Best Caribbean Honeymoons
When it comes to post-wedding bliss, the choices for an idyllic Caribbean honeymoon are plentiful
By Hal Peat
When it comes to post-wedding bliss, the choices for an idyllic Caribbean honeymoon are plentiful: plantation-style grandeur, lush spas, fine dining under the tropical night sky, sunlit days spent on pristine beaches or azure waters, or exploring the tropical diversity of an island. Matching your own ideal wedding event and honeymoon to what an island has to offer, along with a minimal amount of planning, will produce a richly memorable event that lives up to every expectation. Some islands to consider for their own unique character and resources:
St. Kitts: This eastern Antillean island remains both serene yet lively, a sweet mix of sands, mountains, forests and unspoiled villages that combine to create a lovely canvas for an exchange of vows or a honeymoon escape. As an island that was home to numerous plantation estates, St. Kitts has the traditional architecture and grounds that lend all the flavor and style of the old world to a wedding or honeymoon, thanks to several properties that provide both. For instance, the gardens at Romney Manor, a former restored plantation, and Brimstone Hill Fortress, at one of the island's high points, both serve as sites for marriage ceremonies that can be arranged through wedding coordinators.
For those who want their memories to include the sands and waves nearby, the island's beaches at Frigate Bay, Sandy Bank, White House bay and Cockleshell cannot be surpassed for an outdoor on-beach ceremony. Honeymoons in the traditional theme can best be experienced at former great houses turned hotel such as Ottley's Inn and Rawlins Plantation. Ottley's Inn is a converted sugar estate where the connection not only to the colonial period charm but also to the enduring island nature remains powerful: newlyweds can luxuriate in a spring-fed pool or take leisurely rainforest walks nearby, and with just 24 expansive rooms, gourmet dining, spa and tennis all amidst manicured gardens, the secluded but elegant atmosphere is perfect for honeymooners valuing privacy. At Rawlins Plantation, ceremonies can also be conducted right on the grounds. Honeymoon activities here can encompass anything from shopping for bargains in and near the capital of Basseterre, to hiking the easily accessible rainforest surrounding the island's high point at Mt. Liamuiga, or taking advantage of the water sport action--everything from sailboat to kayaking, scuba to windsurfing--that most hotels can either directly provide you or link you to through local operators.
Anguilla: Small in size but world-class in its hotel and dining amenities, along with plentiful water sport activity offshore, Anguilla is the heaven-made bolt hole for those who want to keep their nuptials and getaway luxuriant yet simple. Couples who decide to get married on the island can choose from an array of historic churches, secluded off-shore cays, lush resort gardens or even private yachts on which to tie the knot. Larger resorts such as Malliouhana Hotel and Spa on Rendezvous Bay, or nearby Cap Juluca at Maunday's Bay, offer their own distinct menu of ceremony, setting and amenities. Malliouhana, for instance, is a five-star resort with its own dedicated wedding coordinator who takes care of every single last detail on the property; there's even a daytime cruise on the hotel's 35' yacht included in the stay here. Cap Juluca emphasizes spa and wellness facilities for its honeymoon guests, along with outdoor activities ranging from snorkeling to sunset cruises. Then there's the eye-catching presence of the property called Covecastle. What's unique here: style, interior and exterior layout and design - a fusion of traditional and innovative features.
St. Lucia: Having become a prime destination not just regionally but globally for luxurious resort hideaway honeymoon options, St. Lucia has now also moved into the sphere of luxury villa style accommodation. Cap Maison is one such, having opened its doors just in 2009 and now this luxury boutique property located atop a bluff overlooking the Caribbean at the island's northernmost end is ideal as an ultimate private retreat for honeymooners seeking features such as their own private roof terrace and pool, or to be as active outdoor as they wish with such variety as golf, rainforest hikes, scuba and watersports, or to remain on property at this converted sugar estate that nowadays has such amenities as the Spa Maison and its own gymnasium. Dining? The range is elegant to casual to suit the mood - from the gourmet Cliff at Cap Restaurant to the relaxed Smuggler's Beach Bar.
At the most luxurious individual villa rental of all on the island, Akasha, located also on the exclusive Cap estate, couples get complete privacy (also good for couples who require less attention). Akasha is a 9,000 square-foot, contemporary "Miami style" modern structure, containing four ensuite bedrooms, along with extensive dining and entertainment areas and additional outdoor living space, infinity pool and spa. It's very much a stay that can be a la carte tailored to the individual guests' needs, since the Akasha staff can also cater and provide all the services that one could get at an all inclusive resort. For instance, if the guest wants three cooked meals a day, Akasha can arrange for that. The on-site concierge is also available at all times for arranging activities or co-ordinating private jet travel or yacht arrivals. Additionally, of course, your concierge provides all suggestions and arrangements as needed on nearby area outdoor leisure activity, entertainment and dining.
Jamaica: Always setting an innovative pace in travel in the region, Jamaica has been seeing the arrival of the five-star, all-inclusive resort property that welcomes newlyweds as among its prime guest market. The western end of legendary Montego Bay - a little quieter and more secluded than the "hip strip" and the Negril area - nowadays has also become the ideal location for this type of luxe hideaway with Secrets St. James and adjacent property Secrets Wild Orchid, each offering the five-star experience with a slightly different direction and range of amenities. Secrets St. James goes for a traditional British colonial stylistic accent, with suites and public areas rich in dark woods and contemporary touches. Sophisticated dining in nine restaurants, nine bars and lounges, along with a recharging experience at the Secrets Spa by Pevonia, all keep honeymooners in ultimate bliss when not poolside in a private cabana and shopping or taking in the entertainment at the extensive onsite The Promenade. At Secrets Wild Orchid, the stylistic emphasis is on Jamaica's African Ethiopian roots, attuning itself to what it calls the "youthful soul and the young at heart", but not stinting on any of the guest amenities that its sister property offers.
Negril also maintains its reputation as an idyllic spot for honeymooners seeking out the best thanks to the presence of the renamed Breezes Grand Negril. This four-diamond all-suite property is laid out along a two-mile crescent of white sand beach and 22 acres of elegantly manicured gardens that offers the perfect blend of exploration and relaxation. For those prior Negril visitors with a lingering affection for the spectacular curve of Negril's miles-long beachfront, a return to this setting in luxurious quarters might just be the perfect honeymoon memory. Foodies will delight in a choice of six restaurants featuring a range of local fare, fresh sushi and hibachi-style Japanese to French Nouveau fine dining. Couples can unwind at the Blue Mahoe Spa with a variety of treatments as well as complimentary use of the sauna, steam room and plunge pool.