Caribbean

Great Value on Grace Bay

written by | Posted on June 1st, 2009

When it comes to extravagant, luxurious weddings, the high-end resorts lining Grace Bay Beach in Turks & Caicos are virtually beyond compare. But here’s the really good news: price-conscious clients can marry here, too.

They say that there are only two secure industries in times of economic trouble: weddings and funerals. But as the U.S. struggles to recover from the recession, even brides and grooms are tightening their wedding day budgets, assuming that the country’s financial situation means they have to scale back their dreams for their special day.

As destination wedding sellers know, however, nothing could be further from the truth. Even in high-end destinations like Providenciales, Turks and Caicos, where the beaches are lined with luxury properties such as Regent Palms, couples can minimize costs while still enjoying the ceremony they’ve always dreamed of. It just takes a knowledgeable travel seller—and a few tricks of the trade—to show them the way.

keep it small Maintaining an intimate guest list is a cost-cutting technique for weddings everywhere, not just those in Turks and Caicos. But it’s even more important where destination weddings are concerned, because the smaller their party, the more resorts your clients will have to choose from. For instance, “our weddings are usually quite small, under 40 people,” says Pierre Beswick, general manager at The Sands at Grace Bay. That’s because, even though the resort’s pristine stretch of shoreline can accommodate far more guests, its indoor event space is limited. “We’ve been lucky—most of the time we’ve had good weather, or we can change the time of the event to avoid bad weather. We’ll say, ‘look, it’s overcast, let’s push it back or speed it up in that same day.’ But should the weather not be on our side, we don’t have a space to finish the wedding other than our hospitality lounge, which holds 40 people.”

Set right next door to some of Grace Bay Beach’s most extravagant resorts, The Sands is an ideal place for a price-conscious destination wedding. Its spacious suites often come with full kitchens, washer/dryers and screened balconies, giving brides, grooms and anyone else in the wedding party plenty of space to get ready for the ceremony, as well as picturesque pre-wedding photo opportunities. With accommodations starting at $285 per night, it’s a steal on the Grace Bay Strip. But that doesn’t mean it lacks upscale appeal. The Sands shares the very same beach, the very same proximity to the boutiques and restaurants, and the very same high-end ambiance of its resort neighbors—just not their high-end prices.

Most weddings on property, Beswick says, are 8- to 10-person affairs. “Sometimes they’ll be on the beach, and sometimes in our gazebo area, with flowers, a pastor or minister and documentation, the champagne, all the basic essentials you need.” (The resort’s Traditional Wedding package also includes the bride’s bouquet and groom’s boutonniere; wedding cake for up to 10 people; and two bathrobes.) “After that, you get into customization,” he says. “We recently had a Jewish wedding and [at their request] we had a chuppa here for them right on the beach.”

Couples who don’t mind splurging on the reception can also rent out The Sands’ Hemingway’s restaurant, with its wide deck and breezy oceanfront location, for the perfect end to the wedding day. Though the $5,000 price tag may make couples think twice, especially if their wedding party is small, the ambiance and cuisine can’t be beat. “That price includes food, catering and everything that comes with it,” Beswick explains. “Location-wise, it’s fabulous. A wedding at Hemingway’s starts on the beach and ends with dancing. Everybody’s happy and smiling, and the deck is decorated with ribbons and bows. You have close proximity to the bar, bathrooms and everything else even though you’re right there on the beach.”

Offsetting the cost of Hemingway’s is The Sands’ 10 percent room rate discount for wedding groups over 10 people, and the wedding package itself, costing clients only $1,250 before customizations. And the resort will work with brides and grooms to add whatever special touches they have in mind, Beswick says. “We’ll work on anything over the basic wedding package and start customizing it to what the individual is looking for.”