ALL INCLUSIVE HARD ROCK HOTELS
Why All Inclusive Hard Rock for the big day? “Each all-inclusive Hard Rock Hotel offers endless activities for entertaining the entire party. Couples can organize a golf trip for the groomsmen, a spa day for the ladies or just lie by the pool and relax—the options are truly limitless,” says Frank Maduro, v.p. of marketing, All Inclusive Collection.
Couples looking for the designer flair will find it at the All Inclusive Hard Rock Hotels, with properties in the Dominican Republic and Mexico—Cancun, Riviera Maya and Vallarta—and weddings by famed A-list celebrity event designer Colin Cowie. Here, couples can choose between nine pre-designed wedding styles or completely personalize their celebration using chic Colin Cowie wedding elements. Additional amenities are unlimited intimate events, and complimentary room nights as well as a room upgrade for the bride and groom. Wedding packages start at $1,500 (Insignia Collection)—although there is a complimentary package that does throw in lots of “wows”—but for couples that want to go grand, recommend the White Rosette Collection ($4,500) with lots and lots of goodies including a fireworks display or dove release after the ceremony. Best part? There’s a $1,500 resort credit for the newlyweds and for you, a travel agent incentive program that includes bonus commission.
Why AMResorts for the big day? “AMResorts understands that every wedding couple is unique and wants a wedding that reflects their personality. Our resorts encourage the couple to send down pictures from wedding publications or other inspirations and they’ll work to replicate it. This way the couple gets exactly what they want and don’t feel boxed in by limited choices or end up with a cookie-cutter wedding,” says Amanda Davis, product manager, romance, AMResorts.
With the variety of resort brands under the AMResorts umbrella—Zoëtry, Secrets, Dreams, Now and Sunscape—and with properties scattered throughout the Caribbean and Mexico, a couple can’t possibly go wrong when choosing where to exchange vows. In fact, AMResorts tries to create such unique details for weddings they currently have an eagle acting as a ring bearer in its Riviera Maya properties; he soars down the aisle and drops off a little pouch containing the wedding rings (quite a touch). Each brand does have its own menu of wedding packages, many with names that pay homage to their namesake—Now to Eternity at Now Resorts, for example—and with prices hovering around $2,500, although there’s always a complimentary option. This being AMResorts, you know they aren’t shy about offering plenty of agent incentives, including offering FAMs to get the nitty-gritty on all aspects of an AMResorts wedding.
CLUB MED WEDDINGS BY IMAGINE
Why Club Med for the big day? “Club Med Weddings by Imagine offers a dedicated consultant throughout the planning and during the day of the event; we offer completely customized packages, as well as set packages; and exclusive decor packages are created,” says Valerie Brizuela Mahon of Club Med Weddings by Imagine.
Club Med, which has two resorts in Mexico (one on each coast), and a sprinkling of properties in the Caribbean (for weddings, think Dominican Republic, Turks & Caicos, and The Bahamas), offers unique wedding options under Club Med Weddings by Imagine. Known for being family friendly, Club Med embraces this niche market with its Family Wedding package, which includes all the obvious necessities for a wedding, but adds on a children-hosted tea party, private teen dance party, family spa package, and family sailing and sports package—you get the idea, and everything is customizable. There’s also the Club Med Wedding package, an Eco-Chic Wedding package, and a slew of Decor packages. What’s in it for you? All packages are commissionable, and all you have to take care of is the travel portion.
FIESTA AMERICANA GRAND
Why Fiesta Americana Grand for the big day? “Our two beach resorts—Fiesta Americana Grand Coral Beach Cancun Resort & Spa and Fiesta Americana Grand Los Cabos Golf Resort & Spa—are ideal for destination weddings and honeymoons. They offer picturesque locales, unparalleled customer service, award-winning restaurants, innovative spas, plush guestrooms, ample indoor and outdoor event space, and an expert weddings staff,” says Juan Basurto, Posadas PR manager.
There are only two choices here—one on each coast—but a range of wedding packages, including the Divine Vow Renewal Ceremony package at the Los Cabos property (for up to 20 people; $1,562) and a Mayan Ceremony at the Cancun resort. The soon-to-be-betrothed can expect everything from gemstone-inspired treatments at Gem Spa to ice-breaking activities for guests, such as participating in the rituals of the vendimia (the Spanish wine harvest), which includes a traditional grape stomp and a relaxing reflexology massage and takes place at the Fiesta American Grand Los Cabos’ Somma Wine Spa .
IBEROSTAR HOTEL & RESORTS
Why Iberostar for the big day? “Iberostar Hotels & Resorts understands how weddings are one of the most important times in a person’s life and aims to make the wedding planning process both easy, yet individualized. One very unique feature, which is a key selling point, is that Iberostar understands how special a wedding is to the couple and has a policy to only book one wedding per day at each hotel,” says John Long, v.p. of sales and marketing, Iberostar.
With hotels in the Dominican Republic and Jamaica, as well as Cancun, Cozumel and the Riviera Maya (and soon in Riviera Nayarit) in Mexico, Iberostar delivers the same three wedding packages—travel agents receive 10 percent commission—at all hotels/destinations, making it a seamless experience for your clients no matter which destination they choose. This program, which launched last December, encompasses the Star Wedding package ($999), with the services of an onsite wedding specialist, bouquet, and wedding dinner, among other offerings; the Silver Star Wedding ($1,699), which adds on floral centerpieces, 10 percent discount on spa services and other goodies; and the full-throttle Gold Star Wedding ($2,499), which throws in a romantic dinner on the beach, room upgrade, hairstyle for the bride, live music during the reception…in other words, a one-stop shop for a picture-perfect wedding. They also offer a la carte weddings where couples can choose from a variety of items that are priced separately (minimum spent $750).
KARISMA HOTELS & RESORTS
Why Karisma for the big day? “Couples who choose to tie the knot at any Karisma-branded property are supported by an entire dedicated wedding team—not just one wedding coordinator—including staff throughout all areas of the hotels and resorts that cater specifically to weddings, offsite and onsite coordinators, a destination wedding manager, and wedding director,” says Faith Wishnie, director of wedding services, Karisma Hotels & Resorts.
Known as the Gourmet Inclusive brand, Karisma Hotels & Resorts—umbrella company to El Dorado Spa Resorts & Hotels, Azul Hotels & Villas, and the recently opened all-suite Generations Resorts by Karisma (Generations Maroma opens this month)—offers a variety of competitive wedding packages as well as romantic wedding venues, including beachfront locations, wedding chapels, and Sky Weddings, which take place on a private rooftop terrace with glorious views, especially at sunset. Brides and grooms will embrace Karisma’s Bride’s Dress Rehearsal program, which are conducted once a month and allow couples to experience the resorts and wedding venues, meet the team of wedding staff and vendors, and learn all about the bridal services, including cake and menu tastings. Karisma doesn’t just work with travel agents, they embrace them. If you’re a Loyal Agent you can get the 4-1-1 on the Bride’s Dress Rehearsal via the new online webinar, and learn how to turn a wedding booking into top-notch commission.
THE LUXURY COLLECTION HACIENDAS
Why book The Luxury Collection Haciendas for the big day? “To get married in an authentic place with history like the Haciendas is a unique experience with personal details and unforgettable memories not only for the couple but also for the guests. The Haciendas offer incredible locations for weddings with ancient architecture and gardens, and friendly service in a relaxed environment. The hotels provide an idyllic Mexican wedding location full of history and stories, surrounded by nature and involved by the context of the ancient Mayan culture,” says Trip Barrett, v.p. of marketing, Starwood Latin America.
With five haciendas in Mexico—in Yucatan and Campeche—couples looking to immerse themselves in a traditional Mexican ambiance can’t go wrong. Each wedding at the Haciendas is designed according to the wishes, tastes and the couple’s needs: Think of a “cenote” cave type venue behind the vestiges of a machinery room, or a location beneath the arches of an ancient chapel today maintained as it was found. Hacienda San Jose specializes in traditional Mayan weddings, while at Hacienda Uayamon, couples can say, “I do” in an old chapel. Special touches during the ceremony include walking along a path lit with candles, enjoying a Yucatan specialty dinner on an exclusive table decorated with indigenous leaves and local flowers, surrounded by the light of torches and candles, or even a cleansing ceremony before the beginning of the event. There’s a special wedding department that’s on hand to coordinate all event details and they can provide a recommended suppliers catalog to help organize the wedding.
OCCIDENTAL RESORTS & SPAS
Why book Occidental for the big day? “If we can focus on our resorts in Mexico, specifically Occidental Grand Xcaret, I think we have something very unique to offer. Here, couples can get married oceanside with authentic Mayan Ruins in the background. We are located adjacent to and have a very close relationship with Xcaret and that gives our guests additional access to unique wedding locations available throughout the park. We also offer authentic Mayan wedding ceremonies and again when these are performed with the Mayan ruins in the background, it could not lend for a more unique setting,” says Constance Lacroes, senior corporate marketing director, Occidental Hotels & Resorts.
With brands such as Royal Hideaway/Occidental Grand and Allegro Resorts, Occidental offers numerous resorts on both coasts of Mexico, as well as the Caribbean. The new 2014 wedding packages, which the company is looking to start selling in October 2013 and which are agent commissionable at 10 percent, include a variety of options for all budgets all of which come with basic inclusions such as the services of a wedding planner, recorded music during the ceremony, special turndown service (on wedding night) for bride and groom, honeymoon amenity gift, steam service for the bridal gown, and late check-out (based on availability). Packages stem from the complimentary Simple Love to the more elaborate Fiesta (Occidental Grand, $2,499; Allegro, $1,999).
Why Palace for the big day? “Palace Resorts takes the all-inclusive concept to a higher level, offering couples ‘Awe-Inclusive’ wedding experiences. The bride and groom enjoy all the benefits available to any in-house group, such as unlimited private functions for special moments, and everyone has access to Palace Resorts’ touted complimentary 24-hour room service, top-shelf liquors, fine dining at multiple restaurants, etc,” says Kathy Halpern, v.p. of marketing, Palace Resorts.
It’s dizzying the amount of wedding styles offered at this iconic hotel brand, which has a firm foothold in Cancun with four properties, including Le Blanc Spa Resort, and three others in neighboring Cozumel, Isla Mujeres and Playa del Carmen. And there’s lots of love poured over travel agents: They pay 15 percent commission on wedding group rooms, 20 percent commission on wedding collections, a bonus commission on up to 25 rooms, and a booking bonus. Oh, and they throw in resort credits and the like for guests. Clients can opt for the complimentary wedding packages offered at both Le Blanc and Palace Resorts, although if they want to up the ante, there’s lots to choose from—even with Colin Cowie out of the picture, they have out-of-this-world offerings. We won’t go into all the details, but with names such as the Zen Garden Wedding package framed with swatches of white (available at Le Blanc; $2,799) and the dazzling Metallic Sands package at Palace Resorts ($2,500), you get the picture. Earlier this year, Palace Resorts debuted traditional Indian weddings at Moon Palace Golf & Spa Resort in Cancun: That means genuine Indian food, a specialized henna artist, a mandap (wedding stage) decorator, vibrant decor, and exotic floral arrangements, and the hotel company points out that this is an excellent niche for travel professionals as most Indian affairs are large, so you’ll be booking 75 rooms easy.
Why Paradisus for the big day? “I think one of the most unique offerings we have is that we only do two weddings a day. We prefer to focus on the experience and the quality, versus the quantity. We also have an internal rule that both weddings must be two hours apart and must be at different locations. We do not want brides crisscrossing each other at any point. Also, all of our weddings have two private locations that are included in the package, so for the ceremony they have a private location and for the reception and cocktails, they also have a private location,” says Marilyn Cairo, romance manager, Paradisus Resorts.
Paradisus Resorts, with locations in the Dominican Republic and in Playa del Carmen and Cancun in Mexico, rolls out the red carpet for brides and grooms not only on the wedding day but beforehand with the Love at First Site package, which invites those planning a wedding to visit the resort and see the space first-hand prior to the big day. And guess what? The couple is then able to receive the value of their stay as a credit toward their wedding (win, win). Packages come in all shapes and sizes, so to speak, with everything from Tailor-Made Romance ($12,000), with all the goodies a couple could ask for, even a 3-hour welcome BBQ for the wedding party, to Fantasy ($1,500), which feels more like an unconventional, modern cocktail soiree (there’s also the complimentary Wish package). Couples can add on a bevy of a la carte services, such as a spa party and a cigar bar, so tell clients not to be shy.
Why Real Resorts for the big day? “I think it’s the packages. We have such a wide variety of packages, everything from our value packages all the way to our luxury packages, which can include everything, and now we have Jewish ceremonies, Catholic ceremonies. The packages are really complete, but we also have it so couples can make it their own. They can add, upgrade the flowers, upgrade the photo packages, so it’s not a cookie-cutter wedding,” says Gina Johnson, U.S. sales, Real Resorts.
Real Resorts offers several brands under its belts in both Playa del Carmen and Cancun, including the adults-only THE Royal resorts. Last December saw the launch of the faith-based wedding packages that Johnson mentions, and they can be an add-on to any ROYAL wedding package. The Catholic wedding ceremony is actually held in a local chapel and includes the services of a bilingual Catholic priest, while the Jewish ceremony includes the services of a rabbi and kosher-style food. Another new addition is the Mexican Wedding package, which includes traditional Mexican decor, Mexican background music for the ceremony, a margarita cocktail toast, and a live Mexican trio. Real Resorts points out that they offer an extensive travel agent commission program for all agents
RIU HOTELS & RESORTS
Why RIU for the big day? “Different RIU hotel categories fulfill every demand, and newlyweds can choose their RIU resort based on what they enjoy as a couple (adventure, nightlife, romantic sunsets). RIU is very easy on the budget and the 24-hour all-inclusive program guarantees comfort,” says Cindy Varguez, wedding director, RIU Hotels & Resorts.
Located coast-to-coast in Mexico, as well as Jamaica, Aruba, Dominican Republic and The Bahamas, RIU Hotels & Resorts offers four wedding packages, each one customizable to fit each couple—there’s everything from the complimentary package, which offers the basics such as wedding coordinator, bouquet, wedding cake, etc., to the RIU Caprice package (starting at $2,500), which throws in everything but the kitchen sink, including 10 percent spa discount for the bride and groom, as well as the wedding guests. In between, RIU offers basic wedding packages for as low as $700 and clients can opt for the type of ceremony they want: civil/legal, religious or renewal of vows.
Why Sandals for the big day? “We are able to offer a tremendous number of options, from ceremonies to receptions, from decor to floral, and infusing and designing all of that together with the aid of a pre-wedding travel team as well as an on-resort travel team, so the bride and groom are hand-held throughout the entire process by a well-trained team of individuals that’s able to showcase the brand and deliver on some of our unique offerings,” says Marsha-Ann Brown, director of romance, Sandals Resorts.
You all know about Sandals’ Your Wedding. Your Style, which allows couples to personally style and execute their dream wedding at any one of Sandals’ 14 Caribbean resorts (Jamaica, Antigua, Saint Lucia, The Bahamas and Grenada), choosing their color palette from 10 different shades, wedding accessories and experiences—in other words, creating a custom wedding—but did you know that Sandals recently launched the ReTie the Knot program? With this vow renewal program, couples that book a minimum 3-night stay at any resort will get an intimate affair with up to six guests that includes help from a planner, celebration cake, dinner, decorated room, and mimosa breakfast in bed ($300 minimum). If they want to up the ante, they can come with a larger group of friends to celebrate their everlasting love, and they’ll get spa treatments, room upgrade, longer reception time and all sorts of goodies.
Why St. Regis for the big day? “With a dedicated staff, the St. Regis butlers and its strategic location on the historic Paseo de la Reforma, The St. Regis Mexico City is the city’s most exclusive address,” says Rui Reis, general manager, The St. Regis Mexico City, while Carl Emberson, general manager for The St. Regis Punta Mita Resort, says that his property’s location “near one of the most pristine beaches in the world offers a setting like no other and a captivating background for weddings of all sizes.”
St. Regis might only offer two destination choices in Mexico, but boy are those some fabulous options—a fairy tale wedding for the bride and groom who want nothing but the very best for their bespoke wedding. St. Regis doesn’t offer set wedding packages as everything is customized, but they do have a St. Regis specialist and wedding professionals who will work with you and your clients to get everything just right, including floral decor, lighting, entertainment, photo and video service, and any other coordination needs. Venues run the gamut from the Astor Ballroom (at both properties) to a garden setting in Punta Mita or even the rooftop helipad at the Mexico City property, which provides panoramic views of the city skyline. Additionally, not only can clients expect the very best in culinary prowess, they can even request a kosher menu.
Note to agents: Read all of the fine print when speaking to your clients about complimentary wedding packages at these resorts, as many have minimum-night stipulations and other terms.
It’s Hindu Love at Atlantis, Paradise Island
Pyaar Atlantis is a new division of LOVE Atlantis—the hotel’s wedding department—that caters to couples seeking a Hindu-style wedding ceremony. The packages, Sagaar ($8,900) and Aakash ($13,750), offer customized menus (both vegetarian and non-vegetarian), a wedding stage for the couple’s mandap, a choice of decorative mandaps, a set of thrones, a firepit and even a statue of the Lord Ganesh. Pyaar Atlantis’ partners can even accommodate couples with specific wedding instrumental needs, from dhol, tabla and sitar to Bollywood music, as well as any ornate flower and decor requests. For more information, visit atlantis.com/groups/weddings/ pyaarweddingplanning.aspx.