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VioletVixen's Dreams Tulum Review: June 19, 2010- Photos included

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#1 violetvixen

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    Posted 28 June 2010 - 04:03 PM

    Our wedding was Saturday, June 19, 2010 at Dreams Tulum and it was a beautiful, amazing day. I hope this (long and detailed) review is helpful! I’m happy to answer any questions so please feel free to ask away.

    Dreams Tulum Overall: 9/10
    Dreams is absolutely beautiful. The staff is unbelievably polite, friendly, and hard working. The cleanliness of the rooms, pools, beach, restaurant, common area bathrooms, was exceptional. We chose this location sight unseen, and I could not have been happier with the way everything turned out. The beach is gorgeous; the water is vivid turquoise blue and is the perfect backdrop for wedding photos. My groom and I stayed for a total of 10 days, so our stay at the resort included our honeymoon as well. We had 20 wedding guests total including us, and most stayed at Dreams for 2-6 nights. Everyone loved it and had nothing but the best to say about their experience there. Our group consisted of family members and friends from all over the U.S. (New Hampshire, Maine, Ohio, California, Texas) including 2 kids ages 11 and 14 who took advantage of many of the activities around the resort.

    I took away one point for the extremely long waits at the restaurants; more detail about that later.

    Check-in/ Reception: 7/10
    We received a cool towel and glass of champagne in the lobby as soon as we rolled through the front door. Much appreciated after the 90 minute drive from the airport! My husband and I were with my sister and brother-in-law and check-in went smoothly for us. However, I heard later on that some folks had challenges, particularly my mom for whom they apparently could not find any record of a reservation. We had booked through Theresa at Vacations for Less and most of us were pre-paid, so I’m not sure what caused the issue but it was ultimately resolved.

    I also heard rumors that a few of our guests (3) who were not staying at the resort had issues when they arrived on the wedding day and attempted to purchase a day pass. I think our loved ones were reluctant to burden my groom and me with the details, and I couldn’t really get a straight story from anyone about what actually happened, but I heard things like “they were given a “hard time” and “security followed them around”. This is second and third hand info so take it with a grain of salt.

    Rooms: 10/10
    My husband and I had an Ocean View Jr. Suite which was perfect for us. Marble floors, plenty of space, huge bathroom, jacuzzi tub, immaculately clean. Felt quite luxurious! The suites are close to the beach/ pool areas; some seem to be too close for comfort in my opinion due to the noisiness of those areas. Our room was in the middle building along the southern edge of the resort, top floor, and we had no issues with noise at all. Many of our guests had originally booked rooms in the Hacienda section; these are the lower price category room in somewhat older buildings that are farther from the beach and pool areas. We heard no complaints from anyone about the lodging; in fact some commented that they liked being further back on the resort property because it was so quiet. Everyone was offered upgrades at check in, starting at $30 extra/ night. My sister and brother-in-law discovered this was negotiable and got it down to $20 extra/ night. They felt it was worth it, as the upgrade was into a suite identical to ours.

    #2 violetvixen

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      Posted 28 June 2010 - 04:04 PM

      Restaurants/ Resort Food Overall: 8/10
      A note about restaurant dining at Dreams Tulum: There is a long, sometimes VERY long, wait for dinner starting at around 7:00pm. With a party of 4 one night, we waited 1.5 hours to eat at Portofino, and that same night the wait at El Patio was quoted at 2 hours. We were given those vibrating light-up beepers at each place, so we sat at the bar with both beepers and responded to the one that went off first! Get there when the restaurants open, usually 6:00 or 6:30, and you’ll have much better luck.

      Contributing to the waiting issue was that not all of the restaurants were open every evening while we were there. The Asian place and the sushi bar were only open every other night. As a result, we never made it to either of those places due to scheduling issues and other dinner commitments.

      Portofino: Italian food, quite good. Set up to be a fine dining atmosphere and there is a dress code for men (collared shirt and long pants required.) Wait staff was unfailingly polite, very professional. Emphasis on presentation, they bring the entrees out under silver dome covers and once everyone has their plate in front of them, the server(s) dramatically whisk the lids off in sync. Voila!

      p.s. My husband, in his true rebellious/ class clown style, wore those North Face pants that zip off into shorts. Before we stood up to leave, he unzipped the pant legs off under the table and walked out in shorts! I don’t know if anyone else noticed but we and our friends thought it was hilarious 

      Bordeaux: French cuisine. Formal setting; dress code. Adults only. We ate there on our last night in Tulum. They’re shooting for a romantic, fine dining atmosphere and they manage to create that feel pretty well. I didn’t care for my entr©e which was seafood casserole, and my husband wasn’t impressed with the duck. The salads and king crab entr©e were good, though. Dessert choices include a few tasteless custardy options.

      World Caf©: This is the main breakfast option, buffet style, any type of breakfast food you could possibly want. Overall quite good. We had dinner a few times at The World Caf© as well, primarily b/c it’s the only place they can easily seat groups of 6 or more, and there is generally no wait. The dinner options were Asian-esque one night, and French-esque another night. All of our guests seemed to enjoy the food here. In general, WC is a safe option for everyone, including kids, due to the sheer number of food choices.

      El Patio: My husband and I ate dinner here twice. We loved the food, I enjoyed the Dorado (fish) especially. Our guests had good things to say about this place as well. I preferred El Patio to the more upscale places because it’s open air, and isn’t eating outside half the fun of being on vacation in the tropics?

      Seaside Grille: Another open air restaurant right on the beach. Great place for lunch. I could barely eat our first few days at the resort due to nerves and the heat, but once I got my appetite back I loved the food at Seaside. We saw a few wedding receptions here in the evening and everything looked beautiful. We also saw a reception begin at the Dolphin Terrace that was moved (quickly!) to the Seaside after it started pouring rain during dinner!

      Wedding Coordinator (Natalia): 7/10
      I’m not sure what to say about Natalia. In many regards she was helpful and professional. I believe that the wedding coordinators at Dreams work really hard; I saw them all the time lugging around decorations and talking to sundress-and-shorts clad brides and grooms. During our initial meeting the morning after we arrived at the resort, she was pleasant, enthusiastic, and walked us through all of our options. She assured us that she would be there “the entire time”. The bummer at this meeting was that we were firmly denied the opportunity to offer our guests two entr©e options. More on that in the “reception” section below.

      I met with Natalia a second time, the day before the wedding, with my mom (I encouraged my husband to have some guy time that morning) during which I handed over all of my d©cor items, reviewed the wedding contract, and paid for the wedding package and extras. I had prepared a seating chart as well as a little diagram with instructions on how I wanted the dinner table decorated. From the U.S., I had brought blue Moroccan glass lanterns, place cards, place card holders, and favor boxes to be filled with candy. I also had 2 glass vases and several candles that we purchased at Wal-Mart in Playa.

      The morning of the wedding, I reviewed the wedding contract more closely and I realized that Natalia had charged us for the Dreams Ultimate Package by mistake, instead of the Dreams of Love package. Obviously the error was also mine in that I had not noticed it the day prior. I called the wedding department right away and spoke with Natalia. She apologized profusely and told us we could bring our credit card to the front desk and they would process our credit of $700. We did so and it was resolved with no problems.

      The extras beyond the wedding package that we paid for included:
      -a few floral items (see “Flowers”)
      - day passes for our outside photographer and his assistant
      - setup fee for the reception table d©cor (quoted as $2 per person; however we were not charged
      for this in the contract)
      - sound system ($150 for the ceremony, $350 for the reception)

      We were instructed by Natalia of the date/time that the staff would pick up our wedding clothing for steaming. I left instructions for them to pick up and drop off my dress in my sister’s room to avoid the premature dress reveal to the groom that we’ve all read about on this forum! All went off without a hitch.

      On the day of the wedding, Natalia was extremely organized and efficient before and during the ceremony. Ladies, if you have any anxieties about how the ceremony will flow or feel unsure about the details like I did, rest easy. The coordinators are well practiced at this and they run the show quite skillfully.

      The main issue that we had with Natalia was during dinner. We began eating around 6:30 and she left our site around 6:45. By 8:30 or so, my husband and some of our friends were trying to figure out where she had gone and why we had not seen her. My impression from out initial meeting was that she would have been more of a presence during the reception and I was wondering if she was signed off for the night or something. My assertive (6 months pregnant) friend basically tracked Natalia down in her office and was told “I don’t need to be there for the whole 3 hours; I have been checking in once per hour.” Frankly I’m not sure who she had been checking in with once per hour, but it certainly hadn’t been me, or the groom. We didn’t have any urgent needs but I felt that we should have seen her once or twice during the evening.

      #3 violetvixen

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        Posted 28 June 2010 - 04:12 PM

        Rehearsal Dinner: 9/10
        We were informed a few weeks prior to the wedding that we could do a rehearsal dinner for our group of 20 at the World Caf© for no charge. They will set up large tables for you and as it’s a buffet, they don’t charge you the private event fee. We were excited about this option; however, once we arrived Natalia informed us that World Caf© is closed on Tuesdays and Fridays and that the buffet is moved to a large outdoor square for a festival. We were told that our group could be accommodated there, and that it would be a Caribbean Festival. We didn’t have much choice, so we went with that. They set up two large tables of 10 each for us near the front of the square/ stage area; there were tons of other tables as well as the buffet stations. There was a live reggae band playing which we really enjoyed. The food got mixed reviews from our group; some items were great such as the fish grilled to order. Other options were less than stellar. By the time we had finished dinner, the band had stopped playing and the staff was on stage doing an annoying repetitive choreographed dance with a bunch of kids, so we moved on to the nearby open air bar and hung out there for the remainder of the evening.

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        Spa: 10/10
        My hair and make-up was included with the wedding package. Trinidad was my stylist and she was awesome! I brought a photo of the hairstyle I wanted and she replicated it impressively. I told her I wanted light, natural makeup and I was thrilled with how it came out. I did bring a few of my own products (foundation and mascara) since I’m sort of picky about those items. Trinidad was totally pleasant about using my stuff and everything looked great. I also treated my mom to hair and my sister/ MOH to makeup and they were very happy with their results. My sis got a pedicure and despite the feedback on BDW about this service, her toes looked perfect!

        The spa itself is beautiful; we didn’t have any other treatments there as it was pretty pricey, but I imagine that it would have been a wonderful experience. My husband is a massage therapist and he gave the setting and amenities a thumbs-up from the quick walk through that we did.
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        forgive the dorky expression!
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        Flowers: 9/10

        Absolutely gorgeous! I asked for raspberry and cobalt blue for the 2 bouquets as those were our colors. I was floored with they delivered them; they were more beautiful that I could have imagined.
        We didn’t have a ton of included flowers with the dreams of Love Package, and we didn’t really order many extras. I bought two glass vases at Wal-Mart in Playa which I requested the staff place on the dinner table filled with water. My sister and I placed our bouquets in these and tada! Table d©cor! I figured we might as well maximize our resources 

        Included were my bouquet, two corsages for the moms, and two boutonnieres for the groom and best man. Also included was a floral centerpiece for the dinner table which I had also requested to be in similar colors to the bouquets. Unfortunately, though it was reasonably pretty, it didn’t look anything like the bouquets nor was it in the colors I had asked for. The only reason I did not give a score of 10/10 is because I was somewhat disappointed with the centerpiece not matching the rest of the flowers.
        Our extras included the bouquet for my sister/ MOH, one extra corsage for the groomswoman, and three extra boutonnieres for the dads and officiant.

        I had some extra ribbon from the handmade favor boxes which I handed over to Natalia in case the florist could use it for something. They used it to wrap the stems of the bouquets and it looked just beautiful.

        Click the image to open in full size.
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        #4 violetvixen

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          Posted 28 June 2010 - 04:31 PM

          3:00pm on the Beach

          Natalia led us through every moment leading up to the ceremony. She was down in the gazebo area assisting the groom and wedding party, making sure all the guests had arrived, etc. She came to get my sister, my dad, and I once everyone was seated on the beach and gave us instructions re: when to proceed down the aisle. We had our iPod and rented the sound system. It all went very smoothly including the timing of the processional music, which was a solo piano version of GNR’s Sweet Child O’ Mine and makes me cry like a baby every time I hear it 

          We brought our own officiant, D, the friend who introduced us almost 5 years ago. My husband and I and D designed and wrote our ceremony and vows. Our guests told us over and over how touching and personal it was; we also got the feedback that it was a perfect length (about 15 minutes). This was a symbolic ceremony; our quickie legal one was at City Hall in San Francisco a few days before we left.

          It was windy, and it was hot. If you have a mid-day ceremony, encourage your loved ones to wear hats and sunglasses! We had the microphone/ sound system and I don’t think anyone would have been able to hear a thing without it.

          The backdrop is breathtakingly beautiful. There were a few swimmers off to the left, and everyone in the Seaside Grille gets a lovely view of your ceremony, but at the time I didn’t notice a thing and it all felt very private and romantic.

          Apparently there were 2 other weddings on our day, I must say I did not notice much of what was going on with the other weddings that day and it certainly didn’t feel much like a wedding factory to me, which was a relief. I did pass another bride who was at the bar as I walked to the ladies room during our reception dinner; we exchanged enthusiastic “congrats!” which was fun 
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          obligatory jumping shot!
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          Cocktail Hour
          4:30 pm, Lobby Terrace

          This was a lovely location for our cocktail hour; I totally recommend it. There’s a roof overhead which made it a great, shaded respite after the ceremony on the beach. It’s quiet and away from the main activity areas of the resort. The wedding coordinator clears the area and does not permit other hotel guests to use the terrace during this time. We had private servers who brought us a round of champagne, and then were available for any other drink orders. Guests can also pop right inside to get a drink at the lobby bar if they prefer, or just to cool off in the a/c. For hors d'oeuvres we chose the stuffed mushrooms, shrimp on melba toast, and prosciutto with melon. NOTE: Skip the melon/ prosciutto. Everyone said it was gross and there were two full trays of it still sitting there when we left for dinner. I didn’t try the other hors d’oeuvres but people were eating them with enthusiasm!
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          view from lobby terrace
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          #5 violetvixen

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            Posted 28 June 2010 - 04:33 PM

            6:00, Dolphin Terrace (we started closer to 6:30)

            There were a few people still in the pool when we first sat down, but by 7:00 everyone was out and the decks were mostly empty. When we first viewed our reception site with Natalia, I was concerned that it wasn’t private enough and too “in the middle” of everything, but it turned out to be perfect. The other reception locations (beach and end of relax pool) are more remote and certainly beautiful, but seemed very windy. I was also grateful to be close to the restrooms! The d©cor items we had brought had been set up perfectly by the staff, exactly as I had drawn out in my little diagram.
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            Dinner was the Silver Menu; we didn’t have to pay for any extra meals as we had exactly 20 people. The food was very good, and very rich. We chose the mushroom vol-au-vent for appetizer (puff pastry with cheese & mushroom), the “mixed green” salad which is more interesting than it sounds (really nice presentation), and the chicken breast stuffed with cream cheese, spinach, and peppers. My main complaint about dinner was the absolute refusal of the wedding coordinator to allow us two entr©e choices. I knew from reading BDW that some couples have been able to have 2 entr©e options. We had hoped to offer a choice of chicken or fish. However, we were told that the second option could ONLY be vegetarian lasagna. I thought veg lasagna sounded lie a bummer wedding meal, but we ordered 3 for the non-meat-except-for-fish eaters. They all liked it.

            For our wedding cake we chose the most chocolatey concoction they had available as I hate white cakes They decorated it with the same flowers that were in the bouquets and it looked perfect! It was delicious also. We requested that they save the leftovers for us, and they delivered it, along with the still-decorated top of the cake, to our room the next day. I munched on it for our entire honeymoon!
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            We had 2 dedicated servers at dinner and they did an amazing job. They were very attentive to everyone, particularly the groom and I. During dancing, I set my empty mojito glass down for on the cake table, and when I went to pick it up at the end of the song, there was a full one right in its place. Our guests were so happy with the service that they left generous tips, which was in turn rewarded by continued attention from the servers including bottles of tequila during dance time. One of my best memories from the night is watching some of the guys, including my dad, uncle, and bro-in-law doing a tequila shot followed by a group ninja kick!

            Our dance music was an iPod playlist which my husband and I had carefully put together with assistance from a DJ friend. We didn’t have a DJ and while I didn’t think we needed one, in retrospect I wish we had assigned someone to MC a few things. It would have been nice to have someone announce our first dance and the cake cutting, for example; we basically didn’t announce anything, just sort of did it when the time seemed right!

            The end of the night (read: 3 hours) came too quickly as we all wanted to dance longer. The sound guy who mans the speaker system told us we had to wrap up but that we could play one more song. I chose Rusted Root’s “Send Me On My Way” and somehow a bunch of us decided to do a group leap into the pool. Perhaps one of the best decisions I made all night! Most of us then went to change into swimsuits and we had a group moonlight swim in the ocean under the moon. Another of my best memories is seeing everyone’s heads bobbing around in the water in the moonlight and hearing everyone laughing and splashing around. A great finale to a wonderful day!
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            #6 violetvixen

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              Posted 28 June 2010 - 04:38 PM

              Sascha Gluck (Cancun Photos) 10/10

              We decided to hire an outside pro photographer and decided on Sascha for both his beautiful portfolio and his reasonable fees. He brought his assistant Lars, and though we haven’t seen the photos yet I cannot speak highly enough about these guys. They are so easy to be around, made Jeremy and I feel completely comfortable, and our guests thought they were just great.

              Resort Photographer (Rigoberto) 9/10
              We only had Sascha from 2-7pm since that was all that our budget allowed. Since one hour with the resort photographer was included with the Dreams of Love package, we asked him to come at 7:30 to take photos after our outside photog had gone. We ended up with some lovely shots of the toasts, cake cutting, and dancing. We chose 36 prints (included) and they gave us those on a CD as well. Notably different quality than Sascha’s stuff, but they came out great nonetheless and we’re thrilled to have them. I’ve attached a few here.

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              #7 AishaB

              • Sr. Member
              • 2,350 posts

                Posted 28 June 2010 - 05:06 PM

                Great review and pics. Congratulations, it looks like you guys had a great time.
                BDW the best place for my TYPE A personality!

                #8 Lite

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                • 96 posts

                  Posted 28 June 2010 - 05:15 PM

                  Excellent review!! Your day sounds like it was amazing!! Congrats!! :)

                  I love the jumping in the pool, way cool!!! haha

                  #9 bsf&jpg

                  • Jr. Member
                  • 222 posts

                    Posted 28 June 2010 - 05:21 PM

                    WOW!!!!!!!!!!! CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!!!!!
                    Your wedding looks AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
                    I only hope mine is as great as yours!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
                    and many thanks for the review!!!! it was VERY helpful!

                    #10 KarenM

                    • Sr. Member
                    • 1,920 posts

                      Posted 28 June 2010 - 05:39 PM

                      Congratulations! Great review - it will definitely help a ton of future brides/grooms!

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