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Guests can opt for a couples massage at Barcelo properties.
Guests can opt for a couples massage at Barcelo properties.

You don’t need me to tell you that the honeymoon business is one of the pillars of Caribbean tourism. It motivates resorts to play a game I call competitive romance, wherein each player tries to come up with deals and packages that will win the love
of newlyweds. The following new and nearly new packages are the icing on the (wedding) cake.

To Mimosa with Love
During a recent stay at adults-only Sanctuary Cap Cana by AlSol, it seemed that half the couples I talked with were honeymooners, which makes sense, given the Zorro-era romance of the place, from its Spanish Colonial section to the Castle, which, unlike most latter-day fortresses, looks like the real thing. The 184 rooms are romantic, too, with 14 distinct categories, including jr. suites, duplexes, swim-out suites, villas, and more.

The Romantic Paradise package (some AlSol agents call it the romance and spa package), includes a 4-night minimum and a 40 percent discount on rooms. It also includes roundtrip transfers, a private dinner, a couples massage, and a breakfast in bed with mimosas, because what’s breakfast without mimosas? While we’re talking food, two tips: (1) Casabella is an unusually high quality buffet, offering on-the-spot chefs and artfully composed little dishes that send guests straight to Instagram. (2) Fusion, for which reservations are required, mixes sophisticated fusion dishes with dancing waiters and maybe a bride prancing on the bar. Counter-intuitive, but it works.

Sanctuary Cap Cana by AlSol.
Sanctuary Cap Cana by AlSol.

Rates for the Romantic Paradise package start at about $450 a night for a Junior Suite Ocean View (approximately 750 sq. ft.) in the Colonial area. A Junior Swim-out Suite in the Castle, my favorite building, starts at about $625 a night. Naturally, there are also Honeymoon Suites with private pools and 2-story Castle One Bedroom Suites with sky-high ceilings that are listed at 1,850 sq. ft., but they look even bigger.

My Love vs. Forever in Love
The May issue of Recommend covered the merger of Barcelo and Occidental Hotels & Resorts, which expanded the Barcelo Hotel Group to four brands and almost 120 hotels. So what’s love got to do, got to do with it? Plenty: For example, Occidental Punta Cana’s My Love Package includes an upgrade to the next room category, priority check-in and late check-out, petit fours and sparkling wine in the room, and a continental breakfast with mimosas in bed. What’s more, My Love is complimentary for couples who can document having just wed. The Sweet Love Package ($399) includes most of the above plus a bouquet of flowers, a fruit platter, nightly turn-down service, a private and candlelit dinner with sparking wine, and a 25-minute couples massage. Rooms start as low as $155, but an upgrade from the Junior Suite Ocean Front (as little as $195), would net the real deal: a Superior Royal Level.

Barcelo Bavaro Beach offers honeymooners a complimentary In Love Package that includes priority check-in and late check-out, an in-room continental breakfast, in-room bubbly and petit fours, and an upgrade to the next room category. Stepping up to Forever in Love package (just $169) includes all of the above plus dinner for two on the beach and a 25-minute couples massage. Room rates at adults-only Barcelo Bavaro Beach start at about $215, and an upgrade from a Superior Sundeck Ocean View (from about $260) lands a Superior Ocean Front Premium Level.

The Moon, the Stars
Three Melia resorts are offering a Bliss Honeymoon, and what could be better than bliss? This: Promising the moon and stars and being able to deliver on that promise.

The new Bliss Honeymoon includes a celebratory bottle of chilled sparkling wine placed in the room upon arrival, a tropical fruit display, a romantic turn down-service, and a 10 percent discount on spa services. The Moon & Stars Honeymoon includes all that and more: a 45-minute couples massage, jacuzzi or bathtub decor with flower petals and candles (one night of the couple’s choosing), and a private and romantic dinner.

Here’s how that costs out for one of the resorts offering these packages, Melia Braco Village, whose Adventure Park features ziplining, rock climbing, trampolines, and an obstacle course (a warm-up to marriage?). At this Jamaica property the Bliss Honeymoon costs $70, the Moon & Stars Honeymoon is $350, and the rock-bottom room rate would be about $245 (including 10 percent tax), or $1,700 per week. A worthy upgrade to a 625-sq.-ft. Romance Suite in The Level section, with its many perks, would cost about $335, or $2,330 a week.

At Punta Cana’s Melia Caribe Tropical, the Bliss package costs $60, and the Moon & Stars, $389. You could book a room in low season for less than $1,000 a week, but this is a honeymoon! Besides, this Melia’s The Level truly is on another level, with an adults-only section, excellent service, and premium restaurants that only serve The Level. You can book The Level Grand Suite, at 818-sq.-ft., for as little as $230 ($1,600 a week), so even if that price were to double in February, this would still be one of the great values in the Caribbean.

Sandals Montego Bay.
Sandals Montego Bay.

Do the Honeymoon Hop!
This Sandals Resorts concept is not really new, nor is it even a conventional package, but it’s so appealing that I can’t resist mentioning it. The idea is to split the honeymoon between two resorts on the same or different islands. It’s a good option for couples who “collect” Sandals or need the stimulation of multiple resorts or even different islands that have different vibes. I priced this out for a hypothetical 1-week honeymoon in order to keep the Hop consistent with the other resorts’ rate quotes, but remember that the Honeymoon Hop is especially appropriate for longer honeymoons.

A same-island Honeymoon Hop might begin with low-keyed Sandals Negril, where entry-level rates would start at just under $2,000 per couple for four nights. Of course, I’d recommend one of the Butler Level rooms, which start at about $630 a night (figure $2,500 for four nights), for this special occasion. The morning after that fourth night, there’s no charge for the transfer to the next resort—say, Sandals Montego Bay, “the beachfront resort where the party never stops.” Rooms there start at about $470 a night, but again, honeymooners should spring for Butler Level if they can. At Sandals Montego Bay, rates in those rooms start at little more than $600 a night.

For an island-hopping Honeymoon Hop, Barbados-to-Grenada works well because of the flight connection (on LIAT; $145 each for a 1-way ticket) and the contrast between somewhat Anglophilac, flat Barbados, and hillier, more forested Grenada. The most basic room at Sandals Barbados, a Caribbean Village Deluxe, would start at roughly $600, or $2,400 for four nights. (As you’ve heard, in December Sandals will debut a second Barbados option, too.) Rates at Sandals LaSource Grenada start at about $500, but there are so many tempting upgrades. I’m partial to the Pink Gin Beachfront Honeymoon Club Level Suite (from roughly $800 a night) and the South Seas Grande Rondoval Butler Suite with Private Pool Sanctuary (rates start at about $1,200).

Contact Information
Barcelo Hotel Group: barcelo.com
Melia Hotels & Resorts: romancebymelia.com
Sanctuary Cap Cana by AlSol: sanctuarycapcana.com
Sandals Resorts: sandals.com