There was a time not so long ago when Caribbean all-inclusive resorts were all about budget travel: you sacrificed fine dining and top-shelf drinks for a low-priced room on (or near) the beach, with built-in entertainment and activities for one fixed price.
Now, however, all-inclusive led by Sandals Resorts have swung the pendulum completely back, offering high-end amenities like butler service and private villas while still maintaining pay-one-price structures that make planning a destination wedding so much easier.
There are 15 Sandals resorts across the Caribbean, with multiple properties on Jamaica, St. Lucia, and the Bahamas, and single resorts on Antigua, Grenada, and Barbados. In other words, Sandals resorts are located on some of the most upscale and desirable islands in the Caribbean. Each resort is directly on the beach, and most have plenty of room to accommodate even the biggest destination wedding guest list.
Sandals’ all-inclusive packages can include the wedding ceremony and reception, plus a honeymoon room for the bride and groom, but couples also may custom design their own affair, from flowers to food. Ceremony sites are as varied as the resorts themselves: Sandals Negril has both garden and beachfront gazebos, for example, while at Sandals Royal Caribbean in Montego Bay, you can take over the resort’s private island for the night.
Couples can wed under a trellis in the formal gardens at Sandals Emerald Bay, their first kiss captured in a reflecting pool, or during a sunset beach ceremony. On Antigua, the Sandals Halcyon Beach Resort has a pier restaurant, Kelly’s Dockside, where you can host a reception surrounded on all sides by the Caribbean Sea.
Before, during, and after your big day, Sandals offers some remarkable accommodations, including the stunning over-water villas at Sandals Royal Caribbean. Other high-end options include the Millionaire Suites at Sandals Le Toc in St. Lucia with their 180-degree cliff-edge views, and the SkyPool Suites at Sandals Le Source in Grenada, which have infinity pools overlooking the resort and the ocean.
Want to be closer to the waves? The Rondoval rooms at the Sandals Grande St. Lucian and Sandals Grand Antigua are just steps from the shore, as are the Bay Roc Beachfront Suites at Sandals Montego Bay.
Service, of course, is the true mark of hospitality, and wedding couples and guests staying in luxury villas will be pampered with concierge service at Club Sandals and personal butler service available at most resorts. And that doesn’t just mean someone wearing a tie and vest: Sandals’ staff are trained by the Guild of Professional English Butlers and will be on hand to serve you drinks and private dinners, take care of restaurant reservations and transportation, tend to your wardrobe, and much more. In short, leaving you free to relax and enjoy a memorable wedding with family and friends without the distractions that can bog down an otherwise magical Caribbean stay.
> Written by Bob Curley