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Natasha's Review - eek - long!


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#1 NATASHA

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    Posted 06 December 2006 - 02:14 AM

    OK - sorry about the delay. We had a two week honeymoon and then I needed a solid week just to get through emails at work...


    Hilton Spa – A++++
    I can’t tell you how many people said that this was the best massage that they’ve had in a long time. My aroma therapy spa was SO relaxing. I also had a thai massage – awesome, but only if you really like deep tissue. Because I had between 15 and 20 people attending the Friday before the wedding, I contacted them in advance and negotiated for 20% off for everyone. Also, I had the BEST manicure ever. It lasted through my entire honeymoon (2 weeks). I also had them do my makeup and was very happy. One of my bridesmaids had her hair done (it looked better than mine). They also did the moms’ hair. My mother’s hair looked great, but my MIL’s hair wasn’t my favorite. She may have gone back and redid it, but I haven’t asked.

    Hive Spa – B
    Partly the B is because of expectation. My hair was fine. I decided to go with them and pay the extra money for peace of mind. I did a trial on Thursday. We had to do two hairstyles (the first was way off). I wore the second for the rest of the evening and there was no way that it would work with my veil or last through the wedding so when I went back on Saturday, we had to experiment with a third. It was fine, but I was having a simple updo and have never had to do so many iterations before. Also, as Janet experienced, my appointment was with Bambi, but when I got there I had Dina (and no explanation as to why). Dina sort of provided me with information that leads me to believe that Bambi travels so you should expect that your appointment might not end up being with her. Another woman (who didn’t speak any English – Dina translated) did a blow out on my bridesmaid who has difficult hair and it looked really nice.

    BIG tip – no matter who does your hair, tell them every time a pin goes in that hurts or causes pressure. Dina worked with me to make sure I didn’t feel the pins - that is hugely important as you don’t want to have a headache or be futzing with your hairpins during your wedding.

    Cost: $96 for my first appointment and then $108 for the day of the wedding (includes tip). I’m not sure why it’s different. Note – I went to them…

    DJ Ricardo – A
    His list of songs is very long, so there’s no trouble finding what you want. He did not play any of the songs on our “do not play list.” He did a good job reading the crowd to keep people dancing. He worked well with our coordinator relative to our fire dancers, salsa dance teachers (pre-coordinating their music with them without me being involved), and fireworks. We did not need him on the microphone as we didn’t do announcements so I can’t gauge him there, but when I asked Maye about it, she joked and said, “Yeah – sometimes we have to take the mic away from him!” I’ve seen people at our high-end corporate parties do a better job on transitions, but that wasn’t a big deal at all.

    Cost: $215 per hour.

    Cabo Region Transportation – B+
    We hired them on our own to transport our guests to San Jose for dinner Thursday night. They were really easy to work with. They were very proactive before the wedding. The night of, they were a bit late, they had the name of one of our guests as a contact rather than me which confused the hotel, and they didn’t recommend the right transportation given the number of guests so we were REALLY crammed into the two vans. We had originally accepted a bid for two vans and an Excursion. I had asked if they could come down in price a bit and they said that given the number of children we had they could accommodate with just two vans. Well, no, they couldn’t – it wasn’t even close. We were crammed into the vans AND some guests had to pile into a rental car. It was a bit dangerous. They were very nice, though, and they didn’t complain when we had to wait around to address an issue relative to the restaurant bill. I would net out by saying that I should have done a bit more due diligence on their recommendation.

    Cost: $300 plus tip

    Don Emiliano – A
    We had dinner at this San Jose restaurant on Thursday night. It was fabulous. They were easy to work with before we arrived and all night long. The food was great, the staff was friendly, and they worked with us on the menu and pricing. They have a really beautiful courtyard that suits a large party. We had three courses and it was premium food. Since dining there, I have seen the chefs name in several magazines – she’s famous in Mexico.

    Cost: $40 per adult, $18 per child plus drinks. We wired them the money for the food in advance and then paid the difference (drinks) via credit card at the end of the meal.


    I TOTALLY loved having fuchsia gerbera daisies. I chose them because they are easy to source in Cabo year round and they looked really friendly and cute.

    Tip from the field. Do the arch ($300 which included set up), but go light on the flowers. Cabo is really beautiful in its simplicity. If I had to do it all over, I would have skipped the flowers on the poles above where we ate ($256) and the floating candles in the pool ($105) which blew out rather quickly. I would do the bridesmaids bouquets ($55 per), the flower for my husband ($10), the corsages for the mothers/grandmothers ($18 per) and the flowers for the cake ($110). I know this will sound funny, but if I didn’t have a bouquet ($95), I wouldn’t have missed it. I was holding my father’s arm during the processional so it’s not like I needed something to hold onto and then I handed my bouquet to my bridesmaid. I have very few photos of me holding it. It was a nuisance more than anything. You do not need boutonni¨res for the groomsmen, flowers for the tables (spend it on candles instead), etc.

    Total cost for flowers and arch: $1,900

    Trio – A
    I never even saw them until looking at the pictures.

    Cost: $300

    Mariachi – A
    We had 7 (it’s normally 8, but one was ill). They were awesome and really well worth the money. Our guests took pictures in front of them so they liked the novelty. Also, my husband requested a song that he loves and they played it and he sang along with it while we danced a bit which was entertaining for all of us!

    Tip from the field – I noticed that they had to be there before the wedding started as we were having them start playing for the recessional and through the cocktail hour. So, if they’re there standing around, why not have three of them play for the pre-wedding and ceremony and negotiate some kind of reduced fee vs. having the trio? Hmm – someone should give this a shot and see if any vendors are game because it makes total sense to me.

    Cost: $550

    Photographer – Dino Gomez Pictronica – A
    OK, I haven’t seen the photos yet so I have to put a tentative on this (we had him for 6 hours so it’s totally understandable), but he was really great to work with. He came to my debrief meeting with the coordinators on Thursday so he knew everything that was going to happen and worked out the signaling strategies with the coordinator. He knew the property and the lighting really well and walked me through the shots. I sent him a big file with tons of photos that we liked and I noticed that he was very attentive to those (even setting up a special Mariachi band picture with us). Wow, that was unexpected!

    He’s from Columbia, lived in the UK for a long time and is super easy to communicate with. He prefers photojournalism (that’s why we hired him) but did a great job finding the perfect lighting for our posed photos.

    He never once sat down, had a drink, or took a break. He shot the entire 6 hours. He is positive, enthusiastic, and I NEVER noticed him during the ceremony but as I look at my friends’ photos I can see that he was right there.

    His services included a hard copy of every shot, a slideshow, 100 prints, and rights to the photos.

    Cost: $350 first hour, $300 second, $250 each additional hour.

    Fire dancers – A+
    It was the two girls plus the guys playing drums. They were awesome and one of the big hits of the party. They performed for a long time and it was very entertaining. Highly recommend. If you have to, cut out flowers and get the fire dancers.

    Cost: $675

    Cuban Salsa Dance Teachers – A
    After we were done with the toasts, I asked everyone to get up and get on the dance floor and then they totally took over. Whew – it was a work out! As you can see from our photos, though, we had almost 100% participating. Even one of my 89 year old grandmothers was out there.

    I recommend asking them to teach through two songs and then do a performance to one or two songs. That’s plenty. I sourced them through the hotel coordinator (we chose the Cuban salsa couple), but if you want a referral, I can contact her and try to get the name. She had one other option for us, but the Cuban’s were more fun/energetic. My advice – it’s worth having two instructors as they can then dance together, but here are the options:

    Option A: Mexican Salsa Instructors / One Class

    One Dancer $180.00
    Couple $260.00

    Option B: Cubans Salsa Instructors / One Class

    One Dancer $220.00
    Couple $380.00

    Fireworks – A+
    It was so great to have these – it really made it special. We had them go off right as we cut into the cake – Claudia coordinated it with them via cell phone. They like to only quote 2 minutes or more, BUT you can negotiate for 1 minute for $1000. I think that 1 minute would have been fine. However, if you’re going for cool picture opportunities, the sparklers (at, like $5 per) are a really great way to go, too and they show fabulous in photos.

    Cost: $2000 for two minutes sourced via Maye

    Casa del Mar
    My husband wants to do this review, but here is a preview.

    As many of you know, we had some really difficult times with them because they are under construction and were going to shut down all the suites that our group had reserved and give people basic rooms (but still charge them for the suites!). That didn’t work as we had a lot of families who needed a separate bedroom and more space – let alone the fact that it was ridiculous and it violated our contract. They also failed to tell us until we were going to do our second site visit less than two months before the wedding when rooms were really hard to find elsewhere. Then they opened the suites back up but tried to take away the concessions that we had negotiated which was going to cause us huge budget issues because we wouldn’t have had the rehearsal dinner there or a Sunday brunch at all had it not been deeply discounted.

    Net of conversation – we worked it out but it was such a hassle and took up so much of my time for the last two months.

    I will say the following positives:
    · the grounds are phenomenally beautiful and every guest commented on them
    · we had half the hotel so it was pretty exclusive feeling
    · I really like that the beach club where weddings are held is really removed from the hotel so you don’t have random people hanging around, wandering through, or hanging out their wet towel on their balcony while you’re getting married
    · they went all out on the decorations for the rehearsal dinner and we didn’t pay any extra for that – I will post pictures so you all can see (ok – it was built into the per person costs of the food…)
    · the food was great, but they did a bit of bait and switch on us as part of the negotiations to address the concessions issue – none of the guests noticed but it’s also a bit chumpy)
    · the hotel staff (waiters/waitresses/cleaning people, etc.) are really kind and on the ball
    · Maye worked really well with the on-site coordinator

    I'm going to do a separate what I would do and what I would change post later, but this is a start!
    Shawn and NatashaHappily MarriedNovember 11, 2006

    #2 TammyWright

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    Posted 06 December 2006 - 02:27 AM

    great review natasha....and we forgive you for making us wait so long with it and pics. but now you have me wonderign what hubby's review would have been...i love to hear men's perspective on things.

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    #3 NATASHA

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      Posted 06 December 2006 - 02:53 AM

      He's not pleased. He would agree with everything that I said about the positives and once we got there he made a huge effort to ensure that the experience there was really positive for both of us, but how the hotel handled itself (they didn't always negotiate in good faith, but we totally did) and the amount of work that we went through because of it really made him sour.

      He would probably say that it was definitely the right place for us to get married from a "feel" perspective, but he wouldn't recommend it to anyone as he feels that their behavior shouldn't be rewarded with more business.

      It's a difficult discussion. We were all able to pull it together and make a really nice wedding, but...
      Shawn and NatashaHappily MarriedNovember 11, 2006

      #4 TammyWright

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      Posted 06 December 2006 - 03:18 AM

      gosh, i am sorry...it was a beautiful wedding but the hotel should not have made you guys stressed like they did...i remember how stressed you were a week before you left..

      well, they are on my sh*t list now! you should write a review on tripadvisor...they should give you guys a free 4 nights stay or something...

      ps. how ws your honeymoon...i want a review and pics of that!! was it FABULOUS!!!!! i haven't gone on mine yet so i have to live vicariously through yours!

      Quote:
      Originally Posted by NATASHA
      He's not pleased. He would agree with everything that I said about the positives and once we got there he made a huge effort to ensure that the experience there was really positive for both of us, but how the hotel handled itself (they didn't always negotiate in good faith, but we totally did) and the amount of work that we went through because of it really made him sour.

      He would probably say that it was definitely the right place for us to get married from a "feel" perspective, but he wouldn't recommend it to anyone as he feels that their behavior shouldn't be rewarded with more business.

      It's a difficult discussion. We were all able to pull it together and make a really nice wedding, but...

      Founder and Owner of BestDestinationWedding.com  /  Bride & Groom Fly FREE Promotion

       
      Looking for a travel agency that specializes in Destination Weddings-CLICK HERE?  We are an award winning travel agency and you can read our reviews here.
       
      Awards and recognition: 
      Palace Resorts Winner "Top Travel Agent", "Top Homebased Travel Agency" PRO Platinum Agency (Top Award)     |    AMResorts Master Agent & Top Agency  
      Karisma Hotels Diamond Level 5 (highest production), Top 10 Azul Weddings, Top Wedding Coordinator | Wright Travel & Karisma GIVC Benefits
      Travel Impressions Best of the Best Globe Winner    |     Apple Vacations Golden Apple Winner  
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      #5 NATASHA

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        Posted 06 December 2006 - 03:28 AM

        The honeymoon was AMAZING. I scoped out a few wedding venues for the Yucatan portion of the board. I need to get the photos from my husband.

        And La Casa Que Canta was worth it! I'll post that review separately when I have the pics.
        Shawn and NatashaHappily MarriedNovember 11, 2006

        #6 gkashmira

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          Posted 06 December 2006 - 03:33 AM

          Great review Natasha! It sounds (and looks) like the vast majority of your wedding was beautiful and perfect. I'm so sorry to hear about how Casa del Mar treated you guys with the whole "bait and switch" (did they do thuis with the food?) and the rooms, and the whole issue caused by the construction. I think your wedding looked perfect but I agree with your HUSBAND that they shouldn't be rewarded with any business... maybe the opposite!
          Kashmira & Dan
          Happily married since June 16, 2007
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          Photo slideshow: http://www.tomasbarron.com/recent.php

          #7 TammyB

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            Posted 06 December 2006 - 11:04 AM

            Great review Natasha, I can't wait to see your PRO pictures and the pictures of your honeymoon. I'm sorry you went through so much with the resort, seems like everyone always has some sort of drama go on before their wedding, IE, you with the resort, other brides with their BM and me with my MIL. You name it I think everyone has something that gives then a ton of stress.

            #8 Jackie

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              Posted 06 December 2006 - 11:52 AM

              Great review Natasha. The dancers looked like so much fun from the photos and the fire dancers looked amazing! You had so much to review, no wonder it took you so long. hehe.
              My Dreams Cabo Wedding Review
              http://bestdestinati...om/forum/t22576

              #9 Janet

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                Posted 06 December 2006 - 12:08 PM

                Great review, Natasha. Thank you for all the detail and thoughfulness. I am so jealous that you had a two week honeymoon!!!!!!!!

                #10 KARLA

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                  Posted 06 December 2006 - 02:08 PM

                  It takes forever to write these reviews, so totally understandable timewise!
                  I can't wait to see the pro pics.

                  It is really unfortunate that the hotel did not meet your expectations. I'm glad to hear that it did not detract too much from your wedding day. We were in awe with the old Mexican feel of the place. My hubby even asked why I had not put the hotel in our list of honeymoon spots.

                  And a 2 week honeymoon, wow... I am jealous also!




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