If you’re considering getting married in the Caribbean you may be wondering what the experience might be like for your guests. After all, it’s a long way to go for a wedding and costs considerably more than a weekend in the Cotswolds. But, based on this diary from our own experience, it’s worth the effort!
Sunday 9th March We’ve embarked on a week-long trip to St Lucia for our friends’ Caribbean wedding, part of a 20-strong group staying at Windjammer Landing in the north of the island. We’d booked a one-bedroom villa with a pool at the resort, which has a well-deserved reputation as a great destination for families and couples alike. As we’d hoped, it’s the perfect place to base our adventures and is going to be a wonderful venue for the ceremony. We’d decided to indulge ourselves by flying Upper Class on Virgin Atlantic, starting the trip as we meant to go on by holing up in the decadently red V lounge at Gatwick airport before the flight. A great breakfast and a couple of drinks put us in a relaxed frame of mind prior to boarding the plane. For our arrival in St Lucia we had booked a helicopter transfer with St Lucia Helicopters, taking off from Hewanorra International Airport in the south and landing in Vigie airport and helipad in the north. Not only a time-saving exercise, it’s also a great way to see the island and a fantastic treat for anyone looking for a little bit of luxury or wanting to kick off their holiday in style! On arrival at Windjammer Landing, a team of ambassadors were on hand to welcome us. Tash, our personal ambassador, checked us in and showed us to our villa, where we immediately felt relaxed and at home in our tropical surroundings. Dinner on the first night was at the Dragonfly restaurant, where we dined from the delicious a la carte menu. Monday 10th March This morning we had a nice early start at 6am, heading straight down for a jetlag-busting jog along the beach before a session in the compact but well-equipped gym. We soon discovered that there are lots of sporting and fitness activities to enjoy throughout the day, starting with pool aerobics every morning around 11am. After our exercise fix we enjoyed a fantastic breakfast buffet at Dragonfly, although we could also have chosen the a la carte option which is included in the all-inclusive meal plan. Having travelled out for the wedding without our children, it didn’t take us long to discover our inner child! The array of inflatables and trampolines set up in the water was the perfect setting for a spot of silliness and we were soon competing to see which of us could stay up longest on the giant blow up sausage. It turns out that Tony has hidden talents and took home the much coveted title! After all that exertion a lazy lunch at Jammers was just the ticket: spicy chicken wings and beef tacos washed down with a few cold glasses of Piton, the local beer. The beach is always busy but despite this the service never falters, with drinks served at our sunbeds by attentive staff at the wave of a yellow flag. The sea provided a welcome respite from the sun, with the warm, clear water perfect for swimming. For dinner tonight we ate at the Upper Deck restaurant, sampling the amazing tuna poke and jerk king prawns, with cocktails to follow down at Jammers bar. A lovely chilled evening after such a busy day. Tuesday 11th March Another beach jog this morning followed by a tasty breakfast at Dragonfly. Tony took to the water again after breakfast for a hobie cat sailing lesson, something he has wanted to do for a while. The water sports guys took good care of him and he was off sailing on his own within half an hour. What’s great is that all the water sports are included at the resort, although there is a small charge for lessons (we paid around $35). Shortly after we again embarked on the inflatable challenge, but Tony was beaten today by one of the younger guests at the hotel! Mark Ozawa, the general manager of Windjammer Landing, joined us at lunch to share news of the continuing improvements and development at the resort. These included the works on the spa, possible extension of the beach area and the prospect of new beachfront villas – all very exciting! We also had the chance to meet up with some regular clients of ours, the Giles family, whose wedding at Windjammer Landing we had organised last year. It was great finally meeting them all! By now most of the wedding party have arrived on the island so we booked a large table at Dragonfly to sample the Caribbean Buffet Night. A great evening of incredible food, with really authentic local fare to sample. After dinner we went down to the beach where the live entertainment was about to get underway. There were fire eaters, traditional dancing and acrobatics, creating a fantastic carnival atmosphere. Needless to say, we loved it. The evening continued with a brilliant live band, which led on to dancing in the bar. A great night to really get us in the party mood. Wednesday 12th March Today we organised the hire of the Cap Maison 1 motor launch to give our friends a real treat, and a unique way of exploring the beautiful and dramatic coastline of St Lucia. It’s a popular excursion for our clients and it’s easy to see why. Arriving at The Landings marina we picked the boat up bright and early at 9am before cruising south to the resorts of Anse Chastanet and Jade Mountain, making the most of the fresh sea breeze and adding a bit of colour to our fair skin! We stopped on the way at the beautiful marina of Marigot Bay, which is a must-do stop for anyone going to St Lucia, thanks to its stunning scenery. We also pulled into Ti Kaye Village to admire this beautiful hotel with individual cottages for guests. On arrival at Anse Chastanet we were met with cool towels before being whisked up to Jade Mountain for lunch. This really is a resort in a different league, with ‘sanctuaries’ instead of suites built into the mountainside and with one wall completely open to the outside world. It gives a great insight into the sort of resorts that we love here in St Lucia. Unsurprisingly the lunch they provided for us was excellent. Curried lobster and beautiful melt-in-the-mouth homemade ice cream were on offer, followed by a relaxing soak in one of the many infinity pools, with gorgeous views over the mountains and the sparkling Caribbean below. Before heading back up north, the boat stopped off at nearby Sugar Beach at Viceroy Resort for a spot of snorkelling and a chance to explore the area’s renowned national marine park. Teeming with reefs and colourful fish, it provided a fitting end to our day at sea before returning at about 5:30pm. This evening we had booked the elegant Italian restaurant, Papa Don’s, where unbeknownst to our friend we had organised a surprise birthday celebration. Despite him not wanting a big fuss made, the staff really went overboard with the attention and fuss they gave him, and you could see he enjoyed it! Great steak and grilled favourites as well as classic Italian pastas and salads were in plentiful supply, with the birthday celebrations moving on to Jammers bar afterwards for a couple of cocktails. Thursday 13th March Today was mostly spent planning and organising last minute details for tomorrow’s wedding, as well as relaxing and enjoying the beautiful Caribbean sunshine on the beach and around the pool. Friday 14th March The happy couple had planned to have the wedding in the beautiful gardens, but unfortunately there was heavy rain overnight which required a last-minute change of plan. The resident wedding coordinators Melanie and Lynn stepped in and did an amazing job, calmly reassuring the bride and groom that any location at the hotel could be transformed into a wonderful Caribbean wedding venue. Eventually Jim and Caroline decided on the old chapel that is now a conference centre, so the staff got to work and swiftly brought about an amazing transformation, using gorgeous decorations and flower arrangements to create the perfect setting. It was unrecognisable. At 4.30pm it was time for the ceremony. The bride was stunning and the groom looked extremely pleased with himself, as illustrated by the photos taken through the early evening and into the night, with the classic sunset poses on the beach and around the hotel grounds. The wedding meal was held privately at Embers on the beach and once again the wedding coordinator decorated the space, turning it into a beautiful, barefoot, luxury wedding venue, bedecked with fairy lights. The party took to Jammers bar again after the main meal, with celebrations continuing well into the night and all the hotel guests joining in. Saturday 15th March Today we waved the newly-married couple off on their way to Ladera for three days to enjoy their honeymoon. This resort down in the south of the island is a beautiful boutique hotel, perfectly at one with nature, and they were lucky enough to be offered an upgrade to one of the best suites, with a pool as part of the room itself. Back at Windjammer this evening we had a final meal at Papa Dons and a chance to say goodbye to our fellow guests and friends. Sunday 16th March After checking out this morning we were given courtesy use of a Premium Ocean View room to allow us to store our bags and freshen up before we left for the airport. This was a very welcome gesture and the comfortable room meant we could relax, shower and prepare for the long journey back home. We made use of the helicopter transfer on the return leg too, whizzing us high over the lush forests of the island back to the international airport in the south. The newly renovated VIP was lovely and we had a chance to refuel before boarding our overnight Upper Class flight back to London Gatwick. Monday 17th March We arrived early this morning feeling refreshed from a proper night’s sleep on the plane, having thoroughly enjoyed our time in St Lucia and at Windjammer Landing where, as always, the entire staff strived to give us and our fellow guests excellent service at all times. We also wish our friends Jim and Caroline the very best for their future together as husband and wife.