Ok Ladies, I finally wrote my review, sorry I got really wordy - I needed to organize my thoughts by day.
Where: Beaches Resort & Spa â€“ Turks & Caicos
Travel dates: 6/29/11-7/5/11
Flights: American Airlines from Philadelphia, PA to Miami, FL â€“ Miami, FL to Providenciales, Turks & Caicos
Wedding: Sunday 7/3/11 at 11am
Total number of people in our group 14 adults, 3 kids (5, 6 and 11)
Our flight down was ok, no major issues with the airline, however prior to traveling, American Airlines had changed our itinerary 4 times since it had been booked in September, which was distressing since they changed the original flights we booked to having long layovers in Miami with 2 small children.
Provo Airport Arrival â€“ We went through customs/immigration with no issues, the airport is quite small. We went to claim our baggage and waited some time for it to arrive on the carousel, and after it not having appeared I began to worry and started looking around to see if someone else had our bags. I discovered one of my bags on an airport luggage cart, and our other two bags were already pulled off the belt and in random places in the baggage claim area. I found this rather disturbing. I claimed the bag & cart, and a man came and said let me help you with your bags, I asked him if he was with Beaches Resort, and he told me no, that he works for the airport (I am pretty sure he did not). Naturally he wanted a tip for pushing our bags just outside the door (a very, very short distance away). When we got outside the Beaches representative was waiting to greet us with cold water, and said our transportation to the resort would be there shortly. Two minutes later we were picked up along with another group of people, who were being taken to another resort, fortunately we were the first stop. The trip to the resort was short, and we marveled at the price of gas on the island at $6.39.
Day 1 â€“ Wednesday 6/29
Arrival at the resort â€“ When we arrived at the resort (we were staying in the French Village) we were greeted with cold towels to refresh ourselves, and Rum Runners for the adults as well as juice drinks for my children. Check-in was easy, and we were escorted to our room. Our room was nice; it was a French Honeymoon room, high ceiling, no balcony, sliding door opened to a view of the pool. It was nice & adequate. My kids stayed with us (except on our wedding night) and the sofa was like a day bed, that had a trundle beneath it, so it worked well. The bathroom had its own sink in addition to another sink just outside the bathroom.
We set off to exploring; the resort is very well kept, and quite lovely. We took the kids to the swimming pool where they thoroughly enjoyed the water slides. That evening we ate at Schooners, the food was mediocre, but the staff was friendly. We ordered 3 different fish dishes, and they were all garnished exactly the same, and served with the same sides, the fish wasnâ€™t very flavorful.
Day 2 â€“ Thursday 6/30
We had breakfast at Barefoot by the Beach. My daughter has an allergy to dairy which we indicated when we booked, and were told there would be no issue. The previous night at Schooners we ordered something for her & they prepared it without dairy & there was no problem. This morning, we were told by our waiter that we needed a paper to get anything made for my daughter. I had no idea what he was talking about; he was very difficult to understand. We werenâ€™t even asking them to make anything special, we only questioned what was available to order that didnâ€™t contain dairy. Then we waited FOREVER for breakfast it was ridiculous, people who came after us received their food had eaten & left & we were still waiting. Not a good start.
After breakfast, we went to the office to find out about this â€œpaperâ€ for my daughter. I assumed it was some kind of liability waiver form. I was told at the office that they didnâ€™t have the paper, but they would have someone bring one over, that I should have a seat & it would be there soon. About 20 minutes later, someone finally brought this paper. It turns out they wanted me to choose something for my daughter to eat for breakfast, lunch & dinner each day - & indicate at what restaurant she would be eating at and at what time. How absurd! As if I knew when & where we would eat for each meal! I skipped the form, utterly ridiculous. I have never had such an issue before â€“ Disney World chefs were wonderfully accommodating, she could order anything on the menus & they would just alter it no problem.
Our appointment to meet with our Wedding Consultant, Comaneci, was scheduled for 1:30. The time was a bit inconvenient; we would have preferred to meet in the morning so it didnâ€™t tie up our day. We decided to take the kids ages 7 & almost 6 to the Kids Camp while we were at our appointment. To register them you need their passports & fill out a bunch of forms. It was difficult to find the location of the camp, it was not clearly marked. After asking several employees we were directed to the camp office, which no one was in. We finally managed to get someone to call someone from the camp and a guy came out of the X-box garage to help us, though he seem thoroughly uninterested in helping us. I managed to sign them up, but then found I couldnâ€™t leave the kids because you had to go find where the camp was, by looking at the activity list, and take them to that location. Naturally at this point we didnâ€™t know our way around the resort and the descriptions of where the camp activity was rather vague like â€œEast Lawnâ€. We were not offered any help or an escort to the location, the person who â€œhelpedâ€ us didnâ€™t even ask us if we had any questions. So we took the kids with us to the wedding appointment which wasnâ€™t ideal.
We went through some of the details of the wedding, and quite honestly they arenâ€™t as organized as they should be, several things fell through the cracks, and it sounds as if I was way over-charged for my photo package. Many things were not even addressed. Comaneci showed us the choices of wedding locations, she showed us the small gazebo which is obscured by bougainvillea vines near Schooners, a larger gazebo with a wrought iron top that was free of debris near Arizonaâ€™s and offered the beach as a third location. We finally chose the larger gazebo because the beach was just packed with people & the beach isnâ€™t terribly wide. We were offered only one location for the reception which was the â€œboardwalkâ€ location, which I was happy with since it was right next to the gazebo but I would have liked to be offered other options.
Today some of our guests arrived, but my husbandâ€™s mother, aunt & brother were all stuck in Miami due to weather. My brother-in-law was able to make it in the next day, but my husbandâ€™s mother & aunt were stranded until Saturday. HUGE DISAPPOINTMENT!
Tonight we ate at Marioâ€™s, there was about a 30 minute wait for a table, which seemed odd because there were plenty of empty tables, but apparently they didnâ€™t have enough staff despite the resort being fully booked. The food was ok; they had a nice large antipasto salad bar.
Day 3 Friday 7/1
Today we spent the day at the pool & beach â€“ more of our guests are delayed at Miami airport â€“ we all can agree on one thing, we will never ever fly through Miami or fly American Airlines again. Tonight we had an impromptu group dinner at Schoonerâ€™s. They were very accommodating with the size of our group, we had no problems getting seated they already had a table together for a large group. Again the food was mediocre. Dessert was ok.
Day 4 Saturday 7/2
This morning we went on a scheduled tour. It was supposed to be the Blue Hills Splendor & Conch Farm tour. 10 of our group were on the tour together. The tour was booked online in advance and there was very little information about where we were supposed to go for the tour. We found a tour desk at the Caribbean village, and finally found out that we would be meeting there. The tour was supposed to start at 10, but they asked us to be there by 9:45 to check in, which we did. At 10:15 they finally loaded us in the van for the tour, and the tour operator told us that he would be back in a minute, we waited another 15-20 minutes in the van, getting quite irritated and finally a representative from the tour company came out and said that the plantation we were supposed to be going to was closed. We had an option for a refund or to continue onto the conch farm and receive a partial refund. Our group voted to go on.
At 3pm I had my mani/pedi & trial hair & makeup. My daughter had a mani/pedi next to me as well. If you are getting your nails done at the spa, bring your nail color with you, because the spa has very limited colors. If you donâ€™t want a French manicure, the other colors they have are mostly reds & orangesâ€¦some really dark colors or nail polish that looks like it was left behind from previous guests. I was satisfied with my mani/pedi, but I must warn you that my daughters got ruined in the pool later that afternoon. Despite making her sit forever while her nails dry, the high humidity & pool chlorine killed the polish job. L
We ate at Giuseppeâ€™s for lunch; it was a meditterean buffet, which was good. Desserts were just ok.
We received a call from the front desk this afternoon, that they had a room upgrade available for us starting tomorrow in the Italian Village. We were supposed to get an upgrade for having 5 or more rooms booked under our group code, but when we checked in they told us they were fully booked and nothing was available. So we figured better late than never. I packed up all our belongings to be moved on our wedding day. It was a little difficult to coordinate this along with the wedding but I made it happen. We were being moved to a DaVinci suite with a kidâ€™s bunk bed in a separate room.
We did Schooners for dinner again tonight, it seemed like a good choice now that the balance of our guest came in, so we could all be together. Our experience tonight wasnâ€™t as good as the previous night. I think our waiter was overwhelmed, and tired â€“ towards the end of the evening he was getting rather rude.
Day 5 Sunday (Wedding Day) 7/3
This morning I got up early, our wedding was supposed to be at noon, but the day before we left for our trip Beaches called us and moved the wedding to 11am because the minister would not be available at 12. So they moved my hair & make up appointment to 8 am. When we were about to go to the spa, we looked out the window to find a complete & total torrential downpour. I could have cried, but just hoped it would clear off, but it didnâ€™t look good. My mother was also having her hair & make up done as well, and my daughter too. Arlene did both my mother & me, and Marilyn did my daughters hair. They did a great job; donâ€™t forget to tip for any service you are paying extra for! All of our hair & make-up services were pre-paid when they were booked as required by the resort, however the spa insisted that my mom hadnâ€™t paid for her make-up, and charged her again.
By the time my hair & make up was complete the rain slowed significantly. Every room has an umbrella in it, which I was so grateful to have. I headed back to the room to get dressed. I quickly got the remainder of our items together to be moved to the other room; I was dressing to get ready when the cleaning lady tried to enter the room around 10:15 without having knocked. She assumed we had already checked out since they were moving the room. Check out is at 11 am. I finished dressing and went to the lobby to wait for Comaneci to pick me up. By the time she finally came to get me, the rain had stopped and she handed me my bouquet. It was supposed to be Cherry Brandy roses w/ white orchids. Cherry brandy roses are yellow on the inside and a coral pink on the outside, they are my favorite and they guaranteed they could get them, and I even sent photographs ahead to make sure they got the right ones. The roses were a hot pink & ivory color. They were nice, huge buds, but not my flowers. I saw another bride the previous day with the same roses in fact. The white orchids in the bouquet were sparse, and wilted & crushed looking. I mentioned to Comaneci that they werenâ€™t the right roses, and she said she would check into it. Nothing to do about it now thoughâ€¦the show must go on. We were the only ones getting married this day, so I thought this would be a good thing since the coordinator shouldnâ€™t be overwhelmed.
We headed to the wedding location and she had the groom turn around while I got in place. The swept the water off the walkway so my train wouldnâ€™t get too wet. The steel drum player played Pachelbelâ€™s Canon, which we didnâ€™t pick out â€“ we didnâ€™t even get to review music choices with our wedding coordinator. I assumed when it was my turn to go down the aisle the steel pan player would change to the Bridal Chorus (here comes the bride) which he didnâ€™t. I was very disappointed about this; I had so been looking forward to hearing that, in fact I even bought a steel drum wedding CD and had been listening to this for months. He didnâ€™t play the recessional Wedding March either. Again, there was nothing I could do about any of that the â€œshowâ€ must go on.
During our wedding appointment I filled out a form checking off pictures I wanted, and I swear the photographer NEVER looked at it. He photographed things I didnâ€™t want (signing of the registry) and didnâ€™t take pictures of the things I did want like individual photos of bride, & groom separate. I am an amateur photographer, and when I take a portrait session I always take about 300 photos, thatâ€™s how you get great photos. The photographer asked where I wanted group photos, and I suggested the boardwalk overpass in front of Schooners, and also said I would like photos of the wedding party on the beach. He took a group photo and then said, â€œWhat else do you want?â€ So I tried to think of all the combinations I wanted, and pretty much had to tell him what to do. Then when I got the group photos, he dismissed my guests â€“ I never got the wedding party photos on the beach. He instead took us & my kids to the beach for photos. He missed so many adorable candid shots - I urged him to catch some things like the kids playing in the sand, or my son on the steps of the boardwalk. My dress got sandy & wet, and I figured at that point we might as well get wet, and suggested some shots in the water, but he wasnâ€™t all that creative. We never got any photos sitting in the sand either. The photos we do have of the hearts in the sand, and sitting on the dock were all my idea. I didnâ€™t like the photos he took with our backs facing the camera, or the ones where he has me awkwardly holding my husbandâ€™s chin or face, and there were some others that were odd too that I didnâ€™t have put on my CD. He took a total of 278 pictures.
After photos I was very wet, sandy & uncomfortable, and intended to go change into another dress, but alas they hadnâ€™t moved our luggage yet. So we went on to do our cake cutting & first dance. When we got to our reception location, the first thing I noticed was that instead of the 3 piece Calypso band I hired, there was a man with a keyboard singing American songs. I questioned the Wedding coordinator and she tried to tell me this was the Calypso band. No way! He didnâ€™t even play the right song for our first dance. I was annoyed that we didnâ€™t have the band we paid for, I mean really 1 man does not equal a band, and had they said to me that they were unable to get the calypso band I would have been able to have the steel pan player instead which would have been preferable to the â€œwedding singerâ€. When they brought the cake out, it was hysterical. The wedding coordinator was more upset than I was, but our fondant cake looked like it had been stung by bees & was swelling up! The fondant had these huge blisters on the side of it, it looked just awful but by this point I just didnâ€™t care, I said letâ€™s just turn it so you canâ€™t see it in the photos & cut the cake so I can change clothes.
After that our lunch buffet was opened. We had bar service that was beyond the beer, wine & champagne that was supposed to be included with our reception. If the bartender didnâ€™t have supplied for the drink you wanted he went to one of the bars & made it & brought it back. He was great, and I felt bad that I didnâ€™t have any money to tip him. He made me a drink he called a â€œwedding dayâ€ which was his on concoction that was fruity & light.
The food was ok, and one of the dessert cakes on the buffet was actually much tastier than our wedding cake.
Our reception concluded & finally I got out of my wet sandy dress. That night my kids stayed with my parents & we got to go to one of the adults only restaurants. Our best man is a chef, so we let him select the restaurant. We went to Sapodillaâ€™s. We only took the wedding party and two of our late arrival guests. The food was excellent, the staff was excellent and this was the best experience I had since we arrived. I so enjoyed this evening. Yummy appetizerâ€™s including a complimentary sweet potato soup â€œshotâ€ from the chef that was very tasty. At the end the waitress that was taking care of us had the chef make a special dessert plate for us that said â€œHappy Birthday Brandyâ€ at the top & Congratulation Mr. and Mrs. Miller on the bottom in chocolate. The staff sang happy birthday to me. It was very sweet & somewhat embarrassing but nice.
After dinner we dressed to go dancingâ€¦LOL! We decided to go to Club Liquid; boy did we feel old when we walked in. Our crowd was all in their 40â€™s (except me- just turned 37 that day) and everyone in Club Liquid was 15-18. FYI â€“ legal drinking age in Turks & Caicos is 18, but we saw kids being served that were definitely under 18. There was no dancing in Club Liquid either so we left. We ended up going over to Cricketerâ€™s and learning how to play Snooker on a huge pool table which is apparently a snooker table. This was hysterical. There was an Aussie guy in there who taught us the rules of the game and it was really funny, there were so many rules we thought for sure he was making them upâ€¦as the game went on, and on and on and we had more to drink we added our own rules too! Too funny!
Day 6 Monday 7/4
Today I went to review our photos, they were nice, but not what I was hoping for and certainly not the quality of Tropical Imaging. I wish my husband would have agreed to go with them for photos but that would not have happened. The photos my guest took were as good as the photographerâ€™s in my opinion.
That afternoon we booked the free snorkeling tour, which was a lot of fun, my 5 year old daughter took to snorkeling like a fish to water, and my 7 year old son had gotten the hang of it towards the end. We also rode the aqua bicycles, which was a good way to burn off some of the calories we have been consuming; however you only got to use them for 10 minutes at a time.
Tonight we were supposed to have dinner at Kimonoâ€™s but we needed to increase the number of people in our group and they werenâ€™t able to accommodate the request, so we opted for the sushi bar which was ok. Some of our guests went to Kimonoâ€™s that night and as it turns out the table was empty & we all could have gone anyway. They had nice fireworks for Independence Day!
Day 7 Tuesday (Going Home) 7/5
So our baggage was supposed to be picked up at 8am. Our flight was scheduled for 3pm, and I thought we would be able to go swimming, but we didnâ€™t since that would have meant carrying wet swimsuits in our carryon baggage. Instead we went to breakfast at Marioâ€™s and then souvenir shopping at the market just outside the resort (entrance is near the pizza place). Souvenirs outside the resort were still really expensive.
We grabbed a pizza & headed to the Departure Lounge where our transportation was supposed to take us to the airport at 1pm. The picked us up at 12:30 instead, and we went the airport. When we arrived at the airport and got our boarding passes, checked our luggage & went through security we got to â€œtheâ€ terminal and found more people than seats â€“ there was nowhere to move, no place to sit. It was packed. After about 2 planes took off we finally got seats. Then our flight was delayed 1.5 hours. My kids were starving, but there really wasnâ€™t any place to eat.
When we finally got to Miami it was such mess. We had to go through immigration/passport control which took forever all the while my little girl really had to use the bathroom; I am still amazed she didnâ€™t leave a puddle on the floor for as long as they made us wait. Non-American passengers coming into Miami were all photographed & fingerprinted & this really slowed everything down. Then we had to take a hike & pick up our baggage & check it all over again, and go through a really long security line. Finally, when we got through all that we found out that we needed to go clear to the other side of the airport on the sky train, and more walking thereafter. By the time we did all that we had about 30 minutes until our next flight, and only had time to grab sandwiches to eat. We will NEVER fly through Miami ever again or fly American Airlines.
We were so glad to finally arrive in Philly at 11:30 pm, only another hour or so drive to get home!
Resort Property: A+ Very well kept, neat & pretty
Restaurants: C+ Just ok, other than Sapodillaâ€™s which was wonderful â€“ great taste & presentation. Most close at 9:30 which seems too early to me.
Resort Staff: B- Most were friendly & helpful, Not necessarily quick, and there were certainly those who were more interested in chatting with their coworkers than helping the guests, and they often speak another language in front of you which seems rude.
Beach: A+ Clean & neat, beautiful.
Towel supply: D - They were always out of towels both at the beach & pools
Pools: A+ Lots of fun for everyone!
Kids Club: D I finally did drop the kids off once for 30 minutes and stood nearby to observe, they were not very attentive to the kids.
Tour: C - disappointed that they seemed so unorganized on a pre-booked tour, and part of the tour was unavailable.
Wedding Coordinator: B Felt there was much that should have been reviewed that wasnâ€™t, but she made every effort to resolve the main issues that occurred afterwards. I spoke with the supervisor for the weddingâ€™s department in Florida and it sounds like they will be refunding my money for the calypso band & for the flowers.
Photographer: C We got some good photos, but they arenâ€™t worth the $2000 we were charged for the 200 wedding CD.
Videographer: TBD he was friendly enough, we will see later what his work looks like. They put me down for a Traditional wedding editing style, which we did not select. I asked the wedding coordinator about selecting these items, but she told me that we would select them later. When I talked to the â€œSnapshotsâ€ office after the wedding they told me it should have been selected with the wedding coordinator prior to the wedding because they would have shot differently. We wanted the contemporary editing style, along with the raw footage as our 1 free add-on that was included in the Deluxe video package for $900
Room neatness & style: A+ Cleaning staff does an excellent job of making everything look great â€“ just perfect.
Provo Airport: C too small, uncomfortable with someone having removed my bags from the baggage claim belt, then being pushy about taking it outside.
- Plan on being organized & micro-managing your wedding if you want them to get all your details correct.
- Make yourself a checklist to go over with the wedding coordinator so they donâ€™t miss anything important to you.
- Make a list of the photos you want for your wedding & go over them with the Beaches photographer personally, donâ€™t expect them to read it on their own. Meet with the videographer prior to the wedding to let them know what you want.
- Make a list of songs you want bands to play & give it to the wedding coordinator â€“ but donâ€™t hold your breath!
- Give yourself plenty of days to enjoy after the wedding to relax without appointments!
- Bring copies of all your prepaid charges/credit card statement.
- Cover your butt â€“ put everything on a credit card that will back you up if necessary
- Buy travel insurance, either from the resort or on your own, I have used Access America on other trips. My Mother-in-law lost 2 days of her trip, & her tour & everything because she didnâ€™t have travel insurance, and on top of that they had to pay for a motel while they were stranded in Miami.
- Carry on anything important to you, your dress, make-up, jewelry, medicine.