Creative marriage proposals at Couples Swept Away Resort, Negril, Jamaica

By Sue McGarvie, and Blaik Spratt, Relationship Therapists, Syndicated Talk Show Hosts.
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When you picture the most romantic place on earth to propose where do you think of? The Eiffel Tower? Moonlight in Venice? We had heard of some typically quaint but corny marriage proposals that include the videotron at hockey games, or the overdone, “ring-on-the-rose-stem” proposal. As die hard romantics who regularly speak at the bridal shows, we are always interested in smart proposal stories.  On a recent trip to Couples Swept Away in Negril, Jamaica we saw a succinct, but elegant proposal that combined a warm, windswept Caribbean evening, with a new way to ask for your sweetie’s hand in marriage. For guys, the goal is a memorable, yet idiot-proof proposal that allows her to be                                  moved to tears in private.
Imagine a perfect evening on vacation away from the stresses of life, where you surprise the object of your affection with a private dinner on the beach. Serenaded by saxophone leading two piece band, you have a five course meal served by an unobtrusive waiter. The smell of hibiscus is in the air. As the fruit and dessert plate gets presented, you lift up the cover and carved in the melon centerpiece are the words “Will you marry me?” Creative, unique, and you don’t have to do anything beyond a quick email and a credit card number in setting it up.
Couples Swept Away is a spectacular all-inclusive resort in the middle of Negril’s famous 7 mile beach, and one of the four Couples resorts in Jamaica. They are all adult only resorts, and are known for their emphasis on magical, romantic vacations. Couples is a mixture of wellness and decadence set on one of the best beaches in all the Caribbean. Complete with the requisite white sand, turquoise water, hot weather and starry nights.
There is a top notch athletic facility and spa, along with juice and veggy bars for couples wanting to take care of themselves on vacation. Tennis, swimming, squash, water sports, yoga, aerobics, a serious weight-training gym, and healthy snacks strategically placed in case you need to keep your blood sugar up, Couples Swept Away had the most complete fitness and wellness component of any high end adult resort we’ve ever been to.
The resort as a whole is safe, and open minded. The beach is well patrolled, and very clean. The three other Couples locations all have private nude beaches on property- or in the case of the Couples resorts in Ocho Rios – a completely nude island. Couples Swept Away doesn’t have a nude section, but the Negril beach has been known since the 60’s for tolerance to being topless, so smooching with your sweetie under a beach hut would only be looked at with an indulgent smile by the hotel.
The facilities are truly elegant, beautifully maintained, and what is noticeable about this resort is the serious attention to detail. The ownership is local, and on site, and it shows. From the elegant staff clothing designs, to the unique lobby furnishing – it is evident that the staff and management are paying attention to the little things we often see missing in other resorts.  The turned down beds, along with Jamaican expressions printed on small cards on the pillow at bedtime we a lovely touch. A full size compliment of liquors in the in-room bar, flowers in the room, a wrap around porch, and special toiletries are a few examples of extras that are of course, all inclusive. A number of the rooms don’t have a television (in keeping with the romantic “get away from it all” theme), but will leave you a selection of reading material and music to help you connect. And with a strict no-tipping policy, you don’t have to worry about money anytime during your vacation.
Having been to a number of resorts in Jamaica, and being used to the happy, smiling people – Jamaicans are some of the most musical and lyrical people on the planet – we met a number at Couples Swept Away that stood out from anything we had seen anywhere. The employees we absolutely delightful to meet.  We conversed with a range of staff from the crossing guard to the receptionist to the general manager at Couples Swept Away. All of them genuinely seemed to feel that “they worked for the best  resort in all of Jamaica.” The staff were empowered to make guests happy, and were rewarded for solving a problem with a guest- even if it took them away from their regular duties.  The piano bar is famous, and interactive and becomes the place “where everyone quickly learns your name.”
The Couples resort seems to have two major mandates. One is to emphasize romance in all forms, and they work hard to convince you to fall in love, propose, get married, honeymoon and spend your anniversaries there. They take romance seriously. Their goal is to make you feel all that schmushy, lovey, eye-gazing stuff that lovers rarely get a chance to experience between the kids, laundry, and work deadlines. Think rose petals on the beds, chocolate fountains, and spectacular sunsets. Couples is an outstanding place to have one of those simple, yet special beach weddings that save you the thousands of dollars in feeding extended relatives when you get married conventionally at home. So if you are planning on eloping down south to get hitched on the beach, give Couples Swept Away a serious look. Couples Swept Away is also appropriate for anyone else who might come down and share in the nuptials (we met grandparents and crazy brothers-in laws in the wedding party who all seemed happy with the resort). A good mix of decorum for extended family, but not too sleepy or staid if you are hoping for some hopping night life. It isn’t party central like a few of the Negril resorts, but it is five minutes from the infamous Rick’s Café (home of the legendary cliff divers) which is rated as one of the top 10 bars in the world, and always has colorful night life. With a full time department dedicated to weddings, and a large property, we witnessed a number of bridal parties at different times during our stay.
The other goal at Couples is to turn every visitor into a repeat guest. They consistently rank second (behind Hedonism) for the highest recidivism (return) rates in Jamaica. We met people there on this visit who had been to Swept Away over 25 times. As a repeat guest, you get a special shirt, a package of extras at check-in, and an invitation to attend a repeaters dinner with all the staff and management, who make a fuss over you. A separate cocktail party invites the newcomers to a meet and greet, but it is with repeat vacationers, that Couples spends a huge amount of time and attention on.
We had a few experiences that stood out at Couples Swept Away. Many of the other all -inclusives throughout the Caribbean have a sameness about them, but this one is truly five star. Two fabulous restaurants (one Continental, and the other Thai), had meals that rivaled the best a la carte restaurants in French St. Martin, and was the best meal we had on holiday this year. A martini bar, lots of different beach foods including a health hut, fabulous burgers and Jamaican jerk chicken, and a rum punch (that will have you singing in no time) fleshed out the other food and beverage highlights. However, like elsewhere in Jamaica the music blew us away.  The evening dinner band included a tight reggae quartet from Kingston that you would have happily paid for. Our favorite moment was at an early morning breakfast buffet at their main restaurant. A duo of acoustic guitarist and cello player strummed up popular songs while we ordered at the smoothie bar. Lincoln the guitar player, smiled and nodded while he played with his cello partner. In very  short order most of the restaurant had stopped eating to appreciate the music flowing through these two guys. They were that good. It brought a whole restaurant of people together as we all made eye contact to see if everyone else was as impressed as we were with the live, breakfast music.
Compared to some of the other adult-only resorts we’ve reviewed Couples Swept Away is tame, but they nail their demographic of couples 25-55 who are looking for a safe, upscale romantic vacation.  With an emphasis on health, the resort has almost a “clean cut” feel to it -the wholesome side of adult-only vacations. Try as we might (and we did look for faults), we really had no complaints with our stay. All the guests we spoke to raved about it, and we were sad to leave.  With a tremendous occupancy rate (Couples Negril, five minutes down the road couldn’t show us a sample room as they were at 100% occupied for the next five weeks) despite difficult economic times.  Couple’s  guests come primarily from the United States, Canada, Britain, Germany and Italy, and were mainly in their 30’s and 40’s. With a 40% return rate, this resort seems almost recession proof, and is a testament to their great service, food, location and facilities. Expect to pay USD $4000 a couple per week (although there are some deals to be had on off weeks online), but everything from catamaran trips and 10 minute beach massages were free. So other than golf (also included) or the full spa services, (the spa was in a beautiful building, and did a brisk business with brides and couples massages) you should have no need to go off property or pay for anything else on your romantic week. Couples Swept Away is the relaxing, romantic, effortless, wonderful Caribbean honeymoon vacation (no matter if you are newly-wed, renewing your vows, or just checking in with each other.) It  recharges anybody’s relationship.
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