Cheshire_Moon's Iberostar Bavaro Review (long with pics)
Posted 16 June 2010 - 11:05 PM
We decided to let everyone book at their own pace and budget. We decided to go through Apple and recommended that everyone else do so as well, and all but one couple did (we had 15 people including us). Looking back I may have utilized a TA, but everything worked out for us and the guests that used Apple. Hereâ€™s a shot from the plane!
The free transfer to the resort was a blessing, walking right from baggage claim onto the air-conditioned bus was wonderful! Iberostar Bavaro was the first stop from the airport, and that was nice as well. It took about 25 minutes once the bus got rolling. We received a card asking us to come by the next day at 10am to the resort lobby for a meeting with the onsite Apple rep. We went, and we got some good info and some redundant info. Overall, I'm glad we went to the meeting so we could meet the onsite rep Mark.
We booked an excursion through Apple as well, the Marinarium. New husband and I were treating for all of our guests to go, and Mark was able to get a deal for the bride to go for free! So, we paid for 12 and 13 got to go (two people could not make it). That really made my day. =) We loooooved the Marinarium trip, along with the stop at the "pool" and making Coco Loco.
There was dancing, and plenty of decent (but not great) rum! And when we got back, Mark would not accept a tip for getting us the deal... he said to give it to the service staff, which we did!
The one couple that booked through Orbitz did not have a great experience. Their layovers were really long, and when they got into Punta Cana there was no record of them having a transfer to the resort. They had the receipt luckily, and got things worked out in the end, but it ended up costing them two more hours. For their plane home, they had to leave the resort at 4AM. I will say this though, they did book at nearly the last minute so the only real fault of Orbitz was the transfer.
USA3000 - B+
Pros: There was a long line to check in, but the workers were polite, professional, and quick. Both flights were a bit turbulent, but we didn't have any real problems. We did get to pre-board on the way there because I had my wedding dress as a carry-on and he had his suit. =) We are larger people, but the seats were comfortable for us and we had a reasonable amount of room for being on an airplane!
Cons: On the way back, there was a male flight attendant that had a LOT of attitude. Nothing necessarily that anyone could call him out on, but it was obvious he was not happy. Also, Apple/USA3000 played a longish video advertisement for booking on Apple again and for their credit card.
On a side note, some of my family flew with Spirit (before the strike thank goodness!) and were on a flight from FL to MI with no air conditioning. They were charged for drinks (soda pop), and they are still waiting to hear back regarding being reimbursed for at least that.
Iberostar Bavaro Resort - A+
We absolutely loved this resort. It was our first time at an all-inclusive, our first time in the DR, and I am so, so happy we chose the Iberostar Bavaro.
The staff was ALWAYS amazingly friendly and upbeat. The Star Friends always put forth a lot of effort at whatever they were doing. The maid service was wonderful. We got our room changed with no problem (the first one smelled like mildew and cigarettes, but the one we were moved to was MUCH nicer - next to the beach, a few steps from the pool, flat screen TV, good hair dryer, fresh smelling). Our room had a very comfortable king-size bed, all the rooms had a recessed living-room area and all of the basic amenities like coffee and tea. There was plenty of water, pop, and beer in the fridge, and I would leave a note with what we wanted and didn't want (lots of water and fanta, haha, and no carbonated water) and they would take care of it!
We always found something to eat at the buffet, for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. We loved that the pool had a late breakfast and lunch buffet right next to it. The reservation restaurants were a nice change of pace. The Japanese restaurant was our favorite, the Gourmet was good, the Cajun just OK, and the Mediterranean OK. The number of nights you stay determines how many reservations you receive. We were lucky in that we got three restaurant reservations that didn't count against us (first night there, welcome dinner, and reception).
The beach was gorgeous! We were always able to find a palapa (didn't bother "reserving" except for one day when we were up for the sunrise), but it didn't always have the "best" view. It was more difficult to find places in the shade by the pool, but we were usually able to do so. We spent quite a bit of time at the pool bar! We brought a water-ready drinking game and had a lot of fun with that, and met new people. We used our boogie board as a floating drink tray too! My favorite drink by the end of our stay was called Monkey Lunch.
Since we were staying at the Bavaro, we could go to the Dominicana/Punta Cana all we wanted. The Dominicana had the casino and the late-night club. We watched a few evening shows there as well. The cigar shop there was neat (we got to see a guy hand-rolling cigars, and Todd got to smoke a freshly-made one). The Star Cafe was also over there, which is a sit-down North-American themed restaurant that does not require reservations. The nachos there were definitely a taste of home!
Speaking of the shows, they ranged from pretty bad to great. The Michael Jackson show was really good, but the comedy show was completely blah. We participated in the guy-girl show! They were pulling from the audience and Todd got us both on there, four guys against four girls. Us girls won, but Todd won the "sexy dance" part of the competition!! I will never forget it!
The one drawback to this resort is that the walkways are SLIPPERY! I fell twice, the day after the wedding and two days before we left. My aunt fell twice as well. I read through the reviews on tripadvisor and thought to myself that people must be exaggerating, but let me tell you, they are not!! My ankle is still sprained - I even went to the doc after we got back because it wasn't healing, but it was not fractured. Oh, and there was one staff member at the lobby bar that was always surly (Rafael), which was odd given that all the other bartenders were great!
Posted 16 June 2010 - 11:07 PM
Up until the day of the wedding I would have given Ivanova an A. She was fairly timely with emails, answered most of my questions before I got there, sent pictures, and gave me the photographer's info and email. When we got there, she met us and made us a reservation for dinner (which did not count as one of our regular reservations) and set up a time on Tuesday for us to have an official meeting and go over everything. She was very nice, smiling, and we finished picking things out and got all of our questions answered. She showed us where we would get married if it was raining (gazebo, pretty enough but I didn't come all this way to NOT get married on the beach!) and she showed us the location on the beach as well. She also said she would contact the judge to see if we could move the wedding time from 2pm to later (it was changed to 4pm, yay!). Here is a pic of her and Todd:
On the day of the wedding, I got a rather stern phone call about getting the witnesses passports in to her (one had just arrived the day before). She stopped by the salon and quickly dropped off flowers, I had some questions but she was off too fast for me to catch her. I understand she was busy, but oh well. Then at 4:10 we were walking out the door from my room (we were ten minutes late - story why under the salon review) and the phone rang - it was Ivanova saying the judge was going to leave because she had another wedding to go to at a different resort!!! I of course told her we were on our way, which we were, but it really put me in a shocked and panicked mood.
We got to the wedding area (it was BEAUTIFUL) via cart and the procession immediately started - I didn't have time to breathe! The judge got out one sentence and then it started to sprinkle - then POUR! Everyone ran for nearby palapas, and someone handed Todd and I an umbrella.
We stood there laughing for a while, because Ivanova and the judge had BOOKED IT to the nearest palapa! We weren't sure what to do! Eventually we made it to the palapa, and waited for the rain to stop... and waited. At the point the judge was in NO HURRY so I really question if she threatened to leave at all, or if that was just something Ivanova said to get us moving. Not sure. After about 10 or 15 minutes (felt like eternity!) it did stop raining, and we approached the altar/judge for the second time. Ivanova did the translating, but it did feel rushed. However, in the end we were married!!
By the way, we are taking the rain as a sign of extremely good luck for the marriage. =D
Ivanova did have our memorial picture frame and candle at the altar, and overall she was competent, but by the end of the day I was not as pleased with her as I thought I would be after our meeting on Tuesday. We gave her a tip on Saturday morning when we saw her in the lobby. We would have at the reception, but she just made sure things were set up correctly and left (though she had stated she would be on site during the dinner). I almost forgot, she did set up a welcome dinner reservation for us as well on Thursday evening, the night before the wedding, the day most of the guests were arriving. It didn't count against anyone's reservation quota. So, overall she did a good job, but I guess I needed to be handled with more care as a nervous bride. =)
Reception, IB Steakhouse - B+
The Steakhouse is an open-air restaurant. It has vented walls and ceiling fans. We were set up in a little platform area, so it was semi-private. There were other guests dining there, but I felt it was separate enough. However, I did wish we were in a place with air conditioning! The food was decent but not great (might have to do with the fact that I don't eat steak, but they did have chicken on the menu!). They do have a wine list, of which we took advantage.
There was enough room for us to toast and be merry without worrying about the other guests. They had a CD playing over the restaurant, but we asked them to turn it off as I had my iPod and a cordless speaker system I wanted to use. They would have put a CD on, had we provided them with one.
The cake was beautiful and tasty!
The servers were pleasant, and overall it was a good experience. I think I would have chosen a place with air had I known how warm it would be there. After the main reception, most of us changed and went to the lobby bar for some further celebrating!
Resort Photographer, Nikolas - B+
We decided to go with the resort photag after seeing some of his work. I was extremely happy with the pictures he took. However, it ended up costing a LOT more than I thought it would. We got 14 pictures printed for free due to the wedding package. Any other pics were extra. We ended up getting pretty much all the pics he took on a CD for a price (PM me if you want the pricing details). We were married on Friday, and he had the pictures ready by Monday evening. Coloring and all! If it weren't for the price, Nik would have gotten an A.
The resort photags also do shoots with animals. We had been searching for the little monkey every day they told us he was out, but could never find him. So Nik arranged for the monkey to come to the shop and we got a mini-session with him. =)
Salon - C (Nairoby at the salon - A)
The salon was probably the worst experience I had during the entire trip. Ivanova booked appointments for my attendants and me. Our nails at 11AM, and our hair at 1PM. My mom and aunt decided to get theirs done as well, and set appointments for 9AM and 10AM. I thought it would work out great! Due to numerous factors that I really don't want to relive, my hair and nails were not done until almost 3PM with the wedding at 4PM. Both of my attendants hair were still being done when I left. I got to my room, got super stressed, called my mom crying, and she rushed over. The plan originally was for us all to get ready together anyways, but I was thinking we would have a bit more time! Mom helped get me dressed, and the attendants rushed over as soon as they could, and my Dad had to get one of the passports and take it to the lobby to get it copied because I dropped the ball and forgot to tell my MOH to get that done. =(
HOWEVER, when Nairoby at the salon finally got started on my nails, she did a great job. And I loved, loved, loved my hair!
I highly recommend her. The others, not so much. Definitely get your nails done the day of the wedding if you are doing them, since the sand destroyed my nail polish every day, but hopefully you or one of your guests can do them for you!
If you would like any more info, please let me know! I absolutely do recommend this resort for a destination wedding. We are already planning a trip back! New husband says ten year anniversary, I'm thinking five year... or three... or one! =)
Posted 17 June 2010 - 07:52 AM
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