Recently I have added destination weddings to the services I offer, starting with the Caribbean and Italy, but I will add more destinations over time. Over the last year I have worked closely with Unique Vacations UK Ltd (Global Representatives of Sandals, Beaches and Grand Pineapple Resorts) on some projects for the UKAWP and have spoken at length with them on how they offer weddings in the Caribbean. In May this year I undertook some product training with them thus was keen to see what they offer to couples first hand when on resort.
The opportunity arose to visit Jamaica as part of a Sandals WeddingMoons® familiarisation trip and of course I jumped at the chance to go. So along with 7 other British wedding planners and Tour Operators I flew to Montego Bay on Friday 27th June. Here is a summary of that trip, in future blog posts I will be advising you more about the Sandals service , why I feel they are perfect for weddings in the Caribbean, and share logistics on how to organise a destination wedding. Please note the images are a mix of my own phone photos and professional ones, so apologies for any discrepancies in quality.
Day 1 – 27th June
Being an eager bee, I set off incredibly early from my local train station heading into London to catch the Gatwick Express from Farringdon. In fact I arrived at the airport a full hour and a half before we were due to meet our Sandals UK representative. Oh well, at least I wasn’t late! Flying from the UK were:
Jessica– Diamond Rose Events, UKAWP Member
Marina – Stylish Events, UKAWP Member
Kerrie-Anne – Unique Vacations UK Ltd, Sandals WeddingMoons® Supervisor in the UK
Sam – Virgin Holidays Weddings
Dilara – Sandals office in Germany
Rhian – Proposal Plan It
Maria – Funway Travel Weddings
Once we had checked in with Virgin we were lucky enough to have access to Virgins V-Rooms. We all tucked into a breakfast and did a few shots, smoothie shots that is!
We flew with Virgin Premium Economy and I cannot fault the service we received. From the minute we stepped onto the plane we were looked after incredibly well starting with glasses of champagne, in fact the food and drink was constant throughout the 9 ½ hour flight. I will be recommending clients upgrade their ticket to Premium Economy if they can afford to, ensuring they start their wedding with the luxury they deserve.
When we landed at Montego Bay a Sandals agent took our cases and we were ushered into the Sandals airport lounge to get a drink whilst waiting for our transfer, much nicer than waiting outside the airport. We arrived at Sandals Whitehouse in the Parrish of Westmoreland early evening and were welcomed with a fruit punch and hot flannels. We were escorted to the Club Sandals concierge Lounge where we were checked in promptly and suitcases taken to our room. The room I was allocated was a Beachfront Grande Luxe Club Level Suite with ocean view in the Italian village.
- Beautiful sea-view from a spacious balcony, has to be mentioned first as it was lovely seeing the sun rise in the morning
- Dual bath vanities
- Whirlpool bath and separate walk in shower
- 4 poster king size bed
- All inclusive mini bar + additional drinks like rum, vodka, gin, whiskey
- Club sandals concierge service
That evening we dined at Eleanor’s and I had the delicious Red Snapper fish. We discovered there was a pool party themed with chocolate so of course we had a chocolate martini before heading off to bed relatively early.
Day 2 – 28th June
This was a leisure day as we were waiting for 20+ U.S travel agents to arrive to take part in the FAM trip and training seminar with us. Of course I woke up early so took the opportunity go for an early 20 min jog along the beach, after which I indulged in the Jacuzzi tub which certainly produced the bubbles.
The atmosphere at the Whitehouse was very relaxed, of course there were various activities but guests seemed happy to relax and be more mellow. By 10am the UK group were on the beach enjoying a swim and early cocktails (wow the mango daiquiri was un-believable).
At 12pm we took advantage of the inclusive watersports and headed out on a boat to enjoy some snorkelling giving us the opportunity to experience the reefs up close and personal. When we were back on land we decided to have lunch at Blue Fields with beautiful sea views . I sampled the Jamaican chicken pasties as this is a local dish, rather spicy but lovely. We saw a bride and groom recently married which made us all sigh with delight. After lunch we hung out at the pool for more cocktails, beach volleyball and a game of pool. Talking of which I discovered 2 things.
- Marina from Stylish Events is a volleyball fanatic and headed for a game whenever she could, don’t get between Marina and a game as you’ll lose
- Never underestimate the underdog, during a doubles pool game I suddenly discovered I had some hidden talent, potting ball after ball finishing with the black. Meaning Dilara and I won, woo hoo!
That evening we met the American travel agents plus Unique Vacations Inc. management from the Miami office, management from Sandals Whitehouse and Marsha-Ann Brown (Director of Romance for Sandals Resorts International). Isn’t that a fab title? I was a bit jealous, introducing myself as director of the UKAWP and Wedding Planner for Dream Occasions is not quite the same.
Sandals Whitehouse kindly hosted a cocktail reception and dinner on the beach for all the Fam trip attendees. We were later told this was based on their “Pre-Wedding Celebratory Dinner” which is something bride and grooms can add onto their WeddingMoon® with prices starting from £75 pp, but is a complimentary inclusion if booking a group of 10-19 rooms on a code or contract. As you can see from these pictures the setting was stunning with the star festoon lighting providing a gentle canopy and delicate linen overlays, in fact we were all dusted with glitter for the rest of the evening. Huge thanks to Jeffrey Burke the sales manager for Sandals Whitehouse (centre of image below) for looking after us that evening.