Go! Destination MarketingCaribbean Connection

RomanceCuisinArt Resort

A Paradise Found for Lovers
By Melanie Reffes

Whether you’re still smitten with an old flame or igniting sparks with a new one, the Caribbean tempts lovers for a romantic getaway with sandy strands, mountain-coddled coves and tie-dyed sunsets.

“The pressure on creativity is heating up with planners thinking of more innovative ways to satisfy the demands of couples from weddings underwater and in palm-fringed gazebos to the always romantic sunset backdrop,” says Hugh Riley, incurable romantic and secretary general of the Barbados-based Caribbean Tourism Organization.

From Anguilla and Aruba to St. Lucia and St. Maarten, the Caribbean is paradise found for brides and grooms saying their I Do’s on the beach, honeymooners in search of a hammock in the shade, and couples just wanting to get away from the nine-to-five.

Island Stylin’

Whether it’s aboard a catamaran or presided over by a PADI-certified diving preacher, the big day in the deep blue makes for an inimitable ceremony. In Nassau, the planners at Stuart Cove’s are experts at underwater weddings. “Couples who marry in the sea wear masks with microphones so they can say their vows as they sit fifty feet down on the ocean floor on a wreck called the Ray of Hope, “says instructor Ida Stjernstrom, “I am delighted to act as an underwater wedding witness because the sea is truly the most romantic setting in the Caribbean.”

In clear shallow water dappled by sunlight, the Underwater Sculpture Park in Grenada’s Moliniere Bay is a must-see for snorkeling twosomes. Created by British sculptor Jason de Caires Taylor, the park is really a reef where tropical fish and lovebirds cavort side by side.
The Dive Center on Grand Anse Beach and Aquanauts sell tours.

Underwater Sculpture Park

The only resort in St. Lucia with night snorkeling, Jalousie Plantation offers an array of romance packages and nocturnal underwater tours where couples use waterproof flashlights to swim with parrot fish as they weave their cocoons and octopus as they venture from their daylight hideaways.

With picturesque views of the St. Lawrence Gap in Barbados, the Waterside restaurant showcases the wizardry of Chef Michael Hinds and his fiery roasted tiger prawns and white chocolate mousse snuggled in dark chocolate.

“I have perfected the menu to infuse the amazing flavors of Barbados with culinary techniques and ingredients from around the world,” Hind says.
The new eatery invites wedding receptions and rehearsal dinners.

Even if you can’t tell a 9-iron from a curling iron, teeing up with your sweetie and sinking a putt from 25 feet is what romantic bragging rights are made of. In Montego Bay, the “Fairways & Greens” package at the Ritz-Carlton Montego Bay — through Dec. 22 with rates starting at $399 — includes an ocean view suite, breakfast at the Horizon Restaurant and a round of golf.

In Ocho Rios, sky-high weddings are taking off at Rainforest Adventures at Mystic Mountain where the “I Do at 700 Feet” ceremony dares couples to get hitched while flying through the treetops on the Sky Explorer chair lift or on the lawn atop Mystic Mountain. Packages include photographs of the ceremony.


Toes in the Sand

Romance is big on the petite island of Anguilla, the tropical backdrop for TV’s The Bachelor. With more than 10 million viewers who tuned into the popular program, the resorts are marketing the mojo.
“Consumers who had never heard of Anguilla were treated to extraordinary images of the island, like an exhilarating helicopter tour to the picturesque Sandy Island, sunset cruise to the secluded waters of Little Bay and a romantic dinner for two on the white sands of stunning Rendezvous Bay,” said Candis Niles, director of tourism.

At the swish and swank CuisinArt Resort, “The Bachelor’s Journey” package includes a torch lit dinner on the beach, floral bath soak and car rental. “We invite weddings of all faiths,” says Stephane Zahari, general manager, who said since Anguilla doesn’t have a synagogue, a rabbi from St. Maarten performs the ceremony for Jewish couples.


That’s the Rub

Pleasure is barefoot at the Grand Case Beach Club in St. Martin. The seaside hotel is a seashell away from the village of Grand Case, known for its fine-dining restaurants and art galleries. An après-sun rubdown in the hilltop massage gazebo is relaxation par excellence. With his ooh-la-la French accent, Sunset Café server Laurent Fanget treats guests like royalty. “I adore serving couples in love,” he says with a twinkle in his eye. “They put me in a good mood every day.” The resort’s “Honeymoon Magic” package includes a picnic basket pour deux, beach bag and vouchers for casino play on the Dutch side of the island where gambling is legal. The club also offers a fifth night free deal through Dec. 18 with Thanksgiving weekend a blackout period.

Carlisle Bay on the southeast coast of Antigua is uber-luxe amid mango trees, pineapple plantations and a hillside rainforest. The balcony of suite 315 is tailored for a room service breakfast of cinnamon French toast and housemade jam while yellow quid birds flit about looking for something sugary. “For privacy,” grins Jonathan Reynolds, general manager, “the shiny conch shell placed outside the door is our version of a ‘Do not disturb’ sign.”

In trendy Holetown on the west coast of Barbados, Mango Bay Resort offers penthouse suites with spectacular views of the Caribbean Sea, an open-air eatery serving island fare and bartenders who shake and stir a “Mango Bay Burning Flame” that morphs rum, Southern Comfort, coconut cream and pineapple juice into cocktail nirvana.

In Aruba, the “One Cool Honeymoon” program includes island-wide discounts and a bottle of champagne on arrival. At the Aruba Marriott , the “Tradewinds Club Honeymoon” package comes with concierges who check you in, unpack the bags and press the clothes so couples can spend their time on more pleasant indulgences like a warm Frangipani Body Wrap. “Barefoot on the beach are the most popular weddings,” says Abigail Van der Linden, wedding coordinator, “but we do only one a day because there is only one sunset.”
With a couples-only policy and a Trip Advisor ranking as one of the Top 10 romance resorts in the world, Bucuti Beach on the widest stretch of Aruba’s Eagle Beach is serenity. “Every couple has private space, whether it’s under a palapa or lounge chair made for two,” said Ewald Biemans, owner. The “Swept Away” package includes a candlelit dinner on the beach and sunset cruise.

Spice beach Resort

Waking up to the breakfast buffet at Oliver’s at the Spice Island Resort in Grenada is a delicious affair spiced with the island’s signature nutmeg. For dinner, Creole specialties come with a side of live calypso performed by local musicians. Weddings are plenty spicy, with a plethora of honeymoon and vow renewal packages that include couples massages at Janissa’s Spa.

The Wyndham Nassau has the tallest tower on Cable Beach and the penthouse suites come with sea-view balconies that are ideal for an après dinner nightcap. A giant waterslide tempts during the day while the Crystal Palace Casino with 400 slot machines is a guilty pleasure when the sun sets.

Taking it to the Top

One of only five Caribbean resorts with a AAA Five Diamond Rating for 2011, Jade Mountain is a dramatic 600-foot spike above the sea with mesmerizing views of St. Lucia’s iconic Piton Mountains. The creative vision of architect Nick Troubetzkoy, rooms are without a fourth wall giving way to vistas that seem to reach for the sky.

Next door is Anse Chastanet resort, a $500 certificate for a return anniversary visit is given to couples who book one of several romance packages.

Strolls on salmon-colored beaches are a daily ritual in Barbuda, which boasts one five-star resort, 360-degree panoramic views from the Lighthouse Bay Bar and the largest frigate bird sanctuary in the world. Privacy is guaranteed at the plush nine-suite Lighthouse Bay Resort as the only access is via small plane or helicopter. Nightly rates with meals start at $1,199 per room, per night through Dec. 17.