Raising the romance bar with lobster dinners, champagne breakfasts and massages pour deux, the Caribbean oozes passion around every palm tree. “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.”
Say Si on the BeachFor an ultra-stylish tryst, W Retreat & Spa on Vieques Island in Puerto Rico is wooing couples with a “Sneak Away for a Romantic Rendezvous” getaway that includes dinner at the newly opened Sorcé restaurant, breakfast for two, credit at the Away Spa, champagne toasts and late check-out. With room rates as low as $299.00 per night from August through October, the swanky resort is full of wedding venues, honeymoon suites and perches that are primo for a marriage proposal. A host of amenities guaranteed to make any couple feel like royalty include seaside partner massages, a comfy bed in the “W” suite on the wedding night and a platter of delish cupcakes left discreetly by the bedside. As an added bonus, the resort is a Starwood property and for each stay, Starpoints are earned for future getaways. Another Starwood property also in Puerto Rico, St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort is on the A-list for couples with a hankering for ultimate pampering. With wedding venues indoors and out, couples can stroll to the altar on the gracious Sea Breeze Lawn, at the Molasses Club House and in the Astor Ballroom considered one of the finest addresses in the Caribbean for a grand indoor wedding. “The resort appeals to the refined bride and groom in all of us,” said Tammy Tyson, director, Weddings, Starwood Caribbean, “the resort is nestled in between El Yunque National Rainforest and the Atlantic Coast offering nuances of luxury that simply cannot be found elsewhere.”
For an awesome locale to pop the question, try night swimming in in Bioluminescent Bays. Home to large colonies of tiny critters that light up like fireflies, the waters appear to be glowing under the light of a full moon. Two of the most spectacular bays are Mosquito Bay in Vieques and Laguna Grande at Las Croabas, Fajardo.
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’ package 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, “with two on-site wedding planners, we 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.In Jamaica, Beaches Negril Resort has added an ooh-la-la French patisserie for couples who appreciate a steaming cup of espresso and a fresh croissant. Tempting the taste buds with an array of sweet treats, Café de Paris pours only Blue Mountain coffee that is heavenly with a made-to-order crepe. With French-inspired murals showcasing the Eiffel Tower and Arc de Triomphe, relaxed newlyweds can enjoy a quiet moment, or two, from sunrise to 11 pm every day. Couples confirming a six night stay by May 30 will receive a $355.00 airfare credit per room, for travel through December 2014.
Caribbean Wedding Traditions
• In Puerto Rico, the priest performing the wedding also blesses a plate of coins and gives them to the groom who presents them to his bride as his wedding present to her.
• At a Jamaican wedding, a fruitcake liberally laced with rum is served at the reception and then slices are mailed to relatives who were unable to attend.
• Wedding cakes in Bermuda are topped with a tiny sapling. After the reception, the newlyweds plant the young tree at their home where they watch it grow, as their marriage grows.
• Cuban wedding receptions are famous for the traditional money dance, where each man who dances with the new bride pins money to her dress to help the newlyweds with their honeymoon expenses.