
Himitsu: The Asian restaurant was our favorite. All of the appetizers and entrees we tried were terrific.
Gohan: The sushi was surprisingly good.
Portofino: The wait was long â€“ especially if you went with a party larger than 4 people. The hosts were a little slow in seating people. The food was good â€“ the appetizers were especially good.
Bordeaux: This is the most romantic restaurant at the resort.
Seaside Grill: This restaurant has a great view of the ocean, good lunch options, and quick service. I didnâ€™t get a chance to eat there for dinner, but I heard that they fancy it up and serve some great steak options for dinner.
The Patio: The service here was incredibly slow (even when they are not busy). Both times that I went, it took over an hour to get our food (one time I had to leave before my food came b/c we had a wedding appointment). The food was okay, but not great.
The Buffet/World Caf©: The food was terrific â€“ so many options. I simply loved breakfast every morning, and it was also very good for dinner.
The beach is VERY rocky and really hurts to walk on it. Definitely pack water shoes! They are a MUST! We really only went in for one day b/c of how much it hurt our feet to walk in. In hindsight, I wished I had told my guests to pack the shoes.
The activity pool is very active and often pretty full! The adult/relax pool does have children in it, but was still relaxing. They were great!
I had read that the gym was disappointing, so I was prepared for it. The weight equipment is outdated, but they have most of what you would need, so I was able to get by fine. The cardio equipment, on the other hand, was bad. There were three treadmills, and one was broken. The stair stepper looked somewhat dangerous, and was also broken (the manual knob to adjust the tension didnâ€™t work). The bike worked, but the pedals slipped, so you couldnâ€™t stand (even though it is a spinning style bike). There is also a crazy looking elliptical style thing that is also broken.
THE RESORT'S RAIN PREPAREDNESS: F
It rained pretty heavily while we were there, and it really did seem to impact the resort, which kind of took away from its high quality/luxury feel.
- The World Caf© ceiling collapsed inside after a storm, and it was closed from Sunday on (we left on Friday, and it was still closed). They ended up setting up the buffet in the Veranda, and the selection of food was much smaller at first (but got back up to normal size after a few days).
- Quite a few of our guestsâ€™ rooms had the ceilings leak and drip onto them in bed, and others on the ground floor were slightly flooded. The resort relocated these guests (some were upgraded, others were not), but that was really not ideal and kind of embarrassing for us, who had chosen the resort.
- The power also seemed to be affected (although I do think this happened before the rain even began). Basically, the power kept going out at the resort. A few times, the lights just dimmed, but there were a few times that they went out completely. One time this happened at night while we were outside, and the place went pitch black, which was kind of scary to some of the people we were with at the time. This also kept causing the clock in our room to reset, so I never had a clue what time it was while I was there.
THE SPA: A+
Outstanding! We loved our couples massage so much that I went back for a neck, back, and shoulder massage a few days later. It is a very pretty spa and feels luxurious and relaxing. We never had any problems with our appointments.
WEDDING RELATED STUFF
Experience with contacting the resort/wedding coordinators: D-
We had problems with planning our wedding at DT from the very beginning. My fianc© and I had chosen DT right before they were closed down by the Mexican government for their environmental infractions during expansion. (There is a BDW thread about this if you want more info, but basically, they expanded on protected land without doing an environmental impact study). We had done so much research on resorts and felt like we finally found a luxury resort that would not be extremely expensive for our guests, so we stuck it out and waited for them to reopen. Luckily, they finally did, and we thought we were through the worst of it. Ha! During the closure, communication was extremely slow, and we chalked it up to them being extremely busy helping current brides. We remember waiting 3 weeks for them to confirm our wedding date, and other communication was also very slow.
Post-closure and until our wedding, this poor communication did not change despite my hopes. It took the WCs an average of 2 weeks to get back to us regarding any questions we sent â€“ sometimes longer and sometimes shorter (but never really faster than 1 week). Then, when the swine flu hit, they were still very slow about communication, and did not have any solutions to provide to us. Even when it was the month or even week before my wedding, they still did not respond quickly, which left us doing things last minute or not at all! Thankfully, I had the BDW girls to answer my questions â€“ I would have been completely lost without them!
One of the things we liked about DT was that they only took 2 weddings per day. After we got to the resort, we found out that there were THREE weddings scheduled on our day. This led us to have almost NO options for venues. Originally, when we booked, we had scheduled the beach for our venue, but over time decided that this was not what we wanted. The logistics of not having a dance floor and it being extremely windy when we got there led us to want something else. We had requested the Seaside Grill months and months ago, and were told that they would confirm whether we were able to have this location 30 days before our wedding, because they only let you have it if the resort is booked at less than 70% capacity. However, they would NOT confirm this for us, and finally told us the day before we left for our trip that it was booked for another reception. When I complained, they clarified that they were leaving it open for the resort guests. Weird.
I hadnâ€™t booked anything else because I thought I would have plenty of options once I got there b/c there was only one other wedding on our day. Well, that did not turn out to be the case, so when Anabel (who kept calling me by the wrong name, btw) showed us the relax pool, told us this was our only option aside from the beach and convention center, and then mentioned that there would be another wedding on the terrace of El Patio, I was angry. These two venues are so close that I knew I would see and hear their reception during mine. Plus, I felt it was poorly lighted. I kept asking about the Seaside Grill, and she just kept saying they couldnâ€™t do it.
When I asked what they would do about rain locations for all three weddings, Anabel said she was thinking, and then changed the subject! She couldnâ€™t even answer my questions! Then she said not to worry, that she didnâ€™t think it would rain. (Preview: It rained at my wedding reception). They literally had NO rain plan for all of these weddings. She said we would probably go to the convention center, which the idea of alone broke my heart.
Next, we discussed cocktail hour options, and Anabel explained that there were no indoor options for our cocktail hour (as I had requested over email ages ago). We could have it on the beach (which I didnâ€™t want), or all the way at the Convention Center terrace at the other end of the resort. This threw me over the edge, and finally I started really complaining. This led Anabel to bring me to Landy, who was slightly more helpful, but still did not solve all of our problems. She still refused to give us the SSG, assured me it wouldnâ€™t rain, and convinced me of the CC terrace for cocktails (which turned out lovely). I expressed how disappointed I was with their taking 3 weddings, and that I felt their resort was too small for that many. She told me that â€œtheyâ€ want them to start taking FOUR WEDDINGS a day, and said they never said they just take 2 weddings/day. I distinctly remember being told I couldnâ€™t have our original requested date (6/20/09) because there were already 2 weddings.
Anyway, to make me happier about the venues I was basically forced to choose, she assured me that the Relax Pool would be well lighted (they provided floor bag/candles and tiki torches for free), and extended our cocktail hour to 1.5 hours and the mariachi band (which we didnâ€™t get in the end) to play for one full hour instead of 45 minutes. These concessions made me feel slightly better, but I was still unhappy that my reception was going to overlook another wedding, and that I had no real rain options because they refused to close the SSG. Overall, I just felt like we were being treated like we were not a priority, despite the fact that we were the largest wedding that day, and brought 44 guests to their resort. I felt like it didnâ€™t matter at all to them.
Overall, this resort is TOO small for three weddings. It seems like they are willing to confirm locations for some people ahead of time, but not for others. So, when you get to the resort, you are at their mercy to accept whatever options they give you. If the weather for our day had turned out fine, this would have been ok. But â€“ it didnâ€™t, and they were busting at the seams because of this.
Another thing that was wrong was our contract. There were so many mistakes in it â€“they had definitely just taken someone elseâ€™s contract and didnâ€™t change it adequately. We were being charged for things that we didnâ€™t have (e.g., bridesmaids bouquets) and not charged for things we should have been (e.g., meals for our guests beyond the 20 in the package). When we showed Anabel these mistakes, she came back with another contract that still had mistakes. Look at it with a fine toothed comb!
Lastly, they were just disorganized when it came to our wedding details. I would recommend printing out all of your communication with the wedding department. They just didnâ€™t seem to have anything that I had sent them ahead of time. We basically made and re-made all of our decisions there, despite my efforts to do things ahead of time. They will not remember anything youâ€™ve already told them â€“ so cover EVERYTHING again, even if you feel like the matter is closed (Preview: see my ceremony section of this review).
WELCOME DINNER: A
I had told the wedding coordinators a couple months before our wedding that we wanted to do a welcome dinner for all of our guests, and Aurora recommended setting up tables at the resortâ€™s Caribbean party the night before our wedding. It was a great time. They reserved the front tables for the 42 of us, and we were right up front for the show later in the night. The food was great and there was a huge selection of dishes. The party entertainment included an extremely long childrenâ€™s show (I swear it lasted an hour+), followed by a fire show, which was awesome (also about an hour). The fire dancers were great â€“they did some really cool stuff (e.g., hula-hooping with fire rings). Our guests really enjoyed it! I would definitely recommend this option for a Welcome Dinner to other brides.
HAIR (A), MAKEUP (D), & MANICURES (B+):
My wedding was scheduled for 5pm, and we were taking pictures beforehand, so I made my first appointment for 11:30 â€“ first a manicure, then hair and makeup. They told me to allot 2 hours for hair and makeup, and 30 minutes for nails.
My manicure was good enough from a distance, but up close was flawed. I made manicure appointments for 4 of my friends while I was there, and was told that their manicures did not last very long at all (approx. a day).
Angelica (I think) did my hair and makeup. I had brought in pictures of hair that I liked and showed her them. She didnâ€™t seem to speak very good English because she didnâ€™t say much about them, and just started styling my hair. Anabel delivered flowers for my hair to the spa while I was in the chair, so her timing was great. I chose little orchids - a great option compared to a lily b/c I do not have a lot of hair. In the end, I really liked my hair and was impressed that they could do so much with it even though it is only shoulder length. In hindsight, I wished I would have insisted that she cut my bangs (she said theyâ€™d be fine) b/c I ended up having to pull them back â€“ the wind kept blowing them in my face and they were too long for that. The rest of it held really well in the wind.
I was very disappointed with my makeup. I told her that I wanted it to look natural, and when I got up to look at it in natural lighting, it was 80â€™s pink all over my eyelids (from my lashes to brows). Then, I noticed that she had already put her next client (someoneâ€™s bridesmaid), in my chair and had already begun working on her before I had even given the ok! I still had her try and fix it. It ended up less pink, but just much darker overall than I normally wear. My dark circles were also not well covered. I kind of felt rushed considering that she had already given my chair away, so I ended up leaving without really liking it. I tried to fix it in my room, but I wasnâ€™t really equipped to do so. This is one of the things that I am most annoyed about in hindsight, and regret not speaking up more in the spa.
I had emailed pictures of my ideal bouquet and centerpieces to the WCs ahead of time in the wedding information form and they didnâ€™t do anything with that until I got to the resort. Anabel told me that the flowers I was asking for in my bouquet were expensive, so I told her that the florist could use whatever was closest. I ended up really like my bouquet, but it was a bit smaller than I was planning for. My centerpieces, however, I LOVED. We wanted them to be more plants than flowers, so we also told Anabel that the price of $65 for a centerpiece of mostly grasses was outrageous, so she got another quote from the florist of $35 each. The groomâ€™s boutonni¨re looked great, too.
WEDDING CEREMONY: F-
This is another example of the wedding coordinatorsâ€™ poor communication and struggle with the volume of weddings they take. We contacted the resort ahead of time to obtain a copy of the symbolic ceremony script because we had heard that it is very religious and my fianc© and I are not very religious at all. We were told to contact the minister Francisco Flores (Kiko) by email. We did so, and had an entire email conversation with him. He suggested that we write our own ceremony. We went to a bookstore all day, looked through a ton of books, and created our ceremony from scratch. We loved it â€“ we felt that it represented us really well, and included our guests (it had a declaration of support from them, and also thanked them or coming, etc.). We also wrote our own vows. We put everything in an email and sent it to Kiko. He replied with â€œThe program is beautiful, we will honor it just as it is. If there are any changes, please let me know.â€ Well, we brought a copy of the ceremony to the resort with us (just in case). When we told Anabel we had written our ceremony, she didnâ€™t request a copy of it. Since we had discussed it with our minister directly, we didnâ€™t think anything of this.
Well, when we got to our ceremony, our minister (who we later learned was not Kiko) opened with a prayer and proceeded to deliver a highly religious ceremony! We had no idea what to do. We just kept looking at each other, and looking at him and finally we decided to just roll with it. What I donâ€™t understand, however, is that this man knew that we wrote our own vows (which, THANKFULLY, we did have with us). I canâ€™t figure out how he knew that we wrote our own vows, but not our ceremony. So, instead of hearing the highly meaningful, personal ceremony that I waited 10 years (yes, that is how long Iâ€™ve been dating my fianc©) to hear on my wedding day, I got there and listened to a ceremony that couldnâ€™t have been LESS representative to our relationship. At least we got to say our vows, which were highly meaningful to us. When it came to the rings, he handed us the microphone as if we had a special pre-written message for these, but we had no idea what to say b/c we hadnâ€™t brought that with us. At this point, I told him that we wrote our own ceremony, and he said he had no idea. Then, I told him that we didnâ€™t have anything with us to say during the rings and he didnâ€™t do anything. Finally, my fianc© grabbed the microphone and made something up, â€œI give you this ring as a signâ€¦â€ and I just repeated it when it was my turn.
As you can imagine, this is the thing that I am most upset about regarding our wedding. One of the reasons that we decided to have a non-traditional wedding ceremony is that we are not very religious people. At one point during the ceremony, I even considered stopping the minister and running out of my wedding ceremony to my room to get the copy of our script. The only reason I didnâ€™t is because I felt like people would think I was a run-away bride! My point is that these are the thoughts that I was having during my wedding ceremony â€“ which is just about the last thing you want to be thinking about while you are standing there with your fianc©, in front of all of your friends and family.
COCKTAIL HOUR: Aâ€“
We had our cocktail hour on the convention center terrace, which turned out to be an amazing location despite its distance from the ceremony and reception. It is beautiful and private (b/c it is a pretty secluded part of the resort). It is also a good rain location for cocktails (if you need one) b/c it is covered.
Even though I loved it, I should mention that it was essentially the only location option we were given (as the other locations were taken by other two brides who were all having their events around the same time as us). We had requested an indoor venue with air conditioning for the cocktail hour to give our guests a break from the heat and were told that there were no indoor options. However, Anabel promised that she would have the air conditioning in the convention center turned on so that guests could go inside if they were too hot. Of course, we got there and the a/c was definitely not on. I suppose this is one time to be happy that our day wasnâ€™t sunny, but still - it was another problem.
My husband and I had also had the mariachi band scheduled for our cocktail hour, and were very excited about this. Of course, when we got there, we had the Caribbean trio instead. When I told Anabel that they were supposed to be the mariachi band, she seemed totally confused about this - despite the fact that we had talked at length about the mariachi band during our wedding planning session with her and Landy. During that meeting, the mariachi band had come up a few times, including when we discussed extending their play time, and another time when I corrected the fact that our contract said Caribbean trio. Another thing to mention is that they only served champagne. I didnâ€™t know that it was a champagne only reception, so this was slightly surprising to me.
Our cocktail hour was extended to 1.5 hours. This was a concession on Landyâ€™s part because we got so upset during our meeting with Anabel about the fact that there were three weddings, no available location options for our events, and that we were being treated like our wedding was not a priority in general. So, our timing was such that we had our wedding at 5, our cocktail hour from 6-7:30, and our reception from 7:30 to 10:30. This timing was great for our time of year because at 7:30, the sun was beginning to set and sky was gorgeous. So, we left our cocktail hour a little early in order to get some sunset pictures on the beach without having to miss any of our events.
Lastly, we had brought our own photographer, so we chose to have the resort photographer during our cocktail hour to focus on pictures of our guests. This was a great venue to get a group picture and to get photos of you with your guests without having to feel like you are being pulled in a lot of directions instead of just enjoying the moment. This also allowed us to get pictures of our guests and the event after we left with our personal photographer. So, I would recommend doing this if you have two photographers.
Set up: A+
At 4:00 (before my 5:00 wedding) Anabel called my room to get my confirmation on whether we wanted to set up our reception in the convention center b/c it looked like rain was imminent. I just couldnâ€™t do it b/c it made me so incredibly sad to plan a destination wedding for a year and then end up in a banquet hall that looked like it could be in the Chicago suburbs, so we chanced it and had her set up our only other location option they had given us â€“ the adult/relax pool.
Anabel did a terrific job setting everything up exactly the way that we had explained it all and it really did look beautiful. One of my initial concerns with this location was that there was nowhere to hang the paper lanterns we had brought, but they found a way and it looked great. We had also brought menus, namecards, table numbers, and a few other things, and everything made it to its place perfectly. For our paper lanterns and table numbers, we had brought semi-â€œthrowiesâ€ for lighting (diffused LED lights, and CR-2032 batteries taped together and binder clipped together) that needed to be assembled. We had planned to assemble these ourselves, but Anabel told us that she could do it, and surely enough, she had done it exactly right â€“ which was a lot of work! We were very appreciative of this.
We had also expressed our concern with the lighting of this location because it is very dark. So, the WC had bright lights in the trees shining down (which our photographer hated, as they caused big shadows), paper bags with lights in them on the ground, and our paper lanterns. Overall, it was a bit darker than I wanted.
All of the wedding food was delicious â€“ the best food I had at the resort. We chose the Gold menuâ€™s bruschetta with proscuitto, the citrus salad, the surf & turf and the salmon (we had 2 entrees), and the fruit tart for dessert. Our chocolate cake wasnâ€™t very pretty, but it tasted great.
Because of the coming rain, Anabel said that she would tell them to serve dinner quickly but it still took over an hour, and they waited to start serving everything until people had sat down, so it went a little bit slower than we wanted. The bride and groom had also not received our meal when most of our guests had finished eating, which delayed us getting our dance started early. One of our guests had to go ask for us to get our meals.
It drizzled a couple times during dinner, but we kept on because it went away quickly. Finally, it just down-poured right after we finished our first dance. The rain stopped after about 10 minutes, but it had destroyed our paper lanterns (although the LED lights were still glowing) and put the sound equipment at risk because there were exposed cables and power strips involved. (We had just been using our own ipod, but the resorts sound equipment). So, we were told that we couldnâ€™t continue if it kept raining, but that another wedding taking place in El Patio was wrapping up, and we could relocate in there. Well, that wedding was taking longer than Anabel expected, so our party was kind of split at that point for awhile â€“ some of us were in the Sugar Reef bar, and some of us were back by the Relax Pool dancing a bit more. They started to clear our wedding stuff (tables, etc.) away, but never put everything (e.g., sound equipment) in El Patio even after the other wedding had left, so really everything was just shut down. We eventually went to the disco. Despite the chaos of all of this, we were having a great time. Some of our guests jumped in the pool, and we were just eating the cake right off its platter with forks (one of our guests had saved it from the rain).
Overall, we know that we chose to brave the rain, but would have liked to be more apprised of the rain plan. In hindsight, we also would have probably done our first dance earlier if we had known that dinner was, indeed, still going to go slowly.
The disco: A
We had a great time in there. They let us put our ipod in and play some of the music that we had brought for our reception. The music they were playing was great, too. The bar service there was really good, and we all just danced the night away.
Josh Stephenson of Leografia Images
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