Paradisus/Now Sapphire Riviera Cancun Review 6-12-10
Posted 16 June 2010 - 12:39 AM
Location: Now Sapphire Riviera Cancun (formerly Paradisus Riviera Cancun)
Date: Saturday June 12, 2010
Guests: 43 + bride and groom
Wedding Package: Divine
Type of Ceremony: Legal
I have to say this board scared me a little bit about the Cancun Airport. I thought I was going into a madhouse, but had no problems. We had 5 suitcases (where did I get so much stuff?) and I was worried about being searched. We had a bunch of receipts on hand (definitely not all of them, I couldn’t find half of them), but got a green light at the checkpoint and no one asked about anything. Customs and immigration took us a while (about 2 hours to get out of the airport and on the road) but for most of our guests it only took about an hour. My brother did get a red light and they searched his bags and he said that they seemed to want to search the bag as little as he wanted them to search it so they just opened it looked at the stuff and closed it and let him go. No one bothered us for van rides or anything. The hotel was supposed to send an airport transfer for us, but since we picked the package so last minute we never heard from them who would be coming or who to look for so we didn’t know where they were. We already had a transfer from American Express from before the hotel changed over so we took that instead and that was fine. The hotel is only about 20 minutes from the airport so we were the first drop off and it was no problem at all. There is a weird crocodile farm on the corner as you turn into the road to get to the resort which gave most of our guests a good chuckle about where they were going (but don’t worry- the resort is actually pretty far from the farm).
The resort is really nice. The lobby areas are very pretty with water features all over the place. If you are used to extremely extravagant hotels you may not be entirely impressed, but it was the nicest hotel I’ve been to and every single one of my guests were impressed. It is very well maintained, clean, and safe feeling. The gardens are lush and very pretty. We had never visited the property before and to me- it really looks just like the pictures. I was very happy with our choice. There were some conventions there when we first got there, but the resort never really felt crowded. We were always able to get lounge chairs near the beach or the pool. The bed things (the name is failing me- Bali Beds?) near the pool were hard to come by and you had to get there early to get one of those. There were quite a few available near the adults only pool (which I think was previously the Royal Service pool- and I was confused about who could go to this pool- not sure if you still had to be a part of the Royal Service- Now called Preferred club or just be an adult.) Almost no one was ever in the adult’s only pool. We mostly went to the main pool. They had kayaks, catamarans, and wind surfers available for free at the beach and some of our friends and family used them and enjoyed them. I did not see any motorized sports available. I am not sure where you would have to go for that- there weren’t any venders or anything near the hotel property that I saw.
I really loved the resort, but if I had to complain this is what I would complain about: 1.The beds. They are hard as rocks!!! Many of our guests did not like them either. If they change anything about this resort it would have to be this. We asked for something to soften the bed and by the second request they put on an egg crate and it was fine from then on. I would recommend doing this the day you check in. After the first night I had the worst crick in my neck from the bed. It’s really rather shocking how hard the beds are. 2. The only other complaint would be the front desk staff. They were not the most accommodating- if you had a problem they were more apt to simply say sorry than try to find a solution for you. My brother was unhappy with his room location and got the run around for 2 days about trying to change it. Be persistent and you will likely get what you want. When we went to check out they tried to charge us for the couples massage that was included in the wedding package, and the steaming of the dress and suit, which was also included in the wedding package. Luckily we had a copy of the invoice from the wedding that said that these things were free. Then they tried to charge us for the taxes and service fees on these. We were already running late to get to the airport and it was $20 so we were just going to pay it so we could leave, but I gave them an attitude about having to pay it and they didn’t wind up charging us. I was pretty shocked because I am usually very mild-mannered, but they were being kind of ridiculous. I have to add the rest of the staff was wonderful, always accommodating and friendly. Tipping gets you better service (like a waiter or waitress coming over and brining you drinks and refills rather than having to go up to the bar), but I didn’t find that the staff only worked for tips or expected tips.
We did not go to all of the restaurants (even being there a week we missed some).We loved everything we ate. The selection of food was great and we really enjoyed everything. Only downside was getting sick of eating too much and eating at the buffet so much (buffet is the only thing open for breakfast, and buffet and grill are the only things open for lunch). We went to L’Hermitage (French) and I loved it. It was the fanciest of the restaurants (strictest dress code) but the food was really delicious. I would definitely recommend you hit this one at some point. I also ate at Capri (Mediterranean) and really liked everything I got there. We went to the Japanese restaurant too and it was a fun show (like Benihanas) and the food was good, but I didn’t like it as much as the other restaurants. We didn’t get to the Tequilla Grill, but someone else said it was good. The only downside to the restaurants were that they were not all open every night. It may have been due to low occupancy, but the newsletter that they put in your room each night tells you which restaurants will be open the next day. I kind of wish they let you know in advance so you could try to plan. One night only two restaurants were open and they were both ones that I had been to already so we wound up ordering room service which worked out perfectly anyway.
Some people complain about the seaweed and there is quite a bit of seaweed, but it did not bother me. The seaweed is kind of like long pine needles (but they don’t hurt if you touch them) instead of the seaweed I am used to that you get wrapped in. You are still able to comfortably swim in the ocean and they clear the seaweed from the beach as often as they can. There is likely to be some seaweed in your wedding pictures if you are getting married on the beach, but I didn’t find that it really made things look ugly by any means and it was really pretty well cleared that day for the wedding. The sand is so soft and lovely- I liked walking on it. They have plenty of beach chairs and palpas for shade (which you will need- I got burnt on my first day there and was desperately trying to avoid tan lines, but was unsuccessful). The beach was not at all rocky.
Beach with some seaweed:
Posted 16 June 2010 - 12:40 AM
We gathered a bunch of people and went into Playa del Carmen one evening to do some shopping- We got the hotel to arrange a van that fit twelve and it came out to about $10 a person. We were going to go during the day, but they suggested we wait until the evening because it was really hot out and all of the shops are along one street and you will be outside quite a bit so we went at 5:00PM. It is nice and if you want souvenirs or to hit up some bars or restaurants I would suggest you stop by. It was touristy and not very authentic, but a nice little trip off the resort. The prices are pretty expensive, but most of the venders are willing to negotiate.
We also arranged a tour to Chichen Itza through Entertainment Plus Cancun. We got a bus since we had 26 people and I wanted everyone to be together since it is a long trip (a little over 2 hours from the resort). You can do it much cheaper if you get vans instead of a bus. The tour included going to the archeological site and visiting a Cenote (where you could jump off a ledge or swim in the water). Lunch was included as well and was about $68 pp. It was unbelievably hot that day and rained a bit, but overall it was a good trip. I would suggest you organize better than we did. We never had a final number and wound up having to pay for two kids that didnâ€™t come (luckily kids prices were not very much) because we did not cancel those passengers 24 hours before. I really liked this because we went on Thursday when most of our guests were arriving and they really got a chance to meet each other and have conversations. Everyone who came to the wedding got along well and they really had time to get to know each other much more intimately than if we had a traditional wedding at home.
Playa del Carmen shopping trip:
Gorgeous Cenote from tour:
Now for the part you are all waiting forâ€¦ THE WEDDING!!!
I believe- like so many other brides on this forum- we had a lot of trouble with the planning process. The wedding coordinators were not very responsive to e-mails and when they did respond you wound up with more questions than you got answered. Calling worked much better, but left you with a scary feeling that no one was writing any of this down and they wouldnâ€™t have a clue when you got down there (but someone was writing it down and they knew exactly what we wanted when we got down there). The fact that the wedding coordinator quit six months before our wedding and the resort changed management one month before our wedding may have made our situation slightly more unique, but everything really worked out in the end. We wound up planning pretty much everything in the month before the wedding. My best suggestion is to look at the wedding packages and make lists of everything you want. This way you have a plan of how you want your wedding to be. The only real stress doing it this way was not really knowing the cost of the wedding until the last minute. (We estimated based on package prices and some prices that they gave us and it did not wind up being much more than that). We made some changes to the packages and they were very accommodating of any changes (as long as we paid for them- but to be expected). Daniela wound up taking on our wedding and she was really fantastic. She seemed to really care that we enjoyed ourselves and that things went how we wanted them to. I really enjoyed working with her. Some things were not as I had planned, but I really decided about a month before the wedding that things were going to go how they were going to go and I had to simply go along for the ride. That was absolutely the best decision I ever made. I was really able to enjoy my wedding without worrying about any of the details and I really did have fun the whole day. No one noticed any of the (really minor) mistakes that were made and they had fun too. I think the resort and wedding matched us perfectly- laid back, not at all stuffy, fun wedding. I do have to add that at one point about 2 months before the wedding I was ready to tell everyone that they should never get married here and they wonâ€™t have a clue what they are doing and will be really frustrated with the planning process- but I am so glad I didnâ€™t and would never say that now. I loved our wedding and think that many others could have wonderful weddings here as well. Just donâ€™t freak out and everything will work out (I genuinely know that is nearly impossible to do- but I have to say it).
We wound up paying to have the gift bags delivered to our guestsâ€™ rooms. They only messed up one sending it to the wrong room- but we got that straightened out really quickly. It wasnâ€™t very expensive (maybe $50) and worth it so that I didnâ€™t have to search around for people and it was a nice surprise when someone came with a gift for them. The bags were a hit. People used almost everything. I saw them reading Spanish for Dummies near the pool and doing Sudoku, They used the bandaids and advil too. The bags were the best part. They used them to bring things down to the beach and pool. And of course the T-shirts were a big hit. Seeing our guests walking around the resort with them was really great. We even had other resort guests commenting on them and wanting to know where we got them. Most of our guests were really touched by all the personal touches like the bags that made them feel welcome and like we had put a lot of effort into making it a good time for them.
Posted 16 June 2010 - 12:41 AM
Our wedding was on Saturday so we had a Welcome Dinner on Friday night. It was supposed to be in the buffet for free- they were just going to push tables together for us and put up some signs for us. The buffet wound up being closed that night so they moved us to the theater where there was a buffet and a show. It was the Caribbean show. The dancing was entertaining, but not of the highest caliber that I have seen. They were not always together during the group dances. It wasnâ€™t private- but they put reserved signs on a bunch of tables for us and it was perfect. There werenâ€™t a ton of people there other than our group. It was pretty funny because the electricity kept going out during the show- so they would perform a dance and then the lights would go out. The whole resort lost power a few times that night. I am not sure why- but it wasnâ€™t bad. Only problem is it started to get hot in that room. The waiters had lighters and made sure your drinks were still full. Eventually they got through the whole show and it was a funny story to tell.
Very Skimpy Outfits at the Show:
The theater when the lights were still on:
We chose the divine package, but changed out the food- instead having the Mexican Buffet (and paying the difference in price between the wedding food and the buffet cost). I didnâ€™t like the food options listed in the Menu for the package, but when I went to the restaurants at the resort they had some of the meals offered on the menu and they were really good. We also wanted a more casual feel of a buffet. We were thinking about doing the less expensive package (Now to Eternity), but a few weeks before the wedding my grandmother got sick and could no longer come to the wedding so I wanted to make sure we had a good video of the ceremony to give to her so we upped to this package (it includes a videographer) and it worked out well. Some of the perks of this package include: private airport transport (we did use it on the way back and it was nice- except that they dropped us at the wrong terminal and left us there causing us to wait 20 minutes for the shuttle just to get to the next terminal- but thatâ€™s another story), boutonnieres and corsages (we gave them to our parents since we did not have a bridal party- the corsages looked like boutonnieres to me, but no one minded), romantic dinner on the beach (I was skeptical, but really enjoyed this), couples massage (which they proceeded to try to charge us for), a centerpiece for only the bride and groomâ€™s table, hair and make-up for the bride, steaming of the dress and suit (also tried to charge us for), and a few other things. We met with the wedding coordinator Tuesday (the day after we arrived- we had to be there 4 days in advance since it was a legal wedding) and she had a 5 page document with everything about the wedding that we wanted and it was all correct from what we had e-mailed her. I also provided her with information about songs for the ceremony and how we wanted certain things set up and gave her all of our items (table numbers, fans, decorations, etc.) at that meeting. We only had to come back for the blood tests and then we were free for the rest of the time. I will attach the outline I gave her to this post- it might help you with organizing everything.
Odds and Ends:
Hair and Makeup: I got my hair and makeup done at the spa since it was included in the wedding package. I had brought my own makeup and then forgot to bring it to the spa. I was very happy with the make-up she did a nice job. I hardly wear any make-up regularly so it was way too heavy for me. I wound up going back to my room and taking a lot of it off- but I still liked it both ways. I am not as convinced for my hair. She didnâ€™t exactly do it like the picture I have given her, but everyone kept saying that it looked great so I didnâ€™t have her change it. Looking at pictures it isnâ€™t exactly what I wanted, but I guess it looked nice anyway. She seemed pretty capable of doing hair, but didnâ€™t follow the picture exactly. The girls did not speak a lot of English, but I spoke enough Spanish to get by so we mostly spoke in Spanish.
Flowers: My husband did not want flowers- he feels they are a waste of money. I was not picky about having flowers- so we only got what was included in the wedding package. Daniela asked me a few days before the wedding what kind of flowers I wanted. She said the package says tropical flowers, but they could try to get some specific flowers if I wanted. I wasnâ€™t picky and simply told her to make them pretty. They came out gorgeous- a great tropical look with lots of different colors. I was not disappointed. The one centerpiece matched my bouquet and was pretty too.
You can kind of see my hair and flowers in this picture:
Chair bows: We added these in and they were pretty expensive, but I really liked the look on othersâ€™ pictures- I am still not sure if they were worth the cost.
Steaming of the Dress/Suit: They took these to steam the day before the wedding and dropped them off the day of the wedding- it was a little scary to not have my dress two hours before we were supposed to take pictures, but everything worked out perfectly- It was there right when they said it would be. They did a good job. They did hang it out in the open, but my husband was getting ready in another room anyway so he never saw it.
Photographer/Videographer: We used Samuel Luna as our photographer. His rates were really reasonable and he was a pleasure to work with. My husband and I were somewhat concerned about pictures because we are not the most graceful and photogenic of people, but he was very comforting and really tried to explain each pose that he was trying to set up. We took pictures before the ceremony and after. I am so glad we did because even then we didnâ€™t have enough time to get all the shots I had hoped for. I did not want to do a trash the dress- I didnâ€™t want to jump in the water with my dress or buy another, and we felt those sexy beach picture just donâ€™t fit our personalities. I kind of wish we had done it- and tailored it more to our personalities (maybe just more relaxed photos, or just pictures in different locations) and that would have given us a lot more time for getting all of the shots I hoped for. I had very unrealistic expectations of how many pictures we could take in an hour. It was not Samuelâ€™s fault at all- just a lack of time. I havenâ€™t seen any of the photos yet- but I have confidence that they came out great. I will post them once I get them. We also had the resort photographer because he came with the wedding package. He pretty much deferred to our photographer since we had hired him directly. I have no idea what kind of shots he got- I barely noticed he was there. He took pictures during the ceremony and thatâ€™s it. I think we only get 25 photos from him. We also got the resort Videographer. He was also very personable and seemed to get good shots. I also havenâ€™t seen this yet.
We had a legal ceremony. We had to do the blood tests and did it in the romance office at the resort. It was so not a big deal at all. The doctor was great. I think it was the best blood test I ever had- I didnâ€™t feel a thing. She was super gentle and everything was very sterile and professional. We did have to pay cash for her services so may sure you have the cash on hand for that (I believe $250). We were told we needed our birth certificates as well and we even had the apostle for them, but then they never asked for them. We had the ceremony on the beach just off the beach terrace. I really liked the location- it is pretty far from all the beach chairs so you didnâ€™t feel like people were watching you. The stairway that leads down to the site is perfect for pictures and made for a nice entrance. I walked out to Somewhere Over the Rainbow by Israel Kâ€¦ I messed up the version and it cut out and went on to the next song (which was signed, sealed, delivered for the document signing part), so that made for a little laugh. The staff did a really good job of keeping people away from the ceremony. Apparently some people that were walking down the beach and were stopped by the staff stayed on the sides and took pictures, but I didnâ€™t notice them. Apparently someone even walked right near the chairs to get by, but again- I didnâ€™t notice. The judge (who was a woman- and our wedding coordinator told us that in advance- but again- didnâ€™t care) did her wording which I was not too fond of (some stuff about how marriage is between and man and woman to procreate- which I donâ€™t really believe, but I tuned her out anyway). Then we each did our own vows and exchanged rings. My husband just wrote something impromptu, but I used the format- I love you becauseâ€¦, Because I love youâ€¦, Everyone loved our vows and there were not a lot of dry eyes. Then we had my brother read the sand ceremony, and sister-in-law read Union by Robert Fulghum. Then we did the signing of the documents- we had some music playing during this part and I would suggest that- it took a while. And then the Judge pronounced us and we walked off. It went so much better than I could have hoped for (even though there were some awkward moments- which suits us perfectly). I am now at the point of trying to figure out if there is anything that we have to do to have our marriage on file in Texas. I canâ€™t get a straight answer and am not sure if I have to do anything at all. Oh yeah- the rain location for the ceremony is really nice too- I wouldnâ€™t be concerned about that.
Ceremony Rain Location- We didnâ€™t use it:
See below for why it was moved inside. We held it in the bar area between the Japanese and French restaurants. I have no idea how it went because we were taking pictures. I asked someone if there was food and they said yeah- there was some (with some hesitation in her voice). I have a feeling that it didnâ€™t quite pan out since we had to move it inside, but I am not really sure.
Hereâ€™s where the big issues came in (and when I say big issues- I am ridiculously exaggerating- everything went perfectly). We were supposed to have the reception on the beach terrace right near where we had the ceremony. It was raining the morning of our wedding and since we were having the buffet they needed to know in advance where to set up the buffet. They called at noon and wanted to know if we wanted to move the reception inside. They thought weâ€™d be fine for the ceremony, but werenâ€™t sure about the reception. If we didnâ€™t move the reception inside and it rained during our reception we would have to move it into the buffet and eat the regular buffet dinner and not have a private reception (Iâ€™m not sure if we could have played music or had a place to dance in this case). I got really scared that this would happen so we decided to move the reception inside. They wanted us to move into the ballroom and I was not happy with this. My husband asked to see the ballroom and Daniela showed it to him. He did not like this option either (a windowless room that looked like a conference room). He asked if we could do it in one of the restaurants and we got permission from management to have it in the French Restaurant (It wasnâ€™t on the beach like I wanted, but at least it had windows). Luckily the restaurant was already closed that night so we were able to use it. It wound up being so much better than expected because it was brutally hot that night with a ridiculous amount of humidity. At least the restaurant had some air flow to it (it was still pretty hot in there, but much better than outside). We would have died if we were outside that night- so a huge disappointment turned out to work out better than the original plan. Moving inside changed the set-up of the tables and some of the d©cor wasnâ€™t quite as set up as I thought, but I hardly noticed and it still looked nice. Everyone was simply thrilled to be out of the heat. The food was really good (Switched out for Mexican Buffet). There was not a bar in the room, but the bar was literally just outside the doors and the waiters would bring you anything you asked for. We had the DJ that was included in the package, but we simply gave them our IPod and asked them to play the music from that. We had already made playlists because we didnâ€™t have a DJ with the packages from before the hotel changed ownership. They didnâ€™t announce anything for us so we just did our dances without any announcements. I guess we could have had someone do that for us, but we didnâ€™t care much. People knew what was happening when I started dancing with my dad, etc. We only did 3 hours for the reception- I really wanted 4 but with the heat- I donâ€™t think people would have stayed much longer. We were able to continue the party at the Fun Pub (the hotel bar that stays open till 2AM) where they play music. Most of our younger guests went there after and had fun.
I donâ€™t have any great shots of the reception, but hereâ€™s what I have so you can kind of see the set-up and d©cor (please donâ€™t mind the weird faces I am making- Iâ€™m not the best dancer):
Posted 16 June 2010 - 12:42 AM
Romantic Dinner on the Beach (came with wedding package) we did this the day after the wedding and it was very relaxing and fun.
I am trying to think if I forgot anything- could I possibly have? This is a crazy novel. I am so sorry. I just wanted to include everything to help anyone who is planning a wedding here or considering it. I genuinely had a really fun time at my wedding and our guests were thrilled with the experience.
Posted 16 June 2010 - 01:52 AM
Can't wait to see you pics
Posted 16 June 2010 - 09:44 AM
Posted 16 June 2010 - 09:47 AM
Posted 16 June 2010 - 10:25 AM
Posted 16 June 2010 - 10:54 AM
Here is the correct ceremony set-up:
and the correct Chichen Itza
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