Originally Posted by lalanyc
I am so thankful for all the information I obtained from BDW that I am excited to finally provide my own review and recommendations. I hope it's helpful to future brides. Also, I understand there are separate review forums for vendors/hotels, so I will repeat certain reviews in those sections.
Of all places we scouted in the Riviera Maya, we knew immediately that Ceiba was â€œthe one.â€ Words canâ€™t describe how well the hotel treated us and our guests!! They well exceeded our expectations at practically every turn. In particular, Diana was A-MAZING!!! She is an incredibly smart, organized and great person overall, and it was a pleasure to work with her throughout the year. Once we arrived, we coordinated w/ Javier and Miguel who were also exceedingly nice and professional. It was wonderful working with ALL the staff and it was b/c of them that our event was so special.
To be clear, getting to this point was A LOT of work (unless, of course, you pay someone else to do it for you)!! As others may have mentioned, you need to be prepared to invest time in contractual details in order to get the best pricing and options with management. In addition, this is not your typical all-inclusive hotel. Unlike many hotels which provide packages and/or pre-selected vendors, everything at CdM is a la carte. The coordinators will provide a list of preferred vendors for flowers, d©cor, music, etc. but you have the option of looking for other vendors (which is not necessarily the best route, btw!). Thank goodness for BDW!!! Perhaps things may have played out differently had we hired a third-party coordinator, but despite the work, it was so worth it in the end. We love CdM and plan to go back for many years!
BEFORE THE WEDDING
Room Rates: We negotiated directly with the hotel on room rates and locked in 2 rates (AI and European) for all room types since we were confident we would take at least 50 rooms. We had to place a hefty deposit to secure the rates. Of course, AI was by far the best deal, HOWEVER, some guests simply didnâ€™t want to have to pay the extra $$ - either b/c they traveled alone or b/c they preferred to explore nearby restaurants. Whatever the case, we wanted to give them that option which is partly why we chose Ceiba. Many switched plans at the last minute. Others who stayed for many days chose a combo of AI and European which was especially nice if they planned full day excursions. If you would like more specifics, PM me.
Off Site Options: Another big reason we chose Ceiba was the proximity of private homes and condos. We had many families w/ kids that simply couldnâ€™t afford to stay at Ceiba. In particular, we had families stay at Villa Karina, Casa South Breeze and Costa Blanca Condos. These accommodations were perfect!!! Clean, nice, close to Ceiba and (relatively) cheap! See the attached form for information on all the houses/condos we investigated, including a map
WEDNESDAY - BONFIRE
Bonfire on the beach in front of the pool bar â€“ AWESOME. Even though we threw this together at the last minute, Ceiba executed perfectly. Weather was chilly w/ the ocean breeze but people had their shawls/sweaters so it was tolerable.
Music: We contracted a band on short notice and it was a great addition (unfortunately I donâ€™t have their name but they were so fun). I would highly recommend having music though you will definitely need speakers since the waves will drown out acoustic sound.
Food/Drink: We paid $400 for a bonfire w/ marshmallows, asked the staff to put out beer and wine (no waiter service â€“ self serve only). The set up worked well since this was meant to be an informal event. People loved toasting marshmallows!
D©cor: The staff arranged tiki torches and beach lounge chairs around the bonfire area and that is all that was necessary. Any additional d©cor would have been hard to notice since it was so dark.
THURSDAY â€“ WELCOME DRINKS
We hosted welcome drinks around the smaller pool. I originally wanted to host the event on the pier but was happy we stuck to the pool - the pier can be unpredictably windy at night and with so many people of all ages, this location was ideal, esp b/c the beach chairs provided seating options.
Music: We contracted an acoustic guitarist for 2 hrs for about $150. He was quite good (unfortunately, I donâ€™t have contact/name) however, acoustic music was not the best option as the music was too soft for my taste. Wish I had paid extra for a sound system or contracted more musicians to add more energy to the event.
Food/Drink: We specifically started the event around 8 PM so people would have time for dinner, however, we ordered tacos at the last minute (specifically, the â€œtrompo de pastorâ€) for guests who arrived on late flights. HOLY&*%$! Everyone ate the tacos, including guests who had just finished 3 course dinners!!! Waiters also walked around w/ a signature drink and there was an open bar.
D©cor: Lounge chairs were placed along far edges of the pavement and high tables were also placed closer to the pool. I gave Diana tea candle light covers and paper star lanterns for added decor. The staff did an awesome job putting them up. They knew exactly what to do and it was great not to have to worry about it.