Romance is on the rebound

AMResorts’ Carlo Trinidad says destination wedding groups have come back with a vengeance.

“We are fortunate in Canada where wedding groups typically book at least 10 to 12 months in advance, sometimes longer. So not only have individual bookings spiked, but also wedding groups,” Trinidad, the Business Development Manager for Western & Central Canada for AMResorts tells Travel Courier. “By pure capacity from the tour operators, Cancun/Riviera Maya, Puerto Vallarta, and Punta Cana lead the pack in popularity.”

Trinidad reports that destination wedding groups are very strong for 2022 across the AMR™ Collection, which includes 102 properties across 36 beachfront destinations and eight countries, and he’s now also seeing wedding group inquiries and bookings into 2023. 

“I’m encouraging agents to stay positive and remain optimistic. I believe we’re on the path to onwards and upwards and the travel industry will rebound even stronger than before,” he says. “AMResorts has almost 60 resorts in sun destinations that cater to all budget requirements of a wedding group.”

Similarly, Cindy Almond, the owner of Romance and Foodie Travel, has found that inquiries for destination weddings are starting to pick up with a mixed bag of a booking window from upcoming departures in Dec. or Jan. to Nov. 2022 and as far out as March 2023.

“I think places with easy entry and easy testing potential [will appeal to Canadians],” says Almond, who is based in Ottawa. “Most people aren’t really asking about distancing requirements as most people are booking under the assumption that this COVID situation will be mainly behind us.”

One of the key factors driving bookings right now is the flexible policies that are currently in place.

“If suppliers become more stringent with their cancellation policies, I fear the bookings will slow down, but right now given the booking conditions are quite flexible, it’s been easier to convince clients to commit for sure so it’s been great for my business,” she says. “I’m having issues securing space nearly a year out in particular for larger family suites, so I’m definitely encouraging people to book sooner than later.”

Interestingly, she’s finding that couples aren’t as eager as families to book for the upcoming winter season.

“That being said, I do have some honeymooners already booked and planning for July and September 2022,” she adds.

Meanwhile, Katherine Poon, the owner of Fun In Paradise Travel in London, Ont. is also noticing the level of interest in destination weddings is picking up. Dominican Republic and Mexico are the frontrunner locations, with bookings being locked in between 10 and 16 months out from the destination wedding day.

As there is so much more to know and navigate since the pandemic hit, Poon also foresees more people turning to travel advisors during the planning process for destination weddings, honeymoons and vacations in general.

“Any professional fee that you pay an awesome travel advisor is money well-spent,” she says. “Travel is no longer a simple click and book.”

Poon also feels that resorts offering flexible cancellation and change policies will appeal to travellers during a time when a lot of uncertainty in travel remains.

“I have seen lots of uptick on more last-minute bookings,” she says. “Lots are booked between now and next March, but lots are still very hesitant to book.”

With a limited amount of inventory available in boutique properties and a surge in demand, Elaine Carnegie of Canlink Travel reminds agents to let their clients and prospective travellers know that it’s important to secure their wedding date as soon as possible.

“Postponed weddings and small wedding groups are learning from their agents that they also need to book ASAP to get the date they want to have their wedding in a luxury hotel,” she says.

Carnegie, who represents a number of upscale hotels and resorts in the Canadian market including Jade Mountain in St. Lucia and Hermitage Bay in Antiqua, pictured below, says the benefit of booking a boutique hotel for a destination wedding is that their clients’ wedding is the only one taking place on that given day.

“Weddings are very unique at most of our properties due to the fact that they only do one wedding a day,” she says. “Wedding couples love this because they can choose wherever they want to have their wedding — a multitude of location choices at each of our hotels. They can even change their mind if they want because there will be no other couple getting married the same day they are. This also means they have the full attention of the wedding team on property to help with everything for only this wedding. 100% attention on them.”

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