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Review Azul Beach Wedding (4/17/10) A+++++


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#1 taylorwd

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    Posted 13 May 2010 - 10:53 PM

    I’m so excited to do this review and put a good word out there for this resort!! There aren’t many reviews of AB on BDW because the resort is small and does no more than one wedding a day. The ones that do exist are older and possibly outdated.

    Let me just say that this hotel fit the bill for what we were looking for in every way! We wanted:
    • a boutique-style, intimate resort (AB is only 98 rooms)
    • gourmet food
    • 5-star service
    • a real beach
    • a wedding location not on the sand
    • kid friendly

    FYI, most of the pictures of the resort on Karisma's website are extremely old from when the resort first opened. A lot of beach beds and foliage have been added and the palm trees are full grown. We were surprised (in a good way) to see the resort had been filled in and in no way looked sparse.

    Pre-Wedding Planning:

    DestinationWeddings.com- B: Our TA was through DW.com, and there are a lot of mixed reviews about them on here. I’ve put in my two cents on them elsewhere, so I’ll keep it brief here. We certainly had our ups and downs with using them, and our TA caused us trouble at times by giving misinformation or mixing things up. However, when things got bumpy with Karisma, it was helpful to have our TA fighting for us.

    Lomas Travel- F: We only used Lomas to book our transportation to and from the airport. Transport was already included for us through American Express, but we wanted private transport and Lomas had the better deal. What a mistake!! Our flight into Cancun was delayed by 3 hours and when we finally got there, they didn’t have a car for us. We waited for 20 minutes in the pouring rain, and when no car came, they finally just paid for us to take a cab to the hotel. The group van that left 10 min. before we did pulled up to AB right before us, so we would have just been better to stick with shared transportation. We’re still waiting to find out if they’ll give us any of our $$ back.

    Miami WC- C: All wedding planning for any Karisma resort is done through their Miami office. They then send all your info to the onsite team right before you go. Unfortunately, this means that you have NO CONTACT with the onsite team until you get down there. We had two different WC's: the first was terrible and gets an F, the second was awesome and gets an A. I've heard this said many times but it's true: If you can hack it with the Miami office and know going in that they are a pain in the *** to work with, it will all be worth it once you get to the resort!


    Okay, on to the good stuff!!

    Azul Beach Overall- A++++++++ Would we have our wedding their again? In a heartbeat!!! We cannot imagine our guests having a better experience anywhere else! Some have already written letters to the resort expressing their gratitude for the wonderful, customers-get-whatever-they-want experience!

    Customer Service- A+++ Every single person at this resort went above and beyond to accommodate us and our guests. From the moment we checked in we knew we were in good hands. Because the resort is so small, much of the staff knew us after just a couple days. The servers, the beach butlers, the concierge, the front desk, the room service people, everyone was incredibly nice and helpful. Our guests couldn't stop commenting on how great the staff was. Just a couple examples of the great service:
    • This was completely our fault for not using the safe, but we had money taken from our wallets the second day we were there. They were sitting on the desk in the room in plain view of the maid. It was a lot of money and the resort was under no obligation to do anything about it b/c it was truly our fault. They ended up giving us a choice of either getting the money back in cash or giving us resort credit to use during our stay! They found out who it was and let them go, and we had ZERO problems with anything after that.
    • My sister wanted to do a bridal luncheon for me and to accommodate us, they set up and decorated one of the restaurants and left it open just for us after it was supposed to have closed down after lunch. I posted some pictures below.
    • We wanted each guest to receive a program and itinerary at check-in. The Miami team said we couldn't do that and that the programs could only be delivered to the rooms (for which we would be charged a per-room fee). Once we got there, the front desk willingly agreed to hand them out for us as people arrived. No questions, no problems.
    • There was a beach BBQ one day and we were going to miss it b/c we were going out snorkeling. One of the beach butlers offered to keep plates of food for us until we got back.
    • We wanted to do the Couple’s Moonlit Massage. Since they don’t schedule a massage to start after 6pm and the sun in April doesn’t set until 7pm, our massages would have been in daylight. To accommodate us they kept two masseuses on staff until 8pm so that we could have a true moonlight massage. It comes complete with strawberries and champagne when you’re finished—it was one of the best Swedish massages I’ve ever had!

    My bridal luncheon in Chil

    Click the image to open in full size. Click the image to open in full size.

    All-Inclusive- A+++ At AB, the AI includes everything but spa services and wine by the bottle. All premium liquors, the mini bar in the rooms (restocked daily, btw), 24 hour room service, the beach BBQs, the fish fry—all included. I can't tell you how many times we had champagne delivered to our room!

    Food/Restaurants- A+++ I've never eaten so well on vacation! As the hotel states, it really is gourmet-inclusive. The restaurants are all a la carte. The only time there is a buffet is during breakfast, and you have a choice between ordering off the menu or going to the buffet. The resort was at capacity while we were there but we never had to wait for a table.

    Ambiance- A+++ Being such a small resort, you would think it might feel crowded, but absolutely not! The grounds are spacious and well-maintained. There's foliage and flowers everywhere. Soft music plays as you walk around the grounds. You really feel like you're in your own quiet, intimate space.

    The resort is divided into two different sections by room type: the Deluxe half (the better rooms) and the Superior half. In terms of ambiance, the Deluxe side has more space, is more lush and has a lot more palm trees. I've posted pictures below, but it's not the best one of the Superior area (I was really trying to take a picture of Chil, the Mexican restaurant). On the Superior side, the rooms are closer together with plainer facades.

    Superior Side

    Click the image to open in full size.

    Deluxe Side

    Click the image to open in full size. Click the image to open in full size.

    Rooms- B We all had Deluxe rooms, so I can't speak for the Superiors. The resort claims that all the Deluxe rooms are the same size, but I would have to disagree. We were in a center room, and ours was definitely larger than the rest of our guests who were on the ends. Our only complaint is that there's no tub in the rooms. I really wanted the resort we stayed at to have jacuzzi tubs, but AB had everything else we were looking for so I let that go. Our room was spacious and clean—no complaints other than not having a tub, but we knew that going in.

    Oh, and every room at the resort has a view of the ocean, so there's not a bad seat in the house!

    Pools- B: There are 3 pools at AB, all very small. But, just like not having a tub in the room, we knew this going in. We never had a problem getting a lounge chair and the pool butlers are incredibly nice and attentive. Except for the kids’ pool, the other two are relatively quiet and empty—very pleasant! Most guests are on the beach.

    Beach- A: What the resort lacks in pools it makes up for in beach! It's a beautiful stretch of sand, often not crowded at all. You can snorkel right off the beach. There's hardly ever people walking down the beach from other resorts since AB is a bit off the beaten path. There aren't any large resorts next to it.

    Since there were huge storms while we were there, quite a bit of seaweed rolled in. However, the resort was always quick to clean it up and we never had any problems.

    Click the image to open in full size.

    Nightlife- B: The resort is very quiet at night, and for us this was perfect. If you're looking for dancing, then AB is not for you. There's nightly entertainment in the Aquanox Bar (pool bar) until 11pm. After that most people head to the Agavero Lounge (tequila bar). Officially they close at 1am but they'll be happy to stay open longer if you're in there having a good time. The Agavero Lounge is definitely where things are most likely to get rowdy.

    Kids' Services- A+ This resort does so much for families! Basically you don't need to bring anything with you b/c they've got it all—cribs, playpens, strollers, changing tables, toys. They even serve Gerber baby food in the La Mancha snack bar! Every day they had something different going on for the kids: painting pottery, making personal pizzas, etc.

    More to come...

    #2 taylorwd

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      Posted 13 May 2010 - 10:56 PM

      Wedding-Related Services:

      Our wedding was small: in total we had 22 adults and 6 kids. We had a symbolic ceremony and my brother officiated. DH’s sister played the violin during the ceremony. She didn’t need to use the resort’s amp system. I could even hear her when I was waiting at the back of the resort to walk down the aisle. We didn't use a microphone either and everyone could hear us just fine even though it was windy.

      We had the following promotions: Free Weddings at Azul Beach, Honeymoon & Anniversary Package, Bride & Groom Stay Free

      Free Weddings at Azul Beach- B We just added on to this package and even with ordering bottles of wine, it still came out to be cheaper than the Silver Package. The breakfast in bed was a ridiculous amount of food—enough for 3 meals! Our only complaint was that they didn't decorate our room on our wedding night like the promotion states (more on this below).

      Click the image to open in full size.

      Honeymoon & Anniversary Package- B Everyone should have the candlelit dinner on the beach! It was a special experience and we highly recommend it. We also definitely appreciated the bottle of champagne waiting for us in our room when we checked in. The only thing we didn't use was the massage lesson, and that was only for lack of time.

      They lit the path to our private table on the beach:

      Click the image to open in full size.

      Bride & Groom Stay Free- B This promotion sounds better than it is, IMO. It did save us some money, though, and now they've upped the discount to 20%. It also comes with a Couples Karisma Day Pass which we didn't use. Not only was there not time, but we felt no need to leave our resort to go to another one. That just would have meant precious time away from our own resort!

      Onsite WC's- B Onsite we worked with Mayra and Celina (Celina has since moved over to Azul Sensatori). Even though we're giving them a B instead of an A, we absolutely loved our onsite wedding coordinators. We loved them so much we tipped them…twice...and handsomely each time! The reason they don't get an A is because of a couple oversights the day of:
      1. We had asked if they'd put our names in the fountain on our wedding day. We had seen this done and thought it'd be really cool. They forgot.
      1. Our wedding package specifically stated “romantically decorated room on wedding night,” which they didn't do. Thankfully our families did that for us, but had they not we would have been quite sad to go back to our room and not see anything. When we asked about it they said they never decorate the room.
      1. We purchased rose petals for our guests to throw as we walked up the aisle. The WCs didn’t tell our guests what the little bags of rose petals on their chairs were for, so no one threw the petals. I really, really love the pictures of couples leaving the ceremony surrounded by rose petals being thrown at them, and we didn’t get that picture. Now, one could argue that our guests should have known what they were for (what else would they be for except to throw?), but it couldn’t have hurt for the WCs to inform our guests.

      Compared to how perfectly the rest of the day and details went, those 3 things are tiny oversights and mishaps. We still think our WCs were just about PERFECT! They accommodated our every wish and waited on me hand and foot the day of the ceremony.

      What they normally do with the fountain for couples on their wedding day:

      Click the image to open in full size.

      Photographer- A++++++ We brought our photographer with us, and it was the best decision we could have made! We used Andrew Jordan, aka GroomsArePeopleToo. Since he's not part of AB and because he was so good he deserves his own review, I've written a separate one here:

      Click the image to open in full size.
      (Andrew Jordan Photography)

      More to come...

      #3 taylorwd

      taylorwd
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        Posted 13 May 2010 - 10:58 PM

        Wedding Location- A+ This was a tough one for us from the start with a lot of drama. We were adamant about not getting married on the sand and wanted to use the beach gazebo. However, the pictures they sent us of the gazebo were outdated and didn't show the unsightly lifeguard tower that's directly behind it. To make a long story short, once we got there the WCs bent over backward to find us a suitable spot, and it couldn't have been more perfect! During the planning process, the Miami office told us we couldn't have this spot, but the onsite team readily gave it to us.

        Entrance/Setup (Most couples choose a ceremony on the sand at AB, and you get to enter over the bridge for that location, too):

        Click the image to open in full size.Click the image to open in full size.

        Click the image to open in full size.
        (all Andrew Jordan Photography)

        D©cor/Flowers:

        Click the image to open in full size.Click the image to open in full size.

        Click the image to open in full size.Click the image to open in full size.

        Click the image to open in full size.

        Click the image to open in full size.
        (all Andrew Jordan Photography)

        More to come...

        #4 taylorwd

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          Posted 13 May 2010 - 11:01 PM

          Reception- A We had a private reception on the Blue Terrace, and the location couldn’t have been more perfect. It’s outside with plenty of room for tables and dancing but is also covered in case it rains. We rented their sound system and played music through iTunes. The sound was great and our guests liked being able to scroll through our playlists and choose songs. Officially our reception was scheduled from 6:30-10:30pm (the max time for private events is 4 hours). Quiet hours start at 11pm at the resort, and we wanted to stay the extra half hour. We had to pay $40 to rent the sound system for the extra half hour. I’m pretty sure the Lomas guy just pocketed that money!

          Click the image to open in full size. Click the image to open in full size. Click the image to open in full size.
          (all Andrew Jordan Photography)


          We didn’t do centerpieces and brought our own table decorations: menu/drink cards, maracas, and picture frames with our grandparents’ photos. We also purchased rose petals for the tables.

          Click the image to open in full size.
          (Andrew Jordan Photography)


          The food was exceptional! We had beef carpaccio, mahi-mahi with apple-curry risotto and glazed vegetables, and flan. Our guests raved and raved about the mahi saying it was the best fish they’d ever had and certainly some of the best wedding food they’d ever had.

          Cake- C I took the average here. We give the cake an A for flavor and an F for execution. We had a strawberry cake with buttercream icing, and it was hands-down the best wedding cake we'd ever had. Our guests loved it so much that not a single piece was left! However, boy was it uuuuuuugly! It looked nothing like it was supposed to. I've posted pictures below. This is Standard Cake D from their menu, and the only thing we changed was that we didn't want the white cloth ribbon on top of the cake. We also assumed they'd change the flowers to match our colors. Notice our cake doesn't have real flowers like in the picture.

          We had originally submitted our own design for a cake that we wanted, but when the resort came back with a ridiculous price, we went with one of their standards. I'm so so so glad we didn't spend the extra $$ on a cake of our own design! We would have been very upset, but since we couldn’t have the cake we really wanted, we didn’t care too much that this one came out like it did. In the end we thought it was comical and I've even submitted it to cakewrecks.com!

          What it should have been:

          Click the image to open in full size.

          What we got:

          Click the image to open in full size.
          (Andrew Jordan Photography)

          Okay, thanks for reading this looooooong review and YEA for all you Azul Beach brides out there!

          #5 SuzyQ76

          SuzyQ76
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            Posted 13 May 2010 - 11:19 PM

            Awesome review Wendy!!
            Your pics are absolutely GORGEOUS!!!

            The resort looks amazing and I'm glad it turned out to be everything you wanted!!
            Our Wedding Day, April 29, 2010
            Grand Riviera Princess

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            My Grand Riviera/Sunset Princess Review:http://bestdestinati....7/#post1283438

            #6 amandamarieb

            amandamarieb
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              Posted 14 May 2010 - 12:01 AM

              Wow. Sounds like you had an amazing time!!! Congrats again and again. I am getting married at AS but your review certainly makes me even more excited to use Karisma.
              Amanda ~ Marrying Stephen on October 10th 2010 at Azul Sensatori

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              #7 Helen_S81

              Helen_S81
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                Posted 14 May 2010 - 07:08 AM

                Great review! Congratulations on your wedding!

                #8 Cindy*

                Cindy*
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                  Posted 14 May 2010 - 08:11 AM

                  Thanks for the detailed review. Glad you had a great wedding. Congrats.

                  #9 greysgirl

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                    Posted 14 May 2010 - 01:21 PM

                    Nice review! Thanks for all of the included pictures with your descriptions. They are quite helpful to those brides like me who are trying to narrow down resorts:)

                    #10 finleys7

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                      Posted 14 May 2010 - 03:24 PM

                      Very detailed review - Great Job. Great pictures - Congrats!!!
                      Shannon

                      YEAH---We Did It! **May 1st, 2010**
                      Our Wedding SlideShowMy Wedding Review - Iberostar Paraiso Del Mar http://bestdestinati....-2010-a-58966/My Planning Threadhttp://bestdestinati...ding.com/fo....




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