Whether you’re still smitten with an old flame or igniting sparks with a new one, romance runs rampant in the Caribbean. Graced with mountain-rimmed coves and tie-dyed sunsets, finding passion in the Caribbean is breeze.
“With cupid’s arrows pointing toward these islands in the sun,” smiles Hugh Riley, incurable romantic and secretary general of the Barbados-based Caribbean Tourism Organization, “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 by the soothing Caribbean Sea.”
Rebecca Davidson/Cayman Islands Dept Tourism
From Barbados and Barbuda to St Lucia and St Thomas, the Caribbean is paradise found for brides and grooms saying their I Dos on the beach, honeymooners in search of a hammock in the shade, anniversary celebrators, vow renewal takers and couples just wanting to get away from the nine-to-five.
A Suite DreamWith new direct nonstop Air Canada flights from Toronto to St Kitts, the St Kitts Marriott is a good bet for couples who like to tempt lady luck in the casino, top off their tan on the candy sand or indulge in a revitalizing massage. A taxi ride from a slew of funky beach bars, the resort is brand-reliable with deals galore throughout the winter months including the ‘Super Sand Dollar’ that tempts with rates as low as US $164, per room, three nights gratis when seven are booked and breakfast daily. www.stkittsmarriott.com
With another new Air Canada route, this time from Toronto to Curacao, winter is on sale at the iconic Kura Hulanda hotels with 40 per cent off nightly rates through April 7. At both the Hotel near Willemstad and the Lodge on the beach, the ‘Spa Splendor‘ package is relaxation-central with spa treatments, sun loungers and dips in the Jacuzzi. “Aesthetically stunning, the villas provide both the convenience of a private home and the advantages of a first-class resort,” said Peter Heinen, president. www.kurahulanda.com
Rounding out a trio of new Air Canada flights, getting to the USVI is a breeze with weekly service from Toronto to St Thomas. Sitting pretty on a hilltop overlooking soft sands and aquamarine waters, Marriott Frenchman’s Reef and adjacent Morning Star Beach is the largest property in St Thomas and making quite a splash with refined Caribbean décor in island colours of sand beige, sunset sage and ocean blue; the Marriott trademarked and oh-so-comfy Revive brand bedding and fluffer pillows; and sweeping vistas of Charlotte Amalie, one of the Caribbean’s most majestic yacht harbours . “My recommendation for the most romantic room,” said Jose Gonzalez, general manager, “is #5124 with a serenade of nighttime lullabies courtesy of the waves below.” Five thousand couples have said “I Do” here over four decades, with an increase these days in ‘second time around‘ and ‘third time lucky‘ weddings. “We can do eight weddings a day on the beach but only two at sunset,” smiles Jessica Klein, wedding coordinator. www.frenchmansreefmarriott.com
The party kicks off with champagne cocktails at the swishy LaLuna resort in Grenada. Romance packages include cozy cottages with plunge pools and porches with tempting add-ons that include yoga sessions and three spa treatments per person. All-inclusive rates, per person, start at US $2,785 for travel through April 12. www.laluna.com
At the swish and swank CuisinArt Resort in Anguilla, romance extras include a torch-lit dinner on the beach and floral bath soak. “We invite weddings of all faiths,” says Stephane Zahari, general manager. “For Jewish couples, the rabbi from St Maarten will perform the ceremony and for the reception, kosher food is flown in from Miami.” www.cuisinartresort.com
WEDDING CUSTOMS IN THE CARIBBEAN• A shiny dime placed inside the bride's shoe brings wealth and prosperity.
• If the wedding bouquet falls on the ground, the groom will cheat.
• A sliver of rum-soaked wedding cake kept under the pillow guarantees fertility.
• Bridesmaids wearing white chase away evil spirits. (Kate’s sister Pippa was dressed in white for the Royal Wedding.)
• Shoes tied to the back of a car show the father of the bride that the new husband is financially responsible for his daughter.
In clear shallow water dappled by sunlight, the Underwater Sculpture Park in Grenada’s Moilinere 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 www.divegrenada.com and Aquanauts www.aquanautsgrenada.com sell tours.
Leather & LaceThe perennially popular adults-only Hedonism II in Negril is tempting newlyweds with wicked wedding packages that include rubdowns for two at the Blue Mahoe Spa and his and hers risqué red satin bathrobes. The ‘Twilight and True Blood’ wedding entices with blood orange champagne cocktails and bouquets of black roses. For couples who prefer kinky and not ghoulish, the ‘Leather & Lace’ package invites brides to walk down the aisle in lingerie and stilettos while a dimly lit boudoir draped in white lace is honeymoon-central with a set of handcuffs for the brave and brazen. www.hedonism.com
Worth The SplurgeThe recipient of every award imaginable, Jade Mountain is a dramatic 182-metre 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. With a minimum five-night stay, weddings are complimentary and include wedding arch, bottle of bubbly and all legal fees. www.jademountain.com
At the next-door Anse Chastanet resort, a US $500 certificate for a return anniversary visit is given to couples who book one of several romance packages. www.ansechastanet.com
Antigua & Barbuda Tourist Office
Sultry strolls on salmon-coloured beaches are a daily ritual in Barbuda. Sandy sister to Antigua, the petite sliver boasts one five-star resort, 360-degree panoramic views from the Lighthouse Bay Bar and the largest frigate bird sanctuary in the world. Ideal for lovebirds, privacy is guaranteed at the plush nine-suite Lighthouse Bay Resort as the only access is via small plane or helicopter. “Couples who venture to Barbuda,” says Terrence Linton, general manager, “may want to stay here forever.” www.LightHouseBayResort.com