LuvTrip Romantic Getaways
Romantic Guide to Jamaica

Top 5 Jamaica Wedding Resorts and Packages:
#1 Couples Resorts

by Melanie Reffes

Ask Randy Russell about his wife and it’s easy to see why he’s the Chief Romance Officer of the Couples Resorts in Jamaica. “Bringing Deborah chocolates would be too self-serving because I’m a chocoholic. Instead we share an effortless exchange of hugs and kisses, holding hands and lots of "I Love You”s. Russell, who is also the senior vice president of sales and marketing and the only resort executive with Chief Romance Officer printed on his business card, clearly has romance down pat.

Recently celebrating his 10th wedding anniversary and his fifth year with Couples, the Florida-based CRO is passionately involved in nurturing a romance market that is unrivalled. "We are fortunate to have a repeat base of nearly 40 per cent. Year-to-date, our occupancy is running in the mid to high 80s with expectations of 70 to 80 per cent for the balance of the year."

Romance oozes at every turn as love bugs stroll hand in hand along the beach at sunset or cuddle in beachfront hammocks at the four allinclusive resorts – Couples Tower Isle, Couples Sans Souci, Couples Swept Away and Couples Negril.

Spread throughout a lush tropical paradise along Negril’s sparkling Seven Mile Beach, Swept Away is drenched in romance with 312 spacious suites either overlooking the calm waters of the Caribbean Sea or the perfectly landscaped gardens. Beachfront and ocean verandah suites with mini-bars and satellite TV are picturesque and private; however, the garden suites are less so especially those on the first floor.

A multi-million dollar expansion is complete with the construction of the Great House and additional suites and Jacuzzis, jazz bar and disco, massive wedding reception centre, state-of-the-art internet café with hi-speed flat-screen computers and the gourmet restaurant Feathers with an impressive champagne menu. These renovations at Swept Away bring the total room count at all four properties to 900.

Dining options include the open-air Palms for sumptuous buffets and Reggae and Oldies Night guaranteed to keep the party going until the wee hours, late night snacking on Belgium-style frites at the Cabana Grill, grilled snapper par excellence at the Sea Grape Café and a Thai menu at Lemon Grass. Not surprising, ‘Breakfast in Bed’ is the most popular dining option.

Although 1,000 weddings are performed each year at each resort, honeymooners make up the larger slice of the romance pie. "In August, we had 181 newlywed couples and performed 70 weddings," says Sheryl Clarke, operations manager at Swept Away.

Part psychiatrist and part wedding coordinator planner, Tamika Jones has calmed down nervous brides and pushy moms for five years at Swept Away. "I’ve been to hundreds of weddings and still cry at all of them." she smiles, "sometimes the grooms are more nervous than the brides like one young man who fainted three times before finally saying I Do."

Setting Couples apart from other resorts selling romance are the complimentary on-site inclusions and off-site tours like scuba diving, snorkeling, tennis, catamaran cruises, golf, fitness training, “cook Jamaican” classes and shopping tours. “Newlyweds love to see the conch which is a Jamaican aphrodisiac,” smiles Wayne Drummond, the captain of the glass bottom boat, “it puts groove in your move.”

The complimentary wedding package includes the ceremony, champagne and cake, bouquet and boutonniere, massages and tshirts. With a click of the mouse, wedding dates can be reserved by filling out the on-line form. "This system is useful for some clients," says Karen Lanigan, general manager of Couples Negril, "however, 40 to 50 per cent of guests prefer a personal touch and book through a travel agent." "We’d never been to the Caribbean," says newlywed Hazel Hurtz, "but when our travel agent told us about the easy flights from Canada, our decision was made."

Clever extras include the ‘wed cast’- a ‘live’ feed of the ceremony (US $375 and available only at Negril and Swept Away) and honeymoonwishes. com – a gift registry for perks like a candlelight dinner on the beach or spa treatments. Value-added packages like “Forever Yours” (US $269) include a candle-lit dinner and personal waiter and "Match Made in Paradise" (US $329) comes with the marriage proposal carved in fruit. "February 14 is the busiest day of the year for us," smiles Karen Lanigan, "We had 10 Valentine weddings last year and five booked so far for 2007."


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