maryyy's Melia las Dunas and 07/28/09 Wedding review (LONG)
Posted 19 August 2009 - 03:42 PM
I’m a bit shy of mistakes I can make, but I really wanted to post this review to help brides like other reviews have helped me. So this how the big day unfolded… (Pictures are coming soon too!)
AT THE AIRPORTS AND THE ARRIVAL AT THE HOTEL
Our trip was booked with Air Transat and we flew Canjet. There was no room in the plane to hang so I put it in the overhead bin, folded in two, and everyone (the crew and the passengers) was really careful. At Santa Clara airport everything went smoothly.
At the airport, some reps gave people envelopes containing room keys, bracelets and other info. Half of our group got those envelopes at the airport but the other half had to wait until being at the hotel, because their rooms were still not ready when the reps left the hotel. There were three buses going to the MLD from the airport and our group was spread in the three. My parents and my brother were in a one, the photographer, my husband and me in another one and the rest of the group in the third. I was disappointed, but in the end I was glad to spend this time alone with my husband.
The bus ride is 1.5 hour long to the Santa Maria Island. Each bus had a rep who provided us with a lot of interesting information about the towns and villages we were passing on our way. The bus was pretty nice and comfortable and allowed us to see the real Cuba. This bus ride was like a tour we had paid for! Luckily we arrived in the morning so we got to see everything the rep was talking about. At the hotel, we were greeted by dancers, music and cold drinks. Those who had received no envelopes at the airport were guided in a large conference hall for check-in. It took 30 minutes. My husband and I got a silver bracelet and the rest or the group was granted with turquoise bracelets. Silver bracelets means you can have almost everything you want. We were often served first at bars (when the servers noticed the color of our bracelet) and we got extra attention on some occasions.
MLD is a very huge resort. If I remember correctly, there are 35 blocks for a total of 925 rooms. I kept a map of the resort with me most of the time and it was really useful.
We walked a lot. It was not a big deal for me but for the elderly in our group, it was brutal. We often called for carts but they were never on time (not 5 min. late, more like 25 min late) or they picked up other people on their way and had to come back after. I later learned that there were only four carts in the daytime and three at night. That is not enough for a big resort like this.
The pools are beautiful. The adult one is peaceful (serene, nice swim-up bar, lot of chairs). The children one is, obviously, more noisy. On the adult side, we never had problem getting 6 or 7 chairs side by side, in the shades, even when we arrived at 10 am or 1 pm. There are snack-bars beside each pool, which is fantastic when you are starving and don’t want to walk! They even serve poutine! The beach is just phenomenal. Clear water, perfect white sand, no seaweeds at all. It is breathtaking! I can’t find the right words to describe it. Cuban beaches are always amazing.
The resort is also super clean and the gardeners are doing a wonderful job. They deserved tips!
The rooms are nice and pretty, but definitely not 5 stars.
First of all, before departure, I asked my TA to make sure we were on the adult side. Well, we weren’t. Our group was in blocks 14 and 17 (which were 30 sec. far from each other by walk), on the family side. When I asked to be moved on the adult side, the lobby peoples told us that it was possible, except that we would be scattered in several blocks far from each other. We settled where we were, because it was easier for everybody to be together.
When I first walk in the room, there was a bottle of champagne and a letter from the wedding coordinator, Maria Elena. The mini-bar was full of water, soft drinks, and beers and there was another bottle of champagne in it. There was a walk-in closet, which was very practical. During the week, we received gifts (two bottles of rum and a bottle of wine). I always left tips to the maid, in form of cash and little presents. Our room was always cleaned before 4:00 pm, but it wasn’t spotless. By example, I found hair – red hair – which was surely not mine or DH one in the shower. One day there were crunchy and thick brown spots everywhere on the sheets. It was so gross! I called somebody, I couldn’t sleep in that. The shower was bad. No water pressure at all. Washing my hair was hell. Sometimes at the end of the day there was no water at all. I was in the shower once and suddenly everything stopped. I waited, with shampoo in my hair, for the water to come back. I took a looooong 10 minutes.
One night, I came to my room alone (DH was still hanging out with his friends) and I almost had a heart attack. There were big (big like 1.5 cm) red ants everywhere in my room. I tried to kill them but they kept coming from the patio: there was a dead butterfly and the ants were eating it and coming into my room by a space under the door. I called the room service and the guy didn’t understand what I was saying: he only spoke Spanish! Fortunately I have enough knowledge in Spanish and I explained myself. 30 minutes later I called back and they said somebody was coming soon. It took 1 hour before the maid came. She bug sprayed them all, the odor was just awful! She was going to leave the room when I asked her to mop the floor. There were tons of ants’ dead bodies everywhere on the floor and she was leaving without cleaning it! She came back 15 minutes later and washed the floor. I barely slept that night, I was feeling tickles all over my body.
Other people in our group had problems too. The key of DH’s godmother wasn’t working when she arrived. It took 2 hours before somebody opened her door. She is 72 year old and she had to wait outside her room, with her luggage, for that long! Same day, after supper, her key was still not working. I literally ran to the lobby and I asked someone to follow me with a master key to open her door. Once in the room, there was no power. No AC, no light, no nothing. It took two days before everything was repaired for her.
There were ants everywhere in my parents’ room: bed, toilet seat, shower, etc. The maid killed them, but my parents found dead ants all week long, even in my mom’s makeup. My brother was in disable person room. He had to lean to see himself in the mirror. The toilet was high and huge. The shower consisted in a plastic bench on a plastic floor, with no curtains and a size of 1 meter by 1 meter. He couldn’t stand up in it, so he went to shower everyday in my parents’ room.
My two bridesmaids were in the same room and they had no room service for three days, even when they called for it. They used the same towels, had nothing left in the mini-bar. But worse of it, it’s that the maid was coming in their room to take the tip during those day! The decided to stop giving tip and the same day, their room was cleaned for the first time.
Others received a great service, though. They got rum and wine bottles and little souvenirs and the rooms were well cleaned every day.
FOOD & RESTAURANTS
The buffet was good. I only ate there once and there were many choices. There is a sushi chef, a pizza station, a pasta station, smoked salmon, Cuban / Mexican food, etc. For the rest of the week I ate at the la carte’s restaurants. I tried the Romantico, the Italian, the Seafood, the Grill and the Oriental. From all my trips to Cuba, this resort had the best food ever. I especially loved the Italian, the Seafood and the Oriental. I ate tuna with sesame, wasabi and honey crust, salmon with sweet vinegar salsa, pork filets with prosciutto, lobster… yummy!
For a one week stay you can have three restaurant’s reservation. The wedding coordinator had already made reservations for my husband and me (for four persons each night). Although, with a little bit of $ we were able to change these reservations, add some persons with us and have a different restaurants booked for each night.
The servers are friendly and the restaurant’s staff is very kind. They moved tables to accommodate us and we had a good service. The servers in the lobby are super nice too and they were always asking if we needed something to drink. The musicians in the restaurants are awesome, particularly the ones at the Italian.
BARS & NIGHT LIFE
The Garden bar was my favorite. You can have Corona, Becks, and other bottled beers and it’s open 24 hours. The lobby bar is also fantastic. The sangria and mojitos are delicious! They also have bottled water – if you need some, go there. The disco is small, and full of teenagers. It is the place to go if you are 14 to 16 years old. No big night life, but the entertainment staff is nice and they give a good show every night.
I only did the catamaran, and it was a blast! The snorkeling, the boat, the sandbanks, everything was genius. It is 82 CUC by person, but I had a 20 % reduction from my TA for any excursion, so it cost me only 66 CUC. It was so worth it! Everybody liked it, it was magical. I highly recommend the catamaran trip.
Posted 19 August 2009 - 03:45 PM
Our wedding was the only one of the day (there were 4 weddings during our stay, each on a different day). Here is the summary of the wedding details. It was an amazing day!
Maria Elena is the wedding coordinator for the MLD. She is kind and she will do her best to please you, but sometimes you have to push a little harder to get what you really wish for. She understood what I wanted for the ceremony decoration and she did just well for that. For the reception, there was a huge misunderstanding. I first asked for a private reception, but the Quebec based coordinator (Gina) told me it was impossible because we were a small group (15 persons). I was frustrated, but I selected a restaurant with AC, keeping in mind that some guests would be glad to be inside. I made the reservation months ago and I had confirmation, but not Maria Elena. Even with the copy of the email I had brought, she said it was impossible to hold the reception there because the restaurant was full for the night. We argued, but nothing was happening so far with so I asked if we the private area by the pool was available. She said yes! I was so happy, you canâ€™t even imagineâ€¦ I had the private reception I always dreamed of, at no extra cost, even if we were a small group. We picked some extras: more champagne, the Cuban musical trio, and more flowers.
I didnâ€™t use many of the services offered for the weeding at the MLD. I didnâ€™t go to the hair salon, I brought my own flowers and a photographer flew with us.
Lucky me, my personal hairdresser flew with us. She is DHâ€™s cousin and a really good friend of mine (and she was my bridesmaid too)! I was happy to have her with me and she did a wonderful job. It was one less thing to be stressed about!
I brought my flowers with me. I saw the ones offered in the different package and there was nothing I liked. Flowers are so important to me; I really wanted to have orchids, hibiscus, roses and callas, so I went the artificial route.
Flying a photographer from Canada with us was by far the best decision of the whole wedding planning. I truly believe that by the end of the day, the photos are what you have left. Jodi Laundry, from DayDream Photography, is now a friend and she helped made my wedding day perfect. She shot the wedding day as well as a TTD. She is very professional and she knows how to make you feel comfortable. It felt good to have someone like her with us. She is wonderful and I *heart* her!
The MLD inaugurated a new wedding gazebo last June and as soon as I saw pictures, I knew it was my ceremony location. It is just so elegant! There was enough room for us, our guest, our photographer, the notary and WC. I donâ€™t think a bigger group (like 20-25 or more) would be comfortable in it, but for small / medium group it is ideal. You can see the beach in the back and bonus, itâ€™s private. People canâ€™t spy! With the sheer curtains and the delicate fresh flowers, it was ethereal and magic. The result was better than Iâ€™d imagined. They translated the legal part in French and everybody appreciated that. I was crying so hard while reading my vows! I have no words to describe that moment.
After the ring exchange and the first kiss, it was champagne time! I had brought my own CD and while chatting and drinking bubbles, the songs gave an entertaining and romantic background. We hang there for maybe 20 more minutes, and then the WC had called carts to bring us back to the lobby before supper. They had arranged a semi-private spot in the lobby, with couches. There was more champagne waiting for us there, and one guy from the resort offered to pick some finger food and appetizers at the Garden bar for us before the reception. It was very nice from him and all our guests ate with a lot of appetite! Just before we left for the reception, the guy who popped the champagne at the ceremony came to me with the cork of the first bottle he opened, asking me if a wanted to keep it. Of course! It was very considerate of him.
We had our private reception at the Poolside restaurant on the adult side and everything was perfect. The staff had decorated the tables with flowers. The chairs were covered with white linen and accented with pink bows (which suited perfectly my color scheme!). We asked for a U-shape setting and a head table for six. The tables were set perfectly and one of my bridesmaids did a wonderful job of setting up the favors (hand painted starfish photo frame) and some decorations. The ambiance was just as I expected.
We had the Cuban trio. They are fantastic! We had an impromptu 1st dance. They are good at what they do and they added a wonderful ambiance to the night. They played romantic and entertaining songs and all the special requests everybody had. They were supposed to be with us for one hour but with the tip we gave them, they stick with us for the whole reception. It is worth the price!
For starters we had shrimps in sweet salsa â€“ delectable! â€“ followed by lobster bisque, which was absolutely amazing, and our main course was supposed to be pork filets stuffed with asparagus in a rosemary sauce but we ended up with steak and carrots. Bad, but I can deal with that. Anyway, nobody was really hungry anymore. Then, we had the wedding cake. They put ribbon on the tiers, and my DIY cake topper. It was a two tiers cake and the top was supported by three champagne glasses. We took some pictures and then, they made a flamb© of our cake! It was so good! It tasted like rum a little bit. It was so cool to saw my wedding cake in flame! I loved it.
The servers did an outstanding job. The courses were well served and it was not too slow, not too fast. Our glasses were never empty and they were really courteous. We left the reception at 10 or 10:30 pm, I canâ€™t remember. I headed up to my room to take a shower and change clothes and then we all met outside the lobby for a few more drinks. It was lighthearted, we laugh and it was a nice way to end the night.
MLD is a nice resort. It was a great place for our wedding but I wouldnâ€™t have stay there one more week. The resort is pretty far from everything and Iâ€™m sure I would have been bored soon. If you have children it is a nice place to spend vacations or have your wedding hosted, but if you are looking for a more adult ambiance, you wonâ€™t find it at this resort, even on the adult side. The resort is good at hosting weddings. They are used to it and in total control (most of the time). The day after my wedding, there was a huge wedding in the lobby (75 persons) and I watched. Maria Elena was looking nervous but everything went smoothly and everyone was looking happy. I think they can handle well either small or huge wedding beautifully. I wonâ€™t return to this resort. It was nice, but I have seen nicer and I want to see other places. It doesnâ€™t mean Iâ€™m disappointed, but I didnâ€™t fall in love so bad with the resort that I want to come back every year.
Iâ€™m so sorry this has been so long, but I wanted to share my whole experience for futures MLD brides and brides looking for a resort. I really hope this helps some of you ladies!
Posted 19 August 2009 - 03:58 PM
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