Or, at least it is if you’re in the Caribbean at Sandals Resorts…
I sat down with Sandals Resorts’ Director of Romance, Marsha-Ann Donaldson Brown, to talk about all things love as we head into engagement season. As the Director of Romance for a renowned brand made exclusively for couples, Marsha-Ann fortifies that now more than ever, love is alive and well at Sandals All-Inclusive Resorts. She also helps shed light on some of the most contemplated questions about destination weddings right now. And the answers… they always come straight from the heart.
Image: Feel the love in the air when staying in an Over-the-Water Bungalow at Sandals South Coast in Jamaica.
Marsha-Ann is having a hard time driving and talking at the same time. She pulls to the side of a quiet two-lane road near Montego Bay, Jamaica to focus. This is too important for distractions. One of our brides has called to discuss her wedding plans. She and her fiancé, like many others, have had to postpone their nuptials at the onset of the pandemic. Some of the guests in their party are asking questions on a topic that’s top of mind, especially for a wedding. The uncertainty of congregating has couples questioning what they should do and how they can celebrate safely. Everyone is left asking a few familiar questions…
As the Director of Romance for Sandals, she’s well aware of the looming questions about weddings and travel right now.
Her Jamaican cadence is as smooth and sweet as icing. “I know the disappointment couples have had putting off a dream wedding — it absolutely rocks your boat. “Safety is on the minds of every customer and it’s also paramount to us. The lengths at which we have gone through to provide a backdrop for couples that is safe through our Wedding Platinum Protocols of Cleanliness delivers such a positive possibility for the future.”
Pleasant as her voice is, Marsha-Ann does not sugarcoat a single word, but she can’t help her eyes fill with optimism.
“Let me describe to you what I am looking at right now,” she says. “In front of me are a few beautiful fluffy clouds that look like cotton balls against the clear blue sky. The ocean is sparkling at the moment… it could not be more lovely. You can literally feel romance in the air.”
Image: Take a stroll, on the beautiful beach at Sandals Grenada, while the turquoise and emerald ocean glitters in the sunlight just for the two of you.
If you’ve ever been to the Caribbean this time of year, you know exactly what she’s talking about. You can be on an empty beach or at the side of a road… there really is something in the air. Warmth, optimism, comfort, happiness, love… It’s undeniable and completely irresistible.
The bride-to-be feels Marsha-Ann’s warmth radiating through the phone, but has a few more pointed questions about a wedding week.
It’s hard to put aside the mishmash of daily updates on the news feeds but just listen — really listen. Keep your own eyes and mind open. The truth is not all that complicated.
“Think about the whole idea of isolation,” says Marsha-Ann.“What could be more isolated than spending time on an island together?”
She pauses to let that sink in. Good point.
“Where you can sit alone under a cabana on a white-sand beach and stare at an ocean stretching as far as you can see. Just you and the one you love. Isn’t that the best kind of isolation?”
There’s no rebuttal coming. Look at the wedding venues at the 15 Sandals Resorts. Couples are married in open gardens, along mile-long beaches, and at the ends of glass aisles in an over-the-water chapel. Now, more than ever, something is very clear about the “I do” locations: They’re secluded yet wide open to the blue sky, the sparkling sea, and Caribbean air.
Image: Exchange vows at the Over-the-Water Serenity Wedding Chapel at Sandals Grande St. Lucian.
“Couples who have recently come to be married or to renew their vows say it has actually been a blessing to do it now,” says Marsha-Ann. “I have observed couples and can see their pure joy of having passed this unique test of commitment. They are more grateful than ever for each other. It is impossible to be here, with waves gently lapping at your feet, and take a moment with the one you love for granted.”
There’s a longer pause on the phone.
Realistically, a wedding, a proposal or a renewal of vows is a sliver of time during a special week. And so, it’s reasonable to wonder about the other 119 hours and 30 minutes. Is this really the right time?
“Think about this,” Marsha-Ann says, before offering real-life snapshots from the Sandals Resorts. “An overwater bungalow in the remote South Coast region of Jamaica. A Skypool Butler Suite in Grenada. A Rondoval along the beach in Antigua. These are not ‘rooms.’ They are ‘Oh, my goodness... it is almost as if they were created for times like this!”
Image: Plunge into romance when staying in one of Sandals Grenada's Italian Oceanview SkyPool Butler Suites.
She’s right again. A suite open to the Caribbean air and out of plain sight is the very definition of an escape — as safe as it is dreamy. Its purpose is clearer than ever.
“It is also a reward,” says Marsha-Ann, adding perspective. “It’s a way of saying, ‘We’ve been through a lot together. Let’s do this the right way in a place that is literally built for romance.’”
There is still another question to be asked, though.
Image: A couple lounging in one of the luxurious cabanas along the Sandals Ochi beach.
“One thing that really works to our advantage at Sandals is that getting to the Caribbean does not involve long-haul travel,” Marsha-Ann notes.
Not familiar with the Caribbean’s proximity? It’s less than two hours from Miami to Montego Bay, Jamaica, less than four hours from Dallas to Montego Bay or from New York to the two Sandals Resorts in The Bahamas, and barely three hours from Miami to Antigua. It only seems farther because of the difference in the sights, sounds and that feeling.
Understand something else. As honored as the Sandals teams are to host guests and to watch their jaws drop at the sight of the white sand and Caribbean water, they are strict with their health and safety protocols, and always have been. At each Caribbean island that Sandals operates on, there are protocols in place to ensure that every person on every Caribbean-bound flight has completed a health screening that includes a negative COVID-19 test result upon entry. It’s no stretch to say that the protocols to enter a Sandals Resort in the islands are more stringent than the protocols to enter a grocery store in the U.S.
Once on-resort, all guests, team members and suppliers alike follow the industry-leading Sandals Platinum Protocols of Cleanliness to the tee, ensuring the safety of everyone. Everywhere you go on-resort, you’ll see team members smiling through their eyes, happy to go the extra mile to make your vacation just that much safer and more memorable.
There is one final question. It grows from the mindset of a full wedding with a reception and a crowd of family, friends and everyone else…
A man from Illinois proposes to his girlfriend while a saxophonist plays 20 feet away on the beach in Jamaica. It’s just the three of them. A bride and groom are married in an Eden-esque garden in Grenada (appropriately dubbed, The Spice Island). It’s them, their parents, and three other couples — 11 people, including a pastor. A group Marsha-Ann is coining as a ‘love bubble.’ “You travel together. You trust each other. You’re with people you love and appreciate more than ever,” says Brown.
Image: Sandals Grande Antigua's beautiful garden gazebo, one of the many locations to exchange vows on-resort.
These moments are more intimate nowadays, shared only with the most important people in the couples’ lives. Safely and memorably. Sometimes, that love bubble consists of just you and your significant other… and that’s OK. (And if still you want others take part in that special day, consider live-streaming your ceremony for the loved ones back at home!) “One thing I’ve recently been told by couples during this time is that they don’t want their love to wait,” said Marsha-Ann.
A couple from Florida recently went all out at Sandals — the overwater bungalow, the catamaran dinner, and the vows at the beach where pixie dust seemed to twinkle on the sea. The occasion? They were celebrating their 14th anniversary. “Why should we wait until our 15th or 20th?” the wife asked while also answering her own question. “No way. We want to take advantage of the opportunities we have right now.”
A milestone is no longer defined by a specific number, like 10, 25, or 40. A big day doesn’t have to be choreographed inside a box of traditions.
“Every day that you are together is a big day,” says Marsha-Ann as another cotton ball drifts overhead. “And when you are here, I’m telling you … it is literally more amazing than your wildest dreams.”
It’s true. You can feel the love in the air.