*The official St. Lucia Brides CHAT thread*
Posted 12 February 2013 - 12:58 PM
Posted 13 February 2013 - 08:12 AM
Posted 20 February 2013 - 08:04 AM
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.
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!) :-)
Posted 27 February 2013 - 08:58 PM
Thanks MEve for you review! I am sure it will help other brides planning a wedding in St.Lucia. Your pics are great, you are a gorgeous bride! I am sure you miss the island as much as I do! My husband and I are talking about going back to Jade Mountain when our baby boy will be older. Can't wait!
Posted 06 March 2013 - 07:56 PM
Posted 13 March 2013 - 06:08 AM
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!
Posted 02 May 2013 - 06:43 AM
Hi, robinsonj6 congrats on your marriage !!! I too am getting married at Coconut Bay and would love to hear how your experience was!!!
Posted 27 May 2013 - 09:44 AM
I am planning a wedding at Coconut Bay in April 2014 and would love to hear how yours went, especially since it's at the same time of year even! I am pretty early in the planning stages so any advice would be much appreciated. Thanks in advance!
Posted 03 June 2013 - 07:00 AM
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