Out & About in the Out Islands

Romantic Harbour Island Beach

Photo Courtesy of HGTV.com

As the song goes, Nassau may be funky but the Out Islands are the real gems in the Bahamas. Strung like a necklace archipelago, the tiny specks of serenity are wooing couples who prefer a quieter wedding vibe nowhere near the cruise ship ports, glitzy casinos or high-rise mega-resorts. “We highly value the wedding market for all our Out Islands,” said Raymond Francis, executive director, Bahamas Out Island Promotion Board as he suggests dessert and coffee at the oh-so-trendy Blu Bungalow restaurant in Harbour Island, “romance is a win-win for us all.”

Quite the Pair

Two of the most exquisite, Harbour Island and Eleuthera are marketed as one destination by travel agents and grouped together as one by the Out Islands Promotion Board. A 45-minute flight from Fort Lauderdale and twenty-five minutes in the air from Nassau, Harbour Island, off the northern tip of Eleuthera, is storybook cute with 2,000 residents who drive 1,500 golf carts, umpteen chickens crossing the road and delectable delicacies like rum punch and hummingbird cake. Dubbed “Briland” by the locals, the island is coveted for its pink sandy beaches, friendly locals and charming hotels with architecture that reminds visitors of New England.

Bahamas Beach

Photo Courtesy of M. Reffes

With a name like Valentine’s, you know this is one resort ripe for romance. Seaside in Harbour Island, romance is big business at the all-suite resort with an enthusiastic staff who loves to organize weddings. On the edge of Dunmore Town with its array of little stores and delightful restaurants , the resort is pretty with thirty-eight suites in four low-rise buildings each named for one of the Out Islands. En-suite dining with specialities delivered from the Boathouse restaurant or cooking in the mini-kitchen is the big draw for couples. “The best part of my job is working with folks who come here for their wedding,” said Alexis Ross, front desk manager, “After talking with them and knowing what they may want, I like suggesting ways they can enjoy the privacy of the island.” For couples who like to explore, the resort also has its own marina and offers a slew of activities on the water. “We encourage couples to try their hand at deep-sea fishing,” adds Alexi Ross, “and if they land a tuna, our Chef will prepare it in their own suite or at the Bathhouse restaurant.”

Loving Lutra

From the Greek word for freedom, Eleuthera or Lutra in the local slang, suits those who prefer frolicking in the sea over putting down another bet at a poker table in Nassau. With just eight thousand full-time residents, Eleuthera is all about lobsters, taking a dip in the crystalline water so shallow you can wade in more than a hundred yards without getting your shoulders wet, taking five on a sun lounger and saying I Do on the beach. “This is a very happy island,” smiles Jackie Gibson, senior manager, Eleuthera Tourist Office, “the reason we’re so popular for weddings is because we’re always in a good mood and that rubs off on our guests.”

Sky Beach Club Bahamas

Photo Courtesy of SB

Leading the pack of wedding-friendly resorts, Sky Beach Club is the only hotel facing the sea and very trendy with couples from all over the world who come for a no-frills barefoot ceremony on the beach. “We’ve had wedding parties book the entire property from our four bedroom villas to our one bedroom bungalows with the glass-enclosed rain shower,” said Stephen Kappler, general manager. Picture-perfect, the beach is carpeted in pink sand, the Bistro grills the tastiest Hog Fish Snapper this side of anywhere and on-site concierges cater to every whim from stocking the villas with fine wine to arranging a tour to the legendary Glass Window Bridge.

Make a Date

Valid for travel through June 19, $300.00 airline credit to Nassau/Paradise Island is too good to miss. Click www.bahamas.com for details.

Check out Bahamas Romantic Hotel and Destination Guide

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Are We There Yet?
Living the Good Life in St. Lucia

Tito Puento St. Lucia Jazz

Photo Courtesy of HollywoodNewYork.com

Nothing heats up romance quicker than enjoying a sultry concert under the moonlit skies. In St. Lucia, Jazz and Arts Festival is as hot as it gets from April 30-May 12 with a roster of fifty funky artists doing what they do best at the Pigeon Island National Landmark, Fond d’Or Heritage Park and Rudy John Beach Park. “Several of our community celebrations like the Friday night street parties and fish fries will be showcased in a fresh and exciting way,” said Tracey Warner Arnold, deputy director of tourism.

Headliners this year include Grammy-winning sexy superstar R Kelly, R&B legends the O’Jays and Mambo Master Tito Puente Jr. “The festival has consistently brought in some of the biggest names in music,” said Louis Lewis, director tourism, “this year is no exception with several artistic elements being added including attractive rates from a variety of our hotels and resorts.”

St. Lucia Destination Wedding

Photo Courtesy of SLTB

A new partnership with one of the leading bridal specialists in the USA will confirm St. Lucia as the number one island for destination weddings and honeymoons. Announcing a year-long campaign between David’s Bridal and the St. Lucia Tourist Board, the sunny isle is poised to welcome a record number of couples to its sandy shores and swishy suites. “David’s Bridal is widely recognized among consumers and is an ideal partner to spread the message about St. Lucia as a leading honeymoon and destination wedding location,” said Nerdin St. Rose, vice president, marketing, St. Lucia Tourist Board. Check out David’s Bridal.

Eco- Chic

Anse Chastanet Romance

Photo Courtesy of Anse Chastanet

With nightly rates starting at $199.00 per room, Discovery at Marigot Bay Hotel is a great bargain with the “Enjoy Jazz on The Bay and Jazz it up at Pigeon Island” package which includes a comfy bay view suite, scrumptious breakfast for two and discounts in the Spa. For travel through May 20, the Bay on the Bay is ideal for those flying in for the Jazz Festival.

For an après-concert rubdown, Kai Belte Spa, or “house of beauty” in Creole, is seaside perfection at the absolutely fabulous Anse Chastanet Resort. Must-try massages include the ‘Romance Ritual’ that kicks off with aromatherapy foot soaks, dry body brushing and candle lit duet couples massages with the resorts signature ‘Loving Body Massage Oil’. For an added treat, the delectable chocolate platter given each couple en route back to their room is divine.

BodyHoliday Gazebo

Photo Courtesy of BodyHoliday

And for couples so enamoured with the Jazz Festival that they’re already planning a return visit to the island, ‘Jive June’ at BodyHoliday is the funky resorts first-ever dance-a-thon encouraging guests to jump, jive and zumba all month long. The invigorating retreat will offer weekly dance classes like jive, salsa, tango, samba and the au courant zumba style. To sweeten the pot, a Saturday evening dance class will be offered at the Pavilion with signature cocktails to whet the appetite and themed-menus that reflect a specific style of dance. Rates start at $315.00, per room, per night.

Natural High

Soufriere Hotwire Rides are the island’s newest zip line ride starting from the Morne Coubaril Estate with a zip under Petit Piton and over the Caribbean Sea.

A favorite of couples worldwide, the island’s mineral baths have healing powers similar to Aix-les-Bains in France. Josephine Bonaparte, wife of the famous French emperor, bathed here as a young girl and it was Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner who slid down the falls during that pulse-quickening scene in ‘Romancing The Stone’.

For the less bold, topping off a tan is de rigeur at Reduit Beach and the sandy slivers at Anse des Pitons while Pigeon Island is picture-perfect for an afternoon with nothing to do. Between the Gros and Petit Piton peaks, Jalousie Beach impresses with water as clear as high-octane rum and although the Atlantic side is tricky to reach, the sheltered coves render the journey worthwhile for privacy-seekers.

An Island Primer

  1. St. Lucia is the birthplace of two Nobel Laureates who by remarkable coincidence were both born on January 23. The late Sir W. Arthur Lewis won the Nobel Prize for Economics in 1979 and poet Derek Walcott for Literature in 1992.
  2. The national bird is the blue-headed Jacquot parrot that can be seen early mornings as it forays through the treetops looking for food.
  3. On the southern tip, the Maria Islands are home to butterflies believed to be extinct in other parts of the world.
  4. Although English is the official language, St. Lucians also speak a French-Creole patois, similar to that heard in Martinique.

Check out St. Lucia Romantic Travel Guide

St. Lucia Tourism

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Paradise on Paradise Island:
Amour is Big is Business at Atlantis

Romantic Reef Atlantis Resort

Photo Courtesy of M. Reffes

The largest hotel in the Bahamas is a sight to behold from every island vantage point. With more than 3,000 rooms, the iconic mega-resort on Paradise Island is full of big fun from the extraordinarily distinctive Dolphin Cay to umpteen bars, shops, restaurants and fabulous venues for a wedding, big or small. A quick hop from Nassau and a short flight from Florida, Atlantis is not only the biggest resort in the Bahamas, it’s also the biggest in the Caribbean and hugely popular with couples tying the knot, celebrating an anniversary or just making merry in the tropics.

New this year and already creating a bridal buzz, Luxury Bridal Retreat is three-day seminar for brides and her gal pals. From June 27 – 30, the whole gaggle of girls can listen to inspirational speakers, hone their wedding photography skills and get the skinny on hair and make-up while indulging in fabulous gourmet dinners, breakfast in bed and divine afternoon naps on a hammock strung between two seaside palm trees.

“What makes the property so appealing is our ability to create the type of getaway that perfectly suits a couple’s personality,” says Anna Schmid, vice president, weddings, “for your honeymoon, you might be attracted to a luxurious experience made up of sun-filled days in your own private beachside cabana and evenings of fine dining in a variety of gourmet restaurants.  Or, you might prefer an adventurous, active romantic escape including dolphin interactions, championship golf, trying your luck in the Caribbean’s largest casino and ending the evening dancing till the wee hours of the morning.”

Dolphin Habitat Atlantis

Photo Courtesy of Atlantis Vacations

A big hit with couples (and everyone else), The Dolphin habitat is built around a gigantic waterscape filled with twenty million gallons of fresh and saltwater. Home to the largest open-air marine habitat in the world, 50,000 animals frolic in the lagoons which includes The Dig, a maze of underwater corridors crafted to look like ancient Atlantis and  Aquaventure, a thrilling water park with adrenalin-pumping slides, mile-long river ride with high intensity rapids and wave surges that are visually awesome.

Big Love

Just steps from Marina Village and close to everything else, Coral Towers are the crème de la crème for honeymooners who have come to splurge, if just for a few days. Perfect for nature-lovers, stays at The Royal Towers include complimentary access to The Dig and the Aquaventure Waterpark.

Atlantis Suite Bahamas

Photo Courtesy of Atlantis Resort

Fashionable with celebrities, The Cove is regal from top to bottom. With an adults-only –pool, the Ocean Suites are simply spectacular with French balconies, step-down living areas, glass- enclosed showers and a custom in-room bar.  A collection of restaurants resort-wide tease every taste bud with kitchens presided over by world-renowned chefs like Japanese Master Nobu Matsuhisa, French whiz Jean-Georges Vongerichten and America’s favorite Bobby Flay.

Party Packages

Atlantis Weddings

Photo Courtesy of Mark da Cunha

Wooing couples with the aptly named “Love Atlantis” package, newlyweds enjoy an on-the -house three-night return stay for their first anniversary when their wedding is booked at the resort. For up to twenty-five guests, ‘Simply Love’ includes a personal planner, escort to the Registrar’s Office, bride’s bouquet and groom’s boutonniere, wedding photos and an Atlantis gift. For larger receptions, ‘Shared Love’ accommodates up to fifty people and includes three-nights in a Royal Tower suite, champagne and strawberries.

The ‘Love Atlantis Honeymoon Pass’ kicks off with cocktails at Café Martinique, breakfast at Seagrapes, massages at Mandara Spa; dolphin interactions at Dolphin Cay and dinner at Mesa Grill. “The Love Atlantis Wedding Specialists are nothing short of a dream team,” adds Anna Schmid, vice president, weddings, “we’ll walk you through every step of the process and put your mind at ease so you can enjoy this special time with your friends and family.”

Dallying with the Dolphins at Dolphin Cay

  • The habitat has one holding pool with a water hydraulic lifting floor to assist the veterinarians in giving the best care to the dolphins.
  • The coves are ten feet deep with gradual slopes that level off into sandy beaches.
  • 80 percent of the dolphins come from The Bahamas.
  • The dolphins are fed a diet of herring enriched with multi-vitamins.

All Atlantis Hotels and Resorts

The Cove Atlantis
The Reef Atlantis
Atlantis Royal Towers
Atlantis Coral Towers
Harborside Resort at Atlantis
Atlantis Beach Tower

Check out Bahamas Romantic Hotel and Destination Guide

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C’mon Get Happy: One Love in Jamaica

Jamaica Get In Get Happy

Photo Courtesy of Caribbean Current

While the wildly popular and very funny red Volkswagen commercial that aired during the Super Bowl may be behind us, Jamaica is still making merry by inviting sun seekers from around the globe to get in touch with their inner island spirit.  The now famous ad featuring the office worker from Minnesota who speaks with a funky Jamaican accent was a worldwide hit with winter weary TV watchers who got irie with reggae superstar Jimmy Cliff’s version of “Come On, Get Happy.”

Cashing in on the red hot success of that TV commercial, a clever island-wide “Get Happy” campaign, valid for travel through June, is rolling out the welcome mat with free hotel nights and a host of extras. More than twenty hotels have jumped on the bandwagon with tempting deals guaranteed to warm the hearts of couples everywhere. www.visitjamaica.com

GoldenEye Resort Jamaica

Photo Courtesy of Island Outposts

For a weekend getaway that won’t break the bank, “Buy Three Nights and Get the Fourth Night Free” is too good to miss at a bounty of resorts including the 007-themed Goldeneye, Port Antonio’s swanky Strawberry Hill, chi-chi Half Moon Resort in Montego Bay, all-inclusive Iberostar Rose Hall Beach, Jewel Dunn’s River Beach Resort and for the city slickers in the family, Pegasus in Kingston is also offering the long weekend package.

For couples who can spend more than a weekend in the sun, “Buy Four Nights and Get the Fifth Night Free” is offered at the eco-astute Mockingbird Hill high above the Blue Mountains and the all-inclusive Sunset Jamaica Grande.  And for twosomes who have a lot of time on their hands, “Buy Five Nights and Get the Six Night Free” is irresistible at Jakes on Treasure Beach, Sandals Resorts and the exclusive Tryall Club in Montego Bay.  “Jamaica presents an escape for travellers looking to relax and reconnect away from the hustle and bustle of their everyday lives,” said John Lynch, director of tourism, “our resorts are featuring a number of value-added deals and packages this season, making a vacation affordable for those seeking a romantic getaway.”

It’s Irie, Mon with Island Routes

Island Routes Bamboo Rafting

Photo Courtesy of Island Routes

Jamaica-based and the largest adventure tour operators in the Caribbean, Island Routes  has launched its ‘Live Funner’ tours that takes visitors beyond the resort and into the heart of the islands. “We bring our commitment to creating opportunity and sharing the joy and excitement of our Caribbean home,” said David Shields, general manager, “by the end of the adventure, our guests feel like one of the locals.” Hot tours for 2013 include zip lining through the treetops, golfing at Cinnamon Hill, swimming with the dolphins and for the romantics amongst us, The Lovers’ Rock Catamaran Cruise is three hours of pure heaven with unforgettable views of the sun sinking into the horizon, fabulous array of Jamaican snacks and cocktails and the rhythms of reggae guaranteed to keep every couple in the mood.

The Jamaican Bucket List or Five Reasons Not to Stay Home

The green flash seen on cloudless nights at Rick’s Café will bring good fortune to anyone lucky enough to see it.www.rickscafejamaica.com

High above sea level, the Lookout Tower at Mystic Mountain dishes up the best panoramic vistas of the island. www.rainforestadventure.com

Rose Hall Great House has appeared in at least a dozen Gothic novels and is still the topic of local gossip about ghosts and witchcraft. www.jnht.com

The Blue Lagoon in Port Antonio is a favorite spot to tie the knot for couples who can do without the razzle dazzle of a big resort wedding. www.portantoniojamaica.com

For a natural sun-kissed glow, ‘Bamboo Polish’ at the Red Lane Spa at Sandals Whitehouse is the hands-down favorite of blushing brides-to-be. www.sandals.com

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Get Sexy in St. Kitts

Turtle Beach Romantic St. Kitts

Photo Courtesy of St. Kitts Tourist Authority

An island match made in Caribbean heaven, “Feel The Warmth in St. Kitts & Nevis” is an added-value bonanza offering major bang for the wedding buck. For travel through March 30, sun-soaked packages include seven nights for the price of six or five when four are confirmed and discounts galore at shops, restaurants and attractions. Available for booking until March 24 via American Airlines AA Vacations, Delta Vacations and US Airways Vacations, couples can feel the warmth as the winter winds continue to blow at home.

Marrying at the Marriott

St. Kitts Marriott Resort

Photo Courtesy of Marriott Resorts

The largest property on the island is also the leader in weddings and honeymoons. Seaside on a sprawling beach, 573-room St. Kitts Marriott is also the only American resort in St. Kitts and a green tee away from the Royal St. Kitts Golf Club. With eight restaurants, nine bars including one for cigar and rum aficionados, three pools, Emerald Mist Spa and Royal Beach Casino, the resort is tops with brides and grooms who are looking for a Caribbean location that is easy to get to and easy to navigate. Blooming with a bouquet of wedding packages, it’s the creative extras that go a long way from keepsake bathrobes and catamaran cruises to a Night on the Town in a limo with a bottle of bubbly.

From soup to nuts, the resort pays fine attention to reception menus aimed at pleasing even the pickiest eaters in the crowd. Fresh from the kitchen at the Regal Airport Hotel in Hong Kong, Chef William Stringfellow brings a wealth of expertise to his new post with more than two decades of experience in Thailand, Japan, Europe and Canada. “The great thing about my profession is that one never stops learning, seeing, tasting or trying new products,” noted Chef Stringfellow, “I am looking forward to discovering all the beauty and flavors the island of St. Kitts has to offer.”

Ooh-la-la at Ottley’s

Ottley's Plantation Inn

Photo Courtesy of Ottley's Plantation Inn

Originally a 17th century sugar plantation, Ottley’s Plantation Inn is majestic at the foot Mt. Liamuiga. A romantic trip down memory lane, the Inn is on the secluded north side of the island with glorious vistas of the Atlantic Ocean. A short hop from the airport, the Inn is just fifteen minutes from downtown Basseterre yet a world away from the hustle and bustle.

Made for weddings with a spacious lawn dotted with feather palms, historic sugar mill and the mountains within reach, couples can pick and choose a venue that is right for their special day. Rubdowns in the Mango Orchard Spa are awesome as the vervet monkeys play in the trees just outside the windows. Romance packages include a traditional British breakfast on the terrace, leisurely strolls through the rainforest, treats in the spa and a gourmet dinner made exceptional with an extensive wine list.

Liming with the Locals

St. Kitts Sugar Train

Photo Courtesy of St. Kitts Tourism Authority

Known as the “Sugar Train”, St. Kitts Scenic Railway uses the same tracks that were built in 1912 to carry sugar cane from the plantations to the Sugar Factory in Basseterre. Today, the train takes passengers on a scenic tour that passes iconic sites like Brimstone Hill and along the slopes of Mt. Liamuiga. A choir serenades passengers with folkloric tunes and sugar cakes and beverages are served on board. “My personal favorite part of the tour is when the schoolchildren get so excited to see the passing train that they wave at the passengers,” said Senator Ricky Skerritt, minister tourism, “this is the most authentic example of genuine Kittitian hospitality you can get.”

Popular with couples who like to get groovy, Monkey Bar is the quintessential beachfront bar for a cold Carib beer or a potent rum cocktail shaken with locally-made Brimley’s rum (coconut is a favorite). More island chillin’at the Reggae Beach Bar where revelers not only enjoy a fabulous barbecued lobster but can also sign up for a fishing trip, ocean kayaking tour or play a game of beach volleyball. For a real slice of local life, Spratnet in Old Road Town is flip-flop friendly on Friday nights when the picnic tables are crowded and the old-timers are delighted to entertain travelers with island lore.

Nuts and Bolts

Easy as pie to make it legal, there is no residency requirement and a bare minimum of paperwork. The marriage license fee is US $75.00 and required documents include a passport and birth certificate as well as divorce decrees, if either of the newlyweds were once married. Couples can easily organize their own wedding although most of the resorts and hotels will gladly assist.

A Window Seat

American Airlines flies non-stop daily from Miami with twice daily service on Fridays and Sundays as well as flights from JFK twice weekly. Other non-stop flights include Delta from Atlanta and US Airways from Charlotte. For couples who enjoy island hopping, there are easy connections from other islands including LIAT from Antigua and Winair from St. Maarten.

Check out St. Kitt’s Romantic Hotel and Destination Guide

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