Posts Tagged ‘beach’

Wedding Planning at Occidental Grand Xcaret Mexico

Author: Senait IsaacThe Travel Link, Instagram: @thetravellink

I have been asked by many of you what I thought of the Occidental Grand Xcaret and as a woman that is known to tell it how it is, here goes nothing.

First, I would like to give many thanks to the Occidental Resorts and Air Canada Vacations for inviting me to be part of their FAM trip. For those of you that don’t know, FAM is short for “Familiarization.” It was an awesome learning experience for me, as a travel advisor, to learn more about the resort and in turn, recommend the resort to the right client.  I mean it didn’t hurt that I was “working” in sunny Mexico either.

In all of my years in the travel industry, I have never been on a FAM trip and didn’t know what to expect. Typical first day of school jitters, where you start to ask yourself, “Will we all get a long? Will I fit in? Will I even like the other agents?”  Fortunately, I totally lucked out! The ladies on this trip were so welcoming, had so much industry knowledge to share and a few of us even did our due diligence and completed a quality control inspection of the disco until 2am.  I would classify this as the best “work” trip ever!

Dinner with the Manager of the Occidental Hotel chain

 

Now, for the review you all have been waiting for…drum roll please!

The Occidental Grand Xcaret was located 60 minutes from the airport and 5 minutes from Playa Del Carmen.  The coolest thing about this resort is that it was built in an old Mayan town. When I walked around the resort I was surrounded by trees as tall as skyscrapers; it felt as if I was in a Costa Rican jungle. I saw monkeys, deer, iguanas and so much more. This was the most interesting eco-resort I have been too.

The staff was friendly, always said “hello” or checking if you were lost to offer you direction. They definitely went above and beyond to make sure our stay was comfortable.

Main Lobby

 

Wedding Ceremony

This resort can accommodate wedding ceremonies in two different locations, in a gazebo or also in front of a Mayan ruin. If you were looking for an amazing unique backdrop, I would highly recommend the Mayan ruin. On one side you have a Mayan ruin and the other side there is the ocean. It took my breath away! When I find my prince charming I want a backdrop as stunning at this.

The wedding planner at this resort is amazing and works very hard with your local planner or yourselves to make sure each of her couples are happy. This resort also caters to weddings for same sex couples.

Another great reason to book your wedding here is that your reception can be held at the beach bar; which is located on the opposite side of the rooms so your group can party until 1am.

Beach Wedding Ceremony

 

Hotel Grounds

 

One of the greatest perks of staying at this resort is that, only five minutes from the main lobby, we had direct access to the Xcaret Eco-Archaeological Park. When staying at this resort you can book the Unlimited Xcaret Experience; which offers you unlimited access to the park so you can take your time sightseeing over a few days. I explored the caves through the underground river, saw beautiful dolphins and had a relaxing experience taking a raft through the paradise river. I spent a full day and only managed to discover less than half of the park.

I would highly recommend this resort to couples and families with children older than about 7. If you are seeking a quiet resort with lots of nature activities, this is the right resort for you. The Occidental Grand Xcaret and the Xcaret Eco-Archaeological Park is an eco tourist’s delight!

Paradise River

 

Atmosphere:

The Occidental is a large quiet resort that is surrounded by beautiful lush vegetation.  The resort was at 95% occupancy, but felt like there was no one there.  It was great that I didn’t have to elbow anyone to find a lounge chair by the beach or pool.

The main lobby had a huge pond filled with what must have been dozens of fish that you could feed and stunning, brightly colored parrots. The grounds were magnificent – lush trees and exotic free roaming wildlife. It was impossible to put the camera away, I found myself taking pictures every few minutes.

Rooms:

I stayed in the Deluxe Room with a balcony. I found the rooms to be spacious, clean and simple. The Deluxe room had the standard in-room amenities (safe, bathroom products and mini fridge). The upgrade to the Royal Club offers private VIP check-in and check-out, complimentary internet, room service, premium bath amenities, an exclusive a la carte restaurant and concierge services.

Deluxe Resort Room

 

Wi-Fi:

I know you’re supposed to disconnect on vacation, but since this was a work trip I definitely needed to test the Wi-Fi.  There was amazing Wi-Fi strength through out the entire resort. I accessed it in the lobby, restaurants, bars, room, pools and even the beach.

When a deluxe room is booked a guest receives one-hour free Wi-Fi per day in the lobby. The only downside is that once you sign in you must commit to the full hour. You cannot sign in and out multiple times through out the day.

I chose to purchase the additional Wi-Fi package and it was the best value for money. I didn’t have to be stuck in the lobby for an hour to make sure I used all my allocated time. The cost is $8/hour, $50/day and $70/week. You can definitely sign in and out within that hour you purchased and your Wi-Fi will not time out. The resort offers a special rate for groups costing $35/week!

Beach

 

I hope you found this post to be informative and it helped you decide if this resort is right for you. For more information on restaurant reviews and details of the pools and beaches check out the full blog post here. If you have any questions about this resort or would like to see more pictures email me at senait@thetravellink.ca

3 Tips for Planning a Destination Wedding

Having just returned from Jamaica for a destination wedding, this time as the guest, I thought I would share a few key items that we always prep couples with to ensure their big day goes off without any fires to put out! Trust me, it’s much harder to put them out when you are out-of-country, especially if you are limited by transportation and familiar supplies.

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Keep the kids busy – If you have flower girls and ring bearers in your bridal party make sure you have some activities to keep the kids entertained while the grown ups are getting ready. Kids can get bored very easily, especially when they are in another country without their usual go-to games and modern day electronics. When gifting your bridesmaids and groomsmen it’s a great opportunity to give the kids a gift that they can keep busy with on the morning of the wedding. We like gifts like the Pixel Loom Bracelet Kit for girls and the Meccano 5 Model Set – Motorbike for boys. Both can be found at Indigo.

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Timely site visits – Make sure you test out the event locations at the time of day that you plan to entertain there. Whether it’s your ceremony on a beach or on the grounds of a resort. If your ceremony is at 3 p.m. you want to see how hot the sun is at that specific time of the day and how windy it might get. Take note of wind directions so that you and your wedding planner can set up the ceremony design based on the circumstance. We were lucky enough to squeeze in a site visit at the Royalton White Sands while a wedding was set up (see image below). It’s a great way to envision your day on the premises. Also, take note of seasonal changes, track what the weather is like in the country in the Fall compared to the Spring. It’s ideal if you or your planner can check out the venue during the same season you plan to host your wedding but not everyone has a full year to plan so talk to staff at the venue about what the weather is like during that time of year.

IMG_6619 Hydration – Many destination weddings take place in more tropical climates that have warmer temperatures than where your guests might be flying in from. It’s so incredibly important to make sure that you have water available to guests at their accommodations, at the ceremony locations and at the reception. It does’t need to be boring bottles of water. Arrange with your planner and the venues in advance to include some trendy water dispensers like the ones here that you can infuse with fresh fruits that match your colour schemes. It’s a small and affordable touch to elevate your event.

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These are just a few of my key items to keep your big day moving smoothly when planned out-of-country. For more tips and tricks for destination wedding planning contact me at whitney@dianesinclairevents.com.

Instagram: @DianeSinclairEvents | Twitter: @WeddingsDS