Autumn's Dreams Puerto Vallarta Wedding Review
Posted 09 January 2010 - 09:41 PM
December Destination Wedding - A+
Although I am exhausted from a month of wedding events, it was awesome having a wedding in early December. From the wedding to Christmas to New Years to our AHR it was like we had a wedding season instead of just one day. Really great to spend so much time with our family and friends.
Dreams Rooms - Old Tower: B+, New Tower: A+
We stayed in the preferred tower and although I am a big believer of not staying cooped up in your room on vacation and usually opt for the cheapest room option, this upgrade was well worth it. The lobby bar, free internet and the room itself were totally worth the upgrade. About half of our party stayed in the older tower so we did see their check in process as well their rooms and I wish I would have encouraged them to upgrade. The bartenders at the lobby bar will make you lattes or really good drinks every time you walk through. The bathrooms are much bigger and nicer and overall the preferred room was just more updated. None of our guests complained about the old tower, but I would definitely recommend the upgrade as the service is just so much better on the preferred side. We also had the jacuzzi room and actually used the tub on the balcony a couple of times. The pictures on the Dreams website and on TripAdvisor are accurate so we had no surprises there.
Food and Drink - A+
The food was the best out of all of the Mexico AIs we have visited (in comparison to some Rius, Palace resorts and The Royal PDC). We had no problems getting tables close to each other for dinner; we just had to wait about 15 minutes for them to get things organized. Our WC actually reserved tables for our 50 person party at the Mexican Fiesta on Friday night. We also had no problems getting drinks and made friends with all of the staff. I am pretty sure that the negative service reviews come from people who are expecting to be waited on hand and foot and are rude to the staff. Stick to the golden rule and you will have the same great service that we did. As for the restaurants I liked all of the sit downs equally (El Patio, Oceana, Portofino and Seaside) and the buffet was so convenient and delicious for a quick breakfast and snacks. Also, the food that we paid extra for was even more amazing than the already good food at the normal restaurants. (We paid extra for the wedding and a private bonfire birthday party on the beach.) We had â€œcheese cakeâ€ at the bonfire. That is in quotes because they called it cheese cake, but it was more like a really moist angel food cake. It was delicious, just not the cheesecake you would get from The Cheesecake Factory. Our wedding menu was mango crab salad, chicken fortiere w/ veggies and mash potatoes. All of those were yum-o. We did have a mishap as we had poblano soup on the menu but it did not get served. That makes me sad because I have heard rave reviews about the soup. We had a tres leches wedding cake and it was awesome too. Believe me, the food that you pay extra for is worth it.
Pool - B+ and Beach - A+
We loved chilling by the pool and had no problems finding chairs at the pool or beach at any time of day. I think one of the best parts of Dreams is the beach. It is fabulous that it is basically private and just steps from every place on the resort. The waves were calm the first couple of days but then a storm rolled in and they turned extremely dangerous even washing out some of the beach side palapas. The outside vendors on the beach and at the resort were also very nice and not pushy. *We put up our lawn sign and no one had any problems finding us at the pool.
Birthday Bonfire on the Beach - A++
Instead of a rehearsal dinner and such, we had a bonfire on the beach. Most of our guests met for dinner at the Mexican Fiesta (the WC had reserved tables for us right up front) and after dinner we went to our own little private party. We had a birthday cake for our guests with December birthdays and a pinata. The bonfire included these gigantic marshmallows that everyone loved although they ended up turning into throwing spears at the end of the night. We brought chocolate bars and graham crackers from Costco at home and made sâ€™mores also. We did pay extra for this party, but it included our own bartender and again gave our guests the chance to hang out without feeling pressured to go somewhere.
Nightlife at Dreams - B
Dreams is not a Spring Break hotel, but we make our own fun wherever we go. So Rendezvous after dinner until they closed and then the Sports Bar for dancing until they closed really worked for our group. Our parents and older friends are not into the clubs so staying at the resort and spending time with them was more important than getting crazy in town. Donâ€™t get me wrong, our best friends came in a day early and we went into town and danced at Mandala and Hilo which was a total blast, but just as expensive as going out in Scottsdale, AZ.
Posted 09 January 2010 - 09:44 PM
This gazebo has a gorgeous view and we got some amazing pictures. We had 50 guests so it was a little crowded and like Jill mentioned the aisle was tight. It was hard to fit me and my dad and then me and B. It was really funny as they had an aisle with 1 chair. We called it our time out chair and made one of the crazy single guys sit in it. It was hilarious. The other thing is that there is a trampoline just below the gazebo. I know my photog and videographer didnâ€™t get it in the shots, but Dreams rarely uses it and it is just an eye sore. I wrote them a note saying they should move it
Wedding Reception at Las Palmas â€“ A
Again I agree with Jill that a ceremony at the Gazebo and then reception at Las Palmas is a perfect transition. The tables and centerpieces, guest book, pashminas, bar and dance floor were perfectly set up. I brought a bunch of stuff (see my planning thread) and it was all laid out fabulously. The only thing that was missed was high top tables for the cocktail hour. We were supposed to have high tables on the dance floor by the bar for our guests to mingle, enjoy a drink and listen to the Mexican trio. Instead there were no tables, the Mexican trio only played for 45 minutes and when we got up to the reception everyone was sitting around bored. Needless to say I was appalled and had to gather the DJ and bartenders to get some music and drinks to our guests.
Wedding Reception Staff â€“ B-
We had Jose as our bartender and he was fabulous. When we were ready for toasts he walked around filling up the tequila toast shot glasses without even being told. And he kept making really fun shots for the girls and honestly kept the party moving. On the other hand our wait staff was pretty bad. I expected B and I to get served first, but we were served in the middle of our guests. And we both had to get our own drinks all night long. Jose always had something ready by the time we walked up but I was expecting to have a little better service based on previous reviews.
Tipping the Reception staff:
I gave my brother tip money and had it divided out $20 per waiter plus extra if he thought they did a good job. He gave Jose the bartender more, but the wait staff just got the minimum.
Wedding Reception DJ â€“ F
I never got the name of the DJ because the wedding coordinator handled the arrangement, but he was utterly horrendous. I cannot believe that I actually paid extra for this service. I sent in a playlist and asked if I needed to supply any of the songs myself. I never heard back so I did not bring my own music with me. I should have known better and made my own playlists as he claimed that he could not find some of the songs on my list. But I was thinking that paying $900 for a DJ meant they would provide the requested music and play current hits. To be more specific he did not play the correct song for me walking down the aisle with my dad. He played sad break up music during dinner and played none of the Texas country songs or Top 40 that I requested during the dancing. He played awful disco and movie musical music that all of my guests laughed at instead of danced to. He did not speak English so he could not announce anything so B ended up playing MC. I understand we are in Mexico and I certainly do not expect people to speak English, but I should have been told that I needed someone to MC since he couldnâ€™t. This part of the night was a terrible mistake and I should have hired an outside vendor.*
Spa - A
Blanca did my hair and makeup for the wedding and she rocked! She is very talented. My bridesmaids got me a foot massage while I was getting my hair done and it was a wonderful way to relax before the big event. B and I also got massages and facials after the wedding and really enjoyed them. I am used to the upscale Scottsdale spas and the Dreams spa ranks a little below them, but definitely above the chain-type spa places. I did not have any bridesmaids and encouraged my female guests to not waste their money on spa hair or makeup for the wedding. This was due to previous reviews saying that the spa runs on â€œMexicoâ€ time and really canâ€™t handle large groups. So instead, all of my girlfriends brought their makeup and hair stuff to the salon with me and took over all of the empty hair stations and still got ready with me. We had a blast doing this and really recommend doing something fun like that with your BMs.
Dreams Wedding Coordinator â€“ B
I had good communication with Rebeca during the planning process, but she is very busy with all of the resort wedding events and it was very hard to get her time. I believe a lot of the problems we had would have been eliminated if the resort would set better expectations on the wedding coordinatorâ€™s role. She is not really a wedding coordinator in modern terms, but more of an event manager. We only saw her once during the wedding and B and I ran the timeline of dinner, cake cutting, garter, etc. Rebeca is very nice and organized, and met the important logistics of the wedding like location and time. But with the numerous amounts of weddings at the resort it would help if she was not in charge of the small details like decorations, music and food. No one noticed the little things, but this is where I could see the use of an outside coordinator. I suggested to the resort that they offer an additional service of a real wedding coordinator. We did have some problems after the wedding with our bill that wasnâ€™t a big deal but just annoying. We had paid our TA for the wedding package and sent in a deposit to the resort and neither were reflected on our final bill so we had to track down Rebeca before our check out. I would suggest getting everything paid for before the wedding, even though they told us it was best to pay after.
Favors - A+++
Photography â€“ Nathan Cordova: A
Nate was super nice and all of my guests enjoyed having him take their pics. I havenâ€™t seen any of the pics, but will share as soon as I get them.
Overall Experience - A+
Destination weddings are awesome. My mom cried over it in the beginning, but has told everyone that she is eating every bad thing she said about going away to get married. Dreams is a perfect venue and getting to spend time with your friends and family is invaluable. Although I mentioned some â€œbadâ€ things they had no impact on the overall awesomeness of the experience and I do not regret one thing. I hope this review helps someone out there as this forum was a complete lifesaver in my wedding planning.
Posted 09 January 2010 - 09:52 PM
Posted 09 January 2010 - 10:39 PM
Posted 09 January 2010 - 10:42 PM
Posted 09 January 2010 - 10:44 PM
Posted 10 January 2010 - 03:53 AM
Posted 10 January 2010 - 04:09 AM
And so weird about the wait staff - we had the same problem about getting drinks...our guests were being served all night long but we were rarely asked if we wanted a drink so if we did we had to get it ourselves also.
And Blanca - yay! Glad we had the same hairdresser - loved her - she did an awesome job.
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