I recently shot a wedding at Aventura Spa Palace in Tulum, Mexico.  Its funny, they say the resort is in Tulum, but it is right next to Playacar, near Playa Del Carmen.  For those of you that don't know the Riviera Maya very well, first off get a map, secondly Playa Del Carmen is about a 45 minute drive from the hotel zone in Cancun, thirdly Playa is not that close to Tulum.  Read on for the pros and cons of having your wedding at the Aventura Spa Palace. 

I visited the hotel in early April, the high was 83 degrees, needless to say it was amazing weather.  Early November through early April is the best time to get married in the Riviera Maya in regards to weather. 

I need to do a separate article about the differences of Cancun vs the rest of the Riviera Maya, but I will throw out a few points here.  Down south there are not as many tourists, who are we kidding there are tourists everywhere, there are just fewer in the Playa/Tulum area.  Playa is more like the Mexican city on the beach, Cancun is more like a long line of all inclusive hotels geared toward Americans that don’t feel safe in “Mexico”.  Don't get me wrong, I love Cancun, I think it has its place for a ton of tourists, Playa is a little different, it has a more local flavor.  Not everything in Playa is local, there is "avenida quinta" or fifth avenue, which is a big tourist spot, you will find the traditional mexican shops all along the 10 or so blocks of avenida quinta.  Playa has always felt more like a European travelers destination to me.  I could go on and on about that area because we LOVE the Riviera Maya, but I will continue on to the pros and cons of the Aventura Spa Palace for weddings. 


1. BioSilk, weird I know... in other words they provided good amenities.  Casi and I really enjoyed the quality of the small amenities.  The BioSilk is just an example of the many things that were just a step nicer than the other all-inclusives we have stayed at.  I don't know for a fact that all "Palace" resorts have these amenities, but the Moon Palace was really similar to this resort and they had them.  Here is a quick list of some of the amenities

    a.    They have marble jacuzzi tubs in every room!
    b.    Every room has a balcony area with a hammock all ready to relax in!
    c.    High quality soaps, shampoos, and lotions.
    d.    Free room service 24 hrs
    e.    Two robes & two slippers
    f.    Flat Screen TV

2. The nice thing about Palace Resorts is the fact that you can go to any of their properties and be treated like a guest, which includes all the "all-inclusive" privileges.  One day we went and saw three other Palace Resorts and really liked what we saw, they treat you like kings at all of them!   

3. The grounds are large and they take very good care of them.  All the landscaping of the resort was well maintaned.  The mix of buildings and landscape is flawless.  The layout is stellar, the placement of the room buildings, common areas, and lobby was well thought out.  The lobby is HUGE, you can spend a few nights partying in that building alone.  


1. The beaches, they are non-existant.  The fact that there are no beaches, natural ones anyway, doesn't take away from the fact that it is still a beautiful landscape.  If you are looking for a beach to relax on, this Riviera Maya all-inclusive is not for you.  They actually do have a pseudo beach that was made about 100 feet from the edge of the ocean, which is all rock.  The rock at the edge of the water is very sharp and dangerous so the resort doesn't even allow you to go there.  The man-made beaches are more like lagoons that beaches, they are only a few feet deep at the deepest.  They let the water in to these lagoons from the ocean, so the water is a teal color.  When I was there the two palapa activity centers that jet out into the lagoon were closed, but I could imagine it would be a pretty cool place to hang out.
2. Cheezy activities.  Anytime we wanted to go to the pool we were guaranteed a loud DJ with a guy on a microphone shouting non-sense in half english.  It looked like a lot of people were enjoying themselves pouring soda on themselves and running obstacle courses, so you may be one of those people, if so, good for you. 

3. As with 90% of the all-inclusive resorts we have stayed at the food wasn't good.  If you read the pros above you will see that they have free 24 hr room service, and the room service food was mediocre as well, but it was free and it was room service, so that added a few cool points.  Bad food is the nature of an all-inclusive, its because they are trying to appeal to everyone, which in the case of food doesn't work very well.  They do have a lot of specialty restaurants, like sushi and a brazilian churrascaria which was fun, but you probably don't want to eat every night.   

I give the Aventura Spa Palace a 6 out of 10.  

Now for my review of the wedding.  The first thing I noticed as the photographer was the lack of a beach, which I sort of covered above.  When people get married in Cancun they typically want romantic pictures somewhere near the beach, it is kind of hard to accomplish that when there is no beach.  They held the wedding under a large gazebo area which created a nice soft light for the ceremony, the only problem was the light difference between the background (the water) and inside the gazebo, but we took care of that by putting up a few remote flashes.  The sun sets over the hotel and not the water.  The resort grounds were full of places to shoot, the only problem we ran into was not getting to them all because of time.  There was another wedding taking place around the same time, which was a little annoying.  In fact, as we arrived at the gazebo there was another wedding just finishing up, we had to wait for them to finish!  I think it is tacky to crank weddings out one after another like that, I want to feel special on my wedding day, not like I just went through an assembly line... get married in Vegas if you are looking for that.  This particular wedding that I shot didn't have a reception, we just all went to one of the nice restaurants and had dinner, the couple did the cake cutting there, it turned out nice.  A quick piece of advice if you are getting married at the Aventura Spa Palace, make sure to let your guests which wedding is yours and where you will be!