|Swinging beds at the water’s edge are a unique feature of Karisma’s Azul Beach Hotel.|
Wedding and honeymoon guru Jacqueline Johnson, CTC, a regular contributor to Travel Agent, is president and CEO of Global Bridal Group, a media company that provides bridal and honeymoon guidance through interactive target marketing. She recently attended a weddings symposium in Mexico and shares her observations about the event and its hosts with our readers.
My love for travel and romance is legendary among my circle of friends. So, when the opportunity came up to visit Mexico’s Riveria Maya and attend the DestinationWeddings.com Annual Symposium at Karisma Hotels’ El Dorado Royale, a Spa Resort, I simply could not resist.
Edward Cotton, the charismatic chief operating officer of DestinationWeddings.com, led a contingent of 170 destination wedding specialists and their guests through a rousing, entertaining and educational event. Of course, wherever you have such an outing of specialists in a given area, you will find all tourism partners, including the major wholesalers: Travel Impressions, Funjet Vacations, Classic Vacations, Pleasant Holidays and GOGO Worldwide Vacations, to name a few.
One thing I learned from Ed (as he is affectionately called) was the high attendance of and focus on home-based agents, who handle over 12,000 successful destination weddings and 250,000 guests.
Going into Mexico is an easy jaunt. I flew JetBlue directly into Cancun and it was just a short trip from the airport to the El Dorado properties. I stayed at the fabulous El Dorado Maroma.
|Bedrooms at the El Dorado Maroma were designed with romance in mind.|
The El Dorado Maroma is a 72-suite beachfront resort in Riviera Maya. This award-winning hotel was designed with romance and relaxation in mind. From the four-poster beds and the plunge pool on the deck to the indoor and outdoor showers, your clients will find everything to enhance the senses. There are also eight one-bedroom villas and two-level villa residences, all luxurious.
Being a small hotel, no amenity is overlooked. Room service at the El Dorado Maroma is prompt and courteous. Breakfast (self-served if guests so desire) is served at a beautiful location with a full vista of the beach. A great way to start the day! The food is of the highest quality, the “hot” station is overseen by the very helpful and wonderful chef, and the welcome from the staff could not be nicer. No need to wait for your coffee or beverage of choice—it is brought immediately to your table. And if you frequent the restaurant, your beverage of choice is remembered and brought to you before you even have a chance to sit. Of course, this hotel prides itself on its gourmet offerings, but all in all, it is about service.
The wedding package and amenities are geared to the wishes, desires and budget of the couple. You cannot go wrong in booking or recommending this property. Everywhere is a view and the gazebos on the beach are perfect for weddings or just to get a massage. Couples have the option of gardens or seaside chapel for the ceremony. A big “thank you” to the ever-present sales manager, Jackeline Otero ([email protected]).
I then spent some time at El Dorado Royale, where some of the activities for the destination weddings symposium were held. This is a much larger property with 639 suites spread over 450 acres. It is Mexico’s premier adults-only beachfront resort and is known for its gourmet cuisine and attention to detail.
With 15 bars and lounges, nine swim-up bars (my favorite: bars with swings), live music and shows, fitness center and spa, there is something for everyone. Make sure that you book your couples for a full massage.
For the spa connoisseur, a 20,000-square-foot Mexican-themed spa offers a full line of treatments using indigenous ingredients. Couples have a choice of full privacy or beautifully designed raised palapa surrounded by nothing but ocean and air.
Next, I wanted to see the Azul Beach Hotel, a Karisma property that is geared to families. The first thing that caught my eye was the beds on the beach, especially the swinging bed hovering over the water. Although the hotel is in the midst of an $11 million renovation, guests will not be disturbed.
The Kid’s Club is in a separate building, with activities to keep everyone transfixed for hours. There is also a quiet room for the weary. I can fully understand why this resort is a favorite with families. Even with the children about, the resort was relatively quiet.
This intimate 90-suite property has all the room amenities for the young ones. From changing tables to cribs, monitors and bottle warmers, nothing is overlooked. No need to pack and spend extra for the young ones—they even get their own deluxe spa robes!
We visited the “wedding in the sky” gazebo for cocktails. A truly dramatic place to exchange or renew vows, especially at sunset, the gazebo overlooks the entire grounds and the beach serves as a backdrop. Again, attention to detail and service was the norm. There is a package to suit every budget, and recommending this hotel will certainly garner you more clients, as those who stay at the property return with a high happiness quotient.
This is also a great property for a couple traveling with family and planning to get married or enjoy a honeymoon. Like the other two properties, every detail is taken care of, including a special room for the bride and her attendants on the day of the wedding.
What I liked about Karisma’s weddings/honeymoon programs was the streamlined effort managed by the experienced and gracious director of wedding services, Faith Wishnie (305-715-9844, ext.7205 or 888-280-8810, ext.7205, [email protected]). For details on the above-named and other Karisma and Azul hotels, contact Mandy Chomat (305-445-1077, [email protected]), vice president of sales and marketing, or visit www.karismahotels.com.
To learn more about DestinationWeddings.com, contact COO Edward Cotton (508-532-1547, [email protected]).
|Couples can enjoy strolls through the gardens at the adults-only El Dorado Royale.|