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  1. StarryBride, Can't really help with a stylist. I have long hair so I new humidity was going to be a problem, so I just had an updo at the resort spa. I brought a picture. For make-up, I didn't want to risk it, since I didn't have the time (or money) to have several trials in Saint Lucia before the wedding. So I decided that I was going to do my own make-up. So I went to a salon/spa (Donato) in my city (Toronto Canada) and got a make-up application lesson. I actually went twice (and well in advance so I would practice when we would go out). I've never been the one to put the full-on make-up complete with foundation and setting powder kind of thing. So I hit 2 birds with one stone (is that the english expression???). It was something like $75 for an hour, and then I would get a $75 coupon to buy cosmetics in their store. So that allowed me to buy things that are usually tricky to get right, namely the right foundation and the eyebrow pen, plus so much more! As the trip approached, because I had gone to a tanning salon, I found I had to buy a shade darker of foundation. NOTES FOR THE FAIR SKINNED LADIES: I don't tan, really. I can burn in 15 minutes at noon if I'm not wearing sunscreen (and after 1 hour when wearing 60SPF). And then I peel off and get bright white again. If I hadn't been to Saint Lucia the year before, I would have been in real trouble the week of my wedding, and a horrible honeymoon week afterwards. I got massive sunrash after only 3 days (for which I had to get a prescription)! NOT fun. So I was recommended by my aunt (yes, the fair skin runs in the family) to get my skin accustomed to UV rays a few months before the wedding so it wouldn't be "in shock". Started in the tanning bed at 3 minutes (yes, you get weird looks), and slowly increasing each week or so, going twice a week. By the wedding week, I had slowly increased the time to 8 minutes (I felt I was so daring!). I was still wearing an assortment of sunscreen at all times in Saint Lucia, but I didn't get a rash, not even a sunburn!
  2. Hi everyone! I realized as my one year anniversary is coming along, I've never posted a review of my wedding venue and honeymoon venue. So here are my wedding reviews for Smugglers Cove Resort and Spa, review of our subsequent stay at Sandals La Toc (witnessed many weddings) and photographer Mikael Lamber. I am also putting below a review of Captain Mike Hackshaw's Sport Fishing and Whale Watching (very good) and an ok review of Solar Tours and Travel. Overall, I found that most vendors on island is extremely hard to communicate with. We found it hard to get information, confirmations, etc. But now that we've been on the island, we totally get it. The moto is "no pressure, no pressure". Time is only a vague concept there. And amazingly, you feel like that too after a few days (amazing we still made it to our flight on time after 2 weeks spent there!). That's what makes it a good vacation spot. Unfortunately for us bride-to-be, our moto is far from "no pressure". You may not find this to be true at Sandals, as lots of their staff are outsiders or trained in the States. So their approach to service is more what we are accustomed to. Don't get me wrong, St.Lucia people are amazing, genuine and the nicest. They just have a more casual way to serve you which can come across as off, but they just don't waste energy with the act of tippy-toeing and plastering a fake smile on their face when addressing you (no pressure!). But as soon as you talk to them, they just light up. We got married Wednesday April 4, 2012 at Smugglers Cove Resort. It had to be a Wednesday because of the many flight carriers scheduling, with some guests arriving on Saturday, some on Sunday, others on the Monday (like us). The full moon was scheduled for the Friday (totally planned, thanks to LilyRose for the tip). We had to pay extra to expedite the paperwork as you need to be on the island for a few days normally. Despite the April date, the resort was still very busy, and note that a section of this resort is being transformed into timeshares (or some kind of vacation spot ownership). The resort has a wedding coordinator, Lorna. While the forms about wedding specifics sent to us by email pre-arrival felt useless, and communication via emails and phone somewhat difficult, once on site, we had Lorna's total focus and dedication. Everything was arranged on the spot quite effortlessly. Of the resorts we had visited the year before, Smugglers had by far the best wedding gazebo, white and charming with a shaded area, overlooking the crashing waves below, away from onlookers and sunbathers in speedos (quite unlike Windjammers). The only glitch, only because I have to find one, is we didn't know we had to bring our own music for the actual ceremony. One tune for me walking down the path to the gazebo, one tune for when we sign the registry and one last for the champagne cocktail. So thankfully I hadn't had the time to purge my ipod before our departure and so we spent a full morning browsing classical music. The actual wedding day was the hottest at 34 Celsius (sorry US people, don't know how much that is is F, but it's damn hot). I would forbid anyone from wearing a satin gown. NOT a good idea. My mom did, she changed for dinner, she couldn't stand it anymore. My dress was from a destination wedding collection, so super light taffeta, and I had sweat running down my legs. As to hairdo, forget having your hair down. My MoH did, she had curls in exactly as she had them for her wedding in Hawaii, by the end of the ceremony, they were flat. We were exactly 20 people. We wanted to keep everything low costs, so for the wedding dinner, we didn't want to rent the full restaurant (~$2000). We were going to be seated at 3 different tables, but at the last minute, were upgraded to 1 long table by the sea, very private. The picture below looks like it was out of a magazine, but it was our actual table! The "no pressure" moto caught back to us and so dinner was served at a snail pace with dishes arriving sparingly, but we were all together and that didn't matter so much. 2 wait staff had been assigned to us and they were super nice and laughing with us, sharing their own recipes of island dishes etc. The resort per se is okay. It is I think a 3 star, but in the realm of St.Lucia all inclusive, it was the best that we could get for the money. [sandals had been eliminated for their lack of providing rooms for single people and the lack of adaptability of their wedding packages (which may have changed since as it doesn't mention Martha Stewart anymore)]. I would recommend upgrading as much as you can. Note that all rooms will likely have ants (the resort is built on sand). And you may be visited by a geiko-type thing or two, which is normal. Overall though, the food was good and for the price we were happy (it is pricey in St.Lucia). There can be good snorkeling (at the right time of year of course, and provided it didn't rain for a bit. Winds and tides also are factors). We had Mikael Lamber as a photographer (yes, I did pay a fee for having his services as opposed to the resort photographer), and was very, very pleased. I knew of him from LilyRose. He is from Europe and now lives on the island, so the "no pressure moto" doesn't apply. Communication before and after the wedding is impeccable. The photos were great. We wanted to have photos taken at the ruins and at the beach, because it really gives the best contemporary magazine-type shoot look. Below is the link to some of the photos. http://www.mikaellamber.com/2012/04/05/the-wedding-of-marie-eve-jonathan-smugglers-resort-st-lucia-4th-april-2012/ The day after the wedding, we had organized a private cruise with Captain Mike Hackshaw. We still get nostalgic comments from our guests about the time spent on that boat. It was definitely the highlight of our wedding week. For $65 per person (for which we had asked our guests $20 per person to subsidize), we had a 3 hour private cruise down the coast to the Pitons, went through Marigot Bay and back. It included rum punch and Pitons beer. It was the best money we've spent on that island. Now to Solar Tours and Travel. Don't get me wrong here, I would recommend this company, but with some caution. We didn't want our guests to have to pay for the taxi up the island, and had organized transportation with Solar for airport transfers and to go to and from the marina for our private cruise. Our guests were to go to the resort by land, while my now husband and I were going to take the helicopter, so that we could get there first and have their Welcome Bags ready. Their price are way more affordable than the taxis, $20 per person round-trip from Hewanorra to Smugglers, as opposed to whatever everyone else feels like charging you that day (ranges from $40 to $80 roundtrip). We had given them our credit card info as requested ahead of time, which we thought was our method of payment. Their airport reps didn't see it that way, and requested cash for the helicopter portion. We are talking nearly $330, which was a lot of what we had on hands for our 2 weeks stay. So we did pay cash (they wouldn't let us off otherwise and were running late for the helicopter). No pressure moto people don't give receipt...you see where this is going. We were thus charged on our credit card later as well despite all our best effort, and no receipt, no proof cash was given. Of course the airport reps never got cash from us. So hey, what can we do. Pricey lesson, which hopefully will serve someone else out there. On top of that they showed up 30 minutes late on our pick up for the cruise (I wasn't on "island time" yet, so I was going frantic calling Solar etc.), but the fact that we were late for our cruise didn't seem to be a big deal (no pressure). Their drivers on the other hand were very much liked by us and our guests, who had to stop along the way (in Dennery, amazing pictures resulted) from the airport due to motion sickness. Do bring Gravol if traveling by land, especially for the 2 people in the middle of the bus not near windows, the road is like a roller coaster. Off to honeymoon at Sandals La Toc. It is more pricey, so of course you get what you pay for. Excellent food, excellent activities, and NO KIDS!!! The beach is gorgeous, but the waves are monsters the whole time we were there. I got the bruises to prove it, and I wasn't the only one. Do get the cabana for one day, it's totally worth it. We saw 4 weddings while staying there. 3 of them looked like elopers. The other one was the Beautiful Beginnings package. All those obviously had the resort's photographer. It was pretty much point and shoot, and were stopping the ceremony to re-snap the moments or re-positioning people. We were not really impressed and it kinda re-confirmed we had made the right choice with our photographer choice. The only negative thing I have to say about Sandals, is how big of a machine it is. Everything is very business-y, reservations at some restaurants are nearly impossible unless your room has a butler. They always try to upsell you things, spa stuff, and photographers take your photo from time to time and then you realize it's $15 per photo to get them. At times, the main pool seemed a bit "Jersey Shores", but we found the pool by the italian restaurant to be more quiet with good chairs available. Anyway, sorry for the long post but I hope this will be useful for somebody out there! And remember, the whole point of a destination wedding should be for it to be less stressful. I found our AHR to be way too stressful, I had way too many decisions to make, and sometimes wonder why I even agreed to it. And for the money, we could have stayed another 2 weeks at Sandals! (shh, don't tell my husband!) :-)
  3. So I just got a quote back from Solar Tours and Travel St.Lucia for transfers from Hewanorra to Cap Estate (at the very top of the island) and they are charging US$20 per person roundtrip! This is amazing, considering we paid US$30 per person one-way by taxi when we were there last April! And I wanted to say, beware of what your man is going to wear. Seersucker might seem appealing, but when someone takes a photo, the pattern distorts really weird and makes psychedelic swirls on the photos. Photoshop can only correct so much!
  4. Solar Tours and Travel. Just realized there's another company called Solar Tours...not the same.
  5. Hello every one! I'm so glad I logged back on just on time and not miss any one before they leave! Life has been really hectic. I got a job in Ottawa (which is 5 hours away from where we live), so I'm going back and forth to Toronto most weekends. Living in 2 places 440 km apart takes up so much of my time! I'm now settled in my "weekdays" apartment and finally have some time to come back on the forum! So here is the update from our planning: Wedding date, check! April 4, 2012, 2 pm. We wanted 4 pm, but apparently, that's already taken. Suspiciously, all 4 pm slots have been taken for the week we'll be there. Yeah right. Wedding venue, check! Smugglers Cove. If they can finally spell our names right, that would be great. Honeymoon, Ladera is still on our list, we added Sandals as a possibility. We are also considering flying or boating to another island. I wanted Turks and Caicos, but I can't seem to find a direct route. Invitations, almost done! We are wrapping up this weekend with a hotel info insert and wax seal on the pocket folds. We designed our own postage stamps with the St.Lucia parrot on them, so we are waiting for that to be delivered. Considering the postage workers strike right now, who knows when we'll finally be able to mail everything out... I found a company through which we can organize group transportation, instead of the expensive taxis. We felt bad putting people in taxis and them having to pay the $50 per person to get to the hotel (which is at the very top of the island). The company is called Solar Tours. I saw a minibus of them when we were there, and I noted the name down. They also have a great website. We will take the helicopter, so we can put the Welcome bags in people's rooms before they get there. We didn't end up going with a travel agent. They couldn't match up the prices we got directly from the resort, since we are all land-only. Melissa W, I'd be happy to answer any questions you have. I'll message you my email address. Oh my gosh, I'm so excited for the July brides! It's coming so fast!
  6. Wilsonj2 - you should still get some perks if you have 5 rooms, as per Sandals new brochure dated February 2011, which wasn't in the October 2010 brochure. It says that if you book between 5 and 9 rooms, the bride and groom get a room upgrade to 1st level concierge category (excludes Butler suite).
  7. Oups, the tags on the photos didn't work... The brown gazebo is at Almond Morgan Bay. The white one on the beach is at Windjammer...
  8. Here are some pictures I took, for the brides of Windjammer and Almond Morgan Bay...
  9. I forgot to mention...for those of you seeking for some tour ideas or things to do, I saw a company there at our resort, they seemed to have it quite together with their car and stuff. I just checked their website and it is quite nice. They are called Solar Tours & Travel. I was just on the saintlucianow.com website chatting with a travel agent from Ontario who just came back from touring 10 different hotels on St.Lucia. She told me she has lots of pictures, you can email her at travelwithdonna@gto.net So I am now looking into a St.Lucia wedding followed with a Turks and Caico honeymoon (pending prices of course!). PS. Watch out for the sun! I'm always covered in SPF 30 to 50, and it seems like the 5 minute walk from our room to the breakfast spot was enough! I thought I was gonna wait after breakfast when changing to my bathing suit to put lotion. I'm a redhead that doesn't tan, I just burn. I'm so glad about purchasing a rashguard just before I left!!! It saved my back and shoulders while snorkeling. Highly recommend it!
  10. Hair!!! Yes, VERY humid. The humidity seemed to drop after the sun is down. I had flat-ironed my hair the morning we left, and as soon as I got into the terminal at Hewanorra, it was all frizzy. I had brought an oil-based hair serum which I used profusely after washing my hair. The problem is, there were no hair dryer in my room, and I did so much swimming! So I had to let it hair dry everytime, which didn't really give me a good idea of what would happen if my hair was all well done. But yeah, it is so hot and humid, I couldn't stand the weight of my hair on my neck...
  11. MonicaMai, I am so excited for you! In case you are too busy in the upcoming days to check this board before you go, I wish you all the best, and wish you a great time! Cheers to you!!!
  12. LilyRose, thank you so much for the advice on the aeroplan points. Indeed, my father in-law was going to use his points for us two, himself and his wife, and my brother-in-law. That would be 5 reward on the same plane. I will have him looking into that ASAP. We gave up on Sandals. They were taking forever to reply to our travel agent, and because of the whole single person/impossibility of people sharing rooms. A note of warning, I have a pretty strong stomach, and I can tell you that the 2 hours from the airport to Smuggler's Cove (in Cap Estate) got to me after about an hour and a half. The 2 guys also got motion sickness. I got really motion sick on the way back, as I was talking to other travelers in the van and not looking out enough. The best seat against motion sickness is beside the driver. About taxis at the airport: they will say the rate is US$110 for 2, or 4 people...they will off the bat offer to drive you for $90. If they fill the taxi (looks like a minivan, so can fit 8-9 people in one), they are more likely to bring the price down. We paid US$60 for the 4 of us each way (one couple getting off before us paid $70), but the most people in the taxi, the more stops and the longer it takes. 2 hours on the way up, and only an hour and 15 minutes on the way down. We got lucky and found a representative for Air Canada Vacations the morning we were leaving and were able to arrange a taxi through her for $60 again, with other people traveling via AirCanada Vacations at other hotels. In terms of currency, it will be cheaper to buy things in US$ at the resort. Taxis also come cheaper in US. However, in small towns off the resorts and at Hewanorra, it is cheaper to buy in EC. A lot of website talk about a departure tax (US$26 - 68EC) to be paid in cash only. I was all ready for it and then it just never happened. I didn't see anyone anywhere having to pay either. We are now thinking of having the wedding at Smuggler's Cove (we liked our stay there) or Almond Morgan Bay. I am also gonna look into Anse Chastanet. We really liked snorkeling, and apparently it is much nicer there than in the north of the island...
  13. Almond Morgan Bay review in terms of wedding: we visited on April 3. Buildings are spread on the hills, some upper buildings (the rooms with oceanview) requires to go up steep paths and up lots of stairs. We were told all the rooms are pretty much the same, what changes is the views (oceanview = $$). The rooms are very clean, refurbished, and allow guests to share or bring children (we saw a room with 2 double beds and one single bed). The wedding gazebo is stubby, brown, but set on the top of a cliff which gives a panoramic view of the ocean. Far from the beach, so no bathers in bathing suits nearby. The beach is clean, nice, with lots of natural shades if you require some and umbrellas are all taken (I'm a redhead, so I look for shade). There is a restaurant on a pier, but it doesn't take over the visual real estate of the beach. Pros: allow guests to share rooms to bring down costs. The view from the gazebo. The restaurants do not close on rotation during the off season. The beach is nice. Cons: possibility of a long, sweaty walk for the bride to reach the gazebo. Gazebo is somewhat unattractive on its own. Comment: on the taxi on the way back, we picked-up a Toronto woman at the Almond, and she said the food was great. She stayed a week, and did say that despite the 4 restaurants, in the end the food didn't feel very diverse, but that it was good.
  14. Windjammer review in terms of wedding: we visited on April 3. The wedding gazebo is on one end of the beach, whose section is closed when a wedding occurs. It is however very possible to get bathers and sun tanners in the pictures as they would be right next to the closed-off section. Signs from the last hurricane (Thomas, last October) are still visible; it looks like they bulldozed debris on one end of the beach, actually near the wedding gazebo. The beach is crowded, not so much from people but from "stuff" in the water, from the restaurant on a pier to lots of kids apparatus (trampoline, climbing thingy, etc.), so not so charming beach. The grounds were quite nice, the pools appeared very clean, and all the white buildings also contribute to the clean appearance of the resort. The rooms: OMG! Amazing rooms and views from the rooms, thanks to their construction on the flank of a cliff. Shuttles run 24h/day to bring you to your room/the rest of the property as the road is very, very steep. Pros: great rooms, great views. Beach is kid-oriented. The work-out if you don't want to wait for the shuttle. Cons: the dependance on shuttle to go from the rooms to the rest of what there is to do (unless you consider it more like a cottage, or are looking into staying in your room a lot), the spoiled look of the beach. Beach is kid-oriented. Nothing really impressive with the view from the gazebo.
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