We had a wonderful time at our wedding even though things were not even close to flawless at our venue. It wasn't about that for us - we had a great time with all our family and friends and I will cherish those moments forever. We had a great party!
The service and quality seem to vary greatly by location. I definitely had a rocky start at my tasting with both the Doral and Coral Gables locations, but Coral Gables eventually rectified it. That being said, based on their customer service, I would had never booked them if they weren't included in our venue package. My best advice is to avoid the weekends and make an appointment (get the bookers name!) to taste FRESH cake and the fillings you want.
As a package cake, I dislike that they charged us extra for (1) making the buttercreme a color other than ivory and (2) for filling to be added in between the layers (is there someone that has no filling in their cake?). I feel that this is something that should be included in our package cake. However, this might be more of something to bring up with the venue instead.
On the day of our wedding, our cake itself was gorgeous and the perfect color, the buttercreme was so smooth and looked just like fondant! However, the orange flavor was not like our tasting and was much too intense and the texture wasn't so good. It was coarse and it was clear that the cake was not fresh. The strawberry filling also did not taste the same as the tasting and was a really thin layer. Overall, I was quite disappointed in the taste, but happy with the appearance. If you have a choice in bakers, I recommend that you look elsewhere and go with a smaller baker that isn't so hit-or-miss.
Great location, great price and wonderful service - what more can you ask for? I negotiated our room block there through hotelplanner.com and was not disappointed. They are just far enough away from South Beach so that it is quiet and just close enough for cheap cab rides. The added bonus is that there staff is extremely courteous, as opposed to the majority of South Beach hotel staff that I have encountered.
I'll start with the Pros: The service staff (servers, bartenders, bathroom attendants, etc...) are very professional and courteous. They do their job well. Cocktail food is above average to exceptional and plentiful, the location is great. Drinks were well mixed and plentiful.
Cons: Things have changed at Jungle Island and the catering coordination staff has been cut in half and a new catering manager has been hired (Jannette was let go or fired). These changes are not for the best, what started as a pleasent experience at JI, ended up being a wedding planning nightmare. My nightmare started off with my original coordinator leaving me and no one informing me (emails were just unanswered). When my new coordinator started, all sorts of things went wrong. The paperwork they were supposed to put through to Primecard was never done, so I needed to sign a completeley new contract. My new contract which should have been exactly the same as the old one but in a different format, had to go through about 5 drafts, b/c my new coordinator kept screwing up our wedding date, locations, and times. Apparently she wasn't reading our very simple original contract very well. All the red flags went up for me at this point. In addition, our new coordinator, just wasn't very responsive about things. She was hard to get in touch with over the phone and via email. She never sent confirmation of reciept of things via email either.
About 1 week before our wedding we are informed that they double booked our cocktail site (with a huge corporate event) and we had to move. I then visited JI and found a great alternative space. I then come to find out that this huge corporate event will also move right next to our outside reception. These were all things I was promised would never happen; that they would never: (1) place events in or near the same place (except ballrooms) and (2) start events at the same time. I would learn on my wedding day that they had 3 events (my wedding, another wedding, and the huge corporate event) all starting within 1 hour of each other. They are liars. Because of this I could hear heavy bass (from the huge corporate event) and steel drums (from the wedding) while I was waiting for my ceremony. I even ran into a bunch of the other wedding guests who were so confused to see another bride. I never anticipated this, and I repeatedly asked JI if there were other events on our wedding day (before I learned about the huge corporate event) and would only say that they weren't sure.
To make up for the double booking of the huge corporate event with us, the new head catering coordinator rented trees for us to mask their presence. In doing so, he actually said, "I wonder how much money we are going to lose on your wedding". He was not the first catering staff to be rude to us, as Nancy, an assistant, nearly bit my head off when I questioned why my coordinator was 1.5 hours late to a meeting I flew halfway around the world for.
To make matters worse, at our reception site, there were excess tables, chairs, and garbage left out adjacent to us in full view of our guests. The reception location was so HOT, before any guests ever stood foot in it. I asked repeatedly throughout the night and it just got worse, of course. The dinner menu was lackluster, wasn't nearly as good as the tasting, and took forever to come out between courses to the extent that our DJ was super panicked that he wasn't going to be able to play enough dance music. They also only put 8 chairs down at one table, instead of 10, which left a couple with no place to sit. I thought this was my oversight all night - thank you for the headache JI.
In the end, though, my wedding was great. It is a great location and I still think it is a decent deal for the amount of food and drink, and their service staff, which is the front line for your guests, are wonderful. However, they were a nightmare to plan with and made me so stressed and offended me so greatly in the last 3 months before my wedding. That in itself was not worth it. It is really too bad that they have switched over to being a money making machine to book as much events as possible even at the detriment of previous booked events. Please keep this in mind if you plan to book with them, I know of two other weddings within 4 weeks of mine that they pulled the exact thing. I would not recommend them.
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