This will be our first trip out to Aruba, my uncle is getting married and the family are headed out. Half are in the Occidental Grande and half are in the Holiday Inn sunspree. The wedding reception (booked through First Choice in the UK, but the bride is dealing direct with the Occidental due to First Choice being useless) is in the Occidental and they are telling us that anyone who is not a guest at this hotel must buy a night pass for $119 each to attend the ceremony. We enquired if we could simply buy a meal as standard, but were told it's the pass or nothing.
Has anyone had any similar dealings with day and night passes for the hotels?
Yes, I am having my wedding at the Occidental Grand in October and this is the information I received. The exclamation that the resort gave me was because even though it is a private reception, the alcohol is not being charged (you only pay for the bartender) and the food is only costing 50% of what it normally would. They do this b/c of the alcohol and food. I find $119 per person quite steep for a one night pass, but I don't think there is anyway to cut corners around this. Please let me know if you should find out anything different, as I am in the same boat you are and was just planning on paying the extra money for those guests not staying at the Occidental (If it's not too many people, which I don't think it will be).
It sounds standard to me, a pass for a hotel, the only reason I question it is because First Choice have been pretty bad with the organisation. They told us the day pass would be £20, then £30, then a night pass for £60, then eventually the Occidental let us know about the $119+tax amount.
Hey, at the end of the day, we'll work something out, something as small as this won't ruin the experience and I'll PM you marinewifetobe if we get a comprimise.
First of all, First Choice is a European travel agency that does big business with Aruba and has an office at one of the other all inclusive resorts where they send most of their clients. It is true though that for guests that are not staying at the all inclusive resorts where the wedding is taking place that the wedding couple or whoever is paying for the wedding has to pay additionally for the wedding dinner(there are wedding packages at Occidental that go above the cost of the all-inclusive) What first choice quoted you in was Euros and what Occidential quoted you was in US dollars. That is why when you deal with an all inclusive resort no matter where you stay, that you have an experiencd wedding planner to be the liaison between the wedding couple and the resort where they are having their wedding. Travel agents are travel agents who handle travel only! They pass on their clients information to the resort and really do not want to be involved with the wedding planning, besides the fact that they are NOT wedding planners. Unfortunately this is how the all inclusive resorts work. They want all the guests to stay there and when they don't the poor wedding couple has to pay additionally. I hope this information helps.
I got married at the Occidental Grand Aruba on Monday 30th June and it was fantastic. I too booked through First Choice and also found there lack of involvement with the wedding preparations ridiculous, however Bonny Stanley the co-ordinator at the Occidental was brilliant and she ensured that we had the perfect day.
We had 17 guests with us of which 10 were staying at the Tamarijn which is another First Choice All Inclusive resort. We were offered the night pass for $120 plus tax, however we got married at 10am on the beach and we were told we could book one of the a la carte restaurants for 6pm or eat in the buffet at 12 midday.
I decided against this and we took our meal/reception to the local golf club Tierra del Sol up near the light house. There we had a private decorated terrace overlooking the golf course and Caribbean Sea - it was fantastic. Everyone ate 3 courses from the menu, drank lots of wine and spirits for 6 hours and it only cost us $900 for everyone.
The food was of a great standard, better than the Occidental, although the Occidental food was also very good but the golf club was just that bit better.
If you want to consider a different venue then I would definitely recommend the Tierra del Sol - they bent over backwards to ensure we received everythin that we wanted. They have a website and the restaurant is called Ventanas del Mar if you are interested.