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(2016 - Fall/Winter Issue)


A smartly dressed monkey walks a groom down the aisle. In another wedding, a groom parasails onto the beach while the bride arrives by boat. Several days later, two brides, both having said “yes” to the dress, swish down a sandy aisle in a cloud of white.

Paradisus Resorts by Spain-based Meliá Hotels International bend over backwards to ensure couples win big in the romance department—whether it’s weddings, elopements, honeymoons or anniversaries. Packages with names such as Chill-Out Chic, Allure and Fantasy start the imagination rolling toward distinctive events. And the resorts’ romance managers and co-ordinators help make those visions come true.

On a recent girls’ getaway to the all-inclusive Paradisus Resorts in Playa del Carmen and Cancun on Mexico’s Riviera Maya, I met with several romance staff for a sneak peek into what’s happening and what’s possible.


Alain Velázquez Meléndez, romance manager at Paradisus Playa del Carmen, reports  the most popular of their five packages is the Caribbean Sea-themed Aqua, with decor focusing on turquoise tones and water. “The most personalized package, however, is Tailor-Made Romance,” he says. “It is ideal for couples who want to customize their entire experience beyond just the day.” This bespoke version has included supplying the groom with a horse to ride into the ceremony, hiring a rabbi, adding a Mayan blessing—and organizing special events before and after the day. “Our event planners are also certified in ethnic and cultural weddings.”

To help couples make their choices, the resorts offer a three-night Love at First Site package. On this visit, they can tour the venues, relax in the Meliá signature YHI Spa, sample menu options, and meet the staff and resort-approved vendors of flowers, photography and special items. If they decide to hold their wedding at that resort, the value of the stay goes toward their event.

Paradisus Cancun romance manager Pilar González Fernandez advises couples to begin the planning process by consulting with the people who are most important to them, making sure they are onside with a destination wedding. “It’s wise to book from eight to 12 months in advance so people can save for this important event,” she says. However, she cautions that “while we try to make anything possible for our guests, we have no control over the weather. We do have backup locations in case of rain or storms.” The resorts are also subject to environmental and other laws that may affect weddings. For example, because turtles are a protected species, beach weddings are limited to certain spots during turtle-nesting season. Drone photography, while increasingly popular, also comes with restrictions.

González Fernandez and Velázquez Meléndez see many blended families attending weddings, and note that both resorts have separate sections that cater to children and adults. The adults-only areas and the upgraded Royal Service, which comes with personal butlers, extra privacy and exclusive services, are popular with couples. Guests with children can roam freely around the “Family Concierge” section, where everyone is pampered and spoiled with treats and toys.


One policy at Paradisus Resorts is to make each wedding day feel like it is the only one in the world. To this end, Paradisus Playa del Carmen limits weddings to two a day; Cancun to one. Venues are sheltered from the public and guarded to keep uninvited spectators at bay.

Brides can also rent the spacious “bridal suite” to avoid crowding and cluttering up their rooms while getting ready. It gives wedding parties a serene space to put up their feet; have their hair, makeup and nails done; fit their dresses; and spend quality bonding time. Attentive romance staff serve sparkling wine and canapés, help calm any jitters, run last-minute errands and strive to make all the details click seamlessly.

While some weddings follow the latest trends, traditional food (chicken, beef, fish), dresses (white gowns) and decor (roses) still win. “But there are opportunities to add cultural elements,” says González Fernandez. “For example, instead of a traditional ceremony, we can do a Mayan ceremony or incorporate themes.” Mexican-themed weddings can include a Mexican buffet and decor elements such as sarapes, maracas and piñatas. Throughout their stay, guests can also participate in scheduled activities such as tequila-tasting, cooking classes and tango lessons.


To ease into their new lives after an exciting wedding day, newlyweds can opt for additional amenities such as a couples’ spa treatment, a private dinner for two under the stars, rose-petal turn-down service and late checkout. Some may also qualify for a free honeymoon package, titled Glow.

Outside the resorts, romantic scenarios abound. I love walking hand in hand with my sweetie in Playa del Carmen’s pedestrian-friendly streets, which offer an outdoor Mexican market, quirky shops and street vendors. A range of restaurants tempt palates with local produce, meat and seafood. To stay cool and commune with nature, splashing around in an assortment of cenotes—subterranean swimming holes—is an ideal pastime. Couples can also sign up for sunset dinners on small cruise ships or book an entire boat for a wedding cruise.

At Cancun’s La Isla outdoor shopping mall, visitors can combine romantic evenings with hard-core shopping, then take a break at La Madonna, where I sampled some James Bond martinis from the bar’s 150 variations. On the water, romance beckons on Columbus, the famous Spanish galleon’s Lobster Dinner Cruise that sails at sunset to the sexy strains of a saxophone. And the Trimaran Cruise to laid-back Isla Mujeres will transport visitors back to simpler times.

Whether couples are marrying, celebrating or renewing, Paradisus Resorts and the Riviera Maya have something for everyone. It just takes a bit of forethought, a lot of love and expert help from the Paradisus romance specialists to kick-start the next phase of their lives.

Travel Planner

Find out more about Paradisus Resorts at paradisus.com.

The Riviera Maya boasts attractions for every taste. These include Cirque du Soleil, Maya Museum, ecoparks such as Xel-Há and Xcaret, and plentiful Mayan ruins. For more information, log onto visitmexico.com.

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