At no time during my stay at Moon Palace did I feel unsafe. I was more worried about the weather, to be very honest. Food and water quality are just fine. We are a young interracial couple with whatever first impressions come with it.
Room Block: Nizuc (1 family stayed in Sunrise)
Our Room: 6716 and then 6724 (Ballena building) Ocean View
Wedding Date: Wednesday June 20th, 201
Ceremony: Tucan Beach @ 5pm
Cocktail Hour: Tucan Terrace @ 6pm - 7pm
Reception Dinner: El Caribeno @ 7:30pm
Miami Coordinator: Janina Mendoza, then Lily Sanchez, then Joannis Roadon
On-site Coordinator: Teresa (originally Kalena)
Wedding Package: Complimentary (Secular Civil Service)
Judge: Maria Del Pilar Ferrer Osorio
Guest Count: 24
Travel Agent: Melissa @ Beach Bum Vacations
Weather (Grade not applicable... but it was bad)
It rained 1/5 days during our stay at Moon Palace but 4/5 days right after during our honeymoon. It rained for about 50% of our trip. The weather contributed to about 30% of my overall stress level. We got married on the beach and it was fairly windy (but not unmanageable). The negatives of the wind: I wore a cathedral veil which DID get blown around and annoyed me a little bit but it made for nice photos. The positives of the wind: it is quite humid there so whenever you're sitting at an open-air restaurant the breeze is a welcome feeling. Where there is wind, there are no bugs. However, some of us did get bitten while we were waiting for the shuttle bus or hiding out of the rain (no wind areas). USUALLY during the rain lasted about an hour or so. There were a total of two major storms while we were there that lasted over 24 hours totaling about 5/10 solid days of rain.
Airport Transfer: Olympus Tours B+ (part of Moon Palace)
Once we get past the people trying to get our attention inside the airport, Olympus Tours met us holding a giant heart shaped sign with our first names on it. Tell your guests to be careful here. Sometimes the people inside will call out "Olympus Tours" even if they are not from it. We just went outside and met with the actual Olympus Tours guys with the orange shirt (with logo) and khaki pants). Our guests knew this ahead of time (our travel agent put it in the travel booklet) and they got through fine as well. We didn't get any special transportation as I have read that some other bride got (which is fine). We rode in a white van with plenty of luggage space and A/C.
Olympus Tours also transferred us from Moon Palace to our honeymoon at Le Blanc free of charge. Our family did not have any problems with booking departure pick-up with them. I WILL say that they did not get full marks because some of their representatives were leaving messages on our room phone constantly. They would ask why we booked a tour with someone else, saying they had a family to feed etc. I deleted the message but was not pleased with being harassed during my wedding.
Resort Overall: B+
Moon Palace has fairly large grounds but it is not an unwalkable distance. There is a lobby-to-lobby air-conditioned shuttle bus that comes every 15 minutes and it only takes a few minutes to get to the next lobby. It is very convenient. Other times, my husband and I "hailed" a golf cart, asked them if they could take us to ____ and hopped on. LOADS of fun!! I loved the golf carts! The resort is a great size for hiding from family members when you want alone time or convenient when you need to meet up at specific "landmarks" or lobbies. They have many restaurants to try (we couldn't try them all in our 5 day stay) and activities to do here! One of the first things we noticed is the beautiful wildlife. The birds' calls, the pelicans, the iguanas roaming the ground (mostly on the Grand side), and the few stray cats were a pleasant sight.
Sunrise: lively, fun, entertainment, big, beautiful, noisy, families, conventions (think downtown nightlife feel)
Nizuc: calm, centrally located, better room views then both Sunrise and Grand (think uptown/suburban life feel)
Grand: very quiet, intimate, get-away for relaxation, adults only (think spa feel)
We chose to stay in Nizuc because it was centrally located between Grand and Sunrise. When we felt like partying, we could go to Sunrise, when we felt like we wanted to escape Grand was also accessible. Nizuc itself was a very good "base camp". If I stayed at Moon Palace again, we could consider staying at Nizuc or Sunrise. Grand was way too removed and quiet for us (we'd likely get bored).
In addition for those getting married, you can ask and the front desk will let you know the room numbers of your guests. However, it was frustrating at times to find people because they kept telling us they couldn't find one of our guest who was at the resort for 3 days already... It was frustrating.
I know I don't really need to mark this as the office is now done away with since I booked my wedding. Moon Palace did all their bookings through the Miami office during the time I planned my wedding and about a month after my wedding, it has now been moved on-site. I just wanted to say that in general, Janina was the most help out of all the coordinators at the Miami office. Lily was non-existent, and Joannis was kind of absent-minded. If I wasn't on the ball, Joannis would have charged me an extra $300. So when she asked for payment, I simply ignored her knowing that anything could just be charged to my room after I got there. If it weren't for Janina, the mark would have been an absolute F.
Once we arrived at the Nizuc lobby, we were greeted with cold towels, a flower and champagne. Though we were told that we must arrive by 1pm, we did not get our room until just after 3pm (this is the same experience most of my guests had). They held our baggage while we ate at El Managlar (restaurant reviews later in this post). Perla at the front desk was very kind though nothing above and beyond. I am fairly happy with my experience with her. However, I did notice that another couple (in their 30s and Caucasian) who arrived shortly after us got their room right away.
Rooms Experience: C+
Room Quality (Layout, finishes, view): A-
We were originally put into room 6716 (Ballena building) which was an "Oceanview" room. It was on the second floor and the palm trees obscured my view of the ocean. All I saw in that room was people by the pool. We asked for a room upgrade and was told that there are no rooms available. Our guests arrived the following day and several of them had much better rooms than my husband and I. One of our friends even had a room directly above us! Some of my guests had towel animals etc but we had nothing. We had to ask constantly and were constantly told that there was no availability (complete lie, really). After my breaking point the third day in (when all the stress culminated together) that's when they FINALLY moved us to the upper floor beside our friends. The view was MUCH nicer. But that being said, I don't think I had unfair expectations, as the couple getting married I was HIGHLY disappointed by this part of the resort's accommodations. We were only able to move rooms two days before the wedding. In addition, my entire family was spread out. Our room block was pretty much non-existent and we were put all over the place.
The rooms themselves were very clean. There is also an IPOD dock in each room. The first room we were in had a random hanger wire on the floor. It was a good thing I saw it before someone stepped on the tip in bare feet. The sink in our second room was clogged and the shower door didn't fully close. At that point, I was pretty tired of complaining so I didn't even bother asking for it to get fixed or to be moved anymore.
Also, the rooms are quite ... moist due to the humidity (I think) and the beds are a little damp. I thought this was normal but I've stayed in Miami before right by the ocean and their beds were always dry? I am not sure... it wasn't too uncomfortable but it did make us feel pretty clammy every day. The A/C in the room is also very strong (even on the lowest setting it kind of blasts in your face directly at the head of the bed). My advice is to just turn up the temperature... or leave it off for the night after you've cooled down the room.
The bellboys, bartenders, waiters, maids and other service staff were all incredible. Everyone greets you with a smile and "Hola!" I was very pleased. I was less pleased with the reservations (resort credits staff), front desk staff and the speed of service with larger groups. At some points it was downright snail paced.
Salon (Mani/Pedi): B- (resort credits)
My husband and I did our mani/pedi here. We weren't together because it was an individual service. It was only okay. I had a French mani/pedi and I would say the quality is okay, my nails for some reason felt grainy afterwards but it looked good. She massaged my neck (sort of) to get me comfortable but it really was more like tapping on the shoulder because she put a neck weight/warmer on me. My husband got a little bit of a scalp massage but it only lasted about 30 seconds. Both of us felt like we had to initiate conversation the whole time with our salon workers. Not sure if we'd do this again.
Salon (Wedding Hair): A (resort credits)
My hair appointment took a total of 50 minutes. I had Julia in the Nizuc salon. I told Julia that I wanted an updo for the ceremony/cocktail (about 2 hours) and then I wanted it down. There was a bit of translation confusion as another lady had to explain to her what I wanted. I brought some inspiration photos which helped. Tips for brides: bring a max of 4 images. Narrow it down before you go because it will overwhelm your hairdresser. My updo held up 70% - 80% at the end of cocktail hour (about 6 hours of standing in the humidity and then the wind). I do recommend getting your hair done by the salon because they know how to make hair stay in that kind of climate.
Sunrise: HUGE pools. I wish I spent more time at the Sunrise pool exploring. But this place is very packed so usually all the umbrella huts are taken. Music is played in the area.
Nizuc: Two main pools at are very similar. This is a quieter area. If you prefer to hang out with a group of friends to talk more than party, this is the place to go. Music is played in the area.
Grand: The infinity pool here does not have a great view of the ocean; most of it is trees. That said - it's very serene. I didn't see any groups at this pool, more couples and singles hanging out on their own just relaxing BY the pool rather than IN the pool. I did not here any music here.
Beach: At Moon Palace, the water that is blue is far off, there is seaweed on all the beaches we went to, but the sand is SUPER soft.
The water in BOTH the pools and the ocean are very warm this time of year. I get cold very quickly and did not complain in the slightest about the water temperature. Also note that towel service ends at 6pm. Most people are out of the pools by then.
Wedding Coordinator: Teresa B+
After talking to Joannis for weeks through e-mail, I was told I would be forwarded to Kalena. I was incredibly excited to have her as many brides have said great things. When I arrived, I was told on the spot that it was Kalena's last day. It would've been nice for someone to let me know before-hand. I requested Valeria or Claudia... and I was given Teresa. She was very sweet and I tried to hide my disappointment in Moon Palace for this mess up. Teresa only did an okay job. At the wedding coordinator meeting, I gave all my items to her and Teresa waived the set-up fee (which was very kind though I really did not have much to set up at all). The meeting lasted just over an hour. I came organized so I just reconfirmed everything with her (ceremony, cocktail, reception and honeymoon breakfast). I brought my items and files including my dress and his suit to be steamed.
On the day of, I wanted my bouquet a little earlier for photos (they were planning to give me the bouquet 15 minutes before the ceremony). After requesting the bouquet at around 2:30, Teresa brought them to me around 4:00. She was present during the ceremony and cocktail hour. I asked if I would see her at the reception dinner, she said yes, but never came.
At cocktail, I asked my bridesmaids to remind Teresa to bring things up to our suite (just steps away). Teresa said she would take them back to her office instead. So I just had my bridesmaids take things back up to my room. Before we checked out the next day, we stopped by to tip Teresa... she said "Oh, I have to go get your things from the restaurant." To which I replied, "It's okay, we already picked everything up last night". Since she didn't show up, I simply asked my bridesmaids to bring out things. I was disappointed by how often I would have to keep on top of things.
Teresa had also confirmed 3 tables of 8 and a sweetheart table for the reception as well as confirming that any guests who did not like the seafood menu I chose could always go to the buffet in the restaurant to get food. Neither of these things came to fruition. I got two tables of 12 and the manager reprimanded one of my guests for taking her kids to get some dessert for dinner. In addition, because guests were NOT seated according to our plan, we are still dealing with issues after the wedding at home. I was not very happy with how this was handled. This is probably one of the worse parts of the wedding day.
Dress/Suit steaming: A
I put my nose up to my dress the second I got it. There is a smell, but it wasn't completely noticeable unless you stick your face right up to it. I gave the dress and suit to my coordinator for steaming on the Sunday. It was Tuesday and I still hadn't heard anything so I called to ask. The dress was finally delivered to my room the night before the wedding. You can't use the resort credits for this. It cost $60 for my wedding dress and $42 for the groom's suit. Bring extra clothes and underwear!! Laundry is expensive (cheapest is $3 per panty).
Blood Work: A+
It was quick and easy with no bruising at all. We had our blood drawn at the Wedding Coordinator office. For both of us, it totaled maybe 10 minutes. We did not get to know the results. I guess if you don't hear anything, it's good news.
Rehearsal: It rained right before our rehearsal (lasting about 30 minutes phew!). There was a beach chuppah already set up so we used that to do our run-through. We didn't have a coordinator there and I only brought my music on IPOD. But this was definitely a MUST DO. It helped people visualize where to go and what to do on the day of. Thanks to this quick 15 minute rehearsal, the wedding day went by so smoothly! I really recommend that all brides do this with their bridal party the day before! One thing I wish I brought was a pair of speakers so that everyone in my bridal party could hear the music.
Rehearsal Dinner @ Los Caporales
Food Quality: A-
Overall Experience: D
An absolute nightmare. We ended up waiting hours to be seated. Granted we had a large group, but my husband went down early as well as my cousin to get seats at 6:30. They were told that they could not get these seats until the entire party was there. We peeked our heads in and there was space to get us started, but they did not choose to do it that way. Our party was not actually seated until almost 10:00pm. This was incredibly frustrating for us. We had small kids that were getting hungry and their parents just ended up taking them next door to Arrecifes for dinner. However, the manager at Los Caporales seemed more willing to accommodate us. The manager at Arrecifes came off as a complete jerk. So we waited to be seated at Los Caporales as originally planned. Once we got in, service was SO SLOW. It took almost an hour to serve one table... and by the time the second table was served, the first table had finished their entire meal already.
One thing I did notice, at all restaurants the table with older guests are served first (which I am kind of glad they did). The stuffed peppers, and the salsa with the tortilla chips were very good. We all tried to make the best of this experience, but it could have gone a lot smoother had they simply began to seat the party when there was space to begin with at 6:30. We all had to stand/sit outside the restaurant for hours (including the kids!) You'd think a resort that deals with multiple weddings on a daily basis would have figured out how to work with large groups!
Below is my actual wedding day timeline (I absolutely HATE being late and rushed... but that's exactly what happened completely out of my control). =( My ceremony was at 5pm.
(Room service lunch: B+) We ordered room service for lunch. (Thai Salad and a shrimp cocktail. Was okay, nothing spectacular). Called to ask about my wedding bouquet to be delivered.
3:00pm - I asked my Maid of Honor to check on the ceremony site. She came back to tell me that nothing was set up!! I called Teresa right away. They said that Zuniga sets up about half an hour before... I was not happy about this.
4:45pm - Teresa arrived in a golf cart to take my girls to the ceremony. The horse & carriage were right behind her. I was FREAKING out! The carriage took us RIGHT BY the ceremony where my fiancé was standing at the time. I don't understand why he didn't take us around or even stop when I asked him to. I had to pull up the carriage hood and put the bouquet in front of my face. My guests told my fiancé not to look but I was still mortified. And even as we were going by in the carriage, they were STILL SETTING UP the chuppah at 4:45! I was incredibly nervous about it getting done on time.
Wedding Ceremony and Cocktail Hour
The ceremony did end up being set-up perfectly and the music cues were timed perfectly. However, apparently Teresa kept trying to hurry the bridal party down the aisle (contrary to how we rehearsed it) so it was my bad for not updating her on how I wanted the pacing to go. I only knew that when I was walking down the aisle, it was perfect. I studied countless wedding videos at Moon Palace and my estimation of two songs for the signing was exactly right!
(Offciant: A-) The officiant stood with her back towards the guests (I had asked for her to stand traditionally but I'm not going to be picky, just noting this). Overall, she was great. Interestingly enough, she pronounced all my family's Asian-unique names correctly but my mother-in-law's English name incorrectly.
(Resort Sound Technician & Ceremony Music Player: A) There was a mic and sound system available for us to say our own vows. You can hear the music perfectly from the carriage (not to worry, brides!) and you can hear the ceremony just fine. I had one song that I asked them to play during guests seating, so they just looped that. We did a civil ceremony which means we had to ink our thumbs for thumbprinting. They gave you a tissue after but it wasn't a wet nap so our thumbs were still black all night. So be careful not to touch your face/gown or ask your bridal party to bring a wet nap or something. The toasting champagne was delicious. I am pretty sure it's not the standard one because it tasted quite sweet to me!
6:00pm - Cocktail hour on Tucan Terrace. I went with everyone's recommendation and chose the Superior h'orderves. I am SO HAPPY that I did. SEVERAL GUESTS (including myself) said that it was the best food they tasted all trip. I so wished they could bring this to dinner... it was delicious!! In addition, we had a Mexican trio and TOTALLY LOVED IT. Everyone enjoyed the live music and I was so grateful that we were both able to spend some time at our own cocktail hour.
(Cocktail Hour Superior H'orderves A+)
(Mexican Trio A+)
Wedding Reception Dinner
7:30pm - Our reception dinner was held in El Caribeno. The restaurant was thankfully air conditioned and the ambiance was great. We did NOT get the correct number of tables which caused me a great deal of inconvenience (there is a reason why there is a seating chart). We are still dealing with guest issues after the wedding because certain people were placed together. In addition, one of the tables used for the sweetheart was a little crooked. =/ The cake table was fine. My seating chart made no sense because of the incorrect table set-up. Despite this, most of my guests had a great time in conversation with each other as my new husband and I spent some alone time (finally) eating our dinner. Definitely do the sweetheart table!!
Dinner Menu: B
We had to choose a set menu for our guests.
Mixed Seafood Ceviche - typical ceviche 4/5
Squid and Mango Salad - delicious! 5/5
Saffron Mussel Cream Soup delicious 5/5
Mahi Mahi Fish - dry 3/5
Cream Brule - undercooked 2/5
I was quite disappointed in the quality of the main dish and dessert at the reception dinner. I was really looking forward to indulging in one of my favourite things, seafood! The cocktail hour food was SO much better. However, I did not hear any guest complaints, so I don't think it was that bad.
The restaurant was playing music and it was pretty loud so it was difficult to do speeches. I had anticipated this so we didn't ask anyone to do speeches and my husband and I kept our thank-yous short and sweet!
NOTE: Their champagne and sparkling wine are EXACTLY the same. It's called Dubois. This is used at all Palace Resorts (including Le Blanc). I didn't really like it. Whatever champagne they used after the wedding was very sweet (but I was not able to catch the name of it).
Wedding Cake: D+
I wanted a cheesecake and was expecting something soft and moist. It was hard and WAYYY to sweet. So sweet, in fact, I was crunching on sugar granules as I chewed. The cake itself looked disappointing. I wasn't expecting anything grand, just what I saw in the photo during the wedding coordinator meeting. However, the ribbon wasn't even gold... it was just yellow. I had maybe ... two bites and left the rest. The only thing good about the cake? After your first cut, the staff will slice and serve the rest for you. We also did not get forks, we asked and were given spoons. Oh well.
Honeymoon Breakfast: F
It was pouring rain the day after. Also, we did not get our honeymoon breakfast AT ALL. We waited until 9 so we totally missed the good-bye breakfast. My husband and I rushed down to the lobby for a hurried breakfast and to say bye to the guests that were departing that day before they got on the shuttle back to the airport. I was still in a celebratory mood so I did not let that bother me at the time, but I am still kind of irked now that we got shafted yet again.
La Gondola (Italian): A
My husband and I loved having breakfast here as did our guests. Eggs, waffles, pancakes are all made fresh verses other restaurants that serve buffet eggs or pancakes. They have a fajita stand as well.
Bugambilias (Mexican): B
We all thought this was Italian for some reason. Dinner here was fairly good. They had a good pasta station. Service was good. Again quite average but they were able to accommodate a large group.
Mo-Mo-No-Ha-Na (Asian): N/A
Didn't try this at all... in fact I don't ever recall seeing this place?!
Palapa Fragata (Seafood): A-
Dinner a-la-carte despite being told that it was a buffet for some reason. Food was delicious especially the salmon carpaccio. This is an open air restaurant so it got really hot and humid. Many guests stepped outside to enjoy the ocean breeze. They gave us grief for two large tables of 10 and part of my extended family had to sit at the other end of the restaurant even though it was completely empty. Service was slow even though we were the only ones there (took about an hour to serve us).
Palapa Barracuda (Steakhouse): B-
We had lunch in this open air restaurant. It wasn't too hot, nice views. Their side dishes were very good, particularly the white wine buttered fish and rice. Main dishes like steak or chicken were incredibly dry.
Los Colompios (Pool Bar): A
A swim up bar with swings located in the middle of the pool area. It is open late for partiers. Drinks were okay (bartenders made them strong). Great music and vibe for relaxing. We hung out to around midnight.
Andromeda Disco: N/A
Moon Palace has this location under construction at the moment!
Games Room & Sports Bar: N/A
We stopped by to use the computers for like 5 minutes. Seemed okay. Some of our guests came here to watch the soccer game.
El Manglar (Italian): B
Breakfast and lunch buffet here is okay, quite average. We ate here often because of it's convenient location in the Nizuc lobby. Never tried dinner.
Los Caporales (Mexican): A-
See our rehearsal dinner review. Breakfast and Lunch not offered.
Arrecifes (Brazilian): A
For meat lovers! Most of the meat was cooked well. Pork was very dry though. As many others have said, the salad bar is only okay. Seating for 4 was very fast. Good service and service speed. Breakfast not available, never had lunch.
Palapa Delfines (poolside bar/grill and swim-up): A (drinks only)
Jose and Gabriel make the best drinks here!! I love sweet drinks that can't taste much alcohol. If you're like me, try the Pina Colada, Blue Hawaiian, Blue Lagoon and Melon Sour. Didn't get the chance to eat here.
Palapa Pelicanos (poolside sushi and swim-up): B (drinks only)
Drinks here were not as good as Palapa Delfines. Didn't get the chance to eat here.
Sweets & Coffee: A-
Like a regular coffee shop. Nothing special. It's nice and quiet since there are not many people here. Food drink quality is average. Good service.
Lobby Enterntainment: A-
Fire dancers were great to watch. Everyone loved them. The belly dancers show was WAY too long and very boring when they grabbed about 10 ladies from the audience and had each lady solo dance for about 5 minutes each. I was very thankful that at least this was here for people who were waiting to be seated at Los Caporales. Drinks at this bar were okay, made a little strong.
Los Tacos: A
Tacos are good, other menu items are only okay. Good service and peaceful atmosphere. Drinks are kind of strong. Only tried this for lunch.
El Caribeno: N/A
We only had the set menu for our reception dinner so did not get to fully experience this restaurant.
Resort Credits: D
One of the most frustrating parts of our destination wedding was spending resort credits. No matter how prepared I thought I was going to Cancun, be ready to spend up to an hour at a time dealing with bookings/reservations of things to spend your credits on. It was incredibly difficult to use the credits during the 5 day stay. The best things to use them on are tours & activities. They have a binder full of things you can do, but the majority of them are NOT resort credit applicable. Some will ask you to endure a 90 minute timeshare presentation in order to get a specific tour for free. It really is up to you and what you think is "worth it", but we thought it was a complete waste of time and didn't bother.
We tried to use credits for a room upgrade but that proved near impossible as we were constantly told that nothing was available (despite knowing otherwise). You can use your credits for salon/spa but those run out pretty quickly. Also be aware that there is now a cap on the number of credits you can use for the dolphin swim (ugh). You can use up to $100 credits on cigars, $100 on tequila, $100 on sunglasses, $100 on a pair of running shoes and $100 on silver. None of those include taxes and all the prices of sunglasses and silver are over $100 anyway. It was hardly worth it.
A few times, the reservations people would tell you that something is "full" or that there are "no openings at the salon or spa". It was a flat out lie. We would go directly to the salon/spa and they were able to book us on the spot using our resort credits.
English isn't your family's first language? Prepare to spend more time translating or seeing them walk into the timeshare presentation trap.
We wanted to book a group tour (of 22) to Chichen Itza. I asked about it online 5 weeks prior and was told that I had to wait closer to the date. I inquired again 2 weeks prior to departure and told I would have to book for the group once I got there. I inquired when we got to Moon Palace and then was told I could only book for my husband and I, and that or group had to book individually by room. They assured me there was still plenty of space. When my family went to book, they were told it was full. I was going to have a conniption. All my guests were looking forward to this trip and the booking process had been nothing but a giant headache. After almost 3 HOURS of teeth-grinding, they were able to book another bus. It wasn't private or anything, there were other people booked to see Chichen Itza anyway. I was so caught up in this mess I had forgotten to eat lunch that day.
My husband and I left Moon Palace with $900+ credits unspent. This was definitely a priority review I wanted to make the second I returned.
Tours & Activities
Chichen Itza: B (used resort credits)
(Please see my other TripAdvisor Review of this tour)
Parasailing and Sea-doing: A- (Not applicable with resort credits. Free with 90min timeshare presentation)
Lasted about 30 minutes each. Wished both were longer activities, especially seeing how long they had to sit through the timeshare presentation. You get wet with both so watch out with cameras and cell-phones!!
Jungle Tour: A- (used resort credits)
(Please see my other TripAdvisor Review of this tour)
Premium Dolphin Swim: A- (used resort credits but be aware that there is a recent "limit" on how much you can spend on this)
(Please see my other TripAdvisor Review of this tour)
MUSA with diving lesson: A (Not applicable with resort credits) $100 per person
(Please see my other TripAdvisor Review of this tour)
Jungle Tour Photos - $15 each
Dolphin Swim Photos - $30 each print or $70 for all on CD
MUSA Scuba Photos - no individual prints, $40 for 4, $65 for all on CD, your first descent photo free
(Please see my other TripAdvisor Review of this tour)
Katie @ Zuniga in Partnership with Moon Palace (wedding decor): B
Communication with Katie via email went smoothly. She worked flexibly with my budget and confirmed everything with the resort. No complaints. On the day of the wedding, my ceremony was at 5pm and by 3pm, nothing had been set up. Even 15 minutes before I would be walking down the aisle, I still saw them finishing with the set-up. THAT is cutting it way too close. If one thing would go wrong, that would affect the whole ceremony. It raised my anxiety level a great deal seeing that the ceremony location was not ready until minutes before the wedding.
Pricing and value of decor I was a little disappointed with and affected the overall mark. The colours of the fabrics on the chuppah were not as light as the images they sent me in the catalogue. Tiffany chairs were great. Their "labour" set-up fee was kind of ridiculous considering that they set up other chuppahs also in the same amount of time. I watched them set up the complementary chuppahs and take them down at the same time as ours and it did not seem like "extra labour". They charged $150 for that.
Travel Agent - Melissa @ Beach Bum Vacations: A+
Recommended by many brides on the forums, I sought out Melissa from BBV. All the reviews were right! Melissa was absolutely incredible. I had a million and one questions (most of which were misdirected) but Melissa was still able to answer ALL of them. She responds VERY quickly and put together a great package deal for my guests. The wedding planning process was SO EASY with Melissa and it was one of the things that I really needed. I am incredibly picky and need to know all my information upfront before ever making a decision. I am also very control oriented and usually have to stop myself from micromanaging things. Melissa got that and really helped me with the process of booking guests and being a liaison between myself and Moon Palace. The best part of all this is that BBV is free (and I am a Canadian bride)! Never did I feel second rate because of where I am from or who we are. I will definitely be using BBV again for future trip planning!
Unrelated Event: LOST MY WALLET
On the way to meet with the coordinator, I was carrying so many items (including my gown to be steamed) I must've dropped my wallet. After the room debacle, the storm, the Chichen Itza booking nightmare, I thought I was going to snap when I realized my wallet was missing. Teresa had asked our birth certificates and it was in my wallet along with a giant wad of cash, my license, key card, etc!! I nearly died. My husband retraced our steps but nothing. I was pretty sure I dropped it around the Arrecifes waiting area. We went to the lost and found where Sandra asked me what it looked like and went to check while I was in panic-mode. She went slowly, stopping to chat with co-workers while I waited anxiously. When she came back and handed me my wallet with everything still inside, I burst into tears. Some kind-hearted person returned it!! I asked Sandra if she knew who returned it, but she didn't. I tipped her anyway (but Kind Person, if you are reading this thank you and I could kiss you!)
Overall themes of our destination wedding
- bride/groom received lower quality room than guests
- slow service for larger groups
- extra and hidden fees
- inconsistent pricing
- resort credits difficult to spend
- humidity made items inside rooms damp
- late/needy/drunk guests
- timeshare/transportation/reservations booking and harassment
- unpredictable weather (raining 50% of the trip)
- smooth airport experience and customs
- water is never cold in the pool or ocean
- execution of wedding and cocktail
- food quality
- variety of tours and activities
- something for everyone in Sunrise/Nizuc/Grand
What I Expected of the Resort Experience: A-
What I Actually Received through the Resort Experience: C+
I did not expect perfection but having read so many positive reviews from previous Moon Palace brides, I thought that I would encounter some of the same experiences as well. However, perhaps I expected too much. I am very happy that some of my guests were treated well, but partly saddened that none of those accommodations were extended to my husband or myself. I was very pleased with the individual service from the maids, waiters and bartenders, but those at the resort who were responsible for organizing my stay fell short of my expectations.
I tried very hard to relax and be calm, but it really wasn't until I showed much distress did Moon Palace make any sort of move to help out our situations. I wanted very badly to believe what other brides said about letting Moon Palace do everything for you and just loosen up, but I found it necessary to constantly remind them of things and had to constantly badger to be heard.
One particular thing that bothered me most (in my general stay in Cancun) was that many people greeted my husband first and asked him questions directly without really acknowledging me despite the fact that I was the one giving answers. Several times I had to assertively interject because I planned the majority of the trip and knew the details and at times I was completely ignored. Perhaps it was because we looked like a young couple so we are not taken seriously? Or perhaps it was the assumption that my husband who is tall and Caucasian could likely communicate or know more than myself with an Asian background? Whatever it was (sexism, racism, ageism), even if it was inherent in culture, I was greatly annoyed. This subliminal exclusion did not go unnoticed, as it was not only perceived by me, but my husband as well. As a result, many times instead of feeling hurt or correcting them, I simply told my husband what to say and gave him the cash to pay/tip just to make things go faster and smoother. People would be constantly appealing to my husband without knowing that I had all the money and made most of the decisions.
Overall, the days leading up to the wedding were a great deal of stress. When you're planning a destination wedding, I found that BEFORE departure, it was smooth and stress-free. But when you are there, it is a constant barrage of worry from dealing with the resort to managing the dynamics between your colourful guests (as opposed to dealing with that for just one day in a wedding back at home). Granted, the wedding day itself was beautiful, the ceremony and cocktail hour were the best parts of the trip and Moon Palace executed these events to perfection. I wouldn't trade that for the world. In trying to make the best of the experience, I really did enjoy myself on the wedding day.
TIP FOR DESTINATION WEDDING BRIDES! Bring a folder for legal-sized paper. The wedding certificate is legal sized and we had to carry it in our hands at the airport because it didn't fit in my regular binder/folder.
TIP FOR DESTINATION WEDDING BRIDES! All your guests are going to want to spend time with you and your fiancé. You will feel overwhelmed if you try to meet all these needs. Don't do what we did and cave into the pressure of meeting everyone for dinner every day. Instead of going to the restaurant and reserving tables for large groups, get your family and friends to get their own tables and you and your fiancé can go from table to table to say hi during dinner. It saves EVERYONE a lot of grief and waiting time (and also your sanity). For large groups, choose big restaurants for things like your rehearsal dinner etc.
Big restaurants at Sunrise
Bugambilias (air conditioned)
La Gondola (air conditioned)
Big Restaurants at Nizuc
El Manglar (air conditioned)
Arrecifes (air conditioned)
Big Restaurants at Grand
El Caribeno (air conditioned)
Ultimately, we really wanted to let Moon Palace know that we felt hurt and disappointed DURING our stay because we wanted to give them the benefit of the doubt and the opportunity to make it up. However, we were very emotionally drained and exhausted. I am still unsure if I would return to Moon Palace. There are so many things that we wished we could've done, but it left a very bittersweet taste at the end of the day. I don't think I would have changed anything that I did, I don't regret it at all, but I am not sure that I feel all that satisfied with my experience at Moon Palace by the time we left. In addition, having seen recent June reviews of Moon Palace, I am more convinced than ever that they used the rain as an excuse to drop the ball on many things.
I hope that my review will shine a realistic light on my experience with having a destination wedding at Moon Palace. There were quite a few "negatives" but I want to leave all that here in this review. The happy memories were incredible and that is what I will carry forward with me and cherish. I do hope that Moon Palace also realizes what I have learned in my lifetime. For every negative thing that someone experiences, it usually takes 5 positives to undo those feelings. So to close, I expected to score Moon Palace with an A- but in reality, I will be marking them a C+ for our overall experience.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.