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Long Overdue Review-ROR, Tropical Weddings Jamaica, Couples Negril, Lees Tours


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Riu Ocho Rios

A+

There was a slight mishap when we first arrived because my FI and I were given a regular room even though we (and ALL 34 of our guests) reserved junior suites. For some reason, everyone else got a junior suite except us. They were a bit rude at first, but my FI went to the front desk and sorted it out. In the end, they actually upgraded us to a suite, which was way bigger than a junior suite and had an amazing view! We would have been happy with a junior suite, but the upgrade was really cool.

This resort was perfect for our group of guests. There were 36 of us in total. We had a 13yr old, several people in their late 20â€s/early 30â€s, and many in their 50â€s/60â€s. There was always something to do for everyone. The resort is nice and big, so you can walk around without being stuck in each otherâ€s space all the time. The beach is amazing (and close to the rooms), the pools are great, and the entertainment was really good. My only complaint is that there really isnâ€t much to eat after 11pm, when the main dining areas close. Normally, this wouldnâ€t be an issue, but some nights, we stayed up late chatting and drinking and wanted a snack. The only food available was popcorn and not-so-great nachos at the sports bar. Otherwise, I thought that the food was really good. Iâ€m not too picky, but everyone else in our group also commented that the food was good. Drinks were plentiful, and staff was very pleasant. Of course the rooms had a bit of a wet, musty smell, but from my experience, all resorts in the Caribbean are like this.

I honestly donâ€t have any real complaints about this resort. I would definitely recommend it, especially if you are going with a large, diverse group because it caters to all age groups.

 

Renova Spa

A

I had a hair trial done at home and took a TON of pictures from every angle because I have super-thin hair and itâ€s really hard to style. I printed the pics out in colour and brought them with me. The lady at the salon did an awesome job replicating it! It wasnâ€t totally perfect, but looked good enough for me!! Everyone complimented me on my hair because it was very simple and elegant. Definitely take pictures with you because the salon has a very rough looking catalogue of cut-out pictures from OLD magazines. They do not have a good book of styles to choose from, so make sure you know what you want before you go.

The salon itself is VERY small. They had 3 ladies working, but it was soooo cramped. And no curlers or hair dryer (the one that goes over your head). To add volume, they just backcomb your hair, and to get curls, they use a curling iron. This worked well for me and my bridesmaids, but if youâ€re expecting a modern salon and spa, you might be disappointed.

I had a French manicure done before I left which was kind of silly because of course it was completely destroyed when I arrived in Jamaica. But I went to the spa and just got a “Colour Changeâ€. It was only $14 USD and she did a great job applying French tips. I actually liked it a lot better than the French tips I had done at home.

 

Tropial Weddings Jamaica

A++++

OMG!!! I cannot say enough about this company! We decided to get married off the resort and really didnâ€t know how to go about planning an off-site wedding. I found Almarie (wedding coordinator) from Tropical Weddings Jamaica early in our planning process, and she was nothing short of amazing from day one! She responded within 24hrs to ALL of my questions and always provided me with extensive details. She helped me remain calm and paid really close attention to my wishes. My suggestion to you is that if you have questions or concerns for her, list them out and number them (literally…#1, #2, #3, etc.). She will respond to each and every question and concern.

Our wedding day was PERFECT!! I couldnâ€t have asked for anything more! Almarie did everything exactly how I asked. We met with her the day before the wedding (she came to the resort to meet us). Even though everything was already settled before we arrived, we provided her with last minute details and gave her our programs, bubbles, favours, etc. It was nice to finally meet her. Then on our wedding day, we were all picked up by two modern, air-conditioned buses and taken to our ceremony/reception location. The ride to the location was a bit rough and a bit scary, but once we arrived at the top of the mountain, everyoneâ€s breath was taken away! It was even more beautiful than the pictures on the internet. We were married at the Oceanfront Grande location. It is also known as Firefly. It was like a fairytale! When we arrived, things were all set up, I changed into my gown, people got seated and the ceremony began. I can honestly say that I remember every detail as I was not distracted by any stresses. It was the most amazing wedding ceremony!! A steel drum band played the music as we walked down the aisle. We had so many positive comments about the steel drum band. I was hesitant at first because itâ€s obviously not the most traditional form of music at a wedding, but it was a great decision. Not only does it provide a tropical feel, but it was really romantic. The only thing that was annoying during the ceremony was my veil. It is windy in Jamaica, and my veil was blowing around. The photographer had to stop at one point and tuck my veil in so that he could get good pictures without my veil covering up my face. Unfortunately, in some pics, my veil looks kind of funny because it is tucked in, but for the most part, it still looks really good. My FI and I created our ceremony from start to finish. This was such a great idea because it was really personal and we made sure every word of the ceremony applied to us as a couple. The minister was extremely accommodating and used our ceremony instead of his own, standard ceremony.

Immediately after the ceremony, we did pictures and had cocktail hour. The steel drum band stayed and played during this time. Guests mingled and had drinks and appetizers. I was worried that it might be awkward and boring for the guests, but they enjoyed this time to relax, take in the scenery and chat with each other.

After pictures were finished, we started our reception. Our reception was only 2hrs long, but it was a perfect amount of time. We had a great Jamaican dinner (the guests loved the food), and we had speeches, a game, and some music. It was short and sweet. I was definitely worried about our reception being so short and being finished so early in the day (from 4pm-6pm), but it worked out really well for us. Everything went as planned, and again, I have no complaints. It was super-intimate, and Almarie took care of each and every detail.

Our photographer was part of the package with Tropical Weddings Jamaica. He was excellent. He didnâ€t rush us and he made sure that guests hid their sunglasses, purses and cameras for the pictures. He did a great job ensuring that pictures turned out and that eyes were open! The package didnâ€t include many printed pictures and didnâ€t include all pics on a CD, so unfortunately, we had to bargain with the photographer and gave him some extra money to just give us ALL the pics. There were ~600 in total, and we wanted all of them. So for some extra cash, he burned all the pics onto a CD for us. He also came to the resort to meet with us 2 days after the wedding so that we could pick which pictures to have printed. He then met us again to deliver us the final products. He really went out of his way to meet with us and make sure we were happy.

The photographer also put together a video for us. Itâ€s kind of cheesy, but it captures all the important parts of the day. And the sound is awesome! You can see and hear our entire ceremony and most of the speeches from our reception. Even though itâ€s not the most high-tech video, we love it! Itâ€s an awesome keepsake.

We arrived back at the resort just after 7pm. We requested that our guests freshen up and gather again in the entertainment area to continue the celebrations. A few of our friends arrived early and reserved a bunch of tables and chairs off to the side. Our group met up again at about 8pm. We watched the pre-show, had some drinks, and continued chatting and mingling. The “older†folks went to bed after the show, while the rest of us stayed up and partied. We went to the disco, which under normal circumstances wouldnâ€t have been my top choice to celebrate my wedding night. But it was soooo much fun! They actually played the best music that night (all old school R & B, hip hop, and rock). We drank and danced until 2am!! It was a blast. I kept my wedding gown on, and I felt like a celebrity for the day/night. People are so nice when they see a bride!!

Overall, our wedding day/night was amazing. I honestly would not change a thing! I think as destination brides, we are so lucky!! I think it is rare to find a bride who can look back at her wedding day and say that she didnâ€t get caught up in the whirlwind of stress! And I think that most of us who have a destination wedding, really have a unique experience of enjoying every moment of our special day! And I know that our guests also enjoyed everything as well!

 

Lees Tours

A

We planned a day trip for all of our guests a few days after our wedding. We contacted Lees Tours a couple of months before our arrival and arranged a trip for everyone to Dunnâ€s River Falls and then to the town of Ocho Rios for some shopping. I believe the total cost per guest was $27 USD (including all transportation, entrance into the Falls, and bottled water). Norma from Lees Tours was such a pleasure to work with! She was quick to answer our questions and put our minds at ease! She made sure we were the first group to arrive to Dunnâ€s River so that we avoided the rush of the crowd. It was perfect. As we were leaving, there was a HUGE line-up, so we were grateful for our 8:30am arrival. We then went to do some shopping. The shopping was okay…but be prepared to be harassed by the vendors! The Lees Tours drivers were very professional and very nice. They waited for us for a couple of hours while we shopped, and then took us back to the resort. It was a great day, and Lees Tours definitely made it fun!

 

Couples Negril

B+

I think, hands down, the best decision we made was to stay an extra week by ourselves and truly enjoy our “honeymoonâ€. Even though we only had 34 guests, we felt the pressure to constantly be mingling, and making sure everyone was okay for the first week. We literally didnâ€t have a moment to ourselves (other than sleeping). Every meal and every other spare minute was spent with other people. So we decided to extend our vacation and spend another week at a different resort.

When we arrived at Couples Negril, we were a bit surprised. It is MUCH smaller and quieter than any other resort I have ever been to. It was a HUGE change from the Riu Ocho Rios. It is 100% couples. There are no large groups of people partying. Even though it was a bit of a shock at first, once we adjusted, we both agreed that it was the perfect place for our honeymoon. This resort “forced†us to relax! Because there arenâ€t a lot of planned activities, and the entertainment is over by 10pm, we had nothing else to do other than go back to our rooms. At first, we were kind of weirded-out at the fact that our nights were ending so early, but trust me, by day 3, we were loving it!! It was so nice to go back to our room at 9pm-10pm and truly relax! We watched some TV, and really took advantage of our alone time!!

The room was great! It was huge and very bright. It actually smelled more like bamboo than of mustiness. Housekeeping cleaned the room every morning, and also provided turn down service every evening. It was really nice. We had a garden view, which was super-pretty. The grounds are extremely lush with tons of huge trees and greenery. It felt like you were in the middle of the jungle!! Again, this was totally different than any other resort I have stayed at, as other resorts tend to have perfectly manicured lawns and shrubbery. Once we got used to it, I fell in love with the jungle-atmosphere!!

The food was really good! As I stated earlier, Iâ€m not super-picky, but I would say that the food was actually better than the ROR. There were not as many restaurants, and maybe not as much variety, but I feel like the quality was better. And the presentation was really classy. The service was outstanding! And no tips were permitted, which took some pressure off us to always be thinking about tipping. We tried to tip on our first day, and were told that they are not allowed to accept money. We felt bad because the staff honestly work so hard, but we watched others and I guess itâ€s common knowledge that you donâ€t tip because nobody else was tipping.

This resort has some amazing perks included in your stay. As part of our stay, we went on a sunset catamaran cruise, a glass-bottom boat ride, snorkeling off site, kayaking, wind surfing, water skiing, and best of all—scuba diving!! It included a free scuba diving lesson and a free dive with the instructor. Normally, I would have NEVER tried scuba diving…after this experience, my husband and I are seriously considering getting certified so that we can continue diving on future vacations. It was amazing!

 

Overall, our entire 2-weeks in Jamaica were better than we could have ever imagined! Of course there were minor glitches, but nothing worthy of complaining. Every decision we made, turned out to be great, and I would highly recommend the Riu Ocho Rios, Tropical Weddings Jamaica, Couples Negril, and Lees Tours!!!

 

Good luck to everyone!!

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