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Top All-Inclusives for Weddings

May 13, 2011 By: Joe Pike Travel Agent

Iberostar Grand Hotel Bávaro
The beach is one of the wedding sites at Iberostar Grand Hotel Bávaro.

Have clients looking for a luxury resort to tie the knot at without spending an arm and leg? Travel Agent researched four popular Caribbean all-inclusive resorts to get agents started on booking the best—and most affordable—wedding in the region.

Sandals Emerald Bay, the Bahamas

Expanding on the company’s “Luxury Included” concept, Sandals Emerald Bay is the first Sandals Resort to offer a Greg Norman-designed golf course and world-class marina. Formerly a Four Seasons, the property was taken over by Sandals officially in 2009. To put it quite simply, there is not a bad room at this resort. In fact, professionally trained butlers are available in all 183 beachfront rooms and suites.

Sandals Resorts International and Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia introduced Sandals Weddings by Martha Stewart last year and it has already been hailed a major success. With six wedding themes in romantic settings, Sandals Weddings by Martha Stewart feature coordinated color palettes; beautifully designed wedding decor; complimentary bouquets, invitations, cakes and favors; and a slew of à la carte items aimed at creating a memorable experience to suit every couple’s unique preferences. The Sandals Weddings by Martha Stewart themes are priced from $1,500 onward.

For details, contact Weddings Manager Susan Mangan.

Iberostar Grand Hotel Bávaro, the Dominican Republic

Iberostar Grand Hotel Bávaro has been built along Bávaro Beach, just 30 minutes from Punta Cana Airport.

The five-star resort has four á la carte restaurants, a shopping area, a library, a renowned spa and 24-hour room service. Thirteen oceanfront Grand Suites come with such 24-hour personal butler and concierge services as personal assistance for dining reservations, pillow menu and more.

The resort provides the services of an on-site wedding planner who can assist with every wedding detail from the flowers to the photographer. Ceremonies and receptions can be held on the beach or at one of the property’s à la carte restaurants.

Agents should call 809-221 6500 or e-mail [email protected] with queries.

Galley Bay Resort and St. James’ Club, Antigua

Besides a fantastic swimming pool, Galley Bay Resort has a tennis court, small fitness center (it has only a treadmill and exercise bike at the moment but there are plans for a bigger gym), cricket lawn, pool table, free Internet room with two computers, two bars and three restaurants—Gauguin, Sea Grape and Ismay’s Restaurant & Bar.

Agent Advice

“If it is just the couple [who is traveling for the wedding], I will encourage them to upgrade on the photo packages and maybe a video/DVD [package] so that they can share their special day with friends and family when they return,” says Loleta Gaddis Ling of Professional Travel. “Many resorts pay agents commission for wedding upgrades. I work with some individual wedding planners that also pay commission if I upsell the wedding packages.”

The resort’s Indulgence Spa has two outdoor and indoor treatment rooms. We recommend the 60-minute deep-tissue massage. The property also boasts a lagoon, bird and turtle sanctuaries, and a jogging trail. Bicycles are available for guests.

Galley Bay offers two room types that are ideal for newlyweds. The large Premium Beachfront category suites have been built right on the beach. These suites have living rooms with wet bars and floor-to-ceiling windows, private furnished terraces or balconies, wall-mounted LCD TVs, DVD players, iPod alarm clocks, wireless Internet access and individual climate control. Baths feature Gilchrist & Soames luxury amenities.

For a unique intimate experience, Tahitian-style Gauguin cottages are an ideal choice. Encircled by the resort’s lagoon and bird sanctuary, the Gauguin cottages immerse couples into the quiet beauty of nature.

These cottages are markedly different from the other structures in the property with their thatched roofs, whitewashed walls, bamboo ceilings, louvered windows and terracotta tiles. Each cottage has a bedroom, an expansive bathroom, a dressing area connected by a sheltered breezeway and a sun deck with a private plunge pool.

Another Elite Island resort, St. James’s Club, has four tennis courts, five adults-only pools and a children’s pool, four restaurants, spa and fitness center. The spa consists of two treatment rooms, one single and the other for couples. 

Gauguin Cottages
The Gauguin Cottages at Galley Bay have thatched roofs.

Tennis instruction from a professional costs $60 an hour. Bookings for lessons and spa reservations need to be made 24 hours in advance. All restaurants also require reservations about a day in advance. Piccolo Mondo, the fine-dining restaurant, is not part of the all-inclusive plan.

At St. James’s Club, couples will feel like Prince William and Princess Kate in the resort’s new Royal Suites. These waterfront suites, 48 in all, along with two pools were added during a multimillion-dollar renovation; also part of the project was the refurbishment of a fitness room and updating of the beachside game room. Amenities in the suites include high-definition flat-screen TVs, iPod docking stations, DVD players and Internet access. 

Both Galley Bay and St. James’s Club offer a wealth of romantic venues for weddings—from open-air gazebos and charming, beachfront restaurants to the natural beauty of the outdoors. And so, Elite Island Resorts suggests guests choose their ceremony and reception locations once they have arrived at the resort.

For details on both resorts, agents can contact Elite Island Vacations Reservation Manager Cathleen Londre (800-858-4618, ext. 161; [email protected]).

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About the Author

Joe Pike
Joe Pike is Travel Agent's senior editor covering the Caribbean, Bahamas & Bermuda; Hawaii; Central & South America. Previously, Pike was a newspaper reporter for The Asbury Park...

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