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Tying the Knot Sun-and-Sand StyleSeptember 16, 2013 By: Meagan Drillinger Travel Agent
|A hilltop gazebo overlooking the sea is one of the available wedding ceremony venues at St. James’s Club Morgan Bay, Saint Lucia.|
Traveling for milestone events was a hot new trend in 2012, and now that 2013 is drawing to a close we can see that the trend isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. According to the MMGY Global 2013 Portrait of American Travelers, 77 percent of leisure travelers (who intend to use the services of a travel agent) took a vacation to celebrate a life event last year. Most of these travelers hit the road for an anniversary, wedding or honeymoon. So if you’re looking to rake in the big bucks in 2014, we say start selling your clients on romantic destination getaways—and what better way to celebrate love than in the sun and sand of Mexico or the Caribbean?
Romance in Mexico
There’s a hot new resort on the Cancun block. The NIZUC Resort & Spa officially began accepting guests back in March and since then has skyrocketed to the top of the travel buzzfeed. The resort sits on 29 acres and comprises 274 suites and villas. Signature categories include 29 Garden Pool Villas, including the Presidential Suite Villa and Nizuc Villa; 44 Ocean Suites; and 201 Residence Suites. Outdoor features in the suites feature private pools, outdoor gardens, decks and more.
On-property guests have access to two beaches, a Kids Club and four bars. Gourmands will love the six restaurants, which serve everything from traditional Mexican and Peruvian, to seafood, steaks and Asian cuisine.
In terms of celebrating a wedding, the resort has a variety of ceremony, cocktail and reception areas, including NIZUC Beach, the Reef Beach, main pool, pool deck, A-Kan Terrace, La Punta Grill & Lounge and the Havana Lounge Terrace.
There are three types of ceremony options from which betrothed couples can choose. There is the Symbolic Ceremony, a Mayan Ceremony and a Civil Cere-mony. Guests also have a choice of hors d’oeuvres, menu and bar options. Enhancements range from floral centerpieces to a mariachi band to fireworks.
Travel agents can contact Director of Sales & Marketing Maria Elena Armenta ([email protected]).
Travel Impressions and Palace Resorts are offering a group buyout program at Isla Mujeres Palace. The offer is aimed at large family reunions, themed retreats and couples who seek an exotic destination wedding, but for whom participation of family and friends is equally important.
Included in the program are ferry transportation to the resort, a welcome cocktail party on the beach, 24-hour room service, nightly entertainment, an “around the island” tour (one tour per person, per stay), and tickets to Garrafon Natural Reef Park, a terrestrial (one ticket per person, per stay).
Travel Impressions provides commissions and incentives for agents booking groups as well as support for changes to existing groups, customized materials, ability to pre-book tours and options, marketing assistance, destination support and quotes within 24 to 48 hours, including many instant quotes, the company says.
|A romantic gazebo dinner for two can be arranged at Galley Bay Resort and Spa, Antigua.|
Travel Impressions’ buyout program with Isla Mujeres Palace is available for bookings made now through December 23, 2013 for travel May 1, 2013–December 23, 2014.
Casa Colina on Mexico’s Pacific Coast is an ideal spot for betrothed couples looking to tie the knot in VIP style. For wedding guests, the five-star villa belongs exclusively to the group, and a staff is on hand to cater to the guests’ needs.
The villa is equipped with an infinity-edge pool, rooftop palapa, private chef and six guest rooms. It can host up to 10 sleepers, which makes this ideal for an intimate destination wedding. If your group is larger, the villa can house the bridal party or family while additional guests camp out at the nearby AAA four-diamond Isla Navidad Grand Bay Resort.
Casa Colina can host a wedding of up to 80 guests. It offers a variety of settings for vow exchange, whether it’s by the ocean or next to the pool decorated with floating candles and flowers. In fact, the private staff can transform the villa’s “Top of the World Palapa” into a romantic enclave with fresh flowers, candles and more.
Post nuptials, the couple can continue to honeymoon at Casa Colina. Nearby attractions include snorkeling or horseback riding on the beach; a trip to the five million-year-old Colima volcano; and tours of the surrounding areas, including the quaint and romantic beaches in Barra de Navidad and the famous Playa La Audiencia on Santiago Peninsula. Travel agents can reach out to President & CEO Andrew Tobias ([email protected]).
Iberostar Hotels & Resorts is not a new name to travel agents searching for destinations for their clients’ weddings and honeymoons. That’s because the portfolio of resorts has the routine down pat. The collection of properties sits on white-sand beaches in romantic locations and offers a variety of wedding settings, from beaches and gazebos to gardens or traditional Catholic chapels.
Earlier this year, Iberostar launched a new program featuring three wedding packages available at all its hotels and destinations in Mexico, along with Jamaica and the Dominican Republic. These wedding packages include either all or a combination of wedding services, minister and legal fees, venue set-up and ceremony items (such as champagne toasts), flowers, music, cocktail hour, reception dinner, an Iberostar gift (such as 10 percent discount on spa services for wedding guests), upgrades and post wedding treats.
Clients will receive exclusive attention during the day of their wedding, as Iberostar hotels only book one wedding per day, per hotel. Couples can also choose an à la carte wedding where they opt from a variety of items that are priced separately. The minimum price for this is $750.
As of last year, the adults-only Secrets Aura Cozumel was brought up to Secrets Resorts & Spas’ brand standards. The 168-room resort gives guests access to limitless à la carte dining at four restaurants; 24-hour room and concierge services; daytime activities; live entertainment and more. There are also three main swimming pools, a newly revamped spa, fitness center and suites with a private pool.
|Beach wedding set-up at the new NIZUC Resort & Spa in Cancun|
The Secrets Wedding in Paradise, Secrets of Love and Secrets Ultimate Wedding Packages and the Secrets Eternity Honeymoon Package are all available to guests getting married at Secret Aura Cozumel. All packages include a dedicated wedding coordinator, services of a judge or minister, bouquet/boutonniere, wedding cake, champagne toast and more.
Travel agents can contact Pati Gomez ([email protected], 011-52-998-287-5900), groups and weddings coordinator.
For a Caribbean-style wedding, travelers have a wealth of options with Elite Island Resorts.
In Antigua, couples flock to adults-only Galley Bay Resort and Spa for its 40 acres surrounded by a natural bird sanctuary and nearly a mile of beach. The resort has 98 rooms, including superior and deluxe, beachfront suites and Gauguin cottages.
For wedding guests, the resort offers a free wedding package for couples staying seven nights or more in a premium beachfront suite. The package includes services of a wedding coordinator, marriage officer and witness, as well as a bouquet for the bride, a wedding venue, a cake and a bottle of champagne. Note: Even if you aren’t staying seven nights, you can still book the package for $1,199.
Honeymoon packages can be added on, as well, starting from $830 per couple. Contact Rosie Mallett, sales manager for travel agency/groups for questions ([email protected]; 954-481-8787 ext 127).
If your wedding plans call for the entire extended family. Elite Island Resorts also has St. James’s Club Morgan Bay, Saint Lucia, which is a great family-friendly destination. The all-inclusive resort has a range of activities and entertainment that caters to couples traveling with families. Amenities include four restaurants and five bars, four freshwater pools, a kids club, spa, tennis courts and more. The beachfront resort has 310 guest rooms and suites, as well.
Ceremonies at St. James’s Club Morgan Bay can be held at Morgan’s Pier, which overlooks the Caribbean Sea; in a hilltop gazebo that overlooks the sea or on the property’s private white-sand beach. Reception dinners can be held at any one of the restaurants and can be arranged for up to 20 guests as part of the all-inclusive dining program.
Similar to Galley Bay, St. James’s Club Morgan bay has a free wedding package for those staying seven nights or more in beachfront accommodations. For queries, reach out to Rosie Mallett.
Also in Antigua, Sugar Ridge Resort in Antigua recently added a new gazebo to accommodate the influx of destination weddings and vow renewals the resort has been receiving lately.
In fact, Travel Agent learned that Sugar Ridge does anywhere from two to four weddings per month and never double books a wedding on the same day, as the resort prides itself on tailoring each wedding to the couple. The resort can accommodate weddings of up to roughly 200 to 500 guests with accommodations for up to 125 guests. The resort also has a villa available for the bridal couple and/or family.
The resort wedding packages include everything from the venue to a live band to food and cocktails and more. Clients can choose to be married on either the beach or at the resort’s new gazebo, which we were told is perhaps the most private location to get married on the island and affords views of the Caribbean Sea.
Sugar Ridge has a wedding specialist on property that works closely with the bride and groom to ensure a seamless wedding, making sure it is their special day. Tailor-made events include brunch, lunch, a cocktail reception and dinner.
All of the resort’s bedrooms are grouped into sets of four, each with its own entrance and radio frequency activated door locks. The upper floors have a large verandah, dining deck and day bed, while the lower floor rooms have similar facilities, plus a plunge pool.
Wedding coordinator Jolie Watkins ([email protected]) is on hand to assist with queries.