A fifth Couples resort, slated for completion in 2008, will be built on 38 acres between Montego Bay and Ocho Rios.
Romance is big business at Couples Resorts in Jamaica
By Melanie Reffes
When meandering along paths or strolling on the beach at
sunset at a Couples Resorts property, it’s easy to see why the
chain is in the wedding and honeymoon business. There’s
romance at every turn. Twosomes stroll hand in hand or
cuddle in seaside hammocks at the company’s four all-inclusive resorts in Jamaica: Couples Ocho Rios and Couples Sans Souci,
in Ocho Rios, and Couples Negril and Couples Swept Away in Negril.
A fifth Couples resort is slated for completion in 2008. The $370 million property
will be built on 38 acres between Montego
Bay and Ocho Rios.
Spread along Negril’s Seven Mile Beach,
Swept Away’s 312 suites overlook either
the Caribbean Sea or landscaped gardens.
Beachfront verandah suites with minibars
and satellite TV are private, as are the garden suites a bit farther from the water.
A multimillion-dollar expansion, nearly
complete, includes the new Great House;
additional suites and Jacuzzis; a jazz bar
and disco; a 4,500-square-foot wedding
reception center; an Internet cafe with flat-screen monitors; and Feathers, a gourmet
restaurant with a large champagne menu.
A freshwater pool opened in September.
The tour desk, gift shop, spa and lobby will
move to the Great House in November.
Dining options include the open-air, buf-fet-style Palms restaurant, where reggae and
oldies night keeps the party going into the
wee hours; the Cabana Grill, for late-night
snacking on Belgian-style fries wrapped in
newspaper; the Sea Grape Cafe, noted for
its grilled snapper; and Lemon Grass, which
features an extensive Thai menu.
But this is a resort synonymous with romance. Not surprisingly, breakfast in bed is
the most popular dining experience.
One thousand weddings a year are performed at Couples Resorts but honeymooners make up the largest slice of the
“In August, we had 181 newlywed couples and 70 weddings,” said Sheryl Clarke,
operations manager at Swept Away, add-
ing that the romance travel factor helps in
maintaining high occupancies.
“Occupancy rates this season range between 60% and 67%,” she said. “We are
aiming for 85% occupancy this winter.”
Tamika Jones, part psychiatrist and part
wedding planner, has calmed nervous
brides and pushy moms for five years at
“I’ve been to hundreds of weddings and
still cry at all of them,” she said. “Sometimes
the grooms are the nervous ones, like the
young man who fainted three times before
finally saying, ‘I do.’ ”
What helps set Couples Resorts apart
from competitors also selling romance are
the complimentary on-site inclusions and
the off-site activities, such as scuba diving,
snorkeling, tennis, catamaran cruises, golf,
cooking classes and shopping tours.
“Newlyweds love to see the conch, which
is considered a Jamaican aphrodisiac,” said
Wayne Drummond, captain of the glass-bottom boat used on one of the sightseeing
excursions. “It puts groove in your move.”
Chukka Caribbean Adventures offers an
off-site, soft-adventure tour that combines
a horseback ride through the mountains
west of Montego Bay with a dip in the shallow waters of the Caribbean for horse and
rider. Refreshments are served in an oceanfront gazebo.
Swept Away’s complimentary wedding package includes champagne, a cake,
a bouquet and boutonniere, massages
and matching T-shirts.
Continued on Page 60
One thousand weddings are performed each year at the
four Couples Resorts in Jamaica.
ROMANCE ON A BUSINESS CARD
‘In August, we had 181 newlywed
couples and 70 weddings.’
— Sheryl Clarke, operations manager, Swept Away
A bride and groom
barefoot on the beach
is a common sight at
Perhaps taking a cue from Couples Resorts’ appointment of Randy Russell as
its “chief romance officer,” the Bahamas
Ministry of Tourism has named Freda
Madrisotti its new official director of
Her position — according to the ministry, the first of its kind within a tourism
office in the Caribbean — will serve as a
link between hotels, resorts, vendors and
suppliers to ensure seamless and stress-free planning for any romantic occasion.
Madrisotti’s responsibilities range from
serving as a liaison with the Bahamas
Bridal Association and affiliated wedding coordinators to staying current on
romance-specific hotel packages in the
As gatekeeper to all things romantic,
she also will work with the smaller Bahamian hotel properties to support wedding programs that incorporate nontraditional venues and services.
“We are pleased to tap Madrisotti as
the ministry’s first director of romance,”
said Vernice Walkine, director general,
Bahamas Ministry of Tourism.
“Each of our islands presents an array
of romantic alternatives, and in this new
position Madrisotti will provide a seamless connection among our partners,”
A native of the Bahamas, Madrisotti
began her career in the Bahamas financial industry and then spent 17 years in
Europe, in public- and private-sector enterprises in the Channel Islands, France
and the U.K. A focus on evolving markets
led Madrisotti to research the development and coordination of weddings and
honeymoon experiences for European
couples. — M.R.