LONG review of my experience and wedding at the amazing Paradisus Punta Cana!
Posted 18 May 2010 - 07:30 PM
I just had my wedding at the Paradisus Punta Cana on May 11, and wanted to give everyone a review! This forum was really informative for me leading up to my wedding, so I figured it was only right to give something back ☺ So get ready for a LONG review!
ARRIVAL - We traveled to Punta Cana with about 20 of our family and closest friends. We arrived in PUJ at about 6:30 PM local time to a bright sun and warm breezes. The airport is really charming and will make you feel right away that you are on a tropical vacation! The airport process was pretty painless – we grabbed our bags off the carousel and made our way to find the rep for our vacation provider to find out which bus to get on to get to our resort. Travel was included in our particular package so it made it really simple! I would make sure that travel is included when booking your trip – one of our guests who met us there didn’t have travel included and he had to pay a $40 cab ride each way ☹ There are lots of people who will try to carry your bags for you in hopes of making a tip – just be firm and say “No, gracias” and they should leave you alone.
CHECK IN/FIRST IMPRESSIONS – The lobby at the PPC is truly impressive and though we arrived when it was dark we were all in awe. It is truly beautiful! We were given pina coladas to sip on as we waited in line to check in, which were a welcome reprieve from the crazy heat! The check in did take a little bit of time, probably almost an hour to check in our entire party of 20. To be fair, there is A LOT of information for them to go over with you about dining, towels, entertainment, room service, minibar, spa etc. and I would rather something be thorough and take a little longer than it be rushed. We did not mind the time it took to check in at all as there were plenty of comfortable places for us to sit and sip our pina coladas and socialize with our friends and family. Rafael was the man who checked us in and he was great. He explained everything to us and answered all of our questions. Whenever we would call the front desk it was always Rafael who would answer! He seems to work morning, noon and night. After check in a trolley came to take our bags and us to our rooms. The man who drove us to our rooms also carried our bags in for us, much appreciated after a long day of travel! We tipped him a few bucks.
RESORT – This is one breathtakingly BEAUTIFUL resort! Gorgeous trees, flowers and other vegetation everywhere. It is an eco-friendly resort meaning lots of little animals and amphibians running around everywhere. The grounds are absolutely immaculate – everywhere you look you will see someone working at trimming the grass, hedges, raking leaves. It’s always kept in pristine condition. The gardeners use machetes to trim the trees and hedges, no motorized tools here! It is quite remarkable. The resort is also quite large, it was about a ten minute walk from the lobby to where our rooms were located. During the hot and sunny days if we were heading to the lobby we would usually catch one of the trolleys (they run very often), just so we didn’t have to walk in the intense heat, but in the evenings we would always walk . It is such a beautiful place, it was so pleasant to be able to walk around and appreciate the gorgeous scenery. A couple of times we asked the gardeners (men in green suits with rubber boots) to chop us down coconuts from the trees to that we could drink the juice inside. They have a special tool that pulls the coconut down, and then they hacked away at it with their machetes to create a little drinking spout – impressive! We always tipped them $1 or so for their handiwork.
ROOM – Our group were all in Villas 32-34. Our particular room was 1321. This was such an awesome location as it was so close to the beach and also to all the restaurants. We couldn’t have asked for a better location than this one; we could stand on our patio, look to the left, and see the wedding gazebo! The rooms were clean, cool and comfortable. I was a little bit nervous as I had read some scary reviews on Tripadvisor about the cleanliness of the rooms. Let me tell you, you have NOTHING to worry about. Yes, there were some tiny little bugs in the bathroom but they were absolutely harmless and in tropical countries you are bound to find bugs anywhere! Yes, there was a bit of dirt on one of the lampshade bases but it wasn’t hurting anyone. Other than that, everything about the rooms was great. Even the regular junior suites are HUGE with a separate living area from where the bed is. The fridge would be restocked with water every day; I don’t think they restock pop unless you request it, which they have no problem doing: my in-laws requested one more bottle of Coke and they brought 3! Our rooms were always cleaned immaculately every day and nobody had a problem with anything getting stolen. Our chambermaid even straightened our shoes and toiletries in the bathroom for us! We tipped $2 a day for that.
WEDDING COORDINATOR – Our wedding coordinator was Erikarolimy and she was an absolute doll. The WC we had been dealing with via correspondence was Andrea, and only when we arrived at the resort were we informed that we would have a different one because Andrea was no longer at PPC. I was a really laid-back bride so this didn’t bother me one bit, but for some others it might make them feel a little bit uneasy. One thing we did do was print off all the emails that we had exchanged with Andrea, just in case. We didn’t end up needing them, but if you have special requests or agreements you might want to think about doing this just in case you do get switched to someone else. We also couldn’t get a hold of anyone in the wedding department to have an initial meeting until two days before our wedding, in part due to the fact that Andrea was no longer there. Like I said, we are both very laid back people by nature so this did not stress us out too much, and when we met with Erikarolimy she was so professional and efficient that it put us at ease right away. These people are experts! They do at least one and sometimes as many as five weddings a day, so they know what they are doing. During our first meeting she went through our planner with us and confirmed what type of flowers and decorations we wanted. We also chose the menu for our dinner. She did offer a rehersal but we didn’t think it was necessary because when she explained to us how the ceremony would go, it seemed pretty straightforward. She then took us down to the gazebo and talked about where everyone would be sitting/standing. She also showed us some alternative locations for our ceremony should there be intense rain the day of the ceremony, but told us if we wanted to still go ahead and do the ceremony at the gazebo in the rain it was our choice. A few hours after we met with her she dropped off an invoice to our room. The amount was actually LESS than what we were expecting! I’m not going to post it up in here, but if you have inquiries then just send me a private message ☺ We paid for the wedding up at the reception desk the morning of our ceremony.
WEDDING CEREMONY – We were blessed with amazing weather the day of our wedding – sunny and warm with a few clouds. Our ceremony was at 5 PM which worked out really nicely because we were able to get up early, have breakfast and enjoy the beach for a few hours before getting ready. We chose the wish package with a few upgrades in terms of decorations, bouquets, cake etc. Everyone was instructed to meet at the beach gazebo at 4:45 PM, while I waited in my room for Erikarolimy’s call. She called at around 5 PM and I went outside to be driven up to the gazebo in a golf cart. The driver was a young guy named Julio. We were about to drive down toward the gazebo when all of a sudden I saw Erikarolimy motioning for Julio to stop and wait. A few minutes passed by and then I see the best man walking towards the golf cart. He said that the CD we provided wasn’t playing in their player for some reason and that he was going back to our room to check for the backup CD we had brought. A few minutes later he emerged from the room and said that he couldn’t find the CD anywhere. I told him to forget about it and just to use whatever music they had available. This turned out to be the only hiccup in our ceremony, and it really wasn’t a big deal at all! They had very nice music that they use for all the couples who don’t provide their own – I think I walked down the aisle to Pachelbel’s Canon in D (I was so excited I wasn’t paying attention to the music!). The ceremony was very short and was performed by an official in Spanish, and Erikarolimy translated to English for us. We read our own personalized vows which had everyone teary-eyed. After we had shared our kiss and signed the papers, we walked back down the aisle as a married couple to Jason Mraz’s “I’m Yours”. After the ceremony, we drank champagne by the gazebo while our photographer took photos. It was perfect – super simple with no fluff or extravagance, just how we wanted it. Erikarolimy apologized a million times for the music not working, but neither of us cared at all and our guests never knew the difference.
RECEPTION – we decided against a privatized reception because we figured for the amount of people we had vs. the amount of money it was going to cost, it wasn’t really worth it. We had dinner at El Romantico with our group. They sat us at two long tables beside each other in the corner and it really worked out well. The interior d©cor of the restaurant is already very wedding-like. We were still able to make speeches and talk amongst ourselves even though there were other people in the restaurant. The food was great; we had shrimp as the appetizer, cod and pork loin as the main dishes and a passion fruit souffl© for dessert. For our few vegetarian guests they were extremely accommodating and made them a veggie lasagna and risotto. The wedding cake they provided was very tasty – vanilla with some sort of banana cream in the middle. We paid a little bit extra to have a larger wedding cake to ensure everyone got a piece; I think it was only $17 for the cake upgrade. We were happy with the whole thing and all of our guests loved it. After the dinner we went back to our rooms to change and freshen up, and then we all headed over to the lobby bar for drinking and dancing! We joined in the line dancing and they even dedicated a song to my husband and I and made a little announcement that we had just gotten married. It was very sweet. When the disco opened we moved the party there and danced until the wee hours. The whole night was a total blast and everyone really enjoyed themselves!
PHOTOGRAPHER – We used HDC photo and really couldn’t be any happier! I already commented in a different thread on how wonderful these guys were to work with. The photos look like something out of a magazine and our family and friends cannot stop raving about them. If you haven’t booked a photographer/videographer yet then GO WITH THESE GUYS! You will NOT be disappointed. Our photographer Milan arrived right on time about an hour before the ceremony to take pics of us getting ready, then we took photos for about an hour and a half afterwards at various locations around the resort. Arnaud is a true pleasure to deal with. Check them out at Punta Cana|DominicanRepublic|Wedding : Photographer,Photography if you haven’t already!
STAFF – For everyone in our group the STAFF is what really made this place special! All the staff were so friendly and accommodating. Yes, many speak little or no English but they do their best to communicate with you. Learning a few Spanish words for simple food items, bathroom etc. will be REALLY helpful. I have read many reviews on Tripadvisor where people complain about the language barrier, and I’m sorry but that’s just plain ignorant! How can you expect to go to a Spanish-speaking country and not attempt even a simple Hola or Gracias? The staff really seemed to appreciate it when we tried to speak a few words. Try it out! It’s fun ☺ We of course had our favourite staff members in the time we were there: Rafael at the front desk, Jorge in the lobby bar, Juan at the pool bar and the amazing Jairo, who you can find everywhere from teaching merengue classes on the beach, pool aerobics and dancing in the lobby in the evenings. These people are SO hardworking. We talked to a few of them and learned that they work anywhere from 8-16 hours a day, anywhere from 12-18 days IN A ROW with only THREE days off in between. Their work ethic is really admirable. We tipped generously and it really went a long way. We never had to ask for refills on drinks, they were poured for us automatically. We had a bit of system for tipping – for an individual drink at the bar we usually didn’t tip, but if we were sitting at the bar for a long time or ordering quite a few drinks we would tip $5 or so at the end. At the buffets we would tip $2 or so, at the a la carte’s we would tip $2 per person ($10 for a table of 5). Also, one of the locals explained to us that if you leave a tip on a table it goes into a tip pool that is shared by everyone, including cooks and dishwashers etc. So if a staff member provided you with excellent service or did something special for you and you want them to be individually rewarded, then you must put the money directly in their hand because that means its theirs to keep.
DINING – All the restaurants we tried were very very good. There were always plenty of a la cartes open for us to choose from and we never had to wait longer than 10 minutes for a table, impressive considering we were often eating in groups of 10 or more! Most of the time we sat at 2 tables but in close vicinity to each other. My favourite meals of the week were at the Gabi (in the reserve section but you can go there for dinner with a regular wristband), the Terra (try the guacamole! To die for) and the Italian place, name escapes me, but I had a great carbonara there. The breakfast and lunch buffets were always great with tons of selection. We are pretty adventurous eaters and tried many of the dishes that weren’t labeled or were more local cuisine. They were always fantastic! We only had one real incident of someone getting sick: my vegetarian aunt who ate a vegetable soup cooked in beef broth. She hasn’t eaten a morsel of meat in almost 25 years, so you can imagine her body didn’t take it well at all. She admitted this was more her fault though, for not checking beforehand and for ordering from the menu that wasn’t labeled as being strictly vegetarian. It had nothing to do with the QUALITY of the food at the resort, which overall we found to be excellent. We eat out quite a bit at home and love fine dining, and all in all we were impressed.
POOL – The pool is always a great place to be! It’s huge and warm and beautiful landscaped. There are tons of beds and places to sit/lie around, including a few cabana-style beds. There are always lots of activities going on in and around the pool including water aerobics, volleyball and even candlemaking and painting (poolside). We met so many great people while sitting at the pool bar! Juan and Freddy were usually bartending – these guys can make most any drink you can think of! It’s a little bit harder to tip at the pool as most people don’t usually have money with them while swimming, but we usually dropped off $5 or so as we were leaving to them for all their hard work. Our favourite drinks were coco loco, cubalibre, rum and lemonade and bloody mary’s. We organized a few games of volleyball, which is an absolute blast if you have enough people and a great way to meet people as well.
BEACH – the beach is absolutely beautiful at the PPC. We walked down to a few of the other resort’s beaches and I can say that the PPC beach is one of the most attractive and best kept. There is barely any garbage/cigarette butts which we saw so much of on the other beaches; you can tell that the PPC has dedicated staff to cleaning this stuff up all the time. I don’t know if it’s just because we went at a quieter time of the season but there were always plently of beds and palapa’s to go around – we never had to go at 6 AM to save a spot or anything. Sometimes we wouldn’t arrive at the beach until 1 PM and we were always able to get our regular spot (right by the wedding gazebo and a big beautiful palm tree). We spent hours at the beach just lazying around; we figured we flew 7 hours and paid thousands of dollars so we might as well enjoy what Punta Cana is famous for!
ENTERTAINMENT – There is always something to keep you entertained at PPC, from merengue lessons, activities in and by the pool and lots of free activities such as snorkeling and kayaking. Basically anything that is not motorized you can do for free, maximum one trip per day. We did snorkeling one day which was a total blast – it was pouring rain when we went but it made it all the more fun! A couple of my girlfriends took a paddleboat out which they said was good. A couple of our other guests also did a few paid excursions including a tour around the city, ziplining, parasailing and swimming with dolphins. These are reasonably priced ranging from $59-$139 depending on what you want to do. For my husband and I, the purpose of our trip was just to relax and enjoy the beach so we did not do any paid excursions, but those who did said they were a lot of fun and highly recommended it! Every night in the theater in the lobby there is a show. It usually starts around 10 PM. These shows are good fun and a great way to start off the night. While we were there we saw a Michael Jackson impersonater, a Cirque du Soleil-ish production and a 70s themed one. These shows are pretty big productions and it’s really impressive that they are able to set this all up night after night. After the show we would drink at the lobby bar, where the party really gets started. The bartenders are an absolute blast: one guy would always call out “Happy Hour 24/7!” Go find Jorge and get him to make you a Coco Loco! They have a couple of the resort workers including Jairo and Miguel who lead the guests in a line-dance type activity – it really gets everyone in the mood to dance! At 11:30 the disco opens. We are a young couple so we hit up the disco quite a few times with our friends. It’s nice because it’s air-conditioned! They have DJ’s who play all types of music, some Spanish but mostly North American club/dance, and I believe it stays open until 2 or 3 AM. All in all, there is always something fun to do whether it’s morning, noon or night!
MY ADVICE TO BRIDES – The first piece of advice I have for anyone considering a destination wedding is to keep it small! It’s so much more fun and intimate with a small party where everyone can get a chance to get to know each other and spend time together. It really makes the trip that much more memorable, in my opinion. I think anymore than 40 people would be really hard to manage and organize. An important thing to remember is that the lifestyle in the Dominican and around the Caribbean is much more relaxed and slower paced than in Canada/the States. You’ve probably heard of the expression “island-time”: when someone says 30 minutes it may be 30 or it may be 45, or if someone agrees to meet you at a certain time they might not always be there right on the dot. I know we all want our wedding day to be perfect and make sure everything goes off without a hitch. My advice to any brides getting married not just at PPC but anywhere in the Caribbean is to just RELAX, enjoy your vacation as much as possible and let it all come together! Like I said, these wedding coordinators are absolute professionals at what they do. A huge amount of importance is placed on weddings at all these resorts as these are big moneymakers for them and when they need to get something done, believe me they will do it. This is your wedding! It’s supposed to be the GREATEST day of your life and not the most stressful. Something is bound to go wrong; you can’t let it ruin the entire experience for you if it does. Don’t let the importance and meaning of the day get lost behind all the details. At the end of the day, you are getting married in PARADISE! So enjoy yourself!
Best of luck ladies ☺ And if you have any other questions then feel free to send me a private message. I am going to post some pictures in here soon!
Posted 18 May 2010 - 08:18 PM
Posted 18 May 2010 - 09:36 PM
i am also planning my wedding at PPC and for May 10th of next year so i'm glad to hear it was pretty quiet on the beach for you. phew!
going to send you a pm now about about costs. thx!
Posted 18 May 2010 - 09:42 PM
Posted 18 May 2010 - 10:05 PM
Posted 18 May 2010 - 10:33 PM
Posted 18 May 2010 - 10:54 PM
Posted 19 May 2010 - 03:11 AM
Picasa Web Albums - josie.mok - Our Wedding Day
Posted 19 May 2010 - 03:20 AM
| Originally Posted by xviex |
Manny many congrats on your marriage and Thank you for sharing your experiences, it really is very helpful!This resort has been my first choice but the reviews on Tripadvisor and price inconsistencies were making it seem not worth it all, this is turning it around I am actually going for May 2011 and not signed agreements yet because of my fear of what the later surprise exaggerated costs can be when you want to upgrade a thing here or there.
Posted 19 May 2010 - 06:01 AM
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