The Holiday Inn resorts in Aruba and Jamaica hosted a combined 525 destination weddings in 2008, and the hotels attributed the strong showing in large measure to the Free Caribbean Weddings program, launched in the second half of 2007.
"The destination wedding and honeymoon markets have traditionally performed well for us, but the Free Caribbean Weddings program has kicked things up a notch," said Raul Villagran, the resorts' director of sales and marketing.
Villagran said he expects the destination weddings market to remain strong for the sister properties despite the global recession.
The complimentary wedding package is available exclusively to U.S. residents. To participate, couples must book a minimum seven-night stay in a deluxe room at the Holiday Inn Resort Montego Bay or a minimum seven-night stay on the all-inclusive plan in a superior oceanfront room at the Holiday Inn Resort Aruba. Fees apply for stays less than seven nights ($500 for Jamaica and $850 for Aruba).
The Free Caribbean Wedding program provides the wedding venue, the services of a wedding planner, a marriage certificate (a $200 legal fee applies for Jamaica), the preparation of all documents and an official to perform the wedding (a minister in Jamaica, a nondenominational pastor in Aruba).
The Holiday Inn Resort Aruba accommodates civil ceremonies on weekdays, excluding holidays, and also features themed decorations and a free candlelight dinner for two in its Free Caribbean Weddings package.
Both properties provide the wedding cake, a bridal bouquet and groom’s boutonniere, a bottle of sparkling wine (Jamaica) or champagne (Aruba) and a gift from the resort as part of the package. The resorts offer videography and photography services, music and reception or banquet options at additional costs.
Couples choosing either property receive 10,000 Priority Club bonus points per couple, which can be converted into frequent-flyer miles with participating airlines. Priority Club bonus points are awarded in the form of a Priority Club Point Voucher to either the bride or groom.
Brides and grooms should check with the local destination tourist board for the requirements and documentation needed in order to marry in Jamaica and Aruba.
The free wedding program is valid through Dec. 31. For reservations and more information, call (800) HOLIDAY or visit www.caribbeanhi.com.