Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Tying the Knot: Our Honeymoon

{I received an e-mail from a reader, Erica, about our honeymoon, so I thought that I would share our experience with all of you.}

When it came time to determine where to honeymoon we knew we wanted to be on the beach, be somewhere somewhat exotic, not have to worry about a thing, and go "almost" all out. Thus, Sandals St. Lucian Grande was the place for us. Here's the breakdown.
The flight/shuttle:
We made it to the St. Lucia airport around 2pm. It took us an hour and a half on the shuttle from the airport to the resort. It was bearable, but just be prepared.
The room:
We were able to use Chris' frequent flier miles to cover his airfare. With the money that we saved we upgraded to the Penthouse beachfront honeymoon suite. The penthouse comes with a concierge, in-room refrigerator, and 24/7 room service. The room wasn't THAT much bigger than the average hotel room, but the extra huge king bed, bathroom with double sink, and a view to die for was worth it. Here was the view from our room.

Not too shabby. The fridge was stocked with water, pop, mixers, and beer. The beer was the local beer, piton (kind of like a heavier bud light), and Heineken. Rooms below the concierge level don't come with an in-room bar/fridge. The concierge service provided a VIP quick check-in (with champagne), booked tours/excursions for you so you didn't have to do it at the tours desk yourself, and gave you access to 2-3 concierge hosted parties (we didn't go to any of them). Definitely not a necessity, but a nice small luxury.
The Pool/Ocean
There are multiple pools on the property, but we stuck to the pool bar. Angela was our favorite pool bar bartender. We recommend the "dirty banana" and the "no pressure no problems" drinks. The chairs around the pool don't fill up too fast, but grab 2 with an umbrella so that you can hang up your pool bag under the umbrella in case of rain. The ocean was beautiful. There were a couple of locals attempting to sell necklaces, but just smile and politely tell them "no thanks" and they will leave you alone. The ocean cabanas do fill up quick everyday so get up early to nab one.
The Food:
Sandals St. Lucia has 3 resorts on the island of St. Lucia. There is a shuttle that runs between the 3 of them. The Regency has the best restaurants and food. The food at the Grande was nothing fabulous, but it was do-able. You normally don't go on a honeymoon for the food, right? There are a few restaurants (La Toc, a Japanese steakhouse and some others) between the 3 resorts that require reservations. Make them the SECOND that you get to the hotel or else you won't get to eat at any of them.
We did 2 excursions: zip lining and Simon Says. The Zip Line excursion was from 10am-3pm. There was about an hour and a half ride to the zip line course, 30 minutes to prep for the zip line, 30 minutes on the actual zip lines, 20 minutes to re group, and then a two hour ride back to the resort (with stops on the way to see different sites). Total cost was about $200 and we think it was worth it. It was something that we will never get to do again and the views of the rainforest from the zip line were amazing.
The Simon Says tour was not thru the actual resort. We heard about this tour from Trip Advisor. For $100 each, Simon will pick you up at the resort and show you around St. Lucia. The caravan stopped at a banana plantation, snorkeling between the Pitons, the islands' dormant volcano, and a waterfall/mineral bath (which was a joke). We did this excursion on Thursday and by then we were sick of being on shuttles and just wanted to relax (the zip line was the day before) so I don't think that we enjoyed the excursion as much as we could have. Our morsel of advice, just do 1 excursion and relax around the pool the rest of the time.
We hiked to the top of Ft. Rodney for $5 a piece, so worth it. Rented jet skis. Attempted to go on a booze cruise for $60 each on one of the ships from the Pirates of the Caribbean. It's called the Sea Spray and goes out on Monday and Friday nights. Ask the front desk for the # of the Sea Spray so you can call to reserve. If you want to call home, phone cards don't work at the resort. You just have to call long distance and your room will be charged. At the resort, sunscreen is $25, bring plenty of your own. It's an all-inclusive resort so at dinner order 2 dinners and eat half of each of them.

General honeymoon advice
1. pack extra clothes in your carry-on in case you miss your connecting flight home, like we did.
2. if you can, don't leave for your honeymoon the day after your wedding. wait another day.
3. use a travel agent. most agents get paid thru the resort they help you book at. so they do all the work and you don't have to pay them a dime.
4. GET TO KNOW OTHER COUPLES. Your honeymoon experience will be increased ten fold if you befriend other couples. We met other couples at the pool and even went to dinner with some of them. Our honeymoon experience was much more memorable because of the times we spent laughing with other couples, swapping honeymoon experiences and advice, and making new friends.
5. always ask for an upgrade.


Leah said...

This is such great advice--it's so nice to have personal accounts before choosing a honeymoon locale!

Adrienne said...

We are researching honeymoon locations right now so thanks for the tips!! One question - why wait a day before leaving on the honeymoon? Are things really crazy on the day after the wedding?

jessica lynn said...

Things weren't SUPER crazy the day after the wedding....but they were crazy all the way up til 3pm. In the morning we had to clean up everything in our room, get all of the things that were ours (DIY projects) from the reception venue, go out to breakfast with relatives, load all the gifts in the car, etc. SAfter that, since we weren't rushing off to board a plane, we were able to go home and open presents and finish packing for the honeymoon. Then I was able to have some time to straighten up my room and everything before we went to bed early (we were up around 4am the next day).
I just think it was more relaxing to wait a day. Plus, our travel agent said that it was cheaper (for us) to fly out on Monday v. Sunday!

Nicole said...

Totally agree with the Travel Agent Mother is a TA...for 30 years..and has heard horror stories of couples booking their own trip...she usually can get more for the dollar! She's been to many narrow down what you are looking for!

An Atlanta Bride said...

Awesome post. You did a fabulous job sharing your honeymoon details and relaying advice : )

Mrs. in May said...

This is great, we are heading to St. Lucia also! We booked East Winds, a small resort on the north end. I am totally going to look into zip lining! And we are definitely looking forward to hiking. Our wedding is on a Saturday and we are actualyl leaving that Tuesday. We are getting married in NY and driving back to VA so I wanted some cushion in there.

Abbie said...

Thanks so much for posting your advice! We are getting ready to book our honeymoon because of frequent flyer mile usage as well, and we weren't sure where to go. We were planning on leaving the Monday after, so you just reassured me that was a good idea.

The Toney Family said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
LyndsAU said...

I just found your blog and I have to say I love it :) I love the "how we met" an "the proposal"!! Amazing! We also honeymooned here and it was wonderful!!!

LyndsAU said...

We also went on the Simon Says tour-how fabulous was he? :) That was one of my favorite things!

NotQuiteaBride said...

wow, I'm so glad I came across your blog today! My future hubby and I were just talking today about where we want to honeymoon. I mentioned St. Lucia, and I'm so happy to find your blog. I love how detailed you are about everything, and I'm truly enjoying reading all about your wedding!