Honeymoon packages South of the Border

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MEXICO CITY -- Planning a destination wedding or honeymoon for clients traveling to Mexico?

Finding the perfect location for a wedding in Mexico should be as easy as dialing a resort's toll-free reservations number, as many Mexican properties offer on-site coordinators to handle nearly every detail of planning the ceremony.

And once the wedding arrangements are taken care of, planning the honeymoon can be as easy as booking a honeymoon package.

The following is a sampling of resorts and operators that offer honeymoon and destination wedding packages, all commissionable at 10%:

• Palace Resorts offers complimentary wedding ceremonies at its Moon Palace Golf, Xpu-Ha Palace and Aventura Spa Palace resorts.

Wedding coordinators can tailor festivities to suit clients' wishes. Above, a couple on a horse-drawn carriage ride, one way for the newly married to celebrate their big day. Arranged in conjunction with a wedding coordinator, each ceremony includes features such as a decorated gazebo; document arrangements and legal fees; services of a justice of the peace; champagne; dinner reservations for the wedding party; breakfast in bed for the bride and groom; and witnesses, if necessary.

The resort company also offers wedding packages that start at $1,299 per couple, exclusive of the room rate.

In addition to the features mentioned above, packages include table flower arrangements; the bride's bouquet and groom's boutonniere; a heart-shaped wedding cake; a decorated horse-drawn carriage for the bride (only at Moon Palace Golf and Aventura Spa Palace resorts); a manicure and pedicure for one; and a spa package for the bride and groom at Aventura Spa Palace.

For information or reservations, call (800) 635-1836 or visit the Web at www.palaceresorts.com.

• At the Hacienda Xcanatun, an 18th century manor house-turned-inn located 10 minutes outside Yucatan's capital of Merida, couples can participate in a Mayan wedding ceremony as part of a more traditional -- and legally binding -- wedding.

The hotel offers a three- to five-night combination wedding and honeymoon package with prices from $1,475 per couple for three nights and $2,150 for seven nights.

The Mayan wedding ceremony is led by a Mayan shaman and performed in the property's nine-acre garden.

The ceremony begins with offerings of herbs, bread and water to the Mayan gods, followed by the couple drinking a honey-based Mayan liquor to "cleanse their auras." After traditional Mayan prayers are recited, flowers and incense are used to "cleanse the couple's spirits."

The resort offers a wedding coordinator to help with planning the traditional ceremony, which is performed in the resort's chapel.

The wedding/honeymoon package includes accommodations in a master suite with a separate living room and a private patio; daily continental breakfast; one dinner at the resort's Casa de Piedra restaurant; a bottle of wine upon arrival; a couple's massage; and airport transfers.

For information or to make reservations, call (888) 883-3633; e-mail [email protected] or visit the Web at www.xcanatun.com.

• Viva Resorts' Mexico properties -- the Viva Maya and Viva Azteca, both in the Riviera Maya, and the Viva Vallarta in Puerto Vallarta -- offer a number of add-on wedding packages.

At the Viva Vallarta, for example, the Classic Wedding package costs from $420 for up to 10 people.

It includes an oceanview room for the couple; assistance of a wedding coordinator; the wedding ceremony and certificates; decorations; the wedding cake and champagne; and dinner reservations for a maximum of 10 guests in one of the resort's a-la-carte restaurants.

All wedding packages can be purchased separately and added to the cost of an all-inclusive vacation.

In addition, the resorts offer a complimentary honeymoon package for couples who stay a minimum of three nights.

The package includes a room upgrade; a bottle of champagne or sparkling wine; a fruit basket; a tray of hors d'oeuvres; a souvenir picture; and two Viva Resorts T-shirts.

For information or reservations, call (800) 898-9968 or visit www.vivaresorts.com.

• Customers who purchase a casita suite at the El Dorado Royale in Cancun for seven nights or longer through MexSeaSun will receive a free wedding ceremony. If paid for separately, the ceremony would cost approximately $400.

The promotion is valid for bookings made by May 31 for travel through Aug. 31. Vacations include roundtrip air fare via Mexicana, seven nights at the resort and airport transfers.

Prices start at $1,584 from San Antonio and Austin, Texas, and $1,164 from Chicago.

The wedding includes all documents; the services of a justice of the peace; the wedding cake; and the bridal bouquet and the boutonniere.

In addition, guests celebrating a honeymoon or wedding anniversary will receive a private dinner for two with champagne on the beach; a half-hour couple's massage class; and a king bed when booking a casita suite or an oceanfront junior suite.

MexSeaSun is available through the major GDSs, through VAX Vacation Access, or by calling (866) 263-9732. All bookings made electronically earn a 15% commission.

• Clients who purchase an Everlasting Memory honeymoon package at the Casa Magna Marriott Cancun Resort or JW Marriott Cancun Resort and Spa will receive free use of a digital camera and tripod during their stay.

The resorts also will allow couples to download their images at the hotel business center and e-mail them back home.

At the JW Marriott Cancun Resort and Spa, the package includes daily buffet breakfast for two; a 30% discount on spa treatments at the resort's 35,000-square-foot spa; and a bottle of champagne.

Rates at the JW Marriott start at $244 a night, double, from May 20 to July 1.

For information or reservations, call (800) 223-6388 or visit www.offshoreresorts.com.

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For more details on this article, see Making it legal: Essentials for clients tying the knot.

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