After learning so much, and getting such great ideas from the forum, its time for me to give back!
We chose to go with the Grand Sirenis Mayan Beach because of the wedding deal through Transat.
Due to our extra baggage from the OOT bags we went Transat Club Class on the way there. We still ended up getting one of our friends to take 1 small piece of baggage, but did manage to get it there without paying extra. It was well worth it, if you can squeeze a bit out of your budget! Not only is the service and food waay better but also the seat size difference is crazy, they are soo small. Iâ€™m the first to admit I need to lose a few, but my MOH is 4â€™11 and weighs 90 pounds was even complaining how small the seats were! I have vowed never to fly Transat again without being in the club seats!
Transat did manage to lose my sisters luggage. Which was horrible for her. It showed up at the hotel a few days later. Nice save Transat! Private transportation was included in our wedding package so we had our own air conditioned bus. I am so glad we did as we spent over an hour dealing with the missing baggage delay. It does take almost 2 hours on the bus to get to the Grand Sirenis. But your guide has cold coronas for $3, and we were all so excited the time went by pretty fast.
Separate check in was supposed to be included with our package, but we didnâ€™t get it. There was a bigger wedding party who arrived ahead of us (if only Transat hadnâ€™t lost that luggage!) so it took forever to get checked in, and for a cart to come get us and take us to our room.
This was my 6th time staying at an all inclusive resort. This was by far the biggest resort I have stayed at. There is A LOT of walking. It isnâ€™t too big of a deal for the young people, but my grandparents had a really rough time of it. After the first day, we were able to make arrangements for them to be picked up by a cart when they needed to get around for the rest of the week. If you donâ€™t have these special circumstances, and call for a cart, they will usually tell you one is coming, but it usually doesnâ€™t. Sometimes you can flag one down, but itâ€™s really hit and miss. Just keep this in mind if you have elderly guests.
There is a lot of variety in the a la cartes, and the buffet. The a la cartes were also hit and miss with different people. I personally was disappointed by the steak house, but loved the Japanese, Italian and French. If you have wine-oâ€™s in your group, you can pay extra in most of the a la cartes for better wine. There are a couple affordable bottles, and it was a nice change to the house wine. The coffee bar is awesome! The lobby bars serve premium/international brands of booze. The tacos at the beach are a MUST! A few of our guests returned with injuries from the lazy river. Its pretty tricky getting on to the big inner tubes provided by the resort as the current is strong right away. Some of us brought our own inner tubes, just the cheap ones from Canadian Tire with the mesh bottoms, and had many amazing trips down the river. It was even relaxing going without a tube.
The rooms have a minibar with pop, water and 1 beer per person. It is refilled daily, they wonâ€™t refill it more than that. Some of the bathrooms have an open space into the bedrooms. There is a frosted door on the bathroom stall, but you can still see the person sitting there, its wierd. Knowing this beforehand, I brought 2 shower curtains from the dollar store, and some packing tape. One of our guy-girl-friends-only rooms had â€œThe Holeâ€, so I taped up the curtain to give them some more privacy. They were over the moon as they were planning to have to leave the room anytime someone wanted to shower or do #2. Most of the other rooms with â€œThe Holeâ€ were couples so they were ok with it. But just another thing to be aware of. Room Service isnâ€™t great, but its available from 11-11, and if you have someone with sunstroke who doesnâ€™t want to leave their room, they will be happy with it.
My OOT bags were a huge success! Everyone is still talking about them!
Top Appreciated-By-Guest Items:
- Jute Bag â€“ Everyone was using them all week!
- Cooling-Lotion for Sunburns
- Waterproof Card Carry Case that fit a few dollars in it as well
- Clothes Pegs - There is a clothesline on the balcony of the rooms
- Stainless Steel Mug - We decided Not to personalize them with a wedding logo, and so glad because everyone said they will use them again! What we did instead was just buy them blank â€“ way cheaper! â€“ then I got some sticker letters from the craft store and some Acrylic Sealer/Finisher spray. Sprayed the letters 4 times, letting them dry completely between coats. Then we put the initials of the people on the cups. So handy when you see a sea of cups and donâ€™t know what one is yours. You can see them in some of the pictures. The stickers held strong, and have since even survived the dishwasher at home)
Wish I had Included:
- A pen and notepad. They donâ€™t have pens in the room!
- A brochure or something with a list of items in the bag, and what they are intended for
- A map of the resort, and information about what the hours are for restaurants etc.
- Not necessarily in the OOT bag, but I wish I had packed more sunscreen, to be able to offer to my guests. I cannot believe how many people forgot sunscreen! It costs $26 for it in the gift shop at the hotel, and you are not near anywhere else where you could buy it from. Probably why the burn gel was such a hit!
We have had to deal with 4 different wedding planners since we started this process. I blame myself for not bringing absolutely EVERY EMAIL to my meeting with Cecilia who was our final wedding coordinator. They will nickel-and-dime you so go prepared. I was so excited and emotional I forgot about previous emails I had and things that I was told were included. We upgraded to the Palapa and Private Beach option. Aracely offered us the Palapa rental at no charge, we just had to pay the per person price of the â€œBeach Menu.â€ So it was basically half the price. Then we decided to upgrade to steak and lobster. Wow-ee-wow-wow, it was awesome! The lobster was easily the size of my hand! We started with the fruit salad, very nice, and lobster bisque also good. I had read online that the chocolate brownie was a hit for another bride, but my group found it horribly dry. We had decided ahead of time we didnâ€™t want to have 2 desserts, so not to serve the wedding cake, but I wish we had. They delivered it to our room; it was vanilla moist and wonderful! We had to pay extra for the rental of the sound system in the palapa. She wanted to charge us more for the microphone, but we declined. It was included anyways. One of our friends had brought their lap top, so we just plugged it in to the system and played our own music. Worked really well for us! It was worth every penny to rent the palapa. The service and food was amazing, I canâ€™t say enough good things about it. We saw the location of the other beach wedding ceremony as another couple was married there during our stay. They try to make it private, but it isnâ€™t. Also my MOH said she saw a wedding reception in the lobby bar, it was roped off but she watched the speeches, nosy girl that she is. Cecilia said they are trying to have only 1 wedding per day, so if you can find out if you are the only wedding for your selected day, I would try and negotiate getting the Palapa. It was totally worth it! We had dancing and even a limbo contest broke out.
We went with the Transat Bliss package. Here are the inclusions and my comments:
- Private roundtrip transportation between the airport and hotel â€“ Yes!
- Separate check-in for your group â€“ Did Not get, but not a big deal
- Fruit basket in the coupleâ€™s room
â€“ Supposed to be upon check in but didnâ€™t get until last day after nagging Cecilia every day
- Romantic dinner for the wedding couple
â€“ They donâ€™t offer this to you if you donâ€™t ask for it! It needs to be booked through the wedding planner. It is a dinner just for the 2 of you at an a la carte, ours was at the French. They even closed the restaurant for the better part of our meal. Other guests started coming in to the restaurant at as we were having dessert. It was great! We had it the day after the wedding and it was so nice to just have some time for the two of us together.
- Bridal bouquet and boutonniere for the groom
â€“ Yes! It is a smaller selection she will show you once you are there. It you have seen the powerpoint presentation and have selected the bouquet you want, get one of them to email you confirmation that it is included! Bring that email with you! It allowed me the bouquet I wanted!
- The wedding service includes: decoration, music, wedding cake and sparkling wine
â€“ Again, I was told the decoration included flowers by one of the other planners, but in my meeting Cecilia said no. I wasnâ€™t thinking and just accepted the set up with no flowers. The only decoration included is the white silk canopy thing, chair covers and jute sash. Coloured sashes are extra. I didnâ€™t think they were, so if you have an email saying your choice of color is included, bring it! We paid $50 for a small centerpiece that was used during the ceremony and on the main table for the reception. Because we upgraded to the palapa, we had to pay extra for music. The cake selection is also different than the ones we were shown in the powerpoint. The only decoration included was a ribbon, and a flower on top. I didnâ€™t want to pay extra so I left it as is.
- Cocktails and hors dâ€™oeuvres for the wedding group before the ceremony
â€“ Keep in mind we upgraded to the Palapa and Private Beach option. This was a really nice touch. It was great walking back down the aisle to a glass of bubbly. It allowed us to cheers all our friends and mingle for a bit before heading to take wedding party pictures. We chose to have the ceremony at 5 and the reception at 6. After the ceremony they move decorations and chairs from the beach to the palapa, so the guests can not go into it right away, and they specifically tell you to ensure your guests know they have to wait to enter the palapa.
- Wedding dinner at Ã la carte restaurant with head table â€“ Yes, but we had ours at the Palapa
- Boutonnieres for up to 7 guests
They allowed me to have 4 boutonnieres and 3 small bridesmaid bouquets. I paid $35 for a wrist corsage for my mom, as she walked me down the aisle
- Wedding photographs: a souvenir album, (12) additional 5x7 prints and one large 8x12 print
We did not get the souvenir album or any printed pictures. The CD they gave us also had none of the pictures we picked on it.
When we booked our wedding we were told we would have to pay for a day pass for our photographer, and that there was no other fee. Because I had this in writing, I did not have to pay the $300 penalty. Having seen the photographs that the resort photographer took, I would have paid the $300 penalty. I would have paid a $500 penalty just to not have their photographer there at all. I know that sounds mean, but they really just got in the way of my photographer. I spoke to the photographer of the bride who was married the day before me, and he told me about how the Resort Photographer purposely got in the way of all the shots he was trying to take and missed out on some key shots due to her stepping into him. He said the bride was in tears after she saw the pictures taken by the resort because apparently she bought the biggest package from them. On their website they advertise that they use a Nikon D7000 camera, but they donâ€™t. My hubby is a beginner shutterbug, and said our Canon Rebel camera is better then the one they use. Also, when they film the video, they use a poor quality camera donâ€™t use a tripod, so you can she her hands shaking. I would live to be able to show you some comparison shots of their photography against the photos our photographer, but the funny thing is the CD they burnt us doesnâ€™t have any of the pictures we picked. Its just a bunch of random garbage. I would have been devastated if those had been the only pictures I had of the wedding considering we didnâ€™t get to look at the CD until we got home. They are nothing at all like the pictures they show on their website. I know some brides have had ok experience with them, but with a once in a lifetime event, I was not willing to risk it and I am so glad I went with Dean Sanderson.
Here are the best ones: