Raising the romance bar with lobster dinners, champagne breakfasts and massages pour deux, the Caribbean oozes passion around every palm tree. From weddings and honeymoons to vow renewal celebrations and anniversary trysts, nothing says romance sweeter than a getaway in the tropics. Whether it is a ceremony on the beach or underwater wearing scuba gear, a destination wedding is a breeze to sell.
“The romance market has grown solidly for the past ten years and I anticipate continued growth,” said Richard Doumeng, president, Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) and co-owner of Bolongo Bay Beach Resort in St. Thomas. “As a small hotelier, the romance market has been a lifesaver because we can compete with and even beat the big boys, which is why I have two full-time wedding planners in my 75-room hotel.“
A Shore Thing
Putting its money on the romance market, Magdalena Grand Beach Resort in Tobago is leading the pack with an array of packages like the “Platinum” that includes a candlelit dinner for two and a champagne breakfast in bed the morning after. “Our staff loves weddings, and treats every couple like family,“ said John Murphy, vice president, EFM Hospitality Solutions, operators of the hotel. “We have confirmed seventy-five weddings so far this year and anticipate that number to grow.” Formerly the Tobago Hilton, the resort offers canopy walks through the mangrove forest, fine dining at Salaka Grill and cocktails at the Poolside Grill. “Our rum punch made with the local Black Label will put any couple in the mood, and for a wedding dinner, I recommend an expertly prepared lobster served at a seaside table,” adds John Murphy. www.magdalenagrand.com
The first “Super-Inclusive” in The Bahamas, Breezes Bahamas sits pretty on Cable Beach with 400 rooms, including six one-bedroom suites popular with honeymooners. One-stop-shopping for romance, the resort offers a trio of wedding packages including the gratis “Endless Love” and five island-themed ceremony options like the “Seashell Dream” with organza in soft whites and seashells strewn on the sandy beach. “We do five weddings a day in high season, including four on the beach at sunset,” said Jackson Weech, general manager. “Our on-site wedding planners anticipate eighty-five weddings during the traditional month of June.“ Romance extras include massages at the Blue Mahoe Spa and cocktails at the lively Piano Bar that stays open until the last couple leaves. www.breezes.com
The only Caribbean destination to earn a spot on National Geographic’s “20 Best Places to Visit in 2013,” Grenada is on a romance roll with a most unique way to tie the knot. Organized by Dive Grenada, Flamboyant Hotel is wooing couples with the “Romance on the Reef” package that includes an underwater wedding with safety divers who act as witnesses. www.divegrenada.com or www.flamboyant.com.
For twosomes who also like to tango above the waves, Carriacou Regatta gets underway July 28 with competitors from around the world arriving on yachts, racing boats, sail boats and just about anything else that floats. An annual event, the Regatta continues through August 5 with a slew of watery fun. www.grenadagrenadines.com
With only nineteen rooms, Montpelier Plantation on the small isle of Nevis is the stuff of magical weddings. A Relais & Chateaux hotel, where vintage meets vogue, ceremonies are popular at the 18th century sugar mill and under the enchanting tree where Horatio Nelson, famous for his service in the Royal Navy, married Fanny Nisbet. “A wedding here is for the bride who is looking to be more than just another bride on the beach,” said Tim Hoffman, owner. “We provide our couples with the individual attention of a small hotel while still upholding top-quality service found at larger resorts.“ www.montpeliernevis.com
Northwest of San Juan, Royal Isabela appeals to couples who appreciate golf carts that run on solar power and farm-to-table dining under the watchful eye of acclaimed Chef David Pasternak. “Royal Isabela offers the perfect escape that is far enough from the city, yet with all the amenities of a world-caliber resort,“ said Stanley Pasarell, co-owner. Reminiscent of a Puerto Rican hacienda in the 1930’s, the stone tower that is both the restaurant and library is charming for an intimate wedding, while honeymoons are heavenly in the one-bedroom casitas with plunge pools and a spa tub. www.royalisabela.com