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eloping789

Melia Caribe Tropical Elopement Review - July 8, 2009

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Arrival in DR

 

We arrived at the airport around 1 pm on a Monday via American Airlines. I would recommend pre-arranging transportation from the airport to the resort either via your travel agent, or on your own if you arenâ€t using a travel agent. On the advice of our WC, we opted to just get a taxi at the airport and what a mess that was! The men who stand around baggage claim to help you with luggage apparently are so used to people being with large groups or using travel agents that when we told him we needed a taxi to our resort he ended up taking us to a large charter bus that was indeed going to our resort, but we didnâ€t have a reservation on it. The charter company figured this out after we and our luggage were on the bus (we were wondering the whole time what was going on and kept telling people we needed a TAXI, but no one seemed to understand) when they started looking for our names on a reservation list. Anyway, they ended up putting us in a small minivan and taking us to the resort for a flat $35 fee (just slightly more than a taxi ride). Nothing major, but a bit of a hassle that is definitely avoidable.

 

Check-in/Check-out

 

We reserved a Royal Service room so we had a private check-in at the RS concierge lounge. It was very smooth and simple though they did forget to get a credit card from us to pay for the stay in advance. They notified us a couple of days later and I went to give them a credit card of course. This brought about Lesson #2: Call your credit card companies and banks before you leave home (if there is any chance you might use an ATM) and let them know you will be out of the country along with the dates and locations of your stay. Otherwise, your card might be declined for security purposes and youâ€ll have to make an expensive call in order to let them know so you can use your cards.

 

The RS concierge staff was extremely understanding about it and very helpful. Even if youâ€ve successfully used your cards in other countries without notifying your financial institutions first you should still call them prior to going to DR. The staff told me that DR is different and guests whoâ€ve not had problems elsewhere often do in DR.

 

We would have had the private check-out as well, however, we had to leave the resort for an early flight prior to the RS lounge opening at 7 am so we paid our phone bill the night before and just had to return our room keys at the main reception desk the next morning. Very quick and simple.

 

Our Room

Very nice and spacious! I have to say, the 1-bedroom suite was absolutely worth it for us. DH is a napper and Iâ€m not so it was nice to be able to come and go without interrupting him. We were on the third floor of our building so we got to keep our glutes in shape while we were there too. There werenâ€t elevators, so if you have anyone coming with you that needs canâ€t go up stairs, be sure to let the travel agent or hotel know that in advance so they can get rooms on the first floor. Here are a few pics of our room:

 

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Our Wedding

Iâ€ll start with our wedding coordinator. She was terrific during all of the pre-planning stages which wasnâ€t much for us, but still she was very responsive and helpful. However, I would highly recommend setting a date, time and location to meet your WC soon after you arrive. She was off on Monday (the day we arrived) which I actually expected because that was her regular day off, but there was no note or anything when we checked in which surprised me. I called her on Tuesday morning (wedding on Wednesday) and left a message. She sent a note to my room asking to meet that morning (must have come a few minutes after I called and we left the room). I called her back – VM again. When I finally got her around 1 pm Tuesday afternoon we set a time to meet at 5 pm to finalize the details. We arrived at the meeting spot at 5 and the guest services person call her. She was stuck in a meeting - for 45 minutes. DH was pretty perturbed by the time they took us to her office. She was very apologetic and we got everything taken care of in about 15 minutes and we were on our way.

 

My next suggestion is to set a time and place that they will pick up the groom. She told him to meet her at a restaurant near the beach and I explained where to find it via the train, but he didnâ€t want to get all sweaty (itâ€s a 10 minute ride on the train) so he went to Royal Service and asked for a ride. They called for the WC golf cart, but a guy at RS finally just took him for fear heâ€d be late. As a result (she went looking for him at the RS lounge), they were a bit late picking me up and she hadnâ€t mentioned that I should stay in my room so the photographer could take some pre-ceremony pics so I was waiting downstairs for 15 minutes. Luckily another honeymooning couple who had gotten married there a few days before came by and she went up to her room and called for me to let them know I was waiting.

 

Other than that, everything was perfect! I had my hair done at the salon that afternoon and it came out exactly like I wanted. I had just enough time to get back to our room and put on my make up and get dressed without being rushed before it was time to head off to the wedding.

 

Once the WC arrived with the photographer it was smooth sailing. The ceremony on the beach was decorated beautifully. We used the CD music instead of a band which was great for us. We really didnâ€t add any extras and even though I did bring a bouquet with me just in case that I did end up carrying, the white rose bouquet that came with the free wedding package was beautiful.

 

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Photographer

 

We used the resort photographer – Hispaniola Foto. Our photographer, Jerry, was terrific! He got a lot of wonderful shots and gave good direction. Our digital images are amazing!!! But, the prints for some reason (from the photographer) came out very dark as if they had been altered in Photoshop to show more contrast on the screen (enhancing the blue sky and water, etc.). However, when we print the “un-doctored†photos on our home printer they are stunning! It is hard to say whether or not they were just our prints that came out dark or if thatâ€s something that might happen regularly so go with your gut or ask to see the RAW files when theyâ€re giving you the photo preview.

 

So, my recommendation on the photos … first, select the basic $440 package before you get there. Theyâ€ll take tons of pictures for you to choose from, but the package pricing goes down when theyâ€re trying to upsell you from $440 onsite. We saved about $700 and could have saved more had we skipped the prints and just ordered all the digital files and the photo movie montage they put together for us (which is fabulous by the way – we used that at our AHR to show our guests our photos). I actually wanted to skip out on the prints and just have them printed at home, but DH talked me into it. If you choose to go this route – be prepared to pay CASH for the photo package you end up with. Part of the built-in cost is a 16% sales tax in DR that most vendors (the photographer included) will waive if you pay in cash.

We are very happy with our photos and I would absolutely recommend Hispaniola for your photography. Here is a link to all the pics if youâ€d like to take a look: wedding pictures by eloping789 - Photobucket

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Restaurants/Food

 

Melia has nine restaurants and three buffets including the Royal Service Gabi restaurant buffet. We tried 8 of the 12 total eating establishments and room service once.

 

Room Service – we did this the first night. I ordered cheeseburgers, a bottle of white wine and some desserts (we had beer in the fridge). The burger was very reminiscent of school cafeteria burgers and mine came on a bagel instead of a bun. The wine was just a bottle of house wine, so not fabulous, but not terrible either. The desserts were AWESOME! I will say it was almost time for room service to stop serving, but still a bagel for a bun?

 

Gabi Restaurant/buffet (Royal Service only) – we ate breakfast here every day and lunch a couple of times. The breakfast selection is pretty good. The made-to-order omelet is totally worth it so wait in line a couple of times while youâ€re there! The waffles are better than the pancakes, and the quesadillas are terrific! The fruit and bread is wonderful and so is the coffee.

American Grille (steakhouse) – this was pretty good. The flank steak is better than the ribeye, but the ribeye presentation is something not to be missed (pic below – I ordered the whale of a ribeye by the way).

 

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Ma Maison (French) – completely wonderful!!! We had dinner here the night of our wedding. The food was amazing – DH had a super tender (well done) steak and I had some sort of stuffed chicken dish with the best mashed potatoes Iâ€ve ever had – as was the wine (a French cabernet sauvignon). The service was wonderful and they served us our wedding cake for dessert!

 

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El Guarapo (Dominican) – this was VERY good! Great service and great food – try it!

 

La Gondola (Italian) – this is 4 course meal so be prepared! The pasta and the dessert were the best parts of the meal. The entrée, we both had some kind of chicken, was not bad or anything, just not as good as the pasta we didnâ€t finish eating so weâ€d have room for the chicken. I had the éclair for dessert – YUMMY!!!

 

Hacienda (Mexican) – ehhh? Nothing tasted bad, but nothing was outstanding either.

 

Hokkaido (Japanese) – wonderful and very entertaining! Unless you have a group of 12, you will be dining with a few strangers, but the chef helps get the conversation going fairly easily and the food was terrific! Itâ€s a 2 hour experience though so be ready. ;-)

 

La Pagoda (Thai) – we were sooo bummed that we didnâ€t get to eat our whole meal here. The food was outstanding and the service was impeccable! Unfortunately, weâ€d eaten at Hard Rock a few hours earlier and were still so full we could barely get anything down. I can honestly say that we did sample everything we ordered and it was all terrific.

 

Capri (Mediterranean – a.k.a. seafood) – though we didnâ€t eat here (DH hates seafood), I did hear great things about this restaurant.

 

Hard Rock Café Punta Cana – this is actually located in the Palma Real shopping center thatâ€s within walking distance from the resort (about 5 minutes from Caribe side check-in). All I can say is that after more than a week away from home that might have been the best cheeseburger of my entire life!! Oh and a perfect margarita (resort margaritas are tequila and lime juice or something) and a variety of beers if youâ€re interested in something other than Prezidente. DH did like the Prezidente, but he was craving a Bud Light like nobodyâ€s business. LOL!

 

Bars/Nightlife

 

There are several bars throughout the resort – one dance club on the Tropical side that is completely enclosed and air conditioned and the casino/sports bar on the Caribe side is air conditioned too! All the bartenders are great and very willing to fill up your insulated cup/mug with whatever you might like. The Gabi bar (Royal Service) has premium liquors at no additional charge (you pay extra for premium at other bars).

 

They do have regular evening entertainment (bands, magicians, dance lessons, etc.) as the pools close at 7 pm (just before dark).

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Excursions

 

We went on 2 off property excursions and went parasailing on the beach.

The first excursion was a full day trip to Saona island. We spent most of the day traveling to and from the island (bus, catamaran, speed boat, bus). The island was beautiful and lunch was quite good. My only complaint was that when you go into the water the ocean floor is solid coral rock. The beach itself is all coral sediment, but the hard rock ground in the water didn’t make it pleasant to get into the water. I stubbed my toes several times. The catamaran was a lot of fun and definitely a nice way to travel. After the island, they take you to a natural starfish habitat that is wonderful! Then a speedboat back to the bus (air conditioned, charter style bus both ways) with one stop at a shopping center that had quite a few nice things including coffee and liquor.

 

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Next up, parasailing. I believe we were the exception to the rule, but as they were reeling us back to the boat we came in too fast and crashed into the platform. The injuries were minor (scrapes and bruises) and it doesn’t seem to happen often as they appeared very surprised and unprepared for such occurrences. Everyone from the company providing the parasailing (on the beach) was very kind and tried to help us. They did refund our money though they tried to convince us to go parasailing again or do one of the other watersports they offered, but saltwater on an exposed wound just wasn’t something we were up for right then and we were leaving two days later. While we were up in the parasail it was fun – I’ll definitely do it again someday!

 

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Last, but not least, boogies! Boogies are dune buggies that you drive through the mud! The trail they took us on wasn’t muddy the whole way, in fact quite a bit of it was paved, but we had a blast!! Here are some pics of that …

 

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I think that’s it, but if you have questions, don’t hesitate to ask!

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Lori, thanks for your detailed review! Your hair looked perfect and I am so glad you had a good experience there....it quells my anxiety over the hair dilemma! You're pictures are stunning...what a great couple! Congratulations Mrs!

 

Darcy! Yay! Only two more months for you! I'm two weeks after you...it's getting so exciting!

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Lori - thanks so much for the great review!! It was worth the wait wink.gif You looked beautiful and your excursion pics look really fun!

 

I cannot wait to get married here! Less than three months for me now! Darcy and Jennierin - not long now for you guys!! Very exciting!

 

Erin

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