The Royal/Gran Porto Real Wedding Review - LONG!!
Posted 28 May 2010 - 04:50 PM
We flew on American Airlines. At first, I was a bit disappointed when I found out that they would not hang my dress during the flights and that the dress counted as my carry-on. Before boarding, I checked in with the desk and let them know I was carrying my wedding dress. In both instances, they allowed me to board early (with either first class or group 1) so I was able to lay my dress flat in an overhead compartment. For the connecting flight, a flight attendant actually came and took my dress out of the overhead and hung it for me. No problems at all. The flights into Cancun tend to be a little bumpy, but we didnâ€™t experience anything out of the ordinary.
This took a loooong time. We spent about an hour in each of the two sections of customs in Cancun. Itâ€™s hot and sticky and I was carrying my dress in through the long lines. I was wondering the whole time how wrinkled my dress was getting since I could only sling it over my arm (and I wasnâ€™t the only one! I think I saw 2-3 other girls carrying big white bags, too!). Thankfully, we both got the green light so they didnâ€™t have to search our many bags (four checked bags plus a carry-on). Phew!
Transport to resort
I had declined the Best Day transportation voucher (seriously, $90!?). However, when we walked out of the airport, there was a guy holding a sign with my name on it (Iâ€™ve always kind of wanted to see that!). long story short, they had us marked down as paid, so who are we to turn down a handy-dandy ride? We were traveling with my husbandâ€™s sister and her BF, and they were able to get in on the deal for $23 each. Not bad! We ended up waiting for quite a while (20-30 minutes?) before actually leaving the airport. On the way to the resort, we saw a pretty bad accident happen right in front of us. A car came from the right hand side of the road, flew all the way across all lanes of traffic (our driver had to slam on the brakes to not hit him) and proceeded to wrap himself around a pole in the median. YIKES! Weâ€™re praying that there were no passengers in that taxi, as it was not a pretty site. Thankfully no other cars were involved, but wear your seatbelts.
The Resorts â€“ Gran Porto Real and They Royal in Playa del Carmen
We had a unique experience with staying at both resorts. The wedding package comes with a room upgrade. We had booked an ocean view room at the Gran Porto Real for 10 nights. They didnâ€™t have an upgrade available until the last two nights. So we asked about getting a basic suite at the Royal instead. They upgraded us to a junior suite for three nights and we paid to upgrade for a fourth night there in an oceanfront room for one additional night. What a difference!
The Gran Porto Real
Nearly all of our guests stayed at the GPR (none at the Royal, a couple offsite). Check-in was a little difficult. Our room (a junior suite ocean view) was not ready when we arrived (around 4pm, and check-in is at 3pm). Some guests had no problems, but some had to wait or had their first room dirty, etc. Some of the front desk folks gave through information, but ours didnâ€™t. We learned quickly, though, and made sure our guests had received all the necessary information.
The rooms and the resort itself are nice. The beds are comfortably firm and the rooms are kept quite clean and I like it that it has a Mexican feel. Though the showers in the room are very large, I missed having a tub or a Jacuzzi here. Rooms are spacious, but there is a definite lack of storage if you want to unpack much. The common areas are warm and humid, but the rooms are nice and cool (but still a bit humid). The liquor dispensers are handy, but itâ€™s pretty cheap stuff.
The service was phenomenal. Everyone is super friendly and they really do their best to make sure you have everything you need. Tips help and are obviously appreciated. They will accept pesos or dollars, but we checked with someone and after a little coaxing, he finally admitted that money is money, but the workers would prefer pesos over dollars. The first time I ordered room service (on the day of the wedding, no less), I had to leave a message and the food never showed up â€“ so be sure to call back and get a person if you want room service. Otherwise, room service was good.
The three restaurants are convenient and do not have a dress code, which is nice. Albatros, the buffet, has good food and is located near the pool area, so itâ€™s the most convenient. Though most of the reviews Iâ€™ve seen prefer Il Pescatore, the Italian restaurant, our experiences there were quite mediocre. Itâ€™s ok, but I could make better Italian food at home (and Iâ€™m neither Italian or an accomplished chef). Mariaâ€™s, the Mexican restaurant, continued to impress us. The food and presentation were great! We had an impromptu welcome dinner here on Friday night and they were able to accommodate our group of about 12. We waited for about 20 minutes as they had just finished another larger party, but they got us in and gave great service.
The pool area is decent. There is only one main pool, but the chairs are fairly available with no need to reserve a spot early in the morning. A big plus here is that thereâ€™s a snack bar. I had a plate of chips with fresh guacamole and pico de gallo (and, Iâ€™ll admit, plenty of the nacho cheese as well) every single day. Service around the pool is good, but my favorite â€“ by FAR â€“ was Jesus. Even after being away at the royal for 4-5 days, he saw me, remembered what I was drinking and brought me a drink even though I wasnâ€™t in his section. Ice melts insanely fast, so a thermal something-or-other would have been most helpful. You are given towel cards, which must be exchanged for towels for the pool/beach. Not terrible, but a hassle that you donâ€™t have to deal with at the Royal. And if the card/towel is lost, itâ€™s $30 fee. There is no swim up bar â€“ and drinks are not allowed in the pool.
Wireless internet was great â€“ easy and fast connections.
Check-in at the Royal was a breeze. They spoke great English, and it seemed as though no one had to wait for a room that wasnâ€™t yet ready. They are very helpful and the concierge is always available for assistance as well.
We stayed 3 nights in a royal junior suite and one night in the royal junior suite oceanfront. The rooms are big, gorgeous, and clean. More modern than the GPR, it doesnâ€™t really have a Mexico feel at all, but itâ€™s so nice here that it doesnâ€™t matter. Beds are comfortable. My favorite things were the Jacuzzi in the room and the hammock on the large balcony. The liquors in the dispensers are a decent quality, and they refill some small snacks as well, which is nice. There is some storage so youâ€™re able to unpack a bit.
Like at the GPR, the service is phenomenal. Everyone aims to please, and tips definitely go a long way.
The restaurants were great. We had dinner at Asiana and it was good. I had hopes for the teppanyaki to be cooked in a showy way in front of us, but itâ€™s all just done in the kitchen. Food was good, though. Dinner at Chefâ€™s Plate was wonderful. The mixes of flavors and the presentation and the service were second to none; it was a definite highlight. Pelicanos was good â€“ they have wonderful soups! We visited Spice, the buffet restaurant, only for breakfast, and it was good. We had a bottle of wine from the lobby bar before dinner one night, and it was nice, but the sommelier wasnâ€™t of huge assistance. We tried the coffee house one morning but it was closed. Room service was good, and I loved the special little cubby for that purpose! We didnâ€™t try the El Mediterraneo or Maria Marieâ€™s.
The pool area is beautiful and large. Itâ€™s absolutely impossible to get one of the chairs that sit in the water, and the other chairs fill up pretty quickly too. People put a towel on a chair to reserve it and then donâ€™t come back for hours, leaving the spaces completely unusedâ€¦ a little annoying. But the chairs at the beach are more than plentiful.
Wireless internet was not as good as it was at the GPR. Only sometimes able to connect, and it was much slower here.
The coordinators at the Michigan office (contracted by the resorts) are hit and miss. Unfortunately, mine was a major miss! She took weeks to get back to me and had very short, usually vague answers when she did finally respond. I got way more information from the girls on the forum than I did from my Michigan WC.
My on-site coordinator was Denys, and she was great (once I got to the resort â€“ I didnâ€™t receive a response to my three e-mails prior to arrival). There are many things that you would have to specifically ask for if you want it done other than how they would normally do it, but Denys was very kind, efficient, organized, and accommodating. She made sure everything was done well and everything ran smoothly. Not a single issue to complain about. Theyâ€™re good at what they do and they WILL ensure that you have a beautiful wedding!
Wedding Ceremony and Reception
We went with the classic package and the ceremony and the beach reception were held at North Beach at the Gran Porto Real. Located just on the other side of the pier by Pelicanoâ€™s at the Royal, this was my favorite beach ceremony spot of all the locations at both resorts. It was more private than the other sites, and it was absolutely gorgeous. Plus, the bar with the swings is there and it made for a great photo opportunity (Iâ€™m super bummed out I forgot to get shots of hubby and me all dressed up here).
All of the other weddings I saw there went with the standard white decorations provided by the resort, but adding color (for me, it was orange!) was one of the best things I did for the wedding. I absolutely adored the punch of color brought by the orange tulle on the huppah and the orange satin chair sashes. It was vibrant and gorgeous against the white sand and turquoise water!
The weather couldnâ€™t have been more perfect for our 6pm ceremony and 7:30 reception on the beach. We had 15 guests plus us, and everyone was so relaxed and just drinking in the gorgeous weather, the sand, the surf and all the beauty surrounding us. It was such a relaxed atmosphere and I loved it!
The flowers were those provided through the resort. My bouquet had orange lilies and orange and pink gerberas. The centerpiece was made to match and they both looked great. I loved the vibrant colors! I DIYâ€™d the corsages for the moms and the decorations for the tiki torches. I loved it all.
Our classic package comes with a 3-Course menu.
For the salad, we had the avocado stuffed with crab pulp au fresh dill vinaigrette and it was good. Iâ€™m not even into seafood, but it was not fishy at all and it was tasty. If Iâ€™d had a more lettuce-like option I likely wouldâ€™ve gone for that, but this was good and a little different. Pretty presentation!
For the main course, guests were able to choose from the Red snapper fantasy stuffed with seafood and black caviar cream or the Beef fillet tournedo with fresh wild mushroom sauce. Neither of us tried the snapper, but guests raved about how delicious it was. I actually didnâ€™t even get to see what this one looked like, but we heard it was presented nicely. We both had the beef. It had a great flavor (I donâ€™t like mushrooms, but it was really more of tasty gravy than it was mushroom-y). Though ours wasnâ€™t super tender, all of our guests said that their meat was good, tender, and hot. Both entrees went over very well and everyone seemed to like them.
For dessert, we chose the Paris chocolate shell with fruit a white Cinzano flavor. This was both pretty and delicious. I havenâ€™t had the other options, but I would definitely go with this one again!
Though I was basically originally told by my Michigan WC that the tres leches cake would end up as a melted pile of goo, my onsite coordinator told me it wouldnâ€™t be a problem. I was thrilled to be able to have the tres leches cake! They brought out the cake (#1 of the choices, but with orange lilies instead of frosting decoration) after we were done with dinner. It was so pretty with the fresh flowers, so it was worth the small investment for the medium floral cake topper. Probably about 45 minutes after they brought the cake out, we cut the cake and were able to serve it to each other (we were nice and didnâ€™t smear!). They cut and served the cake for us, as well as provided the cake cutter. When the cake was served, it was still cool and perfect-looking. Absolutely no melting issues at all!
I also had the opportunity to visit both spas. Both have prices comparable to a decent spa back at home.
SpaReal (GPR) â€“ on the morning of the wedding, we had mud wraps done. Getting checked in took a little while and they only had 4 rooms (we wanted 5 at once), but the actual mud wraps were wonderfully relaxing. The locker room also had a hot tub and maybe (? I didnâ€™t explore or use anything more) a cold pool. We were not given (though we didnâ€™t ask) a choice of male or female, but it turned out that everyone was comfortable with who they received to do their service.
SPAzul (Royal) â€“ my husband decided to treat us to a coupleâ€™s massage during our stay at the Royal. Check-in was a breeze here, though we had to wait a few minutes past our appointment time. He was asked if we have a preference for male or female, but they only had females available for our service. The massage was wonderful. We were together in one room and they did a great job with our deep tissue massages. I felt so great after it was done! Though slightly more gets exposed than it would at home, they were completely respectful and I wasnâ€™t uncomfortable at all (but then again, I lived in Europe and once had a massage by a male masseuse who requested that I SIT for part of the time!) and the gluts massage was worth the extra exposure. The locker rooms were beautiful with a hot tub, cold plunge, lounge chairs, steam room, sauna, etc.
This was just kind of thrown together, so I apologize if it seems kind of random or disorganized.
If I missed anything or if you have any specific questions, please feel free to let me know!
We are eagerly awaiting pictures from our photographer, but Iâ€™m attaching some random pics taken by family and friends.
Posted 28 May 2010 - 05:07 PM
thanks for the review & pix, it's great that you gave info on both resorts!
Posted 28 May 2010 - 05:16 PM
P.S. You're a stunning bride!
Posted 29 May 2010 - 01:06 AM
BTW, you're hairpiece is STUNNING. I love it!!!
Posted 29 May 2010 - 03:15 PM
Posted 29 May 2010 - 10:06 PM
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