Jump to content

Photo

Lhills' Azul Fives Post Wedding Planning Thread & Resort Reivew


  • Please log in to reply
5 replies to this topic

#1 lhills

lhills
  • Jr. Member
  • 40 posts
  • Wedding Date:May 10, 2014
  • Wedding Location:Riviera Maya, MX
  • LocationCalgary, AB

Posted 29 May 2014 - 09:22 PM

Planning a wedding at Azul Fives was a bit of an adventure. There isn't much out there in terms of resort reviews on this site, I'd never visited this resort, and as we all know, the Karisma off site planners are insanely overworked and don't offer the attention that the majority of brides expect.That being said, all my fears, worries, anxiety, and night terrors (haha, just kidding... kind of) were laid to rest from the moment we arrived on site.

 

HISTORY

 

Where's that rewind button... I'm feeling the need to provide some background.

 

I met my soul mate back in 2009 at a Fly Fishing Expo, I don't believe in love at first sight, but "lust at first sight"... it's a real thing, and he looked like trouble! I assumed he wouldn't give me the time of day, but my instincts are almost never right, I was shocked when he seemed interested and even more shocked when I discovered he was a pretty nice guy. We started as friends and quickly discovered that we had a lot in common. I won't go into all the details, but things were rocky at first. Not because we didn't get along, but he was right out of a very long term relationship and my head was not in the right place at the time. It was almost a year before we figured it all out, haven't looked back since!

 

I've always been anti-marriage, I hated the thought of being the centre of attention and couldn't understand why people spend so much money on just one day and a piece of paper. About 3 years into our relationship, I was going off on one of my anti-marriage rants for one reason or another when this amazing man, that I still can't believe is my husband now, looks at me and calmly and says with a little smirk "You know it's coming, so just deal with it..." What's a girl to do?

 

Two years later, we're drifting out on a lake in our boat, my daughter (from a previous relationship) in the front, hubs in the middle on the oars, and me in the back. It starts to rain and he asks me to pull his coat out from under my seat. I threw it over his shoulders but he handed it back to me and said "No, there's a box in the pocket, can you pull it out?". I knew what it was before I even pulled the box out of the pocket. :)

 

Here's a pic we took of ourselves after we got back to shore, haha, my little Gracie in that life jacket cracks me up every time!

Attached File  IMAG0210.jpg   57.79KB   8 downloads

 

CHOOSING THE LOCATION

 

It didn't take long to agree that a destination wedding was the way to go. We both have family scattered across the US and Canada, so it seemed logical to inconvenience everyone and make them all travel. Why not let them have a vacation while they're at it? I chose the general area based on flight costs, and more importantly, where the best fishing could be found! Playa del Carmen is 2.5 hours north of some of the world's best flats fishing, we definitely took advantage of this. After I'd narrowed down the geographical area, I set out to choose a resort. This was hard for me.... Several years ago we had stayed at Moon Palace near Cancun. This was my one and only all inclusive experience, I don't remember the nice rooms, or how the staff treated us, all I remember is that the food was pretty awful... and I love food. I chose the Karisma chain because they're known for having great food (which they do) and they would provide a donkey with barrels of beer on it's back at your cocktail party (which they don't, this crushed me when I found out a couple of months before the wedding). I ended up choosing Azul Fives because they were the cheapest of the Karisma hotels.

 

WEDDING CONTRACT & BLOCKING ROOMS

 

I wanted to keep things small and didn't think I'd do much in terms of planning, but things escalated quickly and the whole planning process got right out of control! It's true, Lomas Travel will nickle and dime you until you bleed out of your eyes, their pricing is obscene. I negotiate for a living, it's what I do... There is no negotiating with these people, believe me, I tried. The only concession I was able to get in our contract was on the outside vendor fee. They refused to knock anything off of the $800 outside vendor fee, but I did get them to agree that if my outside vendor was a guest of the hotel for two, rather than three, nights, that the fee would be waived. In the end it didn't matter, I invited my very talented cousin to the wedding and offered to pay for his trip if he'd take our photos, he stayed for five nights.

 

I shopped around on rates quite a bit. I contacted the hotel directly, they didn't offer much by way of incentive. They offered their "discounted rate", which was the same as what you could book online for at the time, and althought their website was advertising 1 room free for every 6 booked, they offered me 1 room free for every 10 booked. Luckily I had saved the flyer, they had changed this promotion on their site within a day or two of my inquiry, I was able to get them to agree to the original offer. I also contacted a couple travel agents, only one responded, she was able to get cheaper rates for our guests (deluxe rooms were around $160/night/person based on double occupancy and kids were free). Although it would have saved us money to book through the hotel, we ended up booking through Pam at Tier One Travel in order to save our guests money. Pam was fantastic!

 

PLANNING

 

Once our contract was signed, I was handed off to our coordinator and was provided with an online booking system where I assumed I was to make all of our selections (no direction was provided, I was just sent a link with login info). Several months later, the login stopped working and I was told that I had to make all selections through our coordinator. I noted that a few other brides had a similar experience.

 

I think we're all aware that Karisma's off site coordinators are brutal... But I'd like to take a moment to stick up for them! A few days before we left for our wedding, I had a very frank conversation with my coordinator who explained that she was currently working on 151 weddings, 20 of which were in May! Karisma is seriously hurting their reputation by overworking their staff, I know my coordinator had the right skills to do her job, but with that much on her plate, how could she possibly give me the attention I needed? Please, ladies, don't take your frustrations out on these coordinators, they're doing the best they can with what they've got.

 

When all was said and done, everything turned out just fine. The on site coordinators are great and you will have the opportunity to run through all the details once you arrive.

 

 

... It's late and I have to work in the morning... to be continued.........



#2 acw271011

acw271011
  • Moderators
  • 3,128 posts
  • Wedding Date:October 20, 2011
  • Wedding Location:We tied the knot in Runaway Bay, Jamaica and renewed our vows in Mexico on our 4th Anniversary
  • LocationToronto Area

Posted 30 May 2014 - 07:00 AM

Planning a wedding at Azul Fives was a bit of an adventure. There isn't much out there in terms of resort reviews on this site, I'd never visited this resort, and as we all know, the Karisma off site planners are insanely overworked and don't offer the attention that the majority of brides expect.That being said, all my fears, worries, anxiety, and night terrors (haha, just kidding... kind of) were laid to rest from the moment we arrived on site.

 

HISTORY

 

Where's that rewind button... I'm feeling the need to provide some background.

 

I met my soul mate back in 2009 at a Fly Fishing Expo, I don't believe in love at first sight, but "lust at first sight"... it's a real thing, and he looked like trouble! I assumed he wouldn't give me the time of day, but my instincts are almost never right, I was shocked when he seemed interested and even more shocked when I discovered he was a pretty nice guy. We started as friends and quickly discovered that we had a lot in common. I won't go into all the details, but things were rocky at first. Not because we didn't get along, but he was right out of a very long term relationship and my head was not in the right place at the time. It was almost a year before we figured it all out, haven't looked back since!

 

I've always been anti-marriage, I hated the thought of being the centre of attention and couldn't understand why people spend so much money on just one day and a piece of paper. About 3 years into our relationship, I was going off on one of my anti-marriage rants for one reason or another when this amazing man, that I still can't believe is my husband now, looks at me and calmly and says with a little smirk "You know it's coming, so just deal with it..." What's a girl to do?

 

Two years later, we're drifting out on a lake in our boat, my daughter (from a previous relationship) in the front, hubs in the middle on the oars, and me in the back. It starts to rain and he asks me to pull his coat out from under my seat. I threw it over his shoulders but he handed it back to me and said "No, there's a box in the pocket, can you pull it out?". I knew what it was before I even pulled the box out of the pocket. :)

 

Here's a pic we took of ourselves after we got back to shore, haha, my little Gracie in that life jacket cracks me up every time!

attachicon.gifIMAG0210.jpg

 

CHOOSING THE LOCATION

 

It didn't take long to agree that a destination wedding was the way to go. We both have family scattered across the US and Canada, so it seemed logical to inconvenience everyone and make them all travel. Why not let them have a vacation while they're at it? I chose the general area based on flight costs, and more importantly, where the best fishing could be found! Playa del Carmen is 2.5 hours north of some of the world's best flats fishing, we definitely took advantage of this. After I'd narrowed down the geographical area, I set out to choose a resort. This was hard for me.... Several years ago we had stayed at Moon Palace near Cancun. This was my one and only all inclusive experience, I don't remember the nice rooms, or how the staff treated us, all I remember is that the food was pretty awful... and I love food. I chose the Karisma chain because they're known for having great food (which they do) and they would provide a donkey with barrels of beer on it's back at your cocktail party (which they don't, this crushed me when I found out a couple of months before the wedding). I ended up choosing Azul Fives because they were the cheapest of the Karisma hotels.

 

WEDDING CONTRACT & BLOCKING ROOMS

 

I wanted to keep things small and didn't think I'd do much in terms of planning, but things escalated quickly and the whole planning process got right out of control! It's true, Lomas Travel will nickle and dime you until you bleed out of your eyes, their pricing is obscene. I negotiate for a living, it's what I do... There is no negotiating with these people, believe me, I tried. The only concession I was able to get in our contract was on the outside vendor fee. They refused to knock anything off of the $800 outside vendor fee, but I did get them to agree that if my outside vendor was a guest of the hotel for two, rather than three, nights, that the fee would be waived. In the end it didn't matter, I invited my very talented cousin to the wedding and offered to pay for his trip if he'd take our photos, he stayed for five nights.

 

I shopped around on rates quite a bit. I contacted the hotel directly, they didn't offer much by way of incentive. They offered their "discounted rate", which was the same as what you could book online for at the time, and althought their website was advertising 1 room free for every 6 booked, they offered me 1 room free for every 10 booked. Luckily I had saved the flyer, they had changed this promotion on their site within a day or two of my inquiry, I was able to get them to agree to the original offer. I also contacted a couple travel agents, only one responded, she was able to get cheaper rates for our guests (deluxe rooms were around $160/night/person based on double occupancy and kids were free). Although it would have saved us money to book through the hotel, we ended up booking through Pam at Tier One Travel in order to save our guests money. Pam was fantastic!

 

PLANNING

 

Once our contract was signed, I was handed off to our coordinator and was provided with an online booking system where I assumed I was to make all of our selections (no direction was provided, I was just sent a link with login info). Several months later, the login stopped working and I was told that I had to make all selections through our coordinator. I noted that a few other brides had a similar experience.

 

I think we're all aware that Karisma's off site coordinators are brutal... But I'd like to take a moment to stick up for them! A few days before we left for our wedding, I had a very frank conversation with my coordinator who explained that she was currently working on 151 weddings, 20 of which were in May! Karisma is seriously hurting their reputation by overworking their staff, I know my coordinator had the right skills to do her job, but with that much on her plate, how could she possibly give me the attention I needed? Please, ladies, don't take your frustrations out on these coordinators, they're doing the best they can with what they've got.

 

When all was said and done, everything turned out just fine. The on site coordinators are great and you will have the opportunity to run through all the details once you arrive.

 

 

... It's late and I have to work in the morning... to be continued.........

 

 

Oh no! Don't stop there!! You have a wonderful story telling ability!!  Please keep it going! I want to hear more!!!!


I said "yes" again to the love of my life at Grand Coral Beach Club, Playa del Carmen, Mexico on our 4th anniversary - October 20, 2015

 

 

http://www.bestdestinationwedding.com/topic/78874-acw271011-so-this-is-not-a-planning-thread-but/

 

 

event.png


#3 TinkerSofi

TinkerSofi
  • Sr. Member
  • 2,217 posts
  • Wedding Date:August 13, 2015
  • Wedding Location:Azul Fives Playa del Carmen
  • LocationCanada

Posted 30 May 2014 - 07:15 AM

I'm looking forward to the rest of this review! I loved your engagement story. Somehow I imagined it similar to the scene on The Notebook when they're on the boat.

 

I'm glad to know that our rates for the hotel were about the same as yours. We're getting one free room every 11. We're hoping we can use them to help my family come from Argentina! 



event.png

 

 


#4 lhills

lhills
  • Jr. Member
  • 40 posts
  • Wedding Date:May 10, 2014
  • Wedding Location:Riviera Maya, MX
  • LocationCalgary, AB

Posted 30 May 2014 - 08:10 AM

@acw271011, lol, not to worry, there is definitely more where that came from! Thanks for following along, I'll try to get another post in tonight.

Sent from my HTC One using Tapatalk

#5 lhills

lhills
  • Jr. Member
  • 40 posts
  • Wedding Date:May 10, 2014
  • Wedding Location:Riviera Maya, MX
  • LocationCalgary, AB

Posted 11 October 2014 - 07:15 PM

Ladies, I'm so sorry for the silence! I know it's hard to get any info from past brides... Once the wedding is over, the forum stops being a necessity and you don't think to log in so often. I really do want to complete my review, so here we go...

 

THE ARRIVAL

 

I was really nervous about this resort. I grew up in Southern California (living in Canada now) and my family doesn't understand the whole concept of a destination wedding. As a matter of fact, it blew their minds that one would want to go to Mexico to get married. I had heard that the road leading up to the resort was a bit sketchy and that the entrance wasn't very grand. It's true, kind of, that the road into the resort is not the greatest. Did I feel like my life was in danger and that we could get car jacked at any moment? No! It's what you would expect in Mexico, pretty average really. I think those comments had come from folks who'd only stayed at places where you enter the resort directly from the highway. The entrance and lobby of the hotel is nice, understated perhaps, but very nice. From the moment you step off your shuttle, you'll notice that the staff are ON IT! I didn't carry a single bag, they shuffled us right inside, offered us champagne, cool wet towels and a comfy place to sit for a short wait to check in. Check in was smooth and seamless, they did ask for a deposit for any incidentals (although I can't remember how much... $500? $1,000??). This concerned me given that I knew a few of our guests may not have the cash for this kind of thing as they had already stretched their budgets to get there. I was told it wasn't an issue, our guests could simply decline to pay the deposit, and that was the case. I passed the message along to a few that I thought might have trouble and there were no issues that I was aware of.

 

THE STAFF & GROUNDS

 

Oh man... Where do I even begin? Everything was so well kept!! Nothing is perfect, but this place was pretty close, in my eyes! The pools were always clean, not a spec of garbage on the ground and everything was simply beautiful! The staff... Oh, the amazing staff!!! They are so friendly and genuine!! They remember your name, your preferences, your favorite drinks, everything! At first I thought maybe I was getting special treatment because we were the bride and groom, but all of our guests had the same level of service. Even my Dad, who was the hardest to win over and originally refused to come because we were going to Mexico, was completely blown away by this place. I didn't always have cash on hand to tip, and I always got the same treatment from those I hadn't tipped previously. Several times, I went out of my way to go back and leave a tip because the service was just that good.

 

(Hahaha, hubby just looked over at me from the couch and said "what are you so happy about, typing away over there with a big grin on your face?" LOL! See, this place is still making me grin ear to ear 5 months later! GAWD, I wanna go back SO BAD!)

 

The beach was beautiful, clean white sand right at the resort but a little more rocky in other places. There were also vendors on the beach, I went back several times and had a blast bartering, got a cool bracelet and a hat!

 

THE ROOMS

 

Oh my goodness, THE ROOMS! We had guests staying in a variety of room categories, even the deluxe rooms (lowest category) were so nice! I think the only complaint I got was from my Mom, and it wasn't really a complaint, but she said there wasn't much privacy (she was traveling with a friend) for someone using the bathroom (lol) because of the way the rooms were laid out. The pool view rooms were great, we partied pretty hard and pretty late one night at a friend's room on his patio which was just steps to the pool. They tried to boot us out of the pool at around 10pm, I rebelled and yelled "I'M THE BRIDE!!" while cannon balling into the pool in my clothes, lol! They didn't give us much trouble and we did stay out of the pool after that.

 

Sorry, I just got sidetracked... Where was I? The rooms, right... I was just getting to the good part... Our room! We went with the one bedroom suite with the rooftop patio. OH MY GOD!!!!!!!!!! I tried to take photos, but couldn't possibly capture how breathtaking it was! The patio was huge, there was a ton of seating, a couple of lounge chairs, a cabana, and a patio table/chairs. There was also a pergula, 1/2 bath, plunge pool (for lack of a better term, more like a giant bath tub... No heating or jets, just a place to soak), and an outside shower. We made good use of this after our reception ended, a lot of our younger guests (and my father-in-law, lol) came back to carry on with the party. We were very up front with them and used the code word "Banana" so they all knew when it was time to leave. Worked like a charm, the moment I felt like I was done for the night, I started yelling "BANANA, BANANA, BANANA..." I got a few echo's of that and they all started making their way out, lol.

 

There I go getting sidetracked again! Our room was exceptional! It did have a kitchen and housekeeping made up the couch into a bed for my daughter. I think the couch was like a sectional? There was still seating once the bed was made up. There were balconies off the dining area and the bedroom. The bed was pretty comfortable, something I was really worried about, and I found there was plenty of storage for clothes, etc. The lighting in the bathroom wasn't great, but that only concerned me on the day of the wedding. I simply opened the curtains in the bedroom to let in the natural light and made do.

 

One small issue we noticed was that several of our guests, including us, had issues with the air conditioning. One call to the front desk and maintenance was there right away to fix the problem.

 

Here are a few photos I took of the rooftop patio:

 

Attached File  IMAG1403.jpg   47.39KB   7 downloads

 

Such a crappy photos, lol! We kinda trashed the place on our wedding night, sorry for the mess, but this gives you a better idea as to how much room is actually up there:

 

Attached File  IMAG1422.jpg   52.06KB   6 downloads

 

Here's a couple looking out from our patio:

 

Attached File  Petschek_140510_2379.jpg   86.93KB   6 downloads

 

Attached File  IMAG1408.jpg   65.07KB   6 downloads

 

THE FOOD

 

I think I gained 10 lbs in 8 days... Need I say more? Seriously, the food was excellent! I think I mentioned previously that we'd stayed at Moon Palace and quickly grew sick and tired of the food, we felt like wherever we ate, we were eating leftovers from the buffet. This was NOT the case at Azul Fives. I'll start with the room service, because we ordered so frequently from the room service menu. It was a shock to come home and realize that we actually had to make our own food, lol! But really, the room service menu might be a bit basic and the portions are kind of small, but there were definitely some gems to be found there. My personal fav, the shrimp quesadillas! NOM NOM!! The buffet at Flavours was great, so much variety! I also loved the Lizards Lounge, it was our favourite place to stop for lunch. The nachos were so good that they were mentioned on our thank you's, which I'll get to later.

 

Any complaints you may have seen online about the food must have come from the most upper of class families. I think the only meal I had the entire week that I didn't love, was the pad thai from Tsuki... Very salty, good thing the sushi, and absolutely everything else we ordered that evening, made up for it. Sadly, we didn't get to try Arezzo, but I hear it was equally as good as the others.

 

***

 

Ok, before I sign off for the evening, here are a few more random photos of the resort for those who might like to see what it looks like from a guest's perspective.

 

Cabanas on the beach:

 

Attached File  Petschek_140509_1875.jpg   100.53KB   5 downloads

 

Wildlife:

 

Attached File  Petschek_140510_2321.jpg   141.81KB   5 downloads

 

Attached File  Petschek_140509_1906.jpg   42.6KB   5 downloads

 

The pier, so beautiful!

 

Attached File  Petschek_140509_1895.jpg   65.36KB   5 downloads

 

Nightly entertainment:

 

Attached File  Petschek_140509_2207.jpg   47.74KB   6 downloads

 

Staff on our wedding day:

 

Attached File  Petschek_140510_2621.jpg   82.37KB   5 downloads

 

From the pier, looking in:

 

Attached File  Petschek_140510_2624_HDR.jpg   82.4KB   5 downloads

 

Archery lessons:

 

Attached File  IMG_20140515_105500.jpg   163.83KB   5 downloads

 

Giant games:

 

Attached File  ZOE_0032_1.jpg   155.65KB   5 downloads

 

My munchkin "sea shellin'", the beaches were clean and sandy right off the resort, but rocky and full of life within short walking distance:

 

Attached File  IMAG1537.jpg   67.62KB   5 downloads

 

Good night!  :)

Attached Files


Edited by lhills, 11 October 2014 - 07:22 PM.


#6 lhills

lhills
  • Jr. Member
  • 40 posts
  • Wedding Date:May 10, 2014
  • Wedding Location:Riviera Maya, MX
  • LocationCalgary, AB

Posted 12 October 2014 - 08:03 AM

Now we get into the good stuff... I'd like to go through everything we did for our guests, including the ceremony and reception. My family only stayed for four days, so we jammed everything wedding related into those four days.

 

INVITATIONS

 

Just a quick photo to give you a feel for our personalities and style... We wanted everyone to know from the start that this was not your everyday wedding! They were sent in a black linen envelope, I hand wrote the addresses with a white fine tip felt pen and used superman stamps to mail them... A detail that many of our guests loved!

 

Attached File  IMAG1944.jpg   76.19KB   6 downloads

 

WELCOME BAGS

 

This was seriously the most fun, and most out of control part of our entire wedding! It started small, hubby agreed that we should have a little something to give our guests, we set our budget at $500 but quickly doubled that number. Here is a list & some photos of everything we included:

 

Bags from Vistaprint w/ "Best Day Ever!" logo

Attached File  IMAG1401.jpg   42.26KB   7 downloads

Welcome Letter & Resort Map (I can get more specific if anyone is interested in sample wording)

Attached File  IMAG1398.jpg   59.14KB   7 downloads

Mini Don Julio w/ Tag (I ordered the tags from etsy and we bought the Don Julio bottles in Playa, I think they were around $4.00US, this was the only thing I wasn't able to barter on, prices were pretty much the same everywhere)

Attached File  IMAG1942.jpg   93.9KB   6 downloads

Lucha Libre Masks (Also bought these in Playa for around $15.00US each, I was pretty choked when I discovered after the fact that the beach vendor had the for less. Guests had a ton of fun with these and everyone's mask was unique!)

Attached File  16535401_fullweb.jpg   163.97KB   5 downloads

Attached File  Petschek_140511_0314.jpg   59.82KB   5 downloads

Tumblers w/ "Best Day Ever!" sticker and insert

Attached File  IMAG1394.jpg   77.48KB   5 downloads

Attached File  IMAG1393.jpg   47.99KB   4 downloads

Keycard Holder & Lanyard w/ Insert (this was a last minute add, probably the most frequently used item!)

Attached File  IMAG1400.jpg   46.69KB   5 downloads

Spanish Phrases for Dummies

Recovery Kit Bags (including antacid, motrin, aleve, triple antibiotic, immodium, alcohol pads, shout wipes and band-aids... We chose fun band-aids... Muppets, superman, spider man, hockey canada, etc., they kind of went along with the superman stamps we used to mail our invitations, lo!)

Attached File  IMAG1934.jpg   63.53KB   6 downloads

Bernard Callebaut Sea Salt Habanero Chocolate Bars (our fav treat!)

Hand Sani

Aloe Gel

Sunblock

Puzzle Books

Lip Balm

Playing Cards (we ordered from Bicycle, they have really cool cards, and selected each style for each guest)

Attached File  IMAG1938.jpg   92.7KB   5 downloads

 

We also did separate bags for the kids which included things like sand toys, squirt guns, children's books, kid friendly water bottles, etc.

 

I hand delivered each bag upon guest arrival, it was a great opportunity for us to greet them and ensure they had everything they needed! I had so much fun putting the bags together, it was seriously one of my favourite parts of the entire planning process!

 

***

I must admit, I'm really enjoying this trip down memory lane. It's nice to put it all together with words, I feel like once I'm done with this I can finally put everything away and maybe throw out a ton of stuff (ie. paperwork, etc) that I've been hanging on to for no apparent reason!

 

I'll carry on with the on-site wedding planning next...


Edited by lhills, 12 October 2014 - 08:24 AM.





0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users