We're wedding at Grand Velas Nuevo Vallarta/Riviera Nayarit. When negotiating my contract, I did it without a TA as my hotel doesn't work with them. The price they quoted me was great, so I ran with it. Their per person rates normally start at $600+. We got ours for $250. Intially, I was quoted $375, but I was going to have my wedding in March 2012. When I changed to June 2011, their low season, that made a big difference. Here are my answers:
1. How long prior to your wedding date did you sign your contract with the resort? --> I signed about 7 months before. I had been talking to them from about 9 months prior to the wedding date.
2. At the time of signing your contract, did you reserve a block of rooms? --> Yes we did, as it was required. We blocked 10 rooms. They intially asked for 15 (which I think is standard), but I knew we were having a small wedding party, so I talked them down to 10. We had to pay 25% of the block upfront once signed.
3. How many rooms do you typically block and if you need more, is the resort accommodating to adding more to your block? --> Resorts are always more accommodating when it comes to adding. Not so much when you may have to reduce the block. I would block only what you think you can meet. If they're asking for 15, but you'd rather start lower, then tell them. In my case, at least 2 people had to be in a room to keep our rate, so I knew that 20-25 people were coming, so I wanted to start with 10. If a guest roomed alone, that meant it was $375/person. So you gotta do the math and go with what you know you can fill. I still ended up paying for rooms as only 16 can go, but what're you gonna do? People are people...
4. How much money did you have to put down per room? --> We blocked 10 rooms at $250/person per night, so we had to pay $2500 at signing and another $2500 maybe a month later, which was half the room block total. Once people started booking, our deposit was moved into our Master Account to pay for our wedding.
5. If a lower rate was offered later in the year after you had already blocked the rooms at a certain price, did your contracts have clauses that required the hotel to offer you the discounted price even for those rooms that had been reserved at the higher price? --> Nope. I've spoken with a bride who was marrying at the same place in June 2012 and they never gave her as low a rate as they gave me. I think it had to do with their packages changing. Anyone marrying there now must have at least 25 people. That wasn't the case with mine. If so, how are you notified of that lower price or do you need to be vigilant and frequently checking the hotel's prices for any drop in rates? --> Couldn't say. I would be vigilant b/c I'm Type A like that, lol. I don't know if the hotel would notify you. Maybe negotiate it into your contract.
6. What time of year do you get the best rates for January - March in Mexico? That is high season for travel so I am wondering when you would luck out the most with lower prices. --> If you want lower rates in Mexico, then you'd have to travel during low season period. High season rates may come with some concessions, but I highly doubt it. I chose low season b/c the date was more meaningful and it was cheaper. They know June is there rainy season and they'll have low occupancy, so they're willing to stretch a little more.
Hope everything I've said helps. You wrote back in April so this is probably not very useful to you in June. Anyways, all the best!