Sorry for the delay in putting up a review. All in all, our wedding at ABH (12.4.11) was amazing and beyond my dreams! I will try to give you my thoughts on the highlights, but feel free to ask me specific questions if I don't touch on something you are wondering about.
Lomas Travel (Wedding Planner - Amanda P.)
Amanda was great. She was responsive via e-mail (on most occasions, she got back to me within a few days at the most) and was on top of things. She had some helpful ideas and also put me in touch with another ABH bride that had a interfaith and multicultural wedding, which was great.
As many of you know, ABH does charge you for outside vendor fees (we didn't end up having any outside vendors, because we didn't want to pay the crazy fee) and Amanda could not be very flexible on things like that. But, I understood that to be pretty much company policy and outside her control.
The only real negative is that Amanda surprised me two days before the wedding with a time change for our welcome party. It ended up fine, because I required that they put a notice under everyone's door, but I was a little frustrated that they only figured out the time conflict at the last minute.
I probably had the most problems with this part of the wedding planning. We did not use a travel agent and we had a big group (about 80 people at our wedding). ABH repeatedly messed up the reservations for our guests and did not notify people of the payment rules, etc. It all ended up working out at the hotel once everyone got there (after some kinks) but it was probably the most stressful aspect. They were just not very organized and their reservation system seemed to be often wrong (i.e. at various points, they claimed to not have a reservation for my parents and my mother-in-law, which was just crazy). Again, it worked out once we were there and everyone had a room, but I think that they could have done a better job on this.
On-Site Wedding Coordinators
They were fabulous! Our meeting was really long and detailed and I definitely recommend coming prepared - I had print-outs, with lots of extra copies, of the menu, seating chart, ceremony (we wrote our entire ceremony), song lists (DJ and guitar player), detail sheet. I think it helped a LOT. We went through EVERYTHING, some of which was very repetitive of what I had gone over with Amanda for the past few months, but I didn't mind the repetition because I knew that they were paying attention to the details. I also brought everything "extra" with me -- programs, menus, favors, etc. and went over all of that. We also went over day passes needed, etc. They did charge us about another $100 or so for set up fees, which I expected and didn't argue about.
All in all, they were great -- they got everything right and were very nice and helpful! On the day of the wedding, my "attendant" was sometimes hard to track down, but I think that was just because she was busy with setup or with the helping the guys.
I was super impressed with the flowers - they were gorgeous and beyond what I expected. So, A+ on this.
We used the standard ABH DJ and he was awesome. Our wedding was a big party with lots of dancing (the Hora and a Flash Mob dance to the Wobble) and he did great. NOTE: We did fill out the DJ sheet in great detail and provided him with EVERY song we wanted to have played. So, we did not leave much up to him at all, but he was professional, didn't talk too much on the mike and just played the songs and mixed them well.
I can't report on how he would have been if we let him choose the music.
I was very nervous about this. We were originally supposed to have a family member officiate (spiritual ceremony only) but that fell through. We wrote the ENTIRE ceremony and it was fairly long and included 5 readers and a wine toast, etc. We incorporated both of our traditions so it was a bit complicated. The Officiant, whom ABH would not let me talk to or meet beforehand, was FANTASTIC. Really, I was so happy and relieved because I was very nervous about it going in. My husband met with her for a few minutes beforehand to quickly go over the ceremony and name pronounciations and that was it. We had sent the whole ceremony (which had detailed instructions) 45 days before so she had seen it long before but I didn't know how she would. It was great -- there were a couple of hiccups that were real and funny and no big deal to me but they were not her fault at all and she could not have been better.
Again, we wrote the entire ceremony word for word so I can't comment on how it would have been if she had written it. But, her delivery and presence was awesome.
It tasted good, but looked nothing like the picture I sent and really was not very nice. I expected this going in and I didn't care that much about the cake so it was not a big deal to me. But, my advice would be to go SIMPLE with the cake if you want it to look anything like your picture. I didn't do that and regretted it.
To be honest, I barely ate at the wedding reception but I heard the food was good. It was LATE coming out though and I had to complain a few times during the reception. We chose the Family Style and did a combo of the Mexican and Regular menus. My only complaint was that it was hard to tell what was what (it was all on one or two plates). But, they did veggie meals well and also honored specific requests from guests as they came in at the reception. So, very receptive!
I barely heard him but I think he did a good job. Most of his playing was before the ceremony and I was not there for it.
We had a welcome party the night before the wedding at the Wave Lounge and it was great. We did the Mexican Donkey Bar menu and everyone loved it. It's a great location and tons of fun. We rented the iPod amp and had a blast.
There were some issues with rooms. There is a BIG difference between the renovated side and the non-renovated side. The "Deluxe Room'' is fine, but small, and nothing like the new rooms, which are beautiful. That said, there were some problems with the rooms on both sides at times -- some guests did not have hot water (but it eventually got fixed), or had things malfunction in the room, or had to wait a long time to get a room once they arrived. In short, I think it's worth the money to stay in the new side, especially if your guests have seen those pics online. The older rooms look much different. All of the water smells really bad, which takes some getting used to. I am not sure if that is just Mexico water or an ABH problem. We did not drink the tap water or use it to brush teeth, etc.
They have some new restaurants, which look great, but they were never (or hardly ever) open while we were there, which was really disappointing. So, we didn't have as many choices as we would like. But, the food at the open restaurants was good. I would not want to stay for more than a few days, thought, if there were not more choices. I think that the new restaurants should be opening soon, but I am not really sure.
It was nice, but lots of seaweed. Great beach beds. Very windy on the wedding day for the ceremony, so be prepared that is a possibility.
I hope this is helpful to other ABH Brides! I had a wonderful wonderful wedding and I hope you do too!