Wedding planning or not, Covid-19 has us all unified with our feelings and concerns. We are anxious, worried, frustrated and a feeling like a hot emotional mess. For engaged couples, you have a whole list of concerns on top of what we are all feeling. How do you navigate wedding planning in the midst of a pandemic? It is probably hard to even get excited with so much uncertainty surrounding us. Your goals need to be: stay home, stay healthy and focus on activities that are a good distraction! The good news is, the destination wedding industry is built for communicating from afar and with the right team, it will be stress-free! More importantly, this too shall pass. Celebrations, traveling, and a simple handshake will become normal interactions again. After every storm there is a rainbow! Plus, we will all need a SERIOUS vacation after this and take it from me, a travel agent, people are looking forward to traveling again soon!
BUT MY WEDDING WAS CANCELLED
You’re not alone! Countless couples are trying to salvage their wedding day plans. Travel agents, event planners, vendors, airlines and hotels too are all stressing over the Covid-19 outbreak. We are all on pins and needles trying to steer through these unsteady waters. Whether your wedding was overseas or at home, we are being forced to resign to plan B. Who said Plan B couldn’t be better than Plan A, though? If your wedding was canceled, although hard to see the bright side of things, you do have it a bit easier than couples who have to wait to see if their wedding date is even in the clear. It is a waiting game for them, but for you, you have time on your side. You have the option to postpone and lock down a date ASAP or better yet, take a breather and see where we are in a month or two. You might want to jump on a Fall wedding of this year or plan for a whole year later. For now, contact your travel agent, your wedding coordinator and any vendors you booked on your own. You do not need to have all the answers but touch base with them so you are all on the same page and so you know how to proceed when you do decide to lock in a new date. Kat over at Paper Love Spell is offering a free digital download for couples to share with guests on their change of plans. I love the headline and design! This is the perfect way to reach out to your loved ones.
BUT MY WEDDING IS SOON
For the couples that are stuck in limbo due to travel restrictions, hotel and airport closures, take a deep breath. I know, that’s easier said than done but over the next few weeks we will have a better idea on how to proceed. I am assessing the situation every day and waiting to see if travel restrictions are lifted and if the virus has at least been contained. The best case scenario, your wedding will go as planned! If you have to move your wedding date, some couples are postponing their wedding date to 2021. Your travel agent will be able to make the necessary adjustments to your guests’ reservations and work with your hotel, the airlines and transfer companies to make a seamless change. Together all outlets in the travel industry are waiving change fees. I know the situation is not ideal but all good things are worth the wait, including your wedding day!
BUT CAN I PLAN A WEDDING NOW
There is no better time to lock down a 2021 wedding than now! The early bird gets the date and with 2020 brides shifting to 2021, you might want to lock down a date asap. Locking down your date and your room reservation is simple. After a room block and wedding date is set, you have plenty of time to plan the other details. I assist my couples with all the information they need and then introduce them to their on-site wedding coordinator. The wedding coordinator will be happy to help with any questions and concerns but won’t look to start planning until months before. Did you know most wedding day packages will immediately hold vendors for you? So, no need to hunt down a florist in another country or find a caterer on the island. No additional contracts, deposits or unnecessary homework required! If there is a specific photographer you would like to work with or DJ, you can absolutely book them. You are not restricted to the hotel’s vendors! While being quarantined is anything but fun it is great timing to find inspiration on Pinterest, a bridal magazine, reruns of “Say Yes To The Dress” and social media while practicing social distancing. A little time away from reality could be a good thing during stressful times.
I always recommend that you focus on solutions and alternatives. Things are changing every day so if your destination wedding is coming up, check in on any updated travel advisories. You might have to celebrate under a different sunset but I promise the view will still be amazing!
It’s no secret that I adore Mexico, the Caribbean coast in particular. Maybe I’m partial to the eastern side because of the Caribbean sea and, well, direct flights into Cancun via JFK and Newark don’t hurt either. While, I’m hoping the direct flights return to Cabo and to Puerto Vallarta from JFK, I can’t deny the Pacific side is also very attractive. Both ends are shaking up the hotel scene. Mexico is where it’s happening. It does have a bad rep, but being from New York, I can tell you, you have to be careful pretty much anywhere you go. Be a smart traveler and don’t scratch Mexico off of your list. If you do a google search for the hottest, new beach resorts, you’ll land yourself staring at countless pictures and websites of properties in Mexico. From resorts adding complimentary spa treatments and hotels with gourmet restaurants, up to par with the best of the best in New York and Paris, to cutting edge technology and architecture that will zap you into the future, Mexico has a wide range of options and it’s continuing to push the boundaries.
I traveled to Cabo with my husband, then boyfriend, several years ago. We found $1 tacos being made by a little old lady in town. They were so good that we made a trip back two more times that week. That brings me to good food! Mexico will tempt and spoil your taste buds. More recently, we were lucky enough to eat at the first Michelin Star restaurant in Riviera Maya, Mexico. Every bit of the 9 course tasting menu created by famed chef Carlos Gaytán, was not only delicious but a piece of art on a plate. When you hear Nobu, you probably will think of the renowned Asian-fusion restaurant located in some of the hottest cities all over the world, attracting celebrity names, trendy crowds in a sleek, sexy atmosphere. The new Nobu Los Cabos is bringing all this and more to the tip of Mexico’s Baja California peninsula. It is sure to satisfy the toughest of critics with its famous dishes. The hotel chain is also opening a farm-to-table concept from a popular spot in Malibu. The on-site garden provides a number of fresh ingredients for the hotel’s restaurants and bars. Can you say “fresh to death”!? Grand Velas Riviera Maya will change your mind about the all-inclusive experience. An all-inclusive, 5-star resort with gourmet food, YES, they really do exist! The Chaka menu features a variety of international delights, specialty coffees, international wines, mouthwatering desserts and entrees, that are natural and healthy.
Mexico is also one of the destinations to celebrate the LGBTQ community. This vibrant, gorgeous country definitely shouldn’t be off-limits for gay travelers, especially with the upswing in LGBTQ rights in Mexico. The Almar Resort located in Puerto Vallarta in specific, offers an upscale, adult-only experience for everyone in the community to gather without any labels or stereotypes. Mexico also recognizes and celebrates marriage between a man and a man, and between two women. A great spot for those seeking a destination wedding. The Hard Rock hotels openly invite gay travelers and host beautiful, same sex weddings. For some serenity during your stay, the sister property, Heaven is an adults-only hotel right next door. Playa Del Carmen is a vibrant destination and hot spot for the LGBTQ community. The friendly destination host many gay bars, hotels and clubs.
We all like to look at pretty things and, well, design and architecture in Mexico is not lacking in that department. The Chileno Bay Resort uses indoor-outdoor living to create a California vibe in the Baja California. Each luxurious room accommodation features amenities like outdoor showers, private terraces and deep soaking tubs with custom hand-made tile accent walls and marble flooring. You’ll never want to leave your room! A few months back, I visited Unico 20°87°. The exteriors, designed by Mexican architecture firm Artigas and interiors by design firm AvroKo basically had Instagram in mind when creating this masterpiece with it’s beautiful backdrops. The property utilizes materials from the surrounding region with natural finishes, think, stone, wood, sisal rope, handcrafted pieces and art by local artisans. It was one of my favorite hotel stays and it is always on my list of recommendations for the area. The Andaz Mayakoba’s structures were also designed by an acclaimed architect. Ronald Zürcher created a contemporary, timeless resort with the wow-factor. It seems like he took a page out of 50-Shades of Grey with its sexy, masculine vibe. I couldn’t possibly end off without mentioning The Viceroy Los Cabos. The brand new resort is something you would picture in a sci-fi movie. The designer in me, is having an OMG MOMENT. The hotel screams drama, loud and clear! The aesthetic for the resort created by one of Mexico’s preeminent architects, Miguel Angel Aragonés and designer Al Arquitectura de Interiores, is sleek, cutting edge and minimalistic. That’s saying nothing of the chic rooftop club that opened last year.
Speaking of clubs, Mexico is home to one-of-a-kind nightlife, pool parties and nightclubs. Whether you’re hitting up infamous COCO Bongo on the strip or chilling at the rooftop of The Cape, a Thompson hotel, there is always a good time to be had. The Cape is home to the only rooftop lounge and a separate beer garden fueled by award-winning mixologist Osvaldo Vazquez and live DJ sessions. Another lively hotel that attracts a fun crowd is Breathless Rivera Cancun. The hotel publishes a live calendar to keep guests informed of the upcoming parties and events, from DJ Pool parties to Black light pool parties! The Live Aqua in Playa del Carmen is a boutique property right above the fun on famous 5th avenue. Guests of the resort, enjoy preferential rates at two of the most popular beach clubs in the area which host some of the world’s hottest music festivals. Electric Daisy Carnival in Las Vegas has taken their stellar production abroad and Mexico makes the list of destinations! Insomniac Events is known for throwing some truly spectacular music festivals, and their EDC edition in Mexico City is not be missed! Ultra Mexico is a 2-day event boasting the world’s top EDM DJs. Arena Festival promises an unforgettable week, with a stellar artist lineup for this world-class house music event. The dance parties are endless. Mark your calendars!
Another reason I adore Mexico, they are kings of the “suite life” as I like to say. Mexico is offering room accommodations that you won’t find anywhere else. I recently stepped out onto the balcony of my suite and dove right into a lake surrounded by waterfalls and jungle at the most out of the box hotel, Xcaret. I felt like I was in an exotic place like Bali minus the lengthy flight. Cheileno Bay Resort in Los Cabos and the Banyan Tree Mayakoba in Playa del Carmen have celebrity style villas with multiple bedrooms, private pools, chefs, butlers and all the good things we should all have on a vacation. What do you do if you have a large family or a big group? Kick up your group travel a notch with the two and three bedroom suites at the Villa La Estancia in Nuevo Vallarta. Perched at the top of this luxury resort and over 4,316 square feet is their Presidential suite with jaw dropping ocean views, three large bedrooms, four large bathrooms, a kitchen complete with everything one could need to prepare a gourmet meal and spacious living room. Not to mention, state-of-the-art outdoor grill, jacuzzi and a tremendous terrace. If extra space is needed, the Nizuc in Cancun, offers 274 luxurious suites and private villas, the majority include private plunge pools. No need to leave your room, seriously, everything is at your fingertips! Over-water-bungalows are the epitome of a luxurious vacation. We have all fawned over pictures of those dreamy bungalows perched over the water. Once only available by 20 hours of traveling is now located right in the Caribbean Sea of Mexico. El Dorado Maroma is not only located on one of the best beaches in the area but the over-water bungalows are equipped with glass bottom floors, outdoor showers, private pools and the privacy and water views that we all imagine from these unreal accommodations. The Rosewood Mayakoba is set in an eco-complex near Playa del Carmen, Mexico. The overwater suites are what honeymoons are made of. You’ll want to spring for this room category where you have direct access to the lagoon from your terrace. Each of these overwater suites comes with a private plunge pool among many other 5-star amenities.
While a 5-star vacation sounds absolutely perfect, our wallets may disagree. Mexico boosts some of the largest selection of all-inclusive hotels. If you’re on a budget, an all-inclusive is the best value. All you can eat, drink and play, included! Dreams Resorts are amongst some of the more affordable properties. Enjoy spacious rooms, countless pools and retsaurants and great service. The Riu properties, keep immaculate, lush grounds and have almost the most real-estate in the game. The hotels are typically 3.5 stars and offer great bang for the buck. From Cancun to Los Cabos, Puerto Vallarta and Mexico City, you can almost find a Riu anywhere in Mexico, and they’re still expanding! NOW Resorts are also on my go-to list for a budget-friendly trip. Great for families, couples and group travel, NOW Resorts do not disappoint. Opening soon is their second property, the NOW Natura after the great success of the NOW Jade. I traveled with my girlfriends when the NOW Jade first opened. The hotel delivered a fun stay for a girls’ getaway so I am very excited about the opening of the Now Natura. Tip: if you aren’t traveling with kids, the Preferred Club is worth the upgrade. The added services and amenities were a great touch. Plus, the peace and quiet did not hurt!
Speaking of the NOW Natura, like so many of you, I am always intrigued by something shiny and new, and Mexico is one of the fastest growing destinations. What is super exciting about the NOW Natura, is the design. The chain is going for a new vibe, rather than chic and modern, Now Natura is inspired by the surrounding Mayan jungle, bringing the outdoors inside. The much sought after Majestic Resort chain is a hot-spot in the Dominican Republic so there was no surprise that when the hotel opened in Mexico that it would draw crowds. The Nickelodeon hotel is another hotel in Punta Cana, DR making an appearance in Mexico. Opening soon this year, the family-friendly hotel will drench kids in slime and have them chasing after their favorite Nickelodeon characters. Le Blanc is an adult-only oasis in Los Cabos with unparalleled service, just like its sister property in Cancun. The hotel earns high scores in design, food and service. Atelier Playa Mujeres and The Haven Resort in Cancun, opened nearly at the same time just a few months back, pampering the adult-only guests in luxury. Big names like The Fairmont, Ritz Carlton and The Four Seasons are also expanding and getting skin in the game. I can promise you, it will not stop there.
There are so many reasons why Mexico’s tourism industry is booming and it does not look like it will be slowing down anytime soon. Enjoy amazing beach resorts, immerse yourself in the culture, take your foodie passion to the next level, find your inner wild child with an outdoor activity and dive into the country’s history. There’s much to see and experience so together let’s craft your perfect trip south of the border.
You are rocking some fancy new jewelry, have dug into every bridal magazine publication and your Pinterest is working overtime. You’re ready to lock down a date but you’re over the same old traditional celebration. You’ve been to every event space and catering hall in the area. You want a wow factor, something new, fresh and memorable. I have narrowed down some great resorts that have tons of value in a recent blog post. While saving money is always a bonus, you wouldn’t hold back at home so why hold back anywhere? You like the finer things in life and you want your wedding to be a reflection of that. Fortunately, even if you’re willing to splurge on your destination wedding, it is still a huge savings than hosting your event home. Host a top notch event without sacrificing on food, service and decor. These properties are some of the best throughout Mexico and the Caribbean.
I am crushing hard on the Nizuc Resort on the Caribbean coast of Cancun, Mexico. Nizuc Resort and Spa has quickly become a premier wedding venue in the industry. Travelers have given this property some of the highest reviews in the destination. In 2013 it was named one of the best new hotels in the world by Conde Nast. With 29 acres of private beachfront property and only 274 suites, it has a boutique feel, warm and intimate with some very cool modern amenities. The contemporary architecture, surrounding lagoon, mangroves, gardens and ocean views help to create a dreamy escape and an even better scene for your destination wedding. Nizuc starts your wedding day with breakfast in bed, followed by a relaxing spa treatment. The rest of the day is seamlessly planned by the world-class wedding coordinators with attention to each detail. You and your guests will be spoiled with gourmet cuisine, the decor with the freshest flowers and an immaculate space. Nizuc Resort and Spa weddings are chic, elegant and romantic.
The newest resort in The Cayman Islands is also my favorite for brides and grooms to exchange vows on the island or just for G World Travel clients to vacation to. The Seafire Kimport Resort and Spa is set on the famous Seven Mile Beach, one of the most beautiful beaches in the Caribbean. The island reminds me of an East Hamptons vibe, from the food to the people and the decor. The impressive Seafire Kimpton hotel oozes style with its sleek design and modern architecture. It is to date one of my most favorite properties I have visited. As the hotel manager has said “luxury without the attitude, meaning a laid back, welcoming, high-spec space—an attitude that fits perfectly with the island”. Couples will love the bungalow accommodations, offering a truly unique experience, perfect for entertaining, wedding and bridal party use, family reunions or just for an over the top space for you and hubby. The on-site wedding coordinators are dedicated to bringing your vision to life and the incredible meals created by Chef Massimo can be customized for your big day. Interested in bringing a fun aspect to your wedding day? Ask about their boozy popsicles or donut bar. Yum! Or something totally unique like a custom monogrammed bar right on the beach with sleek white furniture to bring a lounge vibe to your event.
A quick 2-hour flight from the east coast will get you to the picturesque island of Bermuda and when you’re there you would agree, you would travel all day to get to this gem! Famous for its stunning pink beaches, travelers who visit are looking for a little luxury with some old-school sophistication that’s hard to find anywhere else. The Hamilton Princess, a Fairmont property, completed a renovation making it one of the nicest hotels on the island. The hotel has a magical setting for weddings with the main courtyard, with views out into Hamilton Harbor, architecture accents, a moon gate, the marina, walkways along the water’s edge, all popular for pictures! The Hamilton Princess also recently opened a beach club and while located a 15 minute drive away, it is another space great for wedding ceremonies and receptions. It’s completely private and removed from the surrounding area. It is set on the beach with jaw-dropping ocean views. Great dining, several great venue options and top notch service make this property one of the best and also convenient for guests to travel to.
The new Baha Mar mega-resort in the Bahamas may be a bit overwhelming for you and your guests. While I think everyone will have an fun time at any of the three properties located within the Baha Mar complex, I think it is the Rosewood that will spoil you and your guests with a taste of luxury and awe. I would highly recommend the Rosewood over the two properties. That being the Rosewood takes you out of the crowds and transforms you into serenity. While you get full access of the Baha Mar grounds, guest of the other two properties do not have access to the Rosewood, the only 5 star experience at Baha Mar. Your guests can appreciate the 10,000 sq foot casino or any of the 30+ restaurants but while at Rosewood, you guys will get the celebrity treatment. Located a short boat ride, Rosewood owns a private island, Long Cay Island. It is a private, by-invitation-only island. The stunning natural landscape and endless ocean views provide a beautiful canvas for custom ceremonies and receptions. What could be more spectacular than a whole island to yourself? Another perk, The Wedding Salon, a visual showcase of exclusive event accessories and options where couples can create their wedding celebration according to their personal style and taste.
When anyone, anywhere in the world hears “Ritz Carlton”, you know you are getting the top of the line. The hotel brand is known for their exceptional service, immaculate grounds and 5-star dining options. There are countless Ritz Carlton properties and while they are all spectacular, their new property in St Thomas is beyond exciting for the destination wedding industry. After a 2017 hurricane ripped through the island, the greatest hotel in the US Virgin Islands is set for a comeback. The Ritz Carlton St Thomas has several venue spaces both indoor and outdoor. There are outdoor terraces, the stunning beach, lush gardens, a pool deck and a 2500 sq. foot ballroom featuring vaulted ceilings, marble floors and floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors opening to a beautiful stonework terrace. They conveniently bundled up their offerings into several packages, dependent on how elaborate you want to go on your big day, including a sunset cruise on the new 60-foot Lady Lynsey II catamaran. What a fabulous way to start or end your trip with the people you love most!
I have been in touch with the Park Hyatt in St Kitts since its opening just last year. It’s at the top of my bucket list. I can tell you first-hand how amazing their staff is. Quick to respond and happy to accommodate all of your wishes and requests, the Park Hyatt will impress all your guests. The hotel is architecturally stunning. The resort has an open-air contemporary lobby, 78 guestrooms and 48 suites, many which feature private rooftop swimming pools and sundecks, and the majority have either beach or sea views. You and your guests may never want to leave their rooms! The ballroom, the manicured lawn, the private beach, several restaurants and terrace options will all make for a memorable setting. This true 5-star hotel creates seclusion, serenity and style in a perfect sanctuary to reconnect on your most special day. The wedding coordinators on-site are ready to help with any little detail, even creating welcome bags for your guests and organizing miniature rum cocktail kits for wedding favors. Its the little things that make a big impact!
You know when you see “The Four Seasons” on the invitation that this is going to be an event unlike any other. The Four Seasons brings luxury to Costa Rica, an exotic, lush destination filled with beautiful natural sights and thrilling tours. The property is sandwiched between the bay and the Pacific Ocean creating a magically setting with views, views, and more views! Your guests might not want to leave their rooms with indoor, outdoor living spaces overlooking the bright landscape and those water views. Some guests may even splurge and upgrade to private pool suites (Perfect for you, the bride and groom, to help in making this an unforgettable trip). Your wedding planner will be ready to help you down to the very last detail. Need to set up a zip lining adventure for your group? Want to customize the dinner menu? How about some live entertainment? Not a problem! The red carpet is ready to be rolled out for you and your guests.
I saved my favorite for last! There is nothing more magical and breathtaking than the grounds at The Four Seasons, Ocean Club. The Ocean Club will whisk you and your guests away to Versailles, France. Once a private estate, The Ocean Club sits in front of a pristine beach and set on exquisite gardens decorated with bronze and marble statues from Europe. The property is romantic and dreamy. You can have an old world, French inspired wedding minus the 9 hour flight, as this hidden gem is right in the Bahamas! At the top of the Versailles Gardens stands the dramatic arches of a 14th-century Augustinian Cloister looking out over the Nassau Paradise Harbor. Can you imagine anything more stunning for your wedding photos. During their stay, your guests will enjoy one of three pools, a Balinese style spa and yummy eats at the hotels restaurants. The rooms will not disappoint. They are spacious, newly renovated and beautifully decorated. While arriving the day of your wedding to your event space, guests will be handed cold hand towels, champagne and/or the hotel’s signature pink lemonade.
While these properties are not the most reasonable, budget-friendly route for a destination wedding, you’ll still see a big savings compared to a wedding in major cities. There is no need to sacrifice the ultimate luxurious affair because your traveling to an island. When average just won’t do, you’ll have to consider these properties for their dramatic grounds, luxurious accommodations, modern amenities and more importantly, a wedding day NO ONE will soon forget!
Chances are, you not only heard of the mega resort but you have seen the commercials, know at least one person who has traveled to the new property, peeped out some celebrity or influencer on the Gram and possibly even contemplated a trip there! Since even before its doors opened, The Baha Mar has been luring all types of travelers from the parents looking for a family vacation, to honeymooners searching for a romantic getaway and spring breakers ready to hit up the pool parties. With three different hotel chains on the sprawling grounds, it is hard to navigate which is right for you.
The Hyatt Baha Mar is the entry level of the properties. The 4 star, more budget-friendly hotel, is right smack in the middle of everything. The Hyatt has six pools, a spa, kid- programs and more. I like to recommend this hotel to families and those on a strict budget. The main pool has rock diving, waterfalls and an aquarium cave! Yes, you can totally feel like you’re swimming with sharks! The action packed pools and central location is great for families with small children. You’ll also be steps from a flamingo habitat, sharks, sea turtles and stingrays sanctuary and tons of dining outlets. The Hyatt is where you’ll also find the 10,000 square foot casino which is shared amongst all three hotels. People staying at SLS and Rosewood also have access to all of these facilities and amenities however, guests of the Hyatt do not get exchange privileges with their neighboring hotels on Baha Mar. The Hyatt sort of reminded me of a family-friendly cruise ship; everything you could want condensed!
On one side of the Grand Hyatt is the sleek, trendy SLS Hotel, a piece of Miami in the Caribbean attracting an adult only crowd. The SLS guests get additional access to two private pools located right under the familiar staple, pink towers. Most likely you’ll see groups of beautiful, youthful travelers in their 20’s and 30’s looking for a Spring Break vibe. The popular “Privilege Pool Party” host a private daily event with the best DJ’s pumping music that can be heard throughout most of the Baha Mar complex. The Hyatt is also home to the infamous Bond night club. From the lobby to the rooms and cabanas the SLS oozes style. Don’t get this mixed up with being a cheesy, low-budget spring break spot. The SLS is a 4.5 star hotel adding a sexy, lively atmosphere to Baha Mar. Travel to the back of the lobby to Cleo, a Mediterranean-style restaurant. It is one of my favorite dining experiences throughout the whole resort.
The Rosewood is the only way to truly experience an intimate, upscale experience at Baha Mar. It has a steep price tag but I firmly believe, what the Rosewood is offering and what they bring to the table, makes it well worth it. It is not easy to bring a 5-star vacation experience to a major complex when attached to two hotels that have a very different vibe and standard. However, 5-star is well earned! The guest rooms, lobby, a library and the cigar bar are exquisitely designed. The Hyatt & SLS pack the beach chairs and pools like sardines, while at the Rosewood I found complete serenity. (I could hear the water fountains in the pool. Peace and quiet!). The beach and pool attendees were nearby if you ever needed anything, from a cocktail to even a cloth to clean your sunglasses. There is a refreshing complimentary beverage waiting near the library (only for Rosewood guests) each afternoon and when my butler heard how much I enjoyed it, he prepared me my own personal pitcher. Which reminds me, I got a mosquito bite one day, and unprompted, I received Off-Spray and 2 different ointment options delivered to me on a silver platter. Talk about service! The rooms are spacious and are like a mini-vacay on their own. The staff is very knowledgeable, courteous and hospitable (try to walk through a door without someone trying to hold it open for you with the biggest smile). Bravo to the Rosewood for pulling off something that was not easy, a piece of heaven in the middle of the busy Baha Mar.
While the three different hotel chains share many facilities, make no mistake they all offer a very different experience. While the Grand Hyatt, Rosewood and SLS do have their own private facilities for guests reserving a stay with them, they are essentially attached by the Hyatt with shared restaurants, bars, pools, a casino, entertainment, etc. If you do the right homework or hire the right travel agent, you’ll easily understand how to navigate and get the best experience. The Hyatt is the cheapest way for travelers to access this hotel. The SLS is where Miami and Vegas meet to attract a young, fun crowd, and the Rosewood where the red carpet gets rolled out for fancy travelers yearning for a boutique style stay. As you move around the Baha Mar property, you quickly see the hotels are not to be mistaken as the same. With over 30 restaurants, cafes and lounges to choose from at the Baha Mar complex, there is something for even the pickiest of eaters. It’s a foodies paradise! The James Beard Award-winning chef Michael Schwartz, master sushi chef Katsuya Uechi and master butcher Dario Cecchini, all have restaurants at Baha Mar. Authentic hand-pulled noodles, New Zealand’s finest Mojo coffee, several great food trucks that have mastered their specialty quick eats and of course, some authentic Bahamian fresh conch, wrested from its shell, chopped and cooked. The casino is top-notch, the gym has everything the fit traveler could ask for, shopping from Cartier and MAC makeup to Rolex watches, wildlife exhibits and an array of water-sports. It’s a child’s and adult’s playground! Reach out to your favorite travel agent for some guidance and make your stay at BAHA MAR an epic one!
The wedding industry is extremely overwhelming and emotions tend to run high for newly engaged couples, adding to the stressful planning. Add travel to the mix and couples do not know where to begin. There is more fine print than directions for a piece of IKEA furniture. There are also many destinations to consider, hotel choices, group rates, wedding packages, and more. That is enough to make someone’s head swirl. Hiring the right people will not only eliminate all the stress but help you stay in budget. Some people choose a destination wedding to take advantage of the huge savings away from home and here are some properties that start as little as FREE! Plus, they offer reasonable group rates for your guests so your family and friends can be there for your big day while getting a vacation in at the right price!
There are so many moving pieces but what if those pieces were combined to offer one convenient, budget friendly package. Some hotel chains have an entry level package for FREE! But, is it really free? YES!
The first rule of the free wedding packages is that you need to be discerning about who you work with. Go with a reputable hotel chain and don’t shy away from asking for advice. Your travel agent should have booked the hotel countless times and have connections on-site. You should have complete confidence in a brand if you’re going to use their free wedding service. You don’t want a free wedding to be something that ends up causing you a lot of stress. Choose a resort that will minimize your stress by going above and beyond for you. Please ask us for our recommendations! Not all hotel chains offer exceptional service and not all properties can handle large groups and events. This is also the case for travel agents so do your homework!
Dreams Resorts and Spas offers nearly 20 resorts throughout Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean. Each resort has 5-8 restaurants and almost as many bars, in addition to free room service in all rooms. With your free wedding package you’ll be assigned a wedding coordinator, bridal bouquet and boutonniere, preparation of your attire on the day of the wedding, wedding cake, sparkling wine for up to 10 guests, romantic turn down service and 15% off spa treatments. It also includes free nights for your anniversary stay, as well as a free massage for the bride and groom and a private candle light dinner on the beach . It is well worth it to upgrade your wedding package! For $2799 you’ll also receive a cocktail hour, reception, hair & make-up application, live music and more. You can also totally customize your décor to your liking.
The popular Hard Rock all-inclusive hotel chain offers a free package for up to 32 guests inclusive of a ceremony and setup, a themed wedding cake, bridal bouquet and groom’s boutonniere, sparkling wine, wedding planner and a complimentary honeymoon package. They also offer a variety of decor packages and upgrades which are visually stunning and create the wow factor without breaking the bank. From blinged out ceremonies to rustic chic, there is something for any type of bride. One of the great benefits of The Hard Rock Resorts is, that depending on how many rooms you book for your guests, you will earn free events such as welcome parties, private cocktail parties and even a 3-course sit down reception or buffet. In addition, guests will receive up to $1,500 in resort credits per room that they can use for the spa, excursions, swimming with the dolphins, room upgrades and at the salon.
Majestic Resorts in Punta Cana, DR have been a favorite amongst vacationers for years. I especially love the new Majestic Mirage but I am also super excited for the chains introduction into the Mexican Caribbean with the Majestic Elegance Playa Mujeres. We have an exclusive savings set up at the hotel for G World Travel clients only. Ask me for details! The new Majestic Elegance has unique venues like the “Sky Terrace” offering dramatic ocean views and a ballroom big enough to host 250 guests. The chain offers a free wedding package if you have guests staying for the week and includes a free room upgrade for the bride and groom, the wedding ceremony setup and decor, wedding cake, florals, champagne and more. If you would like a private reception then you’ll have to upgrade your package. Luckily, it is still within budget for those trying to keep costs down. The hotel is beautiful with several pools running throughout the lush, tropical grounds. Each of their resorts will certainly create a beautiful backdrop for wedding photos!
Royalton Resorts is a fast growing hotel chain offering an all-inclusive stay for its guests in 6 different destinations. No need to dip into your pocket if you’re going with their free wedding package. They have some beautiful event spaces from the beach to ocean view terraces and the architecturally cool wedding gazebo, you can have your pick. The hotel chain also is great for Asian and Indian cultures. What is a wedding without a wedding cake?! Your cake, champagne, flowers and a semi-private dinner is included in the free package. While there are a few different packages you can upgrade to, I find the “Paradise” package to have everything you could want and more. Starting at $3299 your package will not only include your wedding day ceremony and reception but also a bon voyage or rehearsal dinner, solo musician, cocktail party, dinner reception, extra decor and floral touches, couples massage and more! Sounds like an epic time in paradise.
There are 7 Now Resorts in Punta Cana, DR and Mexico. Their newest property is opening at the end of this year and it’s going to be a beauty! The Now Natura has a new vibe for the chain. You’ll feel like you’re in the Mayan Jungle. While the others have a more contemporary design. The new hotel and their existing properties all offer a free package when staying for the week. No need to rush to the airport with late check-out as a perk for the bride and groom. As for the wedding day, you can have your cake and eat it too! Your wedding cake, floral bouquet and boutonniere, champagne and ceremony set up are all included. If you’re looking for a private dinner reception with cocktail hour, upgrade for only $2799 to the “Eternity” package. You’ll even earn free nights toward an anniversary trip. The best value here is the private wedding reception, photographer, floral centerpieces and more.
The moment Finest Resort & Spa opened a few years back it was a hit amongst travelers and couples seeking to take the plunge and get married away from home. It is easy to see why with its modern look which is a new vibe for the area. Finest Playa Mujeres is the cool cat in town with its clean architectural lines and suites with direct pool access and two stories, so when I heard recently they were expanding in the Dominican Republic my heart skipped a beat. So, how is this goodie offering great package deals? Well, by, starting with a free package when booking a 6 night stay in one of their club level rooms! A wedding cake, champagne toast, signature decor, wedding coordinator and even photos are included at no cost! There are several packages including one for only $1500 which includes a private cocktail hour and reception for couples looking to keep the party going.
Last but certainly not least, one of the most popular properties at G World Travel is The Hyatt Ziva and Zilara chains. Whether I have a family traveling for vacation, a couple needing a romantic getaway, and yes, of course, a fabulous destination wedding, these sister properties deliver! The Ziva welcomes all types of guests and the Zilara has a no children policy, sorry kiddos! Whether you’re having an adult-only affair or extending the invite to the kids, the Hyatt all-inclusive chain in Mexico and the Caribbean creates a unforgettable wedding day and hotel stay. Their free wedding package includes a wedding cake, ceremony set-up, decorations, florals and a free private dinner on the beach just for the two of you! Upgrade your package for a small fee and you can make your day extra special with fireworks, personalized menu cards, solo musicians and more! One of my favorite perks is the Hyatt Ziva and Zilara set you up with your own personal wedding site so you can easily make payments and customize your big day right online at your convenience.
So for those looking to have a destination wedding, especially one without the extra hassle and stress, look into the options above. These hotels offer some of the best values out there. Whether you customize the packages to your liking or leave them as they are, it’s a win-win situation, if you ask me. Plus your guests will thank you with their great group rates! Who said destination weddings have to break the (piggy) bank?