By default, honeymoons should be romantic. But like beauty, romance is objective – it is defined in different ways by different people, as befitting their personality and love language. For some, it’s the other-worldly setting that evokes a sense of solitude, privacy – where nature’s rhythms have you in their grip. For others, it may be a high-octane wine pairing with soft jazz and linen suits at golden hour. Sandals Resorts have spent over four decades studying every expression of romance (views, wellness, food, privacy, setting, adventures), then refining their luxury Caribbean holidays accordingly. So, considering the bells-and-whistles butler service, the sumptuous suites with staggering views over infinity pools and the endless (and included) array of activities and gourmet restaurants, this could just be the most romantic Caribbean honeymoon.
While all Sandals Resorts are privy to some of the Caribbean’s most sensational views (expect sunsets that blaze across the horizon and white-sand beaches flanked by exotic jungle and lapped by glassy water), some suites are worth knowing about for the views and a grade of privacy you’d expect from a private villa. Sandals Royal Plantation excels at both. The butler-only hotel oozes old school glamour, with its literary alumni including Ian Fleming and Noel Coward who came here for the manicured lawns, the elegant, light-filled rooms and, of course, the laid back Jamaican spirit. Its lavish identity lives on in Champagne and caviar bars, in afternoon tea on the terrace following a gentle swim, and now, in a series of luxurious suites which marry yesteryear charm with modern comforts. Rooms are dressed in mahogany furniture, refined sofas smothered in cushions and four poster beds, whose white curtains billow in the morning breeze. We particularly love the Love Nest Butler Suites for their soft Italian linens and Roman-style bath tubs, and the Imperial Oceanfront One Bedroom Butler Suite for its staggeringly pretty views across the Caribbean Sea.
If privacy is high on the agenda, or simply feeling immersed in the island setting, couples can cosy up in Over-the-Water Butler Honeymoon Bungalows at Sandals South Coast and Sandals Royal Caribbean in Jamaica, and also Sandals Grande St Lucian in St Lucia. These mimic the style of the Maldives stilt properties, and tempt lazy mornings, with a butler organising a breakfast of local fruit and fresh eggs along the waterfront, before you feel ready to take those three steps into the warm lagoon, winking in the morning sunlight below. The sunrises and sunsets here are mesmerising and best paired with a glass of Champagne, all of which is delightfully complimentary so you can fully relax. As far as beaches go, Sandals Grande Antigua is consistently voted the Caribbean’s most romantic resort at the World Travel Awards, and we suspect this might have something to do with its Dickenson Bay location – Antigua’s best beach of warm, flawless white sands.
Sandals knows that romance is best preserved with limited decision making and zero stress. Its slick service, from one-step-ahead butlers to well-oiled concierge teams, ensure this is the case. Teams will go above and beyond to make couples’ honeymoons truly memorable and a cut-above-the-rest. This is best illustrated in the ‘extras’ that can be arranged at all resorts, such as a candle-lit supper on the beach, with ankles gently lapped by calm Caribbean waters or picnics laid out on the buttermilk beaches of nearby islands. Butler service is without doubt the way to go, if you are looking for a pampering island escape. It could be the little things, such as filling Champagne flutes before sunset in Sandals Montego Bay’s swim-up suites to having your bags unpacked and honeymoon wardrobe perfectly hung up and pressed in Sandals Regency La Toc’s cliffside suites, or ensuring your favourite style of lunch arrives at a certain time, and is enjoyed alongside a private pool at Sandals Royal Curaçao’s Seaside Bungalows. No request is too much, leaving couples to concentrate on each other and the knockout views.
Romance needs the right mindset to truly flourish, and this is best achieved by unwinding and focusing on both body and mind following a stressful build up to weddings. Sandals’ wellness offering, from its spas to its recommended afternoon hikes, is carefully choreographed to ensure newlyweds can fully recharge together in a beautiful setting. Couples can enjoy the Red Lane® Spa at all Sandals Resorts, with treatments drawing from the natural surroundings and even taking place in them (such as the Tropical Paradise couples massage, which can be set up on the beach or in the lush, jungle-like gardens). Newly-weds may prefer a candle-lit massage together, in their room following a light supper on one night, or a quick manicure before dressing up for a sundowners.
The whole essence of the spa menu is its willingness to work to guests’ schedules, giving them the greatest luxury of all: time. Morning yoga sessions are particularly memorable along Sandals Negril’s 7-mile beach or along the old world verandas of Sandals Montego Bay (both in Jamaica), while a collagen-boosting Caribbean glow treatment to nourish post-flight skin is highly recommended and available at all Sandals resorts.
For many couples, good food is synonymous with romance. Sandals Ochi is the prime cut of the hotel group’s foodie offering, with 16 restaurants designed for gourmands running the full gamut, from a cavalcade of Mediterranean tapas plates along the beachfront to ritzy, French cuisine brought out in theatrical style. A fresh arrival to Jamaica’s coast, Sandals Ochi is home to the Caribbean’s first speakeasy (and 11 bars, all with unique characters and cocktails). While all Sandals’ resorts are a magnet for foodies with a wide variety of cuisines and settings, as well as complimentary Robert Mondavi Twin Oaks® Wines, Sandals Montego Bay in Jamaica and Sandals Grande St. Lucian also offer a dizzying list of restaurants, with Gordon’s pier restaurant and Tokyo Joe’s arguably the most romantic. Sandals’ conjuring trick is to allow guests staying in one hotel to sample the restaurants on any other Sandals resorts on the same island with their Stay at 1, Play at All offering.
Couples who cower at the idea of a big wedding and would rather elope can organise island-style nuptials at Sandals Montego Bay’s thatched over-the-water chapel, with a glass aisle revealing the sea ripples below and the white-washed wood-panelling reminiscent of the Hamptons. This is where Sandals’ sheer choice of top-drawer food allows couples to tailor a small wedding to their culinary whims, much like honeymooners staying in butler suites can request food from any restaurant to be served in their hotel rooms, or for a little extra, in a seriously romantic spot with a gentle, salty breeze and a dark sky, ablaze with more stars than you can possibly count.
By virtue of its Caribbean setting, Sandals’ activities feel adventurous, exotic and deeply romantic. Everything, from diving expeditions around shipwrecks and high-energy water-sports to more go-slow sunset paddleboarding and couples’ night tennis sessions is included, encouraging honeymooners to try sports such as golf or windsurfing that they wouldn’t usually find time for. Sandals’ diving programme is one of the best in the Caribbean, with complimentary dives offered to those with PADI certificates (those without can even learn-on-the-moon for an additional cost, with dedicated beginner PADI instructors at each hotel). Surrounding the islands are goldmines for adventurous divers – reefs, caves and shipwrecks teaming with vibrant and exotic marine life such as parrot fish, sting rays and hawksbill turtles, sightings of which will stir child-like wonder.
Personal trainers with bespoke philosophies can be easily organised at all resorts but newly-weds would be forgiven for simply lounging by the pool – an activity Sandals has perfected with its handful of photogenic pools. Standouts include Sandals Royal Barbados, where a serene pool appears to drift into the Caribbean Sea and is flanked by shaded, contemporary cabanas for couples to hide away in, or the private plunge pools in Sandals Regency La Toc’s Millionaire Suites in St Lucia, which are set high in the hills, overlooking a calm, turquoise bay.
To book your Sandals Caribbean honeymoon, visit sandals.co.uk
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