Year after year, the Caribbean tops The Knot’s Real Weddings Study as the most popular region outside the U.S. in which to get married. Great resorts, especially on the luxury end, are a prime attraction for this market. Here is a sampling of properties, some new, some tried and true, to give you an idea of what the islands have to offer your romance clients.
Following a $60 million renovation following Hurricane Maria, The St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort, Puerto Rico reopened in December. The renovation touched upon every guestroom and suite, the property’s signature restaurant, the seaside pool and esplanade, a first-of-its-kind Iridium spa and more. The 139 refurbished rooms and suites now have a light, modern aesthetic with plenty of whites and light blues and custom furniture pieces. All structures have been built below the tree line, affording unspoiled views along the resort’s two-mile beach.
The resort caters well to both weddings and honeymoons. Couples can arrange welcome receptions, rehearsal dinners, beachfront ceremonies, cocktail hours, after parties and more with the assistance of Gerry Farrulla ([email protected]), director of catering and event management. To help set the mood before the wedding (or during the honeymoon), we suggest a beachfront dinner (and be sure to ask for a romantic turndown service).
The St. Regis Suite works well for both couples and families. It has a king bedroom, two bathrooms, a living space, ocean views and more. For families, it connects to adjacent rooms.
The Reméde Spa can service a variety of guests. The Iridium Couple’s Retreat, which includes a couple’s massage and coconut or guava body polish, is a top option. Treatments should be booked in advance of arrival but Spa Manager Kathy Olivero ([email protected]) also tries to accommodate walk-ins.
For guests looking to explore the island, General Manager Jose Torres can arrange customized activities such as kayaking, nature walks with the resident naturalist, biking, fishing, paddle boarding, canoeing, trips to El Yunque jungle and more. For guests interested in volunteer opportunities, the St. Regis is working in collaboration with the Bahia Beach Resort Golf Club and its non-profit organization, Alma de Bahia, on several initiatives to support the affected communities in Puerto Rico and the Caribbean.
Another relatively new hotel to consider is the two-year-old Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa in Seven Mile Beach on Grand Cayman. Seafire has numerous venues (for a total of 20,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor space). Couples can exchange vows on Seven Mile Beach at sunset then dance beneath the stars on the resort’s event lawn. Or, alternatively, guests can make use of the oceanfront venue The Beach Deck, overlooking the water; it’s big enough to host a reception and works as a great extension to a beach wedding. Catering Manager Charnissa Richardson ([email protected]) can help customize the event with each couple.
Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa in Seven Mile Beach in Grand Cayman has numerous wedding venues and set-ups.
Anneka Greenway ([email protected]), the spa manager, can book an assortment of wedding packages, including “The Pre-Nup,” which is designed for four weeks prior to the wedding date; it hydrates, renews and regenerates your skin. Other treatments can be arranged just for the bride, the bridal party or the couple, including the Post Nuptial Paradise, which comprises use of the spa garden with Jacuzzi bath and steam room before a two-hour Couple’s Beauty Hammam, followed by Prosecco and chocolate-dipped strawberries.
The oceanfront suites and bungalows are recommended for both couples and families (as they can connect, providing more space for guests with children); however, Family Suites book well in advance due to their popularity. Bridal parties might consider the Four Bedroom Beach House Bungalow, which is designed in two parts, allowing the groomsmen to get ready on one side while the bride and her bridesmaids get prepared next door.
The brand-new Ambergris Cay opened in Turks & Caicos on December 1, 2018. Sales Manager Shauna Wilson ([email protected]) can arrange private, romantic dinners on the beach; deserted island excursions with a catered lunch; boat tours for snorkeling, swimming with turtles or bone fishing; kite surfing lessons; and day trips to Provo for shopping aboard the resort’s private plane.
This resort is friendlier to honeymooners, as it comprises just 10 one-bedroom beachfront suites, which are all the same. The rooms have king beds but they also include a pull-out sofa or a rollaway bed, accommodating up to four people (kids 12 and under stay free with parents). For a wedding, Ambergris Cay recommends a full buyout of the 10 suites, affording the couple their own private island wedding.
For a special dining event, couples can join fishermen to catch their own lobsters for grilling back at the resort.
Another option in Turks & Caicos is perennial favorite Grace Bay Resort. It’s suitable for both honeymooners and wedding parties, whether it’s an intimate, two-person elopement or a 150-person ceremony. Accommodations come in a variety of options, including the Hotel Building (which is adults-only), the Villas Suites, the Estate (a family-friendly resort-within-a-resort) and the Private Villa Collection.
We hear the family-friendly Luxury Two Bedroom Suite is a great option. It has an oceanfront master bedroom with a king bed, a garden-view second bedroom with two full beds, two and a half baths, an oceanfront terrace, a full kitchen (plus washer and dryer) and more. Guests have access to a personal concierge who can make any arrangements and is accessible by a complimentary mobile phone. Oceanfront views and personal concierge service is offered at each accommodation.
Resort Manager Tyagi Kulbhushan ([email protected]) can help with any requests.
Another notable resort is Jade Mountain in Saint Lucia, although this resort is much more suitable for honeymooners (children under the age of 15 are not allowed). The big draw here is the fantastic views of the Pitons from the open-concept rooms (and by open concept, rooms only have three walls).
For the best views, opt for the Galaxy Infinity Pool Sanctuaries (Nos. JC1, JD1 and JE1). These also have the most square footage (over 2,000) and a pool that averages 900 square feet. In total, there are four categories with infinity pools and views of the Pitons and Caribbean Sea. The Sky Jacuzzi Suites do not have an infinity pool but, as the name implies, they do have a Jacuzzi for two. All guests have access to the resort’s Major Domos, who are trained by the British Guild of Butlers. Reach out to Karolin Troubetzkoy ([email protected]), executive director of marketing and operations, for bookings. For guests who would like to have dinner in the comfort of their Sanctuary, Jade Mountain’s executive chef can give a cooking demonstration in-room (or they can simply bring the meal up).
Jade Mountain offers three “Very Special Wedding Packages” for couples looking to enjoy a small wedding (for instance, the starting package is titled, Elope to Paradise). Marketing Manager Mariska Jonker ([email protected]) can help find the most suitable package for your clients. As always, we suggest a private, romantic dinner; the top options here are on the Celestial Terrace or under the stars on sister property Anse Chastenet’s beach.
Ambergris Cay in Turks & Caicos is well suited to privacy-seeking honeymooners, as it comprises just 10 one-bedroom beachfront suites, which are all identical.
At the spa, there are numerous couples-oriented treatments but the Mini Massage Course for Couples might be of particular interest. Guests will learn the basic strokes of a Swedish massage during this two-hour course; after, they will take an instruction manual and oils to use afterwards. Ermin Joseph ([email protected]), guest service manager, can also arrange spa services for the bride and groom.
Jade Mountain is a great pick for active couples, as Saint Lucia offers a variety of active excursions, such as hiking the Pitons (or the less-strenuous Tet Paul trail) or snorkeling or scuba diving offshore. A relaxing off-property activity is visiting the mud baths.
Jade Mountain is one of nearly two dozen resort names and brands that came up when we asked our 30Under30 Class of 2018 for their Caribbean destination wedding and honeymoon recommendation. Among the others are:
Antigua: Heritage Bay, Jumby Bay
Bahamas: Sandals Emerald Bay
Dominican Republic: Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, Paradisus Punta Cana Palma Real, Sanctuary Cap Cana
Grenada: Sandals LaSource
Haiti: Royal De Cameron
Jamaica: Couples Tower Isle, Hyatt Zilara Rose Hall, Moon Palace, and Karisma, Royalton, Sandals and Secrets resorts
St. Lucia: Cap Maison, Sandals (Grande St. Lucian, Halcyon Beach, Regency La Toc), and Sugar Beach, a Viceroy Resort
Turks & Caicos: Como Parrot Cay
For more top tips, resort recommendations and hotel news for prospective newlyweds and other couples, check out the Caribbean Romance Travel and Jamaica Destination Weddings & Honey-moons Focus supplements at www.travelagentcentral.com.