My wife and I used this thread to help make a few decisions so I thought I’d pay it back a little with a review of our experiences. I hope this helps others! We got married on February 1st, 2014.
We used a travel agent who turned us on to this property after we settled on Puerto Vallarta as our destination due to it having direct flights for 80% of our guests. We booked through Apple Vacations (our travel agent works with/for them). We booked 9 months or so in advance and had guests booking 6-7 months in advance. We didn’t block out any rooms and I’m not sure this would have been an option through Apple Vacations. The upside to using Apple was that our trip price came down (I think the flight price adjusted) and since we had trip insurance we were refunded the difference. An added bonus to using Apple Vacations and our travel agent was that for every room that was booked with her we got a $150 credit. In the end that cut our trip cost in half. I’m sure other agents and travel packages will offer similar discounts for bringing in bookings.
Flight was simple for us, Denver to Puerto Vallarta in 2.5 hours. We paid for a transfer as part of our package, not sure how much that was or what it saved us if anything. If you’ve read reviews of the airport you know what to expect, but if you haven’t… there are 2 areas directly following customs where you will be bombarded with offers or at least individuals attempting to engage you in a sales pitch. We kept our heads down and found our transport service. Asking any question in those areas will lead you to a desk where they will pitch you a service or a tour. Once on the shuttle it was a 10-15 minute ride to Now Amber.
You hop out of your shuttle or van and the Now Amber staff greets you with a hot towel to refresh with and a glass of cold sparkling white wine. It’s a nice touch and helps set the tone for the next hour or so. We stayed in the preferred tower, but I imagine the experience is similar if you don’t. The valet takes your bags and gives you a tag to use at check-in, this will arrange for your bags to be delivered to your room. You are then escorted to the front desk where you begin the check-in process. We got to the preferred tower which has it’s own staff and they were busy, no worries, there’s a lobby behind the front desk and the barman from upstairs quickly brought cocktails. There are also snacks in the lobby to munch while you wait. We checked in, and were handed off to the next desk where you receive coupons for services and offered their version of the time-share tour. Make of this what you will; we declined as graciously as possible. Once in the room, our bags arrived 10 minutes later, changed, and met guests at the pool who had arrived earlier in the day.
We had a total of 31 including ourselves so we went with the Now to Eternity package. Wedding was at the gazebo, cocktail hour on the pool deck, and reception dinner at Vista Terrace. You meet with Fatima the day you get there, and she's with you during the event to make sure things go smoothly. She was great! Everything was amazing. The Gazebo was a fantastic location. The wait staff is there to pass out strawberry mojitos (I think that’s what they were) directly following the ceremony. The photo session that comes with the wedding package is fun and we got some great photos. The cocktail hour was a great time, and the Vista Terrace was a great spot for 30-50 guests, secluded from the rest of the pool deck areas. The food was delicious, the bar fully loaded and pouring shots, truly a night to be remembered.
Things I might change… Moving from the pool deck to the terrace was something of a clunky experience, not bad in anyway other than the terrace isn’t used during your stay and is accessed from the Secrets side of the resort, so we all had to move at once, or nearly at once so that people would know where they were going. I would probably just have the cocktail hour in the same location as dinner, for us that would be the terrace. The other change would be to make sure that there were no outdoor fiestas happening at the same time. The Carnival restaurant had 2 fiesta nights while we were at the resort. They’re a lot of fun, a band plays, there’s special foods and entertainment. However when you are on the terrace you hear the music being played by the band, and not the music that you’re playing from your portable speakers. I don’t know if a DJ or the sound system that you can rent would have been enough to overpower the fiesta, and if it was, it would have needed to be so loud that dinner would no longer have been an enjoyable experience. All of that said, if you relax and let the good times roll, the fiesta music was great, and it was a fun dinner. The fiesta ended around 9pm, we cranked the Marshal Stanmore that we brought (plenty of volume) and got the party mix playing for the last hour or so. So my tip for you is to make sure your wedding date will not overlap with the fiesta schedule, or at least be prepared for it. A beach location for dinner might be far enough away to not be a conflict in sound.
Um, the flowers were great? Hair and makeup were good? Clearly I wasn’t too involved in these processes, but the flowers were beautiful, bride was stunning. My wife went into the spa for her hair and makeup with pictures on her iPad of what she wanted and she was very happy with the results.
Puerto Vallarta old town is a 20 minute walk from the resorts front door, we walked in and did a little souvenir/tequila shopping. There are plenty of tourist trap restaurants and shops on the main boardwalk. We walked back on the beach and ran into a section that is rocky, no problem for shoes, some problems with flip-flops, I’d recommend just taking the sidewalk back.
Our group gathered at the main lobby bar area, I think it’s the Moments bar, around 6-7pm most nights, had a few drinks, watched the fantastic sunset, and then broke off into groups for restaurants.
All of the restaurants were great, we especially enjoyed the Mexican restaurant for dinner and the Mariachi band. At least 1 person in your group must order the sexy coffee.
All of the bars were easy to get drinks from; the preferred club bar has excellent staff and will take care of you above and beyond the other bars. The service around the pool was good, but slower than getting your own drinks. I felt bad a few times when plans would change faster than drinks would arrive, but each server is covering a large area and I’m sure the bar backs up making all of the blended drinks of the day.
Rooms are very comfortable, there is some odd ambiance channel playing on the TV when you enter the room, and there’s a volume knob somewhere in the bathroom that controls the TV volume in there independently from the TV… that took a few minutes to find. They also turn this channel on every time they turn down your room.
Montezuma had his revenge on a few guests, but not all. It hit me pretty hard after a few days. We had made up Hangover Kits as part of the wedding gift bags, as part of those we had included Gatorade powder packets and had brought the remaining 15 or so with us… that was easily one of the better decisions. Bring those, Imodium, and some probiotics. Pray you won’t need them. I can’t place blame on any food or experience directly, but a few of our guests got sick, so it was either something going around, or just a response to being in a different climate. Better safe than sorry.
Super Bowl Party was a bust. This will likely not be a problem for 99% of you, but the super bowl kicked off at 5:30ish and you couldn’t see the screens that were setup on the beach until 7ish. Even then the signal to the screens went out every few minutes. Adding insult to injury my Broncos were getting their ass handed to them, so it just all around sucked. Hopefully for anyone planning for Feb 1 next year, either your team won’t make it, and/or they will change the location or equipment to make it a better viewing experience. They do try their hearts out to make the service and party special, you just can’t watch the game.
We can’t wait to either go back to the same resort or try a different Now resort. All of our guests had a great time and we had a fantastic wedding with wonderful photos to remember it.
I’ve uploaded a few photos that try to capture the size of the Terrace, the cocktail setup on the pool deck, and the gazebo for the wedding. Trip Advisor has a great group of photos that show most everything else.