Destination Wedding with 110 family and friends - Simply Fantastic!
No, you are not reading the title wrong, we just got back from a week at the Ocean Coral & Turquesa Resort with 110 of our family and friends who had come from all over the world for our wedding. I‘m sure many of our guests will also write a review for this resort, but I‘m confident they will all echo my review of this wonderful resort. Let me begin by confirming that all 110 of our guests stayed at this resort for the entire week. Let me also note that our 110 guests came from various social and economical backgrounds, ranging from middle class to the rich and wealthy. Most were also seasoned travellers, as are we, who have stayed at motels as well as 5 star/diamond resorts both in Mexico and around the world. Let me also note that not a single one of our 110 guests voiced any major complaints or issues about the resort or its staff. I know that is not enough detail for those of you thinking about this resort, so I will break-down the review into the important sections, while keeping it as brief as possible, ending with wedding details for those of you thinking of getting married here. RESORT GROUNDS & PROPERTY: The pictures speak for themselves, but let me assure you that the resort is simply gorgeous. Well maintained and super clean throughout, the layout of the resort is simply fantastic when compared to other resorts in the area. As opposed to being vertically long in relation to the beach, this resort is horizontal to the beach, which makes the foot travel time from the lobby to the sand, a mere minute or two. And it is only a 5 minute walk along the beach from one end to the other. But since the resort buildings are in arches, it does take a bit longer if you were to walk through the hallways from one end to the other. And unlike other resorts that have basic hotel/motel like buildings, the spanish/mexican villa architecture and coral/white/yellow colors of the resort buildings make you feel like you‘re actually in Mexico, and not just some sunny destination in the US. There are two huge lobbies, one for the Ocean Coral side and one for the Ocean Turquesa side, but they are joined and it really feels like one huge lobby. There is free WiFi in the lobby, so that is where most people hang out during the day to catch-up on work, emails, skype and facebook. It is also the hang-out area for all when it rains, with lots of fun entertainment like poker nights, ping-pong competitions, and of course karaoke! Also a great place to get a good cup of coffee in the morning before Mike‘s opens. More on Mike‘s Coffee later. A word of caution though...like most resorts in the area, there is ample use of marble and tile flooring at this resort that become extremely slippery when wet, and extra caution should be taken during and after rainfalls. My sister actually slipped and broke her arm as a result, but we are not going to blame the resort for that like some other people do. It‘s not their fault. There are signs all over the place, and it‘s just common sense and an accident that could have happened just as well here in rainy Vancouver. It is unrealistic to expect all resort floorings to be non-slip, and frankly would make for a very ugly resort. So just use caution when floors are wet. The resort staff were helpful in getting us transportation and recommending a great hospital to take her to, and thank god she and all the rest of our guests had bought insurance, which we HIGHLY recommend everyone do when travelling to Mexico. You just never know. ROOMS: Every room at this resort was clean, modern and roomy. The decor is really nice and colorful. If you stay on any floor other than the first, you‘re sure to have some type of ocean view as all rooms face the ocean. Each room has a basic mini-bar complete with beer, pop and water. They refill them regularly, and if not, just pick-up the phone and get room service to restock. The climate control system works really great at keeping the place cool and is not as noisy as some other places. There is no internet in the rooms, unless you upgrade to Privilege, if not and you want internet in your room it‘s pretty darn expensive, so don‘t waste your money and just take a short walk to the lobby and get it for free. There is room-service in the room with a basic fast food menu, but who wants to eat in when you can go out and enjoy the restaurants. Safety was not an issue for any of us at this resort. Not a single guest complaint of anything missing. They have a safe in the room and issue everyone random locks and keys. Many have complained about this, but they are way SAFER than electronic safes, which can be unlocked with a master code that could be passed amongst staff easily. The lock and key ones do have a master key as well, but only one and it‘s with the security manager and can‘t be stolen by other staff as easily as a code. If you lose your key, they charge $80 to unlock your safe with the master key. Again, we had lots of valuables and cash gifts in there and not a penny went missing. When we first arrived and they were showing us to our room, we ran into a couple that found themselves locked out of their room, and the bell-boy informed them that their room had been locked to all access because they had left a lot of cash and valuables out in the open. Couldn‘t believe it. The beds are comfy, but to be honest with you, we were so beat after each day that we would have slept like babies on the floor, so can‘t help you with a proper review if you are picky on bed quality. The only slight issue with the rooms are the tiles chosen for the bathrooms. It is the most awful color and texture, and though they are not, it makes them look dirty. Not sure why they couldn‘t have chosen a better tile. And as for the musty smell everyone talks about....it‘s normal. That‘s just the smell of the tropical water system there. You can smell it at resorts, in town and even in the homes in the area. It‘s not specific to this resort. The tap water is filtered but we don‘t recommend drinking that, and certainly not the shower water. The water they serve in restaurants and bars and use for ice is bottled water. POOLS: There are 4 pools on the resort, one for every type of action you are looking for, and all 4 are gorgeous pools with waterfalls and soothing Jacuzzi jets throughout. There is a quite ‘Adult‘ pool at one end, close to the Privilege area. Many think this pool is reserved for Privilege guests only, but it‘s open to anyone, just not kids. This is where most people go to catch some sun and read a book. Then there is the bar or party pool. This is where all the action happens during the day and at night. It‘s the only pool with a wet bar and where most of the pool games and music is played. At night, the dry side of the pool bar turns into an evening hang-out and lounge with music, a DJ and people dancing and having a good time. The next pool is the main / large pool. It is a mix of families and fun. It has a very shallow end for kids and toddlers to enjoy, as well as someone looking to suntan in the water. It also has great Jacuzzi jets, and tiled lounged beds in the center to lie in the water. This is also where water volleyball and other pool games take place. The final pool is the family/kids pool. This is where most of the kids hang out, and where the kids club is located. Great fun for those with toddlers and kids as they are sure to find friends to play with and be entertained by the kids club staff. Overall the pools at this resort are the BEST that we have seen in any resort in Mexico, and between just our immediate families we have been to a dozen different ones in Cancun, Riviera Maya, Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan and Los Cabos, and we are all in agreement on this point. FOOD / RESTAURANTS: We would rate the food at this resort at above-average. It has one main buffet restaurant where they serve breakfast and lunch, and 5 other restaurants that specifically serve dinner, along with the best coffee shop ANYWHERE in Mexico, guaranteed! First the buffet...we‘re not going to lie and tell you it‘s the best we have ever seen. But it certainly is not bad. It has a good variety of food for everyone, with a solid breakfast, a good lunch selection and an average dinner. You really have no other choices for breakfast or lunch, so the buffet is it. They try to change-up the selection everyday so that you don‘t get bored, but again, nothing to rave about, but nothing to sneeze at either. You will find much better buffet restaurants at other resorts, with better selection and tastier food, but for price point, this is not at all bad. Next, the restaurants...There are 5 in total. A Mexican, an Italian, a Seafood, a Japanese and a Fusion/French. Can‘t go wrong with any of them really, they are all good and all our guests said they enjoyed their dinners regardless of which they went to. The only sore point is the Japanese restaurant, because it is the only one that requires reservations in advance. The others are all first-come, unless you are in the Privilege category, in which case you can make reservations at any of the restaurants in advance. More on the Privilege option later. Again, the food at all 5 are excellent. The Mexican and Italian are standard menus you would expect, food is great, but nothing special like the others 3. The Japanese is great because it has the Teppanyaki tables that come with a cooking show. If you‘re not familiar with this format, just do an online search and you‘ll see what we are talking about. Again, if you want to enjoy the Japanese, be it Teppanyaki or regular tables, you have to line-up at 5:30pm to get a reservation for one of the shows which are at 6:00pm, 7:30pm and 9:00pm. because they fill-up FAST. People make it sound like you have to line-up from 5:30pm until you get seated, but that is not true. You just line-up, put your name down, then go change or enjoy some drinks and come back when your reservation time comes. You may luck-out and be able to just walk up and get a regular table, and many of our guests did exactly that. Some even said that the regular menu was better than the Teppanyaki, which is a set menu along with the cooking show. The Seafood, or Villa Marina as it‘s called, is great because it is an open-air restaurant where you can enjoy great seafood dishes with the warm tropical breeze coming in from all sides. This is also where you will find the snack buffet that happens between breakfast-lunch and again lunch-dinner, when the main buffet restaurant is closed for the switch. The snack buffet has basic fast food, nothing special. Except for when they have the BBQ going, whereby you will find great chicken, chorizo, burgers, seafood and hotdogs cooked right on the grill right next to this restaurant. But for dinner, this is the place for the great seafood dishes. The Fusion/French, restaurant is by far the least visited because it is away from the central restaurant area towards the Privilege section. We didn‘t get a chance to go, but the guests that did enjoyed crepes for dinner, and lobster at an extra cost. Overall, you will not be disappointed with the food, unless you are a really fussy eater. Again, our guests came from all backgrounds, including those that normally eat at fancy expensive restaurants and none mentioned anything about the food being bad or unacceptable. Then there is Mike‘s Coffee...where do we being. As a coffee fan, being from Vancouver and all, we have been to Mexico a number of times as previously mentioned, and we can tell you how difficult it is to find good coffee, let alone espresso coffee like cappuccinos and lattes. Well take it from us when we say that Mike‘s Coffee not only rivals the big coffee chains, but dare we say beats them in some regards. First, the atmosphere in the coffee bar is just as posh as any trendy coffee shop, with old coffee machines, leather couches, and the coolest ceiling fans we have ever seen. There are pastries and sandwiches during the day, and fantastic cheesecake selections at dinner time. They even have ice frappes and shakes!! This little gem is one of the main reasons I voted for this resort when we had to pick. The only, and I mean only complaint...the place opens at 10am!? Totally didn‘t get why that was. Regardless, they have just as good coffee drinks in the lobby if you are an early riser. ENTERTAINMENT: This was another reason we picked this resort, as they have a fantastic entertainment team for adults and for kids. Lots of fun pool games throughout the day, including beach volleyball, and more fun at night with casino nights, mayan dancers, live bands, and karaoke in and around the lobby. We were worried about how to keep 110 people entertained, but not a single night went by that people didn‘t have something fun to do or enjoy. Like we said, the pool bar turns into a cool outdoor lounge/club at night until midnight. It‘s so much better than other resorts that have these dark, smelly ‘clubs‘. What‘s better than having drinks and dancing the night away under the stars? And for those who like to continue the night, after midnight it‘s time to hit one of the best Sports Bars we have seen at any resort. Looks just like it does in the pictures. Really clean and trendy. A great after-party location. It has a pool table and an air-hockey table, along with a dance floor complete with disco lights! And of course, this is the only place you will find food after 10:30pm. Nothing major, just burgers, hotdogs, nuggets, fries and onion rings. But let‘s face it, when you‘re drunk, it all tastes like a gourmet meal! The staff are also great about playing any cds you may want to dance to, so bring a few if you have a large group. Many of us hung out at the sports bar until the sun came up. Great fun. PRIVILEGE: This is an upgrade found at most other Mexico resorts, and goes by many names. But the basic premiss is the same. You pay extra, and in return you get a bigger room, get to drink premium brand alcohol, make reservations at any of the restaurants (but only for those who have paid the upgrade), get a private beach area with beach beds and a private waiter, butler services such as dry cleaning, and a private lounge that serves breakfast and has snacks throughout the day, and free wired internet in your room. Is it worth the extra money? Well, depends who you‘re going with. If it‘s a romantic couples getaway, then it may be worth the perks and the ability to make reservations, private beach beds, the lounge etc. But if you‘re in a group with others who are not going to get Privilege, then it‘s a waste of money and you‘ll find yourself not taking advantage of the perks. It‘s not even worth the premium drinks, because the regular bar brands are pretty good. Personally, I say don‘t bother unless you want to get the best out of a romantic getaway for two. WEDDING: My wife has given her own review of the wedding services a few reviews down, but let me give you a little more detail. Simply put, we had the wedding of our dreams, in no small part thanks to the assistance of the wedding coordinators at the resort, Ana and Karen. That is not to say that my bride and I didn‘t have to do a lot of organization on our end, because we did and you‘ll find that is the case with any destination wedding you plan. But they were very helpful and accommodating at every step, especially once we arrived and needed last minutes things and changes. The resort offers a number of wedding packages, the price you pay depends on the quality of wedding you want, basic or extravagant. Once you pick a package, every change and addition comes with an extra cost. Again, we previewed a LOT of resorts both in the Cancun area and Los Cabos, and the premiss was all the same. If you want what‘s included in the package, then you pay the asking price, but if you want this extra or that changed, you get charged, and some of the charges are hefty. Nevertheless, we paid extra and certainly got our money‘s worth. Any outside supplier, be it photographer or hair dresser will cost you a day-pass for them, so take that into account. They don‘t let anyone onto the property without a day-pass. If you want extra flowers, we recommend finding a vendor outside the resort as you will likely get better pricing. As for decor, we don‘t recommend spending too much or going elaborate. The resort is beautiful and there is so much color and beauty of the open sky and ocean, that adding frills only takes away from the experience in our opinion. We didn‘t go crazy with lighting or hanging decors, and glad that we didn‘t because mother nature supplied the best yellow moon, vivid stars and distant thunder show no money could ever buy. Any extra decor, be it resort supplied or outside vendor is extremely overpriced anyway. We paid for a rehearsal dinner the night before at the open air Villa Marina restaurant with all 110 of our guests and it was fantastic. Every single one of our guests gushed about how great the food was there, and at the wedding reception. The appys they served at our cocktail hour was also greatly raved about by all. Nothing but compliments about the food. In fact, nothing but compliments about the entire wedding. Almost all of our guests gushed about how this was by far the BEST wedding they had ever attended. Which made us very happy. Again, Ana and Karen are so helpful and accommodating and made the process so comfortable for us. Don‘t get worked-up if it takes them a few days to return your emails during the planning process. These ladies have a dozen or more weddings to plan and orchestrate each week, so they are busy. If you really need to reach them, just pick-up the phone and call them, you‘ll reach them way faster than by email, as they don‘t spend much time behind a computer. But rest assured that as it gets closer to your wedding date, their attention, responses and activity ramps up. STAFF: The staff at this resort are really great. Always helpful, always in a good mood, and always appreciative of tips. They don‘t make much an hour considering the service they provide, so please be sure to tip here and there. Be it a dollar or two, they really go the extra mile when you tip them. I would tip the pool bartender $5 at the start of the day, and all throughout he would attend to my order right away when he saw me coming over or standing in the line. If nothing else, at least be polite and respectful with them, as they are with you. I cannot believe the number of arrogant people I would notice bossing them around and not so much as say please or thank you. Who the hell do these people think they are?! Just stay home and let the rest of us enjoy a civilized holiday. CONCLUSION: We HIGHLY recommend The Ocean Coral and Turquesa Resort by H10 for any trip and especially if you‘re thinking about getting married there. Be it a romantic couples getaway, a family trip, a trip with friends, or even a 110 member destination wedding, this resort has something for every taste and expectation. Just don‘t set unrealistic expectations before you go. This isn‘t a luxury hotel, it‘s a vacation spot, and a darn great one at that. Muchas Gracias H10! Thank you for making it the wedding of our dreams.