I haven't posted much, because well I haven't had a lot of information to contribute. I did want to add a post about our scouting trip. I've read through a whole slew of scouting trips other folks have gone on and found them, at this stage of the game, extremely helpful. The scouting reports gave me a list of places to look at online and to ask about. You never really know what places are like until you go there, and I highly recommend biting the bullet and going down and actually seeing the places in which you are interested.
Very briefly I want to go over where we went and who helped us. First almost the whole trip was organized by Malisa at Destination Scout, she pretty much booked all day every day we were there, we actually rolled over some places to our "day off" to get them all in.
Also Pete (the groom) is a Celiac and you know what, Mexico is great for Celiacs! We're working on a place to make us a cake/cupcakes, BUT given what you choose you can even bake something yourself. I may end up baking off cupcakes the day before the wedding, because I do a bang up job and well 50 cupcakes is like nothing. This is my own aside, but don't let food allergies dictate where you go and what you do!
Day #1. We went to Soliman Bay, which for us is likely going to be where most people end up staying. These are luxury Hacienda's complete with private chef, maid, AC, spacious areas, private beach fronts, and amenities like kayaks that you can take out for snorkeling. We did not get to go inside any of the Hacienda's, but given what we could see through the windows and the pictures on LocoGringo you will get a really good idea of what places look like from the photos on Locogringo and I have links in my review on my blog. Along with prices, and right now this is going to likely be the most affordable luxury accomodations you'll find. The hacienda's we saw were Buena Suerta, Hacienda Kass, Casa Yardena, and Mar Caribe.
Buena Suerta would be a great property to stay, but NOT for a wedding. It has plenty of space, but no areas where people can easily mill about and chat, you would end up with pockets of people and not a lot of free flowing movement. This is important to us that people can easily move about and not feel cramped.
Hacienda Kass is a beautiful property and depending on when you have your wedding it may be a good option for an actual wedding location. The property is huge, and for me for the time of year we're getting married in (October 2011) there were so few people that we wanted, well, I wanted, a more open property. This one has a row of palm trees separating the house from the beach. This may actually be a really good idea if you are getting married in high season, you may want to cut off people taking their evening run from your party.
Mar Caribe right now needs a paint job and some cleaning. But the property itself you can easily picture how you would set up a wedding. The beach is right in front and you can see the home in the back, you can move from a ceremony on the beach to a cocktail party on the roof and balconies, then you can have dinner set up around the pool and dancing in front. It was a surprise I didn't actually think I'd like this property at all, but it would work really well.
Casa Yardena--we didn't see much of this property as there were people staying here. They loved it, and I believe them. I liked Hacienda kass and Mar Caribe better, but for a large property to put a lot of people this would be great.
There are also two more buildings going in, so this time next year there will be two more places for folks to go see.
We also had lunch at Sahara Cafe in Hotel Jashita. There are links in the blog to this hotel. This is a great hotel. On the pricey side, but each room has AC, nice bathrooms, balconies, and there will be a spa (mainly for massages) on site. The honeymoon suite has a HUGE jacuzzi and will have a shaded area for hammocks. We are seriously considering this place for our honeymoon after the ceremony. The owner Miss. Monica (who is really a Mrs.) is lovely and is all about taking a balanced view of the world. The hotel itself would hold a very classy wedding and you can easily picture a very chic affair.
We visited a lot of properties in the Sian Ka'an. I highly recommend just reading my blog on these properties. They are gorgeous. Their drawback is that your guests would have to make their own food or take a trek into town for restaurants. This is fine, except if say it has been raining. The road is not paved and is sometimes fine and sometimes you would be afraid the road will eat your car.
We visited El Pez, La Luna, Las Ranitas, and Ana Y Jose. There are links and pictures on the blog, but quickly.
We chose El Pez, just for our wedding and reception. This is a small hotel (6 rooms), clean, open floor plan, nice beach, with a pool, pretty substantial deck, lounge area, and an industrial kitchen. I have more pictures than I put in the blog, so if you are interested let me know and I'll send you more. You can easily see how you can make this your own. The rooms do not have AC, but truly you don't need it. The water pressure is good, the views are lovely. This is also pretty central for anyone staying near here, say you have folks at Ana Y Jose they can just walk to your wedding and walk back at the end of the night. Same with a slew of other hotels right near here.
La Luna was great and is our runner up. We're a bit afraid of being cramped if it rains and in October rain is a serious thing. The layout is cool, the cabanas are excellent (clean, airy and comfortable), and the food was great. You have the option of renting the whole property for a week, or just a room for a few nights. For a wedding I think they would want you to rent out more than half of the cabanas, but I didn't ask.
Las Ranitas would be great for a large group (50+), and it has a good flow, you have your interior for food/dinner, deck for cocktails and the pool area for cocktails, a good stretch of beach for a ceremony and I did like the rooms. They were clean, comfortable and the larger suites have a private pool to boot. What I did not like is that for a wedding you have to (or this is what they told us) rent out at least 15 rooms. The entrance is actually really beautiful and very green.
Ana Y Jose is a fabulous property, though expensive. For our budget this is just right out, but not out for folks wanting to stay at a place like this. We saw the honeymoon suite which is huge, with a minibar, AC (I believe ac, they told us that they had AC), nice bathroom, and great views of the ocean. This was not where we wanted to spend the rest of our time, but if you have picky guests send them here.
Day #2 you may have noticed was not mentioned. Ths was a day that Malisa set up for us for local vendors and you can make it as packed as you need or not.
We have a ton of time, really, and so I will periodically update with our progress, since our wedding is in October 2011...we are in no huge rush. I expect I'll have a really good idea of what the whole thing is going to shape up as by March.
Good luck everyone.