Travel Agent magazine recently released three new destination weddings and honeymoons travel planners as part of its ongoing series of sales tools designed to help travel agents grow their romance bookings. The guides include: Jamaica Destination Weddings & Honeymoons Focus, Luxury Destination Weddings & Honeymoons Focus and Mexico Destination Weddings & Honeymoons Focus. Each planner gives an update on new hotel openings catering to couples, noteworthy romance packages and sales tips from leading specialists.
Jamaica Destination Weddings & Honeymoons
In addition to providing an accommodations update across Jamaica, including Negril, Ocho Rios, Montego Bay and the South Coast, the guide reports on the island’s attractions that fall under the increasingly popular experiential travel category. Among the suggested activities is the Half Moon Equestrian Centre, which provides horseback riding instruction for both beginners and experienced riders. The Great River Rafting and Plantation Tours experience allows travelers to explore the Jamaican countryside via a captain-directed raft ride downstream, as well as a city tour of Montego Bay.
Nature lovers can visit the Rocklands Bird Sanctuary to interact with hummingbirds, as well as The Royal Botanical Gardens, more popularly known as “Hope Gardens,” to commune with nature in sunken gardens, lily ponds and a bougainvillea walk.
The planner previews several villa offerings to give travel agents an insider’s look at the island’s most romantic, luxury retreats. Bluefield’s Bay Villas, a self-described “country retreat on the sea,” affords guests a private waterfront villa stay, complete with butler service, gourmet meals and a private beach. Additionally, guests of the GoldenEye Ian Fleming Villa (named for the property’s owner, Ian Fleming, who created James Bond), includes a private beach and gardens, as well as a private pool and dedicated staff.
Readers will also find a preview of more than 20 hotels as well as a quick-read guide on the rules and regulations for tying the knot in Jamaica.
Mexico Destination Weddings & Honeymoons
The 36-page planner also provides an in-depth report of romance offerings in Los Cabos, Puerto Vallarta/Riviera Nayarit, Cancun/Riviera Maya, Mazatlán, Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo and Acapulco. Editors spoke to several destination specialists to glean sales tips on everything from new hotel openings to notable trends to the packages worth promoting. Several insiders pointed to the ongoing trend of couples shying away from traditional beach nuptials in favor of more unique venues.
“Clients are booking the rooms for the wedding party at the hotel, but having the ceremony and reception in a different location. In our particular case, there is a location in the water called ‘Las Caletas’ that has become ‘the place’ to have very unique wedding by the sea,” said Beatriz G. Smith, director of sales at Hilton Puerto Vallarta Resort.
Readers will find nearly 50 resort recommendations, ranging from five-star all-inclusives to private villas, across Mexico. In Los Cabos, Palace Resorts, which can accommodate an extensive variety of religious ceremonies, recently debuted the Le Blanc Spa Resort Los Cabos. The resort has a 29,000-squre-foot spa that includes couple’s suites and a hydrotherapy facility, as well as seven specialty restaurants, including Lumiere, which offers a seven-course French tasting menu. Also recently opened is the Chileno Bay Resort & Residences, an Auberge Resort, which serves up a “Love Potion”—a three-day escape including an interactive mixology class where couples can make Love Potion #9 in a poolside bungalow.
In Puerto Vallarta/Riviera Nayarit, travel agents can tap into a new niche by selling “Relationship Celebrations” courtesy of Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit. The package caters to couples marking long-term commitments and includes strawberries and champagne upon arrival, 24-hour concierge, in-suite flowers, a symbolic beach ceremony and spa treatments, as well as upgrades like fireworks, a social media coordinator and live music (for an additional fee).
Luxury Destination Weddings & Honeymoons
The dedicated sales guide gives readers an insider’s perspective on the growing luxury destination weddings and honeymoons market through advisor insights, a guide to studying the trends to ‘wow’ clients, a preview of trending destinations and over 20 resort recommendations.
Editors surveyed four destination weddings and honeymoons experts to get their take on the market trends redefining how the luxury segment says their “I do’s.” The findings revealed that more couples are picking up the tab for non-wedding activities, demanding the biggest suites to host pre-or-post-wedding cocktail parties and commanding larger venues to accommodate growing wedding group sizes.
“The desire to have an experience at a 4.5- or 5-star resort is driving couples to encourage their guests to pay higher rates with the expectation that the resort experience will be more enjoyable. Over the past few years we’ve seen the all-inclusive entry-level target rates rise for guest from $400 per nights, starting rate to $500 per night. This means many guests are willing to pay $500 to $800 per night for an elevated experience,” said April Schmitt, CEO of Divine Destination Weddings & Honeymoons. She pointed to fresh-cooked, multi-course fine dining and top-shelf alcohol as some of the driving factors for her clients’ willingness to pay premium rates.
Mind the Trends
In September 2017, top advisors at the inaugural Ultra Trendsetters conference highlighted 13 trends about the ever-changing luxury travel market. The observations included looking beyond the hotel to deliver a full-fledged luxury experience, the rise of eco-luxury hotels and barefoot-luxury properties, the growing popularity of private villas and an emphasis on culinary exploits as a defining factor of the modern-day luxury trip.
The planner also previews several high-end suites and penthouses at new or recently revamped luxury hotels across the globe. Hotel Lutetia in Paris, which is set to reopen in spring 2018, made the cut for its individually designed signature suites (popular among celebrities, artists and politicians) and gourmet dining at Lutetia Brasserie. In Rome, the Hotel de Russie, a Rocco Forte Hotel has unveiled the newly renovated Nijinsky Suite. Perched on the top floor and covering 1,850 square feet, the presidential suite is designed to feel like a luxurious private apartment. It boasts Italian-designed furnishings, a double bedroom, a bookcase-lined study, a fully-equipped kitchen and impressive views of the Eternal City and the neighboring Villa Borghese gardens.
Find all three sales guides, along with the Hawaii Romance Travel Focus and the Caribbean Romance Travel Focus, at travelagentcentral.com/focus-series.com.