We wanted to make everyone aware of the poor customer service and wedding exhibited at the Grand Riviera Princess resort during our destination wedding (July 6, 2010) that resulted in 52 guests choosing to vacation at this hotel.
From the outset, there was a complete lack of information provided. Numerous emails were sent months in advance as we attempted to plan this extremely important event. We were seeking detailed information as to pricing and ‘the process’ by which weddings occur. At best, what we received in explanation was always minimal and never detailed enough to answer all of our questions. Ours was not the first wedding held at the resort and as a result, we believe that a complete package of information outlining the options and specific details should be readily available to all prospective bridal couples including the revised venue for inclement weather conditions. We continually felt that we had to pester and plead for every piece of information while giving ample opportunity for the wedding planners to communicate with us by providing phone numbers and other contact information in all our correspondence.
We were not told when our appointment with the wedding planner was and in fact had to seek out the wedding department as we had heard nothing a few days before our actual wedding. By us seeking out the information we were told we had a meeting with Sandra on Friday at 10:00 a.m. This was news to us as we had not been contacted previously. When we arrived for the 10:00 a.m. meeting, an office move was in progress and we were asked to come back the following day at 10:00 a.m. A note under our door in the absence of a proper inter-room telephone communication system would have been the polite way to handle this situation. Instead, we had to use our limited vacation time to arrange the details of our wedding that we had been trying to arrange for over 5 months rather than enjoying the amenities of the resort.
The one piece of information that we were aware of was the start time of the wedding at 4:00 p.m. At our first meeting with Sandra at the resort, we were informed that the bride walked down the aisle at 4:00 pm. Given the lack of inter-resort communication, this important detail had already been communicated to all guests in the form of a written itinerary. No aid was offered by the wedding coordinator to ensure that all 52 guests were contacted and advised of the time change. Guests were not called to let them know of the changes of the wedding ceremony and reception locations due to the tropical rainstorm that occurred on the day of our wedding. We did that ourselves and at a time when we had other things to attend to. It was assumed that guests would call the concierge however when approached and asked for details, they had no knowledge of the location of the wedding or correct time.
Also during our first meeting with Sandra we had discovered that the Platinum suite we were staying in had strict guidelines to the guests allowed in the building. If you weren't Platinum, you weren't allowed in. We understood the reasoning, but no where was this information given until you arrived at the resort. This would have been nice to know as we would have stayed elsewhere in the resort. We discussed with Sandra that our room being so close to the original ceremony site we had planned for all preparation for myself and bridesmaids to take place in our room (5219) along with our photographer and hair stylist (all who were non Platinum guests). We were told that this would not be a problem and Sandra would take care of this detail and they would make an exception as it was for our wedding. This information was never relayed to anyone working in the Platinum lounge. And when the group of bridesmaids, hair stylist and photographer made their way to our room they were rudely stopped in their tracks and told that security would be called to have them removed.
Flowers form an integral part of any wedding ceremony including photos with various family members prior to the ceremony. In our case, we had our 2 grandmothers (aged 89 and 82 yrs) in attendance and would have appreciated the traditional picture of the pinning of their corsages. However, this was not feasible as the flowers arrived at the bride’s room late and 10 minutes before the bridal party was to leave on the golf cart (3:40 as opposed to 3:00 as it stated on the itinerary presented to us by Sandra). In addition, the flowers were of inferior quality, were falling apart and drooping. We questioned Sandra about the flowers and she immediately passed the blame to the bell boy or whoever
delivered them. How they managed to appear in this condition is of
no consequence to us. They were ordered and paid for and should have been beautiful and available to us in a timely manner. Thankfully, a friend from Cozumel saved the day and showed up with the most magnificent bouquets and boutonnieres! I would highly recommend not using the resort flowers! They were awful and so ugly!
The lack of communication we had experienced leading up to the wedding was continued throughout and was extremely frustrating.
We were always the ones calling and even those calls the afternoon of the wedding day when the alternate site plans were not clear were ignored by Sandra. Simple things went awry – the groom had to re-start the music with the correct song, the cue to start the processional was aborted causing a bridesmaid to stand by herself waiting anxiously for the rest of the wedding party and eventually returning herself to ‘do it again’ and the aisle was not wide enough for 2 when in fact there were 3 trying to navigate the space. Many of the issues could have been avoided had there been upfront and unhurried communication. After all, we paid thousands of dollars to have a spectacular Mexican wedding.
With the advent of foul weather, we understood that we would be unable to have our wedding ceremony and reception on the beach. We had discussed the “Plan B” option with Sandra and that the substitute ceremony location would be a closed off area of the main lobby bar on the Riviera side. The area looked perfect based on the pictures shown to us. We agreed based upon those pictures and our assumption/understanding that the designated area would be private as this was the only option given to us. However when our photographer and assistant made their way to the ceremony area at 3:15 p.m., 30 minutes early to set up some lights, the area was full of a large group playing bingo. When the concierge was questioned as to where the wedding was happening, he pointed towards the bingo group and said the ceremony would happen at 5:00 pm where they're playing bingo. As previously stated, we had been told the bride was to be walking down the aisle at 4 and the groomsmen were supposed to be standing there waiting at 3:30. Our photographer had to convince the concierge that the bingo playing people had to be moved. When we questioned Sandra about the ceremony site, she simply stated that “You wouldn’t be here if you had your perfect day on the beach, we can’t control the weather”. We had long accepted the weather as an uncontrollable issue. However, we do blame the resort for making this unforeseen situation even more difficult by their lack of caring and again extremely poor customer service. It is clear to us that they are not set up to handle a ‘perfect wedding’ if the weather is bad.
We were not asked where we wanted to get married under the Plan B option. Instead we were blamed for having such a big group. Surely a resort of their size would have more suitable premises (Platinum Lounge, Piano Bar, a Hallway even!) for such an important and solemn event. Instead, the processional was along the lobby bar with patrons turned on their barstools watching me and my parents. There are very few photographs that show a beautiful Mexican backdrop for the ceremony. Most show vacationers sitting in the lobby bar and gawking at us - total strangers – and worse yet, taking our photos and videos.
We had planned to have our ceremony completed by 4:30 p.m. allowing for 1.5 hours of photographs prior to the start of the banquet. As a result of the delays described above, we had 45
minutes to take these once in a life time photos. Regrettably, we
failed to get all the shots we had wanted (including the signature bride and groom portrait) as there was simply not enough time. This was through no fault of our own. We paid $3000 US to bring an amazing photographer to the resort and failed to utilize him to his full potential (he was a photographer not a wedding organizer). There was NO element of privacy and in fact we felt completely on display to all of these people we did not know. The post ceremony photographs were also compromised as the bar patrons were in the way and did not voluntarily move. It was very uncomfortable and definitely not what we had imagined our wedding would be like. Even on the beach, we would have had random people in the photos however they would at least have been distanced from us and not in our faces!
My mother also determined that we had been given the wrong name for the banquet hall (Hivaljo) and was finally given the correct information at 5:45 pm when the reception was to start at 6:00 pm. Despite all the hard work that the reception staff went through to make up for the disappointing ceremony the issues did not seem to stop. The reception halls were amazing with large vaulted ceilings and chandeliers. Unfortunately, adjacent to the chandeliers there were two dangling projectors 15 ft from the ceiling that made the room and all of our photographs appear tacky. A person’s eye is automatically drawn to the un-retracted projectors making the photos of this amazing banquet room unusable. The head table was about 6 ft too short for the 10 people in the wedding party (a detail that was made known ahead of time to the wedding planners.) We were shoulder to shoulder with barely enough room to eat. As well, the back drop was that of a fire extinguisher and exit signs – again not a fitting scene for our Mexican wedding! The buffet set up had a better back drop than the head table. The reception staff was very attentive to our needs however at times they were too attentive. The groom, when questioned how everything was going, simply stated “dinner was amazing however the ceremony was quite rocky.” The staff then proceeded to question the groom for details at a time when the groom’s only concern was to have fun and attempt to enjoy the rest of the evening. The DJ appeared to be slightly aggravated from the outset. He was standoffish when approached by the best man about a microphone for speeches and overall was not easily approachable. It seemed whenever someone asked him
to play a song off of our playlist he didn’t seem very happy about it,
it was like we were inconveniencing him. There were some major sound quality issues, severe enough to the point where people could not understand due to the halls acoustics.
In summary, we brought revenue of approximately $35,000 US (excluding airfare) to the resort and surrounding area, we paid $6,300 US for a beach wedding for which there was no acceptable Plan B alternative for inclement weather and we suffered much unnecessary tension and stress due to the resort’s lack of professionalism and all this on what should have been a relaxing start to our lifelong marriage.
All in all, we tried to give the resort and wedding planners a proper amount of time to apologize. We sent in all the information as they had asked for our comments and after many many emails from August until now, November 1st, 2010 - it was apparent that this resort does not care about their customers and all they see are dollar signs when people choose their resort for a wedding. They completely take advantage of tourists and charge you for every little detail for your wedding - and their product and service are not at all the quality you would expect with the expensive price you pay. All we wanted was an apology and all we received was empty promises of compensation and that they were "working on it." We finally heard from West Jet Vacations that the resort was not planning on doing anything for us.
West Jet is a wonderful company who actually care about their customers and felt horrible about our experience. They gave us a generous credit towards future travel and apologized countless times, even though it was not at all their fault! Thank you West Jet!