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Thread: Review of Occidental Wedding

  1. #1
    Junior Member nikker040984's Avatar
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    Thumbs down Review of Occidental Wedding

    I was married at the Occidental Grand Aruba on Saturday, September 27th and was informed by some native islanders of this forum. During the course of planning my wedding at Occidental Grand I hit a large number of snags, and the wedding planning services I paid for were nowhere worth the amount of money I paid for these services. As I bumped into more and more people who lived in Aruba and told them of my experience at the Occidental, they suggested I share my frustrations here for the good of future brides. Therefore, I will outline my experience planning my wedding w/ the Occidental Grand Aruba below. I welcome you to be in touch w/ me if you have more specific questions.

    Issues planning my wedding with the Occidental began almost immediately when trying to secure a wedding date. After speaking with multiple brides and other venues, it was agreed upon that the very first step in planning a wedding should be securing a date at your chosen venue. Both my travel agent and I attempted to secure a date multiple times but were told we could not choose a wedding date until we had booked our hotel stay. After some back-and-forth between my travel agent and Occidental it was determined that the weekend of Saturday, September 27th was available if I agreed to book my room and wedding immediately. I did as told and a few weeks later booked my airfare. Only after my airfare had been booked did I then receive an email from Occidental stating that the date I had selected was no longer available. I came to find out later that my wedding had been bumped for a larger wedding after I had already submitted all of the required forms and booked my travel.
    After some more back-and-forth between Occidental and my travel agent the resort agreed to squeeze in my wedding at noon on September 27th (we could not move our date because friends & family had already booked travel for that weekend, nor should we have had to). Sadly, my issues with the Occidental did not end there. In August I received my final payment invoice for my wedding and there was no mention of my civil ceremony. Despite filling out the appropriate forms and my travel agent confirming my civil ceremony via email our wedding planner had forgot to schedule our civil ceremony. This presented us with a number of additional issues:

    • Since booking our wedding our planner had given us a civil ceremony date of Thursday, September 25th. However, because our planner forgot to submit our paperwork this date had not been secured and no dates for the 25th were available. Thus, we again had to move our wedding (this time moving the civil ceremony to Friday, September 26th despite having already made plans for other things on that day)
    • In order to get married legally in Aruba a number of legal documents need to be submitted that are supposed to be provided by the Occidental Grand Aruba. When our wedding planner failed to book our civil ceremony she also failed to alert the sub-contractor who handles legal ceremonies of our nuptials and thus our paperwork was never forwarded to us. Despite being advertised in my wedding package that all legalities of my ceremony would be handled and that Aruba-specific paperwork would be sent to me it took over a month to secure these forms (and only after multiple phone calls and emails from me and my travel agent to the wedding planner.)


    Again, after much scrambling on my part the issues with the civil ceremony were resolved. Yet again, more issues continued to arise upon my arrival at the resort. I was told multiple times by my Miami wedding coordinator that I would have a final on-site consultation with the wedding planner at Occidental Grand Aruba. However, up until my arrival in Aruba I received NO phone call, email, or other outreach from the on-site wedding planner to schedule this. It wasn’t until I made the concierge aware of this fact that I was finally put in touch with our wedding coordinator.

    This was not the last of the issues surrounding our wedding that continued to arise throughout our stay in Aruba. In the interest of brevity I will list them below and would be happy to expand on details further at your request:

    1. Upon arriving in our hotel room we received a generic form letter from our on-site wedding planner that obviously had not been proofread. One sentence in particular read that it “has been a pleasure getting to know such happy and jolly people as the two of you,” despite the fact that I had never spoken with this wedding planner, ever.
    2. Our wedding package advertises a honeymoon amenity gift. The on-site wedding planner never made mention of this and it wasn’t until the concierge asked us at checkout if we had received our gift that it was provided.
    3. Our wedding package also advertises breakfast in bed the day after our ceremony. This was never delivered or mentioned.
    4. On the day of our wedding a number of announcements were made in the daily newsletter of honeymoons, weddings, anniversaries, and returning couples. Our wedding was not mentioned in this newsletter.
    5. After providing my wedding dress to the on-site coordinator to get steamed it took multiple attempts to get it back. Each time I asked the coordinator to have the dress left in my room and each time the coordinator asked me to pick it up at a certain time. When I would inquire at that time the coordinator would be unavailable or the dress “wasn’t ready yet.” It took 3 outreach attempts to get my dress delivered to my room. (First she said she would have it delivered and it never came, then she said she would bring it to me in the lobby and never showed, and then she told me to pick it up at the concierge at 1pm. At 1pm it wasn’t ready and the concierge had to arrange to have it delivered).
    6. We were told that we could not have our wedding on Friday evening, September 26th because there was another wedding that evening. There was a rehearsal dinner but no wedding that day.
    7. My mother ordered a hairpiece for my hair to be worn at my symbolic ceremony. It was not delivered until after my hair and makeup had already been completed by spa staff at Occidental (my hair & makeup appointment was at 8:30am and the piece was not provided until 11am. The on-site wedding coordinator was aware of this, as she was present when I booked the appointment).
    8. On the eve of our wedding our on-site wedding coordinator scheduled dinner for us at Zen Restaurant at the Occidental and arranged for our wedding cake and toast to occur at that time. After completing our meal no wedding cake or champagne were provided. I brought this to our server’s attention, who informed me that the on-site coordinator had not informed the restaurant of these arrangements and that no cake had been provided to them. Thankfully, the general manager of the restaurant was lovely and made all of the appropriate phone calls to track down our wedding cake.
    9. I wrote letters for a number of our weddings guests and left these with the front desk to be delivered upon check-in. These letters were never provided to my guests.
    10. On Thursday, September 25th two of our guests were bumped to the Hyatt because the Occidental was overbooked and the hotel also attempted to bump my parents to the Hyatt as well. While I understand that overbooking happens, I do not understand why members of my wedding party (who were staying at the resort as part of a group for a special event we paid extra for) were bumped as opposed to regular guests who were staying in the hotel alone.


    As you can hopefully see, our wedding at Occidental Grand Aruba was ripe with issues and nowhere near worth the money spent for the lack of services that were provided. With that said, I can say that there were still some bright points during our stay with Occidental. For example, the wedding planning company that Occidental sub-contracts with for civil ceremonies, Letz Aruba, was attentive and wonderful. I felt the most at ease during my stay while in the hands of Arlette, the owner or Letz Aruba, as she managed the details of our civil ceremony. In addition, many of the other staff at Occidental Aruba were accommodating – the concierge staff, Renato at The Palm Buffet, the staff at Zen Restaurant, and all of the spa staff. The spa staff in particular was especially warm, attentive, and talented. My wedding hair and make-up received many compliments and I received one of the best massages of my life from the staff at the Occidental Spa.

    Unfortunately the small highlights of our wedding trip did not outweigh the amount of stress we experienced due to very poor wedding planning. A number of things that seemed very simple became unnecessarily complicated because of either inexperience (or perhaps just disinterested) wedding staff. As a bride, there are already a number of things on your plate that increase your stress levels. Paying for the services of a wedding planner and paying for an on-site wedding package are supposed to decrease your stress levels. Unfortunately, Occidental did just the opposite. I wholeheartedly believe that I would have experienced LESS stress if I had just booked my wedding and all of the details myself. I have reached out to Occidental to remedy the situation and seek appropriate customer service but to this date have received no response (I originally sent a letter and email on October 6th and it is now November 21st). This only further disheartens me and underscores the poor level of customer service provided by Occidental.

    While on the island, I did ask around about other wedding venues for friends & family who may pursue Aruba as a wedding site in the future. I received a suggestion of the Marriot or of Riu if looking for all-inclusive. Hope this is helpful

  2. #2
    Aruba since 1979
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    Andrea J.'s Avatar
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    May 2007
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    welcome to the aruba.com community forum.

    as most every member her can attest.........i am usually never at a loss for words.

    what a horrible story......a huge disappointment and it all should have been perfect.

    i am unclear about ....you had a wedding coordinator in miami, one at the occidental and arlette?

    wishing you many many good wishes


    Quote Originally Posted by nikker040984 View Post
    I was married at the Occidental Grand Aruba on Saturday, September 27th and was informed by some native islanders of this forum. During the course of planning my wedding at Occidental Grand I hit a large number of snags, and the wedding planning services I paid for were nowhere worth the amount of money I paid for these services. As I bumped into more and more people who lived in Aruba and told them of my experience at the Occidental, they suggested I share my frustrations here for the good of future brides. Therefore, I will outline my experience planning my wedding w/ the Occidental Grand Aruba below. I welcome you to be in touch w/ me if you have more specific questions.

    Issues planning my wedding with the Occidental began almost immediately when trying to secure a wedding date. After speaking with multiple brides and other venues, it was agreed upon that the very first step in planning a wedding should be securing a date at your chosen venue. Both my travel agent and I attempted to secure a date multiple times but were told we could not choose a wedding date until we had booked our hotel stay. After some back-and-forth between my travel agent and Occidental it was determined that the weekend of Saturday, September 27th was available if I agreed to book my room and wedding immediately. I did as told and a few weeks later booked my airfare. Only after my airfare had been booked did I then receive an email from Occidental stating that the date I had selected was no longer available. I came to find out later that my wedding had been bumped for a larger wedding after I had already submitted all of the required forms and booked my travel.
    After some more back-and-forth between Occidental and my travel agent the resort agreed to squeeze in my wedding at noon on September 27th (we could not move our date because friends & family had already booked travel for that weekend, nor should we have had to). Sadly, my issues with the Occidental did not end there. In August I received my final payment invoice for my wedding and there was no mention of my civil ceremony. Despite filling out the appropriate forms and my travel agent confirming my civil ceremony via email our wedding planner had forgot to schedule our civil ceremony. This presented us with a number of additional issues:

    • Since booking our wedding our planner had given us a civil ceremony date of Thursday, September 25th. However, because our planner forgot to submit our paperwork this date had not been secured and no dates for the 25th were available. Thus, we again had to move our wedding (this time moving the civil ceremony to Friday, September 26th despite having already made plans for other things on that day)
    • In order to get married legally in Aruba a number of legal documents need to be submitted that are supposed to be provided by the Occidental Grand Aruba. When our wedding planner failed to book our civil ceremony she also failed to alert the sub-contractor who handles legal ceremonies of our nuptials and thus our paperwork was never forwarded to us. Despite being advertised in my wedding package that all legalities of my ceremony would be handled and that Aruba-specific paperwork would be sent to me it took over a month to secure these forms (and only after multiple phone calls and emails from me and my travel agent to the wedding planner.)


    Again, after much scrambling on my part the issues with the civil ceremony were resolved. Yet again, more issues continued to arise upon my arrival at the resort. I was told multiple times by my Miami wedding coordinator that I would have a final on-site consultation with the wedding planner at Occidental Grand Aruba. However, up until my arrival in Aruba I received NO phone call, email, or other outreach from the on-site wedding planner to schedule this. It wasn’t until I made the concierge aware of this fact that I was finally put in touch with our wedding coordinator.

    This was not the last of the issues surrounding our wedding that continued to arise throughout our stay in Aruba. In the interest of brevity I will list them below and would be happy to expand on details further at your request:

    1. Upon arriving in our hotel room we received a generic form letter from our on-site wedding planner that obviously had not been proofread. One sentence in particular read that it “has been a pleasure getting to know such happy and jolly people as the two of you,” despite the fact that I had never spoken with this wedding planner, ever.
    2. Our wedding package advertises a honeymoon amenity gift. The on-site wedding planner never made mention of this and it wasn’t until the concierge asked us at checkout if we had received our gift that it was provided.
    3. Our wedding package also advertises breakfast in bed the day after our ceremony. This was never delivered or mentioned.
    4. On the day of our wedding a number of announcements were made in the daily newsletter of honeymoons, weddings, anniversaries, and returning couples. Our wedding was not mentioned in this newsletter.
    5. After providing my wedding dress to the on-site coordinator to get steamed it took multiple attempts to get it back. Each time I asked the coordinator to have the dress left in my room and each time the coordinator asked me to pick it up at a certain time. When I would inquire at that time the coordinator would be unavailable or the dress “wasn’t ready yet.” It took 3 outreach attempts to get my dress delivered to my room. (First she said she would have it delivered and it never came, then she said she would bring it to me in the lobby and never showed, and then she told me to pick it up at the concierge at 1pm. At 1pm it wasn’t ready and the concierge had to arrange to have it delivered).
    6. We were told that we could not have our wedding on Friday evening, September 26th because there was another wedding that evening. There was a rehearsal dinner but no wedding that day.
    7. My mother ordered a hairpiece for my hair to be worn at my symbolic ceremony. It was not delivered until after my hair and makeup had already been completed by spa staff at Occidental (my hair & makeup appointment was at 8:30am and the piece was not provided until 11am. The on-site wedding coordinator was aware of this, as she was present when I booked the appointment).
    8. On the eve of our wedding our on-site wedding coordinator scheduled dinner for us at Zen Restaurant at the Occidental and arranged for our wedding cake and toast to occur at that time. After completing our meal no wedding cake or champagne were provided. I brought this to our server’s attention, who informed me that the on-site coordinator had not informed the restaurant of these arrangements and that no cake had been provided to them. Thankfully, the general manager of the restaurant was lovely and made all of the appropriate phone calls to track down our wedding cake.
    9. I wrote letters for a number of our weddings guests and left these with the front desk to be delivered upon check-in. These letters were never provided to my guests.
    10. On Thursday, September 25th two of our guests were bumped to the Hyatt because the Occidental was overbooked and the hotel also attempted to bump my parents to the Hyatt as well. While I understand that overbooking happens, I do not understand why members of my wedding party (who were staying at the resort as part of a group for a special event we paid extra for) were bumped as opposed to regular guests who were staying in the hotel alone.


    As you can hopefully see, our wedding at Occidental Grand Aruba was ripe with issues and nowhere near worth the money spent for the lack of services that were provided. With that said, I can say that there were still some bright points during our stay with Occidental. For example, the wedding planning company that Occidental sub-contracts with for civil ceremonies, Letz Aruba, was attentive and wonderful. I felt the most at ease during my stay while in the hands of Arlette, the owner or Letz Aruba, as she managed the details of our civil ceremony. In addition, many of the other staff at Occidental Aruba were accommodating – the concierge staff, Renato at The Palm Buffet, the staff at Zen Restaurant, and all of the spa staff. The spa staff in particular was especially warm, attentive, and talented. My wedding hair and make-up received many compliments and I received one of the best massages of my life from the staff at the Occidental Spa.

    Unfortunately the small highlights of our wedding trip did not outweigh the amount of stress we experienced due to very poor wedding planning. A number of things that seemed very simple became unnecessarily complicated because of either inexperience (or perhaps just disinterested) wedding staff. As a bride, there are already a number of things on your plate that increase your stress levels. Paying for the services of a wedding planner and paying for an on-site wedding package are supposed to decrease your stress levels. Unfortunately, Occidental did just the opposite. I wholeheartedly believe that I would have experienced LESS stress if I had just booked my wedding and all of the details myself. I have reached out to Occidental to remedy the situation and seek appropriate customer service but to this date have received no response (I originally sent a letter and email on October 6th and it is now November 21st). This only further disheartens me and underscores the poor level of customer service provided by Occidental.

    While on the island, I did ask around about other wedding venues for friends & family who may pursue Aruba as a wedding site in the future. I received a suggestion of the Marriot or of Riu if looking for all-inclusive. Hope this is helpful

  3. #3
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
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    815
    I believe the reservation dept in florida and the wedding planner in aruba
    had a lack of communication..
    the bride and groom should always meet with wedding planner upon arrival.. who handled the wedding?
    don't understand why your wedding date had to be moved, the hotel should have booked another company
    perform the wedding, I LOVE GEOFFREY AND ARLETTE AT LETZ ARUBA.

    last year my nephew was married, the resort never missed a beat, it was phenomenal.
    we had 100 guests...
    Why would rehearsal dinner interfere with the wedding, that makes no sense.
    the guest services should have handled the mail delivery.
    breakfast in bed should have been handled with guest services also.

    not sure why cake was not delivered, zen always has champagne that should not been an issue.
    your guests getting bumped to hyatt, did they volunteer? the hotel will ask for volunteers, since they are provided
    free days on future stay, still able to utilize the occidental, many look for the offer.

    you sent a letter to whom? if sent to florida, that's part of the problem.
    renato is fantastic, the massages, my wife loves them

    sorry for the issues, it's my home resort, stay there every few months..
    guess that we're aware of these issues at the resort and use to them?
    your wedding is completely different..
    you are justified in the lack of services.

  4. #4
    Senior Member
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    Nov 2010
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    Anyhow Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play? That was some story! Thanks for sharing.
    Sean and Susan

  5. #5
    Aruba since 1979
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    Andrea J.'s Avatar
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    hahahahahahahahaha omgosh
    Quote Originally Posted by crimms View Post
    Anyhow Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play? That was some story! Thanks for sharing.
    Sean and Susan

  6. #6
    Senior Member Karen Lutzker's Avatar
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    Occidental wedding

    Quote Originally Posted by Andrea J. View Post
    hahahahahahahahaha omgosh
    Amazing story! So sorry that you had to go through all of that stress. Obviously there was a lack of communication between your planner in Miami and Occidental in Aruba. I would think that Occidental would have responded to your letter by now and offered you some kind of compensation. They certainly dropped the ball!
    http://www.cayenaweddings.com
    Aruba's First Destination Wedding Planner
    Specialists in Wedding Coordination and Vow Renewals

  7. #7
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    all i can say is thank goodness for Lisa at the Radisson. Nothing got past her. she was our one and only wedding planner and she thought of everything and took care of everything. there was absolutely no stress whatsoever from first getting information, to a year later sitting down and planning it, to the actual wedding. I would say if people ask for a recommendation, I wholeheartedly recommend Lisa Dammerman at the Radisson. There were two weddings that weekend, turned out the other one was someone I became friends with. she handled both weddings without one hiccup.

    I am so sorry you went through that. We did the civil ceremony here in the states because Lisa recommended it would be easier and no one at the wedding even knew she had been married the week before at home (that was private, just immediate family). We told no one and they assumed she was getting married on the beach. the other bride did the same thing, got married at home and told no one.

    I hope they do something to make it up to you. If i read your story prior to booking a wedding, that is definitely one place I wouldn't book. Its hard enough doing it in another country. Lisa is so sweet, we're meeting when I go there this week. Good Luck to you. At least the good news is you were in Aruba.

  8. #8
    Senior Member act1966's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by crimms View Post
    anyhow mrs. Lincoln, how was the play? That was some story! Thanks for sharing.
    Sean and susan
    lollllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll lllllllllll!!

  9. #9
    Senior Member mmattalo's Avatar
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    I am sorry to hear about your terrible wedding experience. A spectacular location for a wedding is Tierra del Sol (www.tierradelsol.com) The entire team does a fantastic job of making your day the most special and memorable one ever.

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