Okay, here is the link to my (long! and includes photos!) review of ERC: http://www.bestdestinationwedding.com/products/excellence-riviera-cancun-luxury-adults-only-all-inclusive/reviews/7392
Or, I've copied and pasted it below (hoping this works with the photos!):
We checked in to ERC on Wednesday, June 12 and left on Thursday, June 20. Our wedding day was Saturday, June 15. We did the Gold Wedding Package.
Check in: Just driving up to the resort is so exciting! There's a beautiful gated entrance where staff checks off each person entering and leaving the resort. For transportation to and from the airport, we used the car service that you reserve through ERC's concierge. It's a private car that takes you directly to ERC. The price for round trip transportation to and from the airport was $120. Some of our guests did this as well, and other guests reserved shuttle service with their airline reservations, which I think cost $35-40 each way. Checking in was a breeze. We were welcomed with champagne and a cool towel by the doorman, then led to the Excellence Club Lounge for private check-in. Right off the bat, I would recommend being part of the "Excellence Club" during your stay, if it's within your budget. We got private check-in at the Excellence Club Lounge, plus extra perks throughout our stay (nightly turn down service, fruit and snacks delivered to our room each afternoon, upgraded room mini bar, etc.) that we thought really made the extra cost worth it.
Room: We had an ocean view swim-up suite. The room was gorgeous: spacious and comfortable, with beautiful natural lighting. Thereâ€™s a pretty big flat screen TV that had several American channels, a strong air conditioner (much appreciated!), and I swear the king size bed is bigger than a standard king size! The bed was really comfortable. The roomâ€™s mini bar is great! It includes: rum, vodka, tequila, and wine, plus beer, water, sodas and juice in the mini fridge. A few candy and snacks are included in it too. All of these items are free (included in cost of the stay) and replaced each day. 24-hour room service is also free. I had a lot of space to get ready for the wedding day even with a bunch of girls and my photographer in the room. Some of our guests also did swim-up suites and loved it; others did second- or third-floor ocean view suites and loved those equally. I think itâ€™s personal preference: do you like immediate access to the pool and having a semi-private â€œyardâ€ space without having to hunt out a pool chair every day, or do you like the view of the resort and ocean from above? You wouldnâ€™t be wrong with either choice â€“ the rooms are all pretty similar, so itâ€™s really just up to you and what you want from the view outside your window. With a swim-up suite, we had a little mini â€œyardâ€ with nice grass and two lay out pool chairs. It was nice for us not to have to go out super early and reserve a chair at the pool. The resort discourages people from doing this, but I think itâ€™s kinda natural for people to try and stake out the best chairs haha. We had a hammock and a Jacuzzi tub on our porch, plus a little table and outdoor loveseat. We also had a Jacuzzi tub inside the room, which was a really great added detail. We paid $35 on our last night for â€œbath valetâ€ to come set up a romantic bath for us â€“ bath salts, aromatherapy bubbles, relaxing incense and candlesâ€¦yes, itâ€™s a bit over the top for normal every day life, but this is vacation! We enjoyed the romantic set-up. *thumbs up*
Resort: This is our second stay at ERC. We have stayed at other resorts and my parents have as well, including Excellence Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic, and we just love this one. Absolutely gorgeous grounds, wonderful bars and restaurants, and the staff everywhere is exemplary. You get the feeling that the staff genuinely enjoys working there and helping guests have the best vacation ever. In fact, we recognized SEVERAL staff members from our first stay at ERC almost three years ago, which means as a whole, the resort probably has a low turnover rate among its employees, something that most likely indicates that itâ€™s a good place to work. All servers, housekeeping staff, concierges, etc. are highly trained and super attentive to anything you need. The restaurants and bars are all fun and amazing (I canâ€™t stop using the word amazing, because itâ€™s TRUE). The martini bar, swim up bar, and Caf© Kafe were personal favorites of ours. Request top shelf liquor in your drinks for added satisfaction! Whatever you want, they have it. The restaurants are all delicious, though we personally enjoyed the Indian restaurant (Basmati) and the French restaurant (Chez Isabelle) in particular. I was anxious about some of my guestsâ€™ comfort and satisfaction with the food, as I had some picky eaters coming (looking at you, MIL!), but there is truly something for everyone at this resort. Nightly entertainment included live music (really talented solo artists or bands, romantic setting to listen before or after dinner), followed by a show at the theater (Madonna, Michael Jackson, cirque du soleil, fire show, prehistoric Mayan show, American show, Caribbean show, which repeat weekly), followed by more live music under the stars or time at the club/disco if youâ€™re so inclined. Again, thereâ€™s something for everyone. All of our guests had a blast, whether they got late drinks at the martini bar, enjoyed a live show, or stayed in the comfort of their rooms ordering dessert from room service. There is huge list of activities held at the resort every day, ranging from volleyball and beach soccer to tequila and cigar tastings, salsa lessons, air rifle shooting, beach yoga, Spanish lessons, trivia games, etc. etc. etc. Husband and I painted pottery with his parents and have awesome souvenirs we brought home with us!
Wedding planner: Gloria was totally amazing, from the beginning of our planning stages, through the wedding day, and after! I canâ€™t say enough good things about her. She was responsive to emails and thorough in the answers and explanations she gave, always. During our check-in, she called the Excellence Club concierge to speak to me personally to set up a meeting to go over our decisions and preferences for the wedding day one last time. We met with her on Thursday before the wedding. The meeting was quick and thorough â€“ she confirmed all of the choices we had made up to that point, and we tied up any loose ends that were still remaining (flavor of the cake, color of the rose petals for the aisle runway, how many sparklers we needed.). Gloria checked on me on Friday (day before the wedding) to make sure I didnâ€™t need anything else or had any other questions, and checked in with us once on Saturday morning to make sure we didnâ€™t need anything. She set up the guests and groom in place at the ceremony then came to get me from our room to walk me and my parents and sister (who all walked me down the aisle) to the aisle. She was so sweet and attentive the whole time. Everything â€“ including ceremony, cocktail hour, and dinner â€“ went off without a hitch and with incredible attention to detail because of her.
Ceremony: We did the ceremony at the beach gazebo. It was gorgeous. We brought our own chair sashes and used whatever decoration was included in our package. The Gold Wedding Package includes either chair sashes or rose petals on the aisle; since we brought our own chair sashes, we got rose petals as well. I walked down the aisle to â€œSea of Loveâ€ by Cat Power, and we played â€œFirst Day of My Lifeâ€ by Bright Eyes for the recessional. The walk down the aisle lasted about a minute. We edited our songs down to cut out long intros or parts of the song we wanted to skip and made two versions â€“ a short one (thirty seconds) and a long one (like a minute long) because we werenâ€™t sure how long the walk down the aisle would be. It ended up working perfectly for us to use the longer edited versions. Gloria told me to just have the songs on my iphone, and it worked superbly. We did a symbolic ceremony, as we were already legally married by a justice of the peace in the US before going to Mexico. We had a fairly non-traditional ceremony in mind (nothing crazy hahaha, but we are an interfaith couple, so we had to keep it religiously neutral), and one of my biggest anxieties before the wedding was making sure the ceremony was unique and true to us. I wrote the ceremony myself and asked Gloria if it would be okay to give to the ceremony officiant. She checked with the officiant and said it was fine, so I sent the ceremony script to Gloria about two weeks before the wedding, and she said that the officiant had looked it over and said it was totally fine and that sheâ€™d be happy to do it. I canâ€™t tell you how important this was to us â€“ their willingness to please and support in helping us build a wedding day that was truly ours canâ€™t be overstated. Iâ€™m so grateful for Gloria and the officiantâ€™s help. We said our vows to one another and everyone was a crying blubbery mess hahahaâ€¦our ceremony was beautiful and I am nothing but pleased with how it went off. There was a lovely cool breeze the whole time, and no one was hot or (too) sweaty at the ceremony.
Hair & Makeup: Okay, I might not have the most useful perspective for other brides at ERC because I did my OWN hair and makeup instead of going to the spa, so I only have a couple things to say. I am particular about my makeup and know a lot about it/enjoy doing makeup, so I was fine doing my own and happy with the results. If youâ€™re thinking about bringing your own foundation for the makeup artists to use (for proper skin matching or whatever), I would highly recommend the Laura Mercier tinted moisturizer kit â€“ it comes with primer and the tinted moisturizer, which looks beautiful and STAYS. I have a TON of hair that causes my head and face to sweat quite a bit at times, but I never felt like my makeup had a problem staying or like it looked bad. I would also recommend DermaDoctorâ€™s Med-e-Tate anti-sweating wipes (I got them at Sephora and you can order them online)â€¦I heard about them here on the BDW forum from other brides, and Iâ€™m glad I spent the $40 on them! They helped a LOT with excessive sweating, because, let me tell you, it is HUMID at the resort. A few people told us itâ€™s much less humid in the winter months, but for those brides getting married at ERC in spring or summer â€“ be aware! Like I said earlier, the ceremony on the beach was fine because there was a great breeze from the ocean, but we took pictures before and after the ceremony at different locations around the resort, and it was supppppper humid. So the antiperspirant wipes were really, really helpful on my face and neck. I wiped my face with them THEN applied moisturizer and makeup per my normal routine. In terms of hair, I have a LOT of long, curly hair, and I wanted to wear it natural for the ceremony. If you get your hair done at the salon I donâ€™t imagine this will be a problem, but one small issue for me was that the humidity prevented my hair from drying as quickly as it needed to after I washed it. I ended up with longer curls that were a bit limper than my usual bouncy mane, but it wasnâ€™t a huge problem. I am 100% fine with how everything turned out, just wanted to give a heads up on the humidity and how that might affect your overall look on the day of the wedding. I have heard other brides comment on the techniques the salon uses to make sure your hair looks good for the day (curling it much tighter than what you actually want so that when the curls inevitably fall, theyâ€™re already at the right level, using lots of hairspray, etc.).
Cocktail Hour: I had heard that the square at Agave restaurant and the foyer were really hot with no breeze at cocktail hour time, and that the pier was windy, so I chose Las Olas for the cocktail hour location. Las Olas is on the beach, very close to the beach gazebo. Itâ€™s an area with chairs and small tables on a wooden plank floor under a tiki hut-type covering. We had 13 guests, so space wasnâ€™t an issue for our smallish group, but they had done tequila tastings and other activities at Las Olas before our wedding day at the resort, so it is definitely big enough for bigger groupsâ€¦Iâ€™d say fifty people could stand and mingle there comfortably. There was a lovely breeze so temperature wasnâ€™t a problem. Not exaggerating, it literally feels fifteen degrees cooler at times on the beach than it does further in on the resort. Right next to Las Olas was a full bar for us, which was open for the cocktail hour. The waitstaff served delicious frozen drinks â€“ a coffee chocolate drink with Baileyâ€™s I think, plus a fruity daiquiri type drink as well â€“ that everyone loved, plus the bar was open if anyone had specific requests (water at this point was a big one!). The appetizers we had chosen were absolutely delish (you get four hot appetizer choices and four cold appetizer choices in the Gold packageâ€¦not sure what the other package options are): chicken strips, buffalo wings, mini fish tacos, and some sort of tomato feta spinach thing for the hot appetizers, and the cheese montage, salami cornet, tomato & buffalo mozzarella and smoked turkey something for the cold appetizers. All of the food was awesome and the guests couldnâ€™t stop talking about how great it was. We had the Caribbean trio during the cocktail hour for our music, and they were awesome! Everyone loved them and several guests tipped the musicians. Gloria was standing off to the side for most of the time, directing waitstaff and the timing of everything. It was a great hour of talking and processing and hearing from our guests what they thought of our ceremony. Husband and I brought gifts to give to each set of parents â€“ him to my parents and me to his parents â€“ so this was a perfect time to present them with those items. It was a fun, happy, emotional hour with good food and good drinks. Who could ask for more? (The snapshots below were taken at the cocktail hour, just to give you a better idea of the setting/what I'm describing)
Dinner & Reception: We had dinner at Barcelona restaurant. I honestly chose this spot over other options (the foyer, and I think the Lobster House was an option) because this was the only place on the list that was air-conditioned. I figured that our guests (and myself, to be honest) would appreciate the A/C after a day more or less outside for the ceremony and cocktail hour. The other options are beautiful, and I think the decision probably comes down to your personal preferences and specific wishes for the look and feel of that part of your day. For us and for the guests we had in attendance, air conditioning was a nice relief that helped everyone relax and enjoy the evening.
However, with this choice, lighting and space were a concern for me. The natural light of being outside is beautiful for photos, and I worried that the lighting inside the restaurant was too yellow and dim for good shots. In terms of space, Barcelona is a huge restaurant (where the breakfast buffet is served every morning), and we only had fifteen people total. I feared it would feel kind of ridiculous with our small group in such a big space. My fears were immediately put to rest though. We had one long table for dinner, and it was set up next to the front of the restaurant, close to huge windows that let in great evening natural light. Once it got dark, the lighting of the room was not unpleasant at all, and my photos from that time are perfect. For the anxiety I was having about it being too big of a space for our group, I canâ€™t really even say how they set up the room to feel so intimate and comfortableâ€¦they just did. Hahaha it was just an amazing set up and the staff was so attentive and everyone felt so great that at no point did I look around feeling like, omg we have one little corner of this giant room and everything else is empty around us. It was perfect.
For food, we chose option 1 from the Gold Dinner Menu which was: 1. Cesar salad, 2. potato chowder, 3. mandarin orange amaretto sorbet, 4. Mahi filet and stuffed chicken breast with mashed potatoes and grilled veggies, 5. Dessert (which I donâ€™t remember because I only ate cake, which was in. cred. i. ble.). I cannot describe to you in like real words how delicious every part of the meal was. The main course was amazeballs. Everyone was like, â€œOMG THIS IS SO GOOD.â€ And I had some picky eaters in attendance! The wedding cake was mind-blowing. There are several options for flavors: chocolate, vanilla, marble, carrot, cheesecake, and something else I think. We chose cheesecake because Iâ€™m a huge fan haha and we were not disappointed. The cake was three tiers of some of the best cheesecake Iâ€™ve ever had in my life â€“ it was like marbled chocolate and regular cheesecake, not too rich or way too sweetâ€¦just perfect. It was a huge hit with the guests too, even though everyone was BEYOND stuffed after dinner.
I have never been waited on so graciously and attentively as I was at this dinner â€“ the servers were absolutely incredible. This dinner was one of the highlights of my entire life.
We did not hold a traditional â€œreceptionâ€ period after dinner since our group was kind of small. Originally we planned to bring down our Bose sound system music player thing in lieu of hiring a DJ, and using that as our â€œDJâ€ with a party playlist I created on my phone. Unfortunately a few of our friends had to drop off the guest list at the last minute (a couple weeks before the wedding!) and it made our group a lot smaller, and skewed the ages a lot older. The only people that wouldâ€™ve been dancing wouldâ€™ve been me and like, two friends. So we decided not to stress about the dancing portion of the evening â€“ after a long, amazing dinner and cake, we ventured over to the theater and enjoyed the scheduled show for the evening (Madonna! So fun!), then the younger people and my parents went to the resort club and danced for a couple hours. It was a perfect night that worked for our needs.
Photography & Videography: My aunt is a professional photographer who was a guest of the wedding and stayed at the resort, so we didnâ€™t have to pay an outside vendor fee or anything like that. We used the videographer included in the package for our ceremonyâ€¦we got the DVD the day before we left, and we love it! Itâ€™s cheesy and not the highest quality ever, but it works great for its purposeâ€¦we donâ€™t plan on watching it really at all, after our initial viewing. Maybe show the grandkids one day. They found our songs from the processional and recessional and used them in the video, which we thought was a thoughtful, personal touch. The sound is clear (no windy background noise or anything), the only complaint might be about the picture itselfâ€¦like itâ€™s a tad bright or something? The colors arenâ€™t super vibrant in the videoâ€¦but thatâ€™s what we have a photographer for!
Spa: As I said earlier, I didnâ€™t use the spa/salon for my hair and makeup on the wedding day, but included in our package was a 50 minute coupleâ€™s massage, plus an aquatherapy session which I think comes included as part of the Excellence Club. We both were very impressed with the gorgeous spa facilities (think waterfalls, pretty pools, lovely showers and such). The coupleâ€™s massage was A-W-E-S-O-M-E. It was so relaxing and fun. We did our aquatherapy session immediately following the massage, and it was super excellent as well. It all felt so good, plus we had a blast doing it. You basically have a staff member who guides you through each step â€“ first thereâ€™s a steam room, then you enter a pool where you lay on your back over an underwater bed with massaging jets, then you enter another pool that has various stations for different jets that massage different parts of your body and you cycle through all of them. Then you walk over hot stones, then enter an ice room, then another hot room, then jump in some super cold water. Iâ€™m simplifying the process here, but rest assured that it felt AMAZING and was really, really FUN to experience. Afterwards we were glowing.
PLEASE feel free to ask any questions! We had a blast and have absolutely no regrets about our wedding at ERC. YOU SHOULD DO IT!