The business of romance is fast becoming a multi-billion dollar industry and the island of Grand Bahama has found a way to cash in on this growing niche market. Exclusive boutique hotels like Old Bahama Bay on the western tip of Grand Bahama and the Pelican Bay at Lucaya have designed alluring wedding and honeymoon packages designed to entice the most discerning palette. From elopement packages that offer couples the exclusivity of an intimate wedding designed just for two, to packages that allow a buyout of the entire resort, brides-to-be can choose from both ends of the spectrum or anywhere in-between.

According to Marva Munroe, organizer of weddings at Pelican Bay, it’s the intimacy of the property that creates the romantic atmosphere couples crave. She estimated that Pelican Bay hosts close to 100 weddings per year. Weddings represent close to 15 per cent of the overall occupancy at the resort. Ms. Munroe feels that most couples are enamored with the idea of a destination wedding because it offers the alternative of inviting only close family friends while simultaneously avoiding the stress and expense that comes along with the lavish at-home-wedding. With the large number of weddings hosted yearly at Pelican Bay, on most days, one will almost always get a chance to witness happy couples excitedly repeating nuptials under the gazebo overlooking the harbour or at another of the picturesque locations throughout the Lucaya resort.

On the other end of the island, Old Bahama Bay, almost a world away, offers couples its own unique charm. With an assortment of junior suites and two bedroom villas that boast owners like John Travolta, Alicia Keyes and Gene Hackman, the resort located just outside West End, Grand Bahama, presents sweeping ocean views of the Atlantic. Director of Resort Sales at Old Bahama Bay, Keith Cooper, noted that the breathtaking beaches were undoubtedly the top pick among couples when it came to choosing a location for their wedding. But for those who preferred something different, there was the gazebo, the pool and many other picture perfect areas that were equally as breathtaking. To add even more panache to the destination wedding experience, Old Bahama Bay created “Weddings by Design” as well as wedding themes like “Croon to the Moon” and “Bahamian Tingum.”

These add-ons, Jennifer Ehrman, VP, Sales and Marketing said, make the experience even more special. Ms. Ehrman revealed that while the majority of the wedding requests received by Old Bahama Bay are for second marriages or from more mature couples, the resort also gets its fair share of young first-timers. Solange Knowles, sister of Beyonce Knowles, tied the knot with college football player Daniel Smith under the Settlement Point gazebo in February 2004. “Making it effortless and making it easy is the key,” Ms Ehrman said noting that this was exactly what Old Bahama Bay prided itself on doing. She added that close to 35 per cent of the occupancy at the resort was as a result of weddings with some couples booking as early as 14 months in advance. A feature she described as wonderful for forecasting group activity.

Both the Pelican Bay and Old Bahama Bay resorts are confident that the rapidly expanding destination wedding market is one their resorts are ideally suited to taking advantage of and are quickly moving towards branding themselves as the leaders in the region for this niche market.