My wife and I recently got married at Renaissance Island, and boy was it much different than we had expected. We’ve always dreamed of a lavish destination wedding, and while we did have a great time, looking back we have several regrets.
The Renaissance Hotel
We could not be any more disappointed in the experience we had with the hotel. When we arrived to the hotel, we received an e-mail that the pool on the family side was under renovation. We had seen this on trip advisor a week or two ago, but we figured it would be done by then. Regardless, they did not send us an e-mail until the day we checked in. My wife was heartbroken, because were bringing 70 guests to the resort, many of whom were staying on the family side. Who wants to go on a vacation and see a construction zone outside of their window? We spoke to the manager, who blatantly lied to us, telling us that it was a burst pipe. These renovations had been planned since we visited the resort and booked our wedding 2 years prior, and they were supposed to be done last year. The director of rooms handled the situation very well and made good for it, ultimately comping all of our guests their first night and upgrading our suite for the week at no cost to us.
They promise you a free return trip after booking so many guests, but then they tell you that they are booked and cannot accommodate your requests.
Randolph & Milayne
The process was a stressful one because we would have to wait weeks for simple responses to e-mails. They are accustomed a different style of wedding planning than we are in the States, so the process was fairly stressful. They hit the nail on the head with our wedding in all aspects except our cake design. The planning, layout, was all great, however, they gave us a plain (but very tasty) cake. Randolph was very accommodating, and threw in a lot of free things for us including a large seafood display. We were disappointed in our cake, mainly because my wife and I looked for cake designs for months, and we finally found one that we loved. We were very disappointed when we found our cake was a plain cake with absolutely no design…..it was delicious though, as was the rest of the food.
We were very disappointed in the overall flow of our wedding. Randolph and Milayne did a fantastic job with the decorating and the ceremony, however, they had to leave shortly after cocktail hour, and that is when everything went downhill. He left one of the wait staff in charge, but they did not do much. We cut our cake right after cocktail hour so that we could get pictures. Salads were then passed around…and everyone sat waiting for dinner for an hour. The person in charge had to be prompted to start serving dinner (which the Steak and Sea Bass were out of this world), and then later on when we asked him when the cake will be served, he had a look of disbelief. We wanted to party, but the lack of coordination left us with only an hour and a half or so to dance. We had figured that Randolph or Milayne would have stayed to coordinate at least until dessert, and I think that we would not have been so disappointed had they stayed because I’m sure things would have went more smoothly.
We were also disappointed in the transportation. We could not use the lobby entrance for the boats because the swells were too high, so the boat left from the dock that is across the street. We requested accommodation’s for our disabled guests that were never provided. Also, one of our disabled guests took a shuttle from the family side to the adult side to get the boat, and was told that he cannot board and has to go back to the family side to get the boat, and he had to WALK back! When Randolph called me to advise me of the change in the dock, I asked him if he could get a shuttle for my wife to be transported to the family side dock so that she did not have to walk across the street, in the middle of traffic while it was extremely windy. His response was Yes, of course, Yes…A shuttle never arrived and she had to walk across the street in her white dress which soon had a shade of gray from the street.
We chose Crooze because we loved the pictures that we saw online. Their style of photography is very natural, so you won’t spend a lot of time posing for photos. They also took us on a photoshoot around the island the next day as part of our photography package. We received about 850 photos from them and we were blown away. We highly recommend them!
Imgar Maduro – Video
Ingmar was recommended to us through Randolph, and he was very receptive. We met with him a few days before the wedding to go over everything, and our video was everything we had hoped for. He sets up multiple cameras in addition to the one he walks around with, and his editing skills are very good. Initially we were not going to do a video, but we couldn't be happier with our decision to do it, as well go with Ingmar.
DJ Tino also came highly recommended by Randolph, and he was praised on the forums as well. He is a great guy and very receptive, but the party never really stayed alive. We had a mixed crowd of older and younger people. The music was mainly current music aside from the songs we had requested, but often times when people would get on the dancefloor for one song, the following song would kind of kill the party. It was a series of ups and downs. If we could do it again, we would’ve given him a more in depth song list and specific genres, but that was also partly our fault. Regardless, we still had a great time.
Bring bug spray! They really downplay the severity of their mosquito situation. We had hand fans for our guest that turned into bug swatters. They give you bug spray, but the mosquitos still SWARM. Even when we were taking pictures, we had to move fast because we were getting eaten alive. It doesn’t end on the Flamingo Beach either, some of them make it to the Iguana Beach and continue to feast on you and your guests. We had a lot of tiki torches as well as a gas torch which I think helped, but be prepared to be bitten.
KuKoo Kunuku & Jolly Pirates
We did the Kukoo Kunuku for our joint Bachelor-Bachelorette party, and it was probably the best time we have ever had in our lives. We rented a private bus for our party of 25-30, and to this day everyone still raves about it. Our host was Big Daddy and he was awesome. We were a little hesitant as many of the busses we saw were just people sitting down shaking maracas, but our bus was off the walls.
We also rented a Jolly Pirates boat as a thank you for all of our guests for coming. They took us to two snorkel sites and opened the rope swing for about an hour. Also a great time and highly recommended.
Our Overall Experience
We cannot confidently say that if we could do it all over again that we would choose the Renaissance for our wedding. We were extremely happy with our contractors, as well as our wedding coordinators (for the most part), but there were critical details that really took away from our overall experience, such as me telling the wait staff to serve dinner. I also do not think I would give my money to the Renaissance again after they blatantly lied to us on numerous occasions, and are now denying our requests for a free return stay after all that they messed up on. We brought them 70 guests who paid for room, food, and drinks on top of what we paid for our wedding. They should be giving us a free WEEK stay instead of 4 days for all of the business that we gave them. We even offered to settle for a regular room instead of the promised ocean view, and they still could not accommodate us. My wife and I were just looking to revisit where we got married for our anniversary, but that does not look like it is going to happen right now, unless corporate is able to further accommodate us.
I would definitely err on the side of caution when booking here. We did check out other resorts, such as the Riu and the Divi, but they were too expensive. The Occidental, the food was terrible, the rooms were musky, and there were roaches everywhere. While the Renaissance seems to be the best choice on the island, especially since you have a private island to yourself, expect a lot of road bumps and false promises.
Welcome to the forum and congrats on your nuptials
First let me say I have a strong affinity for the Renaissance . I read and reread your post.
it sounds like the only big disappointment was the pool construction that you weren't notified about.
The food was good, the cake was good( though not decorated the way you wanted), the DJ was good( except for your older crowd), the photographer and video persons were good, their communication was slow( it's Aruba time) misquitos were out( they are all over the island), the Kukukoo bus was great, JP was great.....
it it doesn't sound all that bad.
I would not hesitate recommending the Renn for any wedding.
i suggest you pursue the pool Reno situation further.
Welcome to the forum and congrats on your recent marriage. How sad that you had a less than awesome experience. I hope you plan a return trip to Aruba for your anniversary and many more to come. The Holiday Inn is a great option on Palm Beach that is a bit less expensive, but still has nice amenities, a casino, and recently remodeled rooms. We have added a couple of extra nights there on our last three trips and have thoroughly enjoyed our stay there. They have palapas right on the beach, a wonderful pool/beach bar with good happy hour prices and is right in the middle of all of the Palm Beach excitement. On our first trip to Aruba we stayed at the Ren Marina, but after we discovered Palm Beach and Eagle Beach we knew that was the place for us and have been staying there for several years. There is a much better variety of restaurants, a fun nightlife for all ages, and those awesome beaches. Please don't give up on Aruba, I think a change of venue would work wonders for your perception of the island. Don't be a stranger, hang with us and we'll help you plan a wonderful Aruba experience.
Congratulations on your wedding. I am so sorry your experience was not up to par and sure that the Renaissance group sales department will make good on their promise for next year. Truly, Renaissance Island is a beautiful location for a wedding ceremony and reception and in the end you will realize that you made an excellent choice for your wedding day. I do not know Randolph personally ,but understand he is very accommodating. However, in my opinion, one of the planners should have been in charge for most of the evening and not left one of the waitstaff in charge.