Since I lived by this blog for the last year I figured I would return the favor by sharing my details with the brides to be. All year I read "don't worry when you get there it will be fine" and man I wished I listened bc it was way better than I could have dreamed! We are a group of 40 New Yorkers who vacation pretty regularly so we have high expectations. My WC was Lorena (I got switched to her from Yamina like 3 weeks before). I got the Ultimate package and stayed for 10 days from July 3-13. My ceremony was at 6 at the gazebo which i had the garden chairs with bows on the ailse, teal and yellow rose petals and a teal ribbon on the gazebo which was def worth it bc it made it look unique from its everyday look, cocktail hour at 7 with the Mexican Trio (which people raved about but sadly I was taking pics and missed it) on the beach (looking back I would have had it at the jacuzzi but it was still super great on the beach) and my recpetion was from 8-11 on the beach which was great! Looking back I wish I paid for the extra hour bc everyone was having so much fun, but after we all went up to the "club" desires and continued our party till 1 am anyway....here's some details that I hope help someone like me a few weeks ago! Arrival/Check-in: I had read reviews about the road leading to the resort being very bumpy and it def was scary. We heard from numerous taxi drivers that there was a major flood about a year ago that destroyed the road and the Mexican government feels the resorts in that area should fix it and vice versa. Either way the people who travel on that road often clearly knew how to maneuver. Once we got there we were greeted with a glass of champagne and a cold towel. At first I thought it was bc we were the bride and groom, but all my guests had that same treatment. The lobby is gorgeous and they always have fruit, water and champagne set up to help yourself. We were brought to the Preferred Lounge and told that they had arranged to upgrade us to Preferred status, which was what we were hoping. With that came some perks like free Wifi, a bigger room with more privacy, def nicer robes, towels and slippers and access to the Preferred Lounge which you can only get into with a key. The lounge had computers and printers, its own mini buffet which was nice because when we wanted to escape or just grab food quickly we could go in there, and the bar which had top shelf alcohol. The only thing I kinda regret was the decision we made about switching rooms. We had booked a plunge pool, but if we took the up grade it was a second floor room with a balcony overlooking the beach (which was an incredible view) and an outdoor hot tub. We took the upgrade and were happy with the bigger room and def happy to have more privacy, but someone of our friends got rooms with the plunge pool and we def would have enjoyed it. Either way we were in all of their pools at night so we didn't really miss out. Two of my friends had rooms with pools that were secluded, my brother however had a room with a pool at a main walkway and it was funny to walk down and see them in their pool. I def would not have wanted to chance being in such a public spot. Another thing about check in was the long talk they try to give you into going to meeting for time shares. They don't call it time shares, but that's what they are trying to sell. The woman was nice but clearly trying to get you to set up an appointment. When you first arrive that's the last thing you want to do....she didn't talk to everyone at check in, but she obviously knew who to target as our family or older couples got it, but our single friends did not. Room: When we got to our room they had it decorated with a honeymoon banner on the door, had rose petals and candles in the jazzui and had romantic music playing. All of the rooms I was in were beautiful. They came in a few times a day to service the room: to clean it, restock the mini bar, which always had Coronas which Mike, my husband, was thrilled about, to do turn down service and deliver the newsletter for the next day and they weather. Everyone was very friendly and extremely hard working. Any time we asked anyone for anything the response was "it's a pleasure." We had to call the front desk one night at around 2 am bc we thought our AC was broken. They sent someone up in less then 10 minutes who realized our balcony door wasnt closed all the way and thats why the AC wasnt on....pretty silly but at 2 am he was super nice about it. The AC was not as strong as we would have liked it as we both like to sleep really cold. The first few days it didnt seem cold enough, but as the week went on it seemed to work better....or we just got better at making sure the back door was closed. The next day of our vacation they delivered a bottle of champagne to our room with a letter congratulating us on our upcoming wedding. They also posted our wedding and honeymoon in their daily newsletter, which our guests thought was really cool. Wedding Coordinator: My WC was switched a few weeks before my arrival, which obviously sent me into a panic. I myself had read so many blogs and reviews from brides who said dont stress once you get there it will be great and they were right. We met with Lorena the evening we arrived and after 5 minutes of talking to her and seeing their office I knew everything would be perfect. She had all of my information and we went through everything to double check the details. She set up our appointments to meet with the minister and dj, both of whom I had also been in contact with prior. Everyone who we worked with was amazing. You can really tell that they take pride in their work and know what they are doing. Anything we asked for we got and everyone was wanted us to enjoy our day. Lorena told us their would be a wedding the next day at the wedding gazebo at 4 that we could watch to get a sense of everything. The next day there were 3 weddings all pretty close in time and you would have never known! We were obviously stalking them all out (which we joked with some of the brides and offered them to do the same to ours which they did too. It was nice to have people to swap stories with and hear calming advice). All of the weddings we saw were beautiful...from very small and casual to over the top. Linda the minister met with us to go over which poems, vowes and opening/closing statements we wanted. She had a lot to choose from, but since I had emailed her ahead of time I had pretty much already read through them before hand which helped. We confirmed our wedding colors so she knew what to wear to match. The DJ was a concern of mine but after I took one look at him I knew we were in good hands. He already had our ceremony songs and recpetion songs for entrance, cake, first dance, flower/garter toss already downloaded and we just confirmed them. My version of Here Comes the Bride was different and he said he could easily plug in our Ipad at the ceremony and play mine which tunred out fine. The minute he said he liked Calvin Harris and David Guetta I breathed easy
Food/Restaurants: We were traveling with close to 40 people with varying vacation experience. Some are annual resort people while others it was their first time out of the country. Food/sickness were a main worry of mine. The food at this resort is by far the best food I have ever seen at any vacation I have ever been to, and all of my vacation-going guest said the same thing. We could not believe how incredible the food was...even the buffet. The service everywhere was perfect. The people that work at this resort are the nicest and friendliest people I have ever encountered....and again I have been to tons of all inclusive resorts. Some of our guests on the first night double checked with us that it was all free because they couldnt believe it. We ate in every restaurant and after 10 days probably ate most of the menus and could not find anything we werent impressed with. From the buffet to the sushi all the food was fantastic. Since almost every night we ate with a large group of people we did have to wait some nights, but they give you a buzzer so you can go where ever you want. Most places were able to have us all sit together or at least close by. One thing is the resort is very strict with the dress code, which even after us warning people they were not prepared with. Some men literally wore the same pair of pants every night to eat and then changed. Even the buffet made men go back if they had on tank tops. While some might have been annoyed, I appreciated it because I hate when your on vacation sitting next to some half naked person in a bathing suit. It keeps the tone a little more upscale which I always like. The French place for example did offer one of our cousins a pair of emergency pants they had because he didnt have any. They also allowed my 9 year old cousin in which I was glad about bc its adults only. We had a Welcome Dinner the night before our wedding at El Patio, the mexican place, and when we arrived they had tables set up with my welcome bags for guests and the entire center of the resurant was revered for our guests. Our photographer met us there and took family shots and group pics. The waiters announced when my father in law was going to make a speech and were extremely helpful. We did get a little loud and the manger did ask us to tone it down as we were disturbing other guests....but at that point no one seemed to care and the manager dealt with us....lol. They also make paella everyday at 1 which everyone was addicted to. Thankfully no one got sick or had any stomach issues! Beach/Pool: This was one area I was prepared not the be thrilled with. Since the resort is close to a major coral reef (which was beautiful for snorkeling) the beach had a lot of sea grass and the water was not as clear as I would have liked for a vacation. We all still enjoyed the ocean, but it was not the best I have seen. The resort has a truck that goes about 3 times a day to pick up excess sea grass off the beach to keep it clean. There isnt really much more they can do. Had it just had been Mike and I there for 10 days it prob would have bothered us more bc we love the beach over the pool, but since we had such a large crowd we were in the infinity pool at the swim up bar most of the time. The pools are really great, but it would be nice if one pool was adults only. The place wasn't packed with kids, which as a traveling group of mostly teachers we were happy about that. The main pool had tons of rafts to float on, there was a shallow pool for kids and another shallow pool with ping pong tables set up so you could stand in the water and play. Then there was another pool by the main entertainment stage with basketball hoops and a volley ball net. They had tons of pool activities.
We played a lot of beach volley ball on the beach and everyone was super nice and we literally played for hours. They also have a cool bar on the beach with swings they we all hung out at while playing volleyball. Everyone who worked there was super fun and nice. At once point Mike asked one of the landscapers to cut him down 2 coconuts, which he was happy to climb the tree and do, and we took them to the beach bar to have them opened and made into drinks. The bartender was happy to do it and even kept one coconut in the cooler for us for later. One negative about the pools is people reserving chairs and never using them. The resort says they remove stuff after 30 min but they dont. Most resorts give you a towel card and you can only get one towel at a time, which this resort does not. That being said you could get 10 towels and lay them out for friends and decide to go to the beach instead and just get new towels....after a few days we just moved towels ourselves which wasnt a problem. Wedding Day: Perfect! Everyone said it was by far the best wedding they ever went to...even people whop went to destination weddings before. My MOH and I went to the spa to get our hair and make up done, which was beautiful. I was worried about that part but they did a great job and worked very hard to make us happy. I didnt even use the pitcure I brought bc I used one from their books. The resort gave Mike a complimentary room the night before and day of to get ready in and so the photographer could take pics of the guys getting ready. The wedding coordinator came to my room to help me get ready and to keep in touch with the man in mike's room and the man at our wedding site to make sure everything was ready before we came down. The DJ played the songs we planned and the weather was perfect. The food was fantastic and the DJ played all our songs and took requests from people.It went way too fast! Excursions: Mike and his friends rented jet skis one afternoon which they said was great (from the water sports desk). My brother also kayaked and my cousins and I did the snorkeling tour, which was ok...lots to look at with the reef but not too many fish. It was easier to do it there then get on a bus and go an hour away. We also did Coco Bongo in Cancun Sat night through Olympus. Since we had about 13 people we only had to pay for one of us which was good. We got the deal with a table and transportation for about 65$. The reps met us there and walked us into the club, which was so over crowded it almost wasnt worth it. Our table also was coincidentally "double booked" and some of us had an arguement with the group trying to move in on our table. Our waiter apologized and said it was only a party of 4, however it was really a party of 12.....this really pissed off some of our guests and the heat and overcrowding of the place was just too much for some people. The show/performers are insanely good, but it's hard to enjoy the show. Many of us pushed through the crowd to a small bar they had off to the side which wasnt as crowded...but they charged for drinks. At that point many of us didnt care about the money. Olympus came and picked us up at 3 to return....but they were very clear that if we were late they would leave wo us...which is a nerve racking thought. Bride/Groom Perks: Since we got the Ultimate package we were able to get a lot of great perks....aside from my hair and make up for the wedding day, we got a couples massage for 50 minutes. I am a spa junkie and I must say the therapist was incredible! It was by far one of the best massages I got and everyone else who went said the same. We also got the Honeymoon package since our stay was more than 7 days....this gave us another free massage and a romantic lobster/steak dinner on the beach with our own private butler. It was fantastic! Right on the beach with tiki torches and a candle lite walkway for us to walk down. The lobster was huge and we were very impressed. We had also gotten 200$ in resort credits for being a preferred club guest which we used for an upgraded bottle of wine. (These could also be used at the spa and cigar shop). Upon return from our dinner our room was decorated with rose petals and candles. Talk about getting spoiled! We also get free nights next year for our anniversary at any Dreams resort which is pretty awesome. Photographer: Frank from Adventure Photos He was great and took us off the resort to a beautiful location for our trash the dress photo shoot. The pictures were so worth spending about 6 hours with him and a partner shooting. If you are interested in seeing them I have them on Facebook if you want to friend me( Katie Esposito or firstname.lastname@example.org
my settings might be super private bc Im a teacher so if you cant friend me let me know and Ill friend you). People were so impressed with the pictures and the speed of us getting them before we left. Our package included 250 from the welcome dinner, spa, getting ready, ceremony, bridal party shoot and reception. He gave us all our trash the dress pics on the side so they didnt have to get counted in the 250. We ended up getting in total 411 pics for a little extra but he gave us a good price. Pics last forever so its one thing i dont mind spending on. We also get an album with 80-100 pics in about 5 weeks. Their work is really beautiful. Many of my friends are into photography and they were very impressed and sad he lives in Mexico and they cant hire him for their occasions. My only regret was at the reception I was dancing so much that I didnt stop to take family pics. We have one group shot on the beach and tons of party pics. Overall I heard not one complaint from anyone...everyone was so impressed with the resort and are all signing up to come back with us next year for our anniversary...lol. Every other bride I talked to there had the same story...it was perfect...