@linaco80 - Congrats & Welcome! You will definitely have time to visit other resorts and vendors if you do not opt to visit a lot of Karisma's properties. I was able to work in non-Lomas/Karisma vendor visits (they came to me) while I was there & swing down to Cancun to visit the JW Marriott. I recommend renting a car if you plan to visit non-Karisma resorts & vendors. It makes it much more convenient then having to get a cab from where you are to bring you back to your Karisma property.
Also, I wish we flew in on an early morning flight rather than a midday one that arrived late in the afternoon/early evening. This would have given me even more time to do whatever I needed to get accomplished. Limiting myself to just the Dress Rehearsal dates really made for an exhausting trip. I was in "GO" mode nonstop, which wore us both out, especially my laid back fiance. He wished we had more time to chill (this was his first time visiting Mexico). I've been to Mexico before so I didn't care about chilling. I was a woman on a mission.
Here's a rundown of the Dress Rehearsal Weekend.
Thursday (totally free)- arrive (nothing scheduled). However, the gentleman at Azul Beach's (where we chose to stay) front desk was super nice and took us on an impromptu tour of some of the wedding spaces and the resort once he checked us in.
Friday (8ish am until 1:30pm) - around 8 or 9 am you leave to visit your 1st site. We picked 2 other properties so we were out on a tours from 8:15am until 1:30ish. After that, I had already arranged to meet my front runner photographer & videographer teams at 2:30 and 3:30pm. Each meeting only took about 30, no more than 40 minutes. You just have to tell the front desk you are expecting someone & do your meeting in the lobby, otherwise they'll want to charge you a day pass for them.
Saturday (8ish am until 1:00/1:30 pm) - Dress Rehearsal Event (tour of El Dorado Royale & Generations Riviera Maya, followed by a presentation and lunch). You are picked up at your resort (unless you are staying at EDR or Generations) around 8/8:15 am and the tours start at 9 am. It concludes around 11:00 and there is a "cocktail party" where you are offered some of the food & signature cocktails offered on the wedding/event menus. Then they move everyone inside for a 20 min presentation on why you should choose Karisma followed by time to look at the various decor set ups. The pastry chef is there, as is someone from Kendall Jackson so you can do a cake & wine tasting. Then they have lunch, which those who wanted to meet other vendors or do other things opted out of. We stayed for the lunch because you are sampling some of the entrees, salads, etc..that are on the wedding/banquet dinner menu. The event wraps up around 1:00pm. We didn't get out of there until 1:30ish because we were chatting with other couples and people from Lomas to help get a better understanding of the costs associated with choosing your decor vs the Memorable Moments packages. If you choose to skip lunch and leave, just let someone know so they don't hold up the shuttle back to your resort looking for you.
Sunday (nothing) - depart. We had a mid-morning flight so no work was done that day LOL. We just ordered room service for breakfast and dashed.
Here are some tips I learned from other couples we met at the Dress Rehearsal that I wish I had thought of/done:
1) Add a day or 2 - Some arrived a day earlier, added an extra night at the Karisma resort or did both, which allowed for more time to visit non-Karisma properties without feeling rushed.
2) Split your stay - some stayed at more than one Karisma resort (e.g., 1 night at Azul Sensatori, 2 nights at EDR; or 1 night split across 3 different resorts). Some also spent the extra day/night ahead and/or after the Dress Rehearsal weekend at other non-Karisma resorts for comparison. I think this is especially helpful if you are torn between a Karisma resort and another brand. They said it helped them make the final decision with greater confidence.
I knew I was going Karisma based on price comparison & food but still felt the trip was invaluable. I went into it thinking Azul Beach or Azul Sensatori would be where we'd get married but quickly realized on the tours that Generations/EDR was the better fit for what we wanted. We wouldn't have come to that conclusion had we not visited.
This is probably WAY more info than you wanted to know, so apologies for the novel.
Edited by girlinthecity97, 07 April 2014 - 07:55 AM.