It’s been three months since we’ve come back from Riu Montego Bay, and I still haven’t posted my review! I’m sorry ladies! This site was such a huge help planning (well, not planning) that the least I could do to repay the generosity and help that I have received is to post my review. Any questions anyone may have, please feel free to ask! I may not know much, but what I do know, I know well!
Getting there :
We departed Toronto on May 1 and flew WestJet to MoBay. We flew through SunQuest Vacations. I found a travel agency called The Wedding Holiday (based in Mississauga) and they took care of our bookings for us. They were really, really great! I didin’t have any stresses when it came to organizing rooms, bookings, collecting money, or anything! The only gripe I have is that we paid almost $2000 each for the week. My bad – I locked into prices in February 2009 for a May 2010 wedding. I wanted my guests to have the maximum amount of time to save. Turns out the majority of my friends and family didn’t bother, so the most important people who really wanted to be there showed up. I brought my dress in a garment bag and my mom yelled at me when I folded it. It was a very inexpensive off-the-rack dress, so I didn't mind if it was a little wrinkly! I wondered what she'd think when I do my TTD photos?!?!
Our flight was ridiculously early from T.O., so that made for some great checking in once we got to the resort. It took literally 4 minutes and 30 seconds to drive from the airport to the resort, and the staff was ready with our wristbands, room numbers and rum punch as soon as we stepped onto the property. It was 10:30 am. Our rooms were not ready yet (check-in is usually much, much later in the day) so we left our luggage at the front and wandered around the resort for a few hours. Literally half an hour later, some of the rooms were ready. Good to go!
I was hoping for an upgrade for my then fiance and I. Our original room was 1111, in the same block of rooms as the rest of our guests. I was told that since we had booked the “free” wedding, I wasn’t entitled to the upgrade. No worries, I didn’t want to pay for an upgrade, and I wasn’t here to spend too much time in my room (except maybe on my wedding night!!!) so I never pursued the issue further. Our SunQuest rep, Audrey, had differerent plans though. She was going to get us our upgrade if it killed her! The next day, we were put in 2319, an “oceanview” room. It really wasn’t an oceanview room, (the view was 60% Mahoe Bay Restaurant and 40% ocean) but I didn’t mind. The only difference between 1111 and 2319 (except the fact that the room number was a lot harder to remember when inebriated) was that 2319 had a flat screen TV. Who watches TV on vacation anyway???
Both the rooms were clean and the bars were well stocked. Our guests had no complaints about the quantity of Red Stripes available. I think one of them even found the stash and stocked his fridge full of bottles. I have read some reviews of people thinking their rooms smelled musty – it’s either the air conditioner or the fact that the poster did not know what to expect in a tropical country. There’s a distinct wet feeling and smell in any Caribbean country, especially so close to the water. You just live with it and wash your clothes twice when you get home.
As a bride, I was entitled to 10% off each treatment I received at the Spa. Seriously though, I would have paid full price, and then some for the quality of service I got at Renova!
Reluctantly, I woke up very, very early for a nail appointment at Renova Spa. I got a french manicure on my real nails (I did my feet at home) and I loved it! They have the freehand skill at Renova, I’m telling you! HOWEVER, despite my admiration of the skills these ladies have, I would not recommend getting your nails done the day of the wedding, or even in Jamaica, for the wedding. The polish on my nails MELTED and pushed back from the tips. I guess it was too humid in Jamaica for them to dry completely before I went about my day, so my close up photos of my hands kinda looked weird. At least I didn’t notice until the next day!
I went into my hair appointment with no expectations. I had given about 5 minutes of thought to what kind of updo I wanted for the wedding when I was at home, but figured I’d leave the final decision to the professionals. I have a lot of hair (it’s about waist length when down) so I knew it would take a lot of hairspray to get the job done. I chose a hairdo that a bride before me got done, and they replicated it perfectly! I was right about the hairspray too. Every single strand I have had hairspray on it. Good thing though, since it ended up raining that day and I needed my hair to be in tact for pictures the next day!
I am not big on flowers, or any decorations for that matter. I brought my BM’s flowers from home, made them from silk flowers. If I didn’t tell you they were fake, you’d never be able to tell! We saved a ton of money by bringing four bouquets from home.
I was going to go with the cheapest bouquet that came with my free package, but my mother-in-law stepped in. She wanted to buy me orange lillies and boutonierres for the fathers and for the FI. So super nice of her! They were from Tai-Flora and I loved them! They were perfect for our wedding, and, since I couldn’t bring them home, on the last night we spread the petals all around the resort.
WC - Roxianne
I don’t really have too much to say about her. She correctly took my order for the flowers, ordered the steel band for the ceremony, incorrectly took my order for the flavour of the wedding cake (we said strawberry, it ended up being raspberry, but holy cow, was the raspberry good!) and she showed up on time to show me, my parents and my bridesmaids to the ceremony site. I never saw or heard from her again! I don’t even know if anyone even tipped her!
A little background: I am a very, very simple bride. I didn’t contact the WC at all from home except to provide her with our application at the beginning of this journey (The Wedding Holiday took care of the rest of the organization). When I got to Jamaica, our meeting with her lasted about 15 minutes where I just chose my flowers. If you are the type of bride who wants more organization and hands-on from the employees of the resort, perhaps RMB may not be right for you.
Just prior to the ceremony, as I was getting ready, it was a beautiful, sunny day. Just as I stepped out over the bridge to the beach gazebo, it started to drizzle a little. The drizzle lasted throughout the ceremony.
I had never met our official prior to the ceremony. During our meeting with the WC, we imressed upon her that we are not religious people, and we wanted the civil, legal wedding. Guess who showed up during ceremony? Jesus’ name was spoken, and the official asked us to bow our heads in prayer. I would never, ever knock anyone who prefers to have God mentioned in their wedding ceremony, but my FI and I are not that couple. We were definitely surprised to say the least, and I think there are a few pictures that depict that surprise. During the ceremony we had a small chuckle at the miscommunication, but afterwards we figured that Jamaica is a Church ruled country, maybe that WAS the civil legal wedding. Whatevs – we’re still married, and it still counts, so no harm was done.
After the ceremony (it was about 15 minutes) the sky opened up. Lincoln, our photographer from the resort photography company (Best Images) would take a picture, then mother nature would follow his flash with one of hers. We got a few pictures in on the wedding day, but arranged for Lincoln to come back the next day to finish our package. We got three hours of his time and chose to have 100 pictures professionally finished. We are seroius loafters – we haven’t even ordered our professional prints yet, and they take at least three months to be ready! Oops…
I have a couple of great girlfriends. They replicated the wedding day to a “T” the next day, getting ready for the pictures at noon. My hair was exactly the same as the previous day (thanks to Renova Spa’s excellent hairapray) and we got our group shots and trash the dress pics done in no time!
It was definitely cool to walk around the resort for the second day in my wedding dress. We did the TTD pics in the ocean, then migrated to the pool where my now husband pushed me in. We got some great laughs and some great shots. The highlight of the trip for many. My dress dried within a day as well – I just hung it on the balcony in the sunlight. The chlorine actually washed out the stains I got on it on the wedding day! Who would have known?!?!
As a Trinidadian, my dad insisted that we have a steel band at the ceremony. They were a five piece band and although I didn’t hear it (I was distracted with many, many other things at the ceremony) our guests said that it really make the atmosphere. Without the pans, the wedding would have probably been wishy-washy. I walked in with my parents on either arm to Yellow Bird, one of my favourite calypsos. I figure they were there for a good 15 minutes before the ceremony, but was dismayed when my dad mentioned that they hadn’t stayed the whole hour they were hired for.
As I mentioned, it started to rain, and when the rain really came down, the band packed up shop and left. I don’t know if they stayed for the whole hour, but some say they didn’t. (Look in the pic!! I think that's the WC behind the trees sitting down! LOL)
We were in luck. Just as dinner rolled around, there was a beautiful orange and pink sunset. The food was great (steak and such from the steakhouse) and the company was lively. There were a million mosquitoes though. A man from the wedding dinner beside ours upstairs at Mahoe Bay was kind enough to come over with some bug spray. After that, dinner was comfortable.
When we first arrived at RMB, I desperately wanted a beach reception. I had seen pics on this site and had no qualms about paying the extra price. When we got to the site however, my FI convinced me otherwise. The wind was so strong for the few days before the wedding, we would have had to deal with everything blowing around! It may not have been so bad with the mosquitoes if it was so windy, but the husband makes so few decisions around here, I gave him that one. I loved the dinner upstairs at Mahoe Bay. We didn’t decorate a thing, but it was great fun and everyone loved the food, and the cake was gone in minutes. The raspberry cake that was supposed to be strawberry.
My mother in law again wanted to spend money at this wedding, so she rented out Pacha disco for us until 11:00. We did our speeches and our first dances there. We brought a speaker from home and used our iPod for the music, and once we were done with that, we turned the music over to the DJ that was included in the Pacha package. The booze was freeflowing, the speeches induced many a tear, and I had to run up to my room to change out of the wedding dress because drinking and peeing go hand in hand. Peeing with a wedding dress on is no fun! I kinda got smoked out of their pretty early though. The ventilation isn’t very good, and a good majority of people who came in after it was opened to the public didn’t care about blowing smoke around, so I stayed outside after it became a cigarette hotbox.
All in all I would recommend this resort for a wedding if you have no prior expectations and don’t mind if little things will go wrong here and there. If you tend to be a “bridezilla” needing everything to go perfectly right on your wedding day, then perhaps RMB is not the place for you. If you are like me, just there for a good time and a wedding on the side, then by all means! Take off! The planes never bothered anyone from my group (mind you though, we all live very close to the Toronto airport so we’re just used to them) and it was a week that none of my guests will ever forget. I married the man of my dreams and had an incredible stress-free wedding. Would do it again in a heartbeat, and wouldn’t change a thing.