Coconut Bay Review
By Sue McGarvie and Blaik Spratt
Clinical Relationship Therapists, Romance Travel Writers
We’ve both had a few friends who decided to skip the big production and head down south to get married. No seating arrangements to organize, no huge expense of feeding extended relations, and no church ceremony for couples who have rarely darkened a church door. Getting married in a simple ceremony on a beach (whether you elope or drag immediate family down with you) has the advantage of having your honeymoon start immediately. As well, you can enjoy the breathtaking view of turquoise water, lush vegetation, and a sunset of pinks and purples that beat any kind of man-made decorations.
Most resorts in the Caribbean offer weddings – usually under a simple trellis overlooking the water. Sometimes they are set apart from the rest of the resort, but we’ve found many are wedged between the jet skis screaming in the background and beach walkers tromping by. We know this first hand because we’ve accidently stumbled by a few beach weddings ourselves in the search for interesting seashells. We’ve even attended (well sort of; more like politely and distantly crashed) a number of Caribbean weddings at resorts we’ve reviewed. We have sat off to the side in our bathing suits, peeked around the corner at a few, and were one of the cheering hoards waving from a distance at others. With only one exception, all of the weddings we saw were first time brides dressed in traditional gowns that had chosen a service in a warmer, more exotic location. We lamented about where did the older first-timers (and as a couple in our 40’s we say that tongue in cheek) and second marriages happen down south? How do you find a place where you can bring kids from a previous marriage, (or rowdy nieces and nephews) and still have that sensual feel of a Caribbean honeymoon? How do you accommodate four generations of attendees, without getting into the wedding politics you flew away to avoid in the first place? Where can you have a fun wedding that can still become serious and memorable when appropriate?
We found that The Coconut Bay Resort and Spa in St. Lucia known for its great water slides and adventure excursions was the perfect venue for elegant and romantic second weddings. We were surprised too.
Coconut Bay is a large resort on the south end of the Caribbean island of St. Lucia. It is located a mere three minutes drive from Hewanorra International Airport. It sells itself as “two worlds in one”. The family friendly side called Splash is home to the island’s largest water park, with a large slide and three pools. The resort also has a fully supervised kids club where you can drop off the kids for planned activities throughout the day and pick them up tired and happy. There were also cotton candy machines, unlimited ice cream, teen adventure groups, a paintball area, and they were in the midst of constructing a go-cart track. It was essentially heaven on earth for the kids we ran into. They even offered an outdoor, full length, supervised kids movie (complete with popcorn) during evenings so that the adults could have a quiet dinner. The resort seemed very safe, and the couples we spoke to with kids had no worries about letting their kids wander the Splash grounds unsupervised. Off the resort but still nearby, many excursions and activities await more adventurous travelers. All of them safe, designed for families and most enjoyable.
On the opposite side of Coconut Bay is Splash’s alter ego. A huge, private, adult-only area called Harmony which was designed for couples seeking romance and relaxation. There were intimate cabana beds, hammocks, a very social pool bar, and lots and lots of beach to spread out and find solitude on. We took in people serenely reading and met a number of people in the “over 60 set” who had found their own coconut palm to lounge under. It is also home to the Kai Mer Spa, the biggest full service spa we’ve found anywhere in the Caribbean. With outdoor (but private) showers for two, secluded couples massages, and well trained estheticians (body snatched from the destination spas in the north part of the island), the spa was terrific and well worth trying. The spa was also surprisingly reasonably priced, and a perfect place to get dressed for a tropical wedding.
Harmony is also where the large wedding gazebo is located. The gazebo has a nearby reception hall that can seat 60 people for dinner, along with a dance floor to host a good-sized reception if you come with an entourage. It is secluded and the resort does an excellent job in keeping the wedding private. However, for couples who want even more privacy during their vows, the resort is building a second wedding location at the Cape Moule a Chique Vieu lighthouse a few minutes drive outside of the resort in Vieux Fort. The lighthouse is the second highest in the world, and the view is spectacular for a wedding destination. It has a view of both the turquoise water of the Caribbean Sea and the darker Atlantic water. You can also easily see the coastlines of half the island. Banana and sour sop trees surround the lighthouse point. Coconut Bay is planning the first weddings there in September of 2010, and we think it will be as breathtaking as a sunset wedding for brides who are hoping for a one-of-a-kind matrimony service.
Coconut Bay does a moderate number of weddings throughout the year as compared to some other resorts where individual wedding services have a “turnstile” feel to them. We were quite touched about how hard the St. Lucian staff really tried to make each wedding unique. Janell, the petite, bubbly wedding planner was very determined in making sure any wedding was exactly how the bride desired it to be. We witnessed her pulling together a wedding in less than 24 hours. She said she takes pride in arranging weddings in 24 hours provided she has at least one working day. That means a full legal wedding license and international registry, minister, sunset boat ride; romantic wedding reception, spa service and attention to detail with a one-day turn around. Forget the long engagement, we joked about how a proposal, engagement, trip south and “I do’s” for a happily ever after can happen in less than 48 hours. Of course, all this is then followed by a fabulous honeymoon vacation.
So if you’ve been too busy to plan the nuptials and are trying to find a tropical wedding location where you can bring everyone down easily (including the kids), consider Coconut Bay, St. Lucia. It is a perfect location for a multitude of family generations to gather, for any occasion.