From Split Stays To Over-The-Water Bungalows, Luxury Agent Follows The Wedding Trends

by Donna Tunney

The first destination wedding that agent Kira Solomon planned was her own. And she's been hooked ever since.

Solomon, who runs My Paradise Planner from a home office in Spring Hill, FL, now specializes in luxury destination weddings and honeymoons, and is a multiple award winner in Sandals' agency recognition programs.

“The agency started with just me and a small desk made out of TV trays in the corner of my apartment bedroom and almost a decade later it's grown to a dozen agents strong,” said Solomon.

Trends have changed since she started the business in 2008; today, she said, the VIP treatment extends well beyond the happy couple to guests attending destination weddings; more activities are organized for the whole group, and accommodations favorites include romantic overwater bungalows.

Solomon said airport VIP services and private transfers are popular options being added on to costs. “Clients want luxury from the moment they arrive at the airport to the moment they get home. For destination weddings I've had brides and grooms pay for these services for guests in their wedding party or for all of their guests as a thank-you for attending,” she said.

Clients also are more willing to “spend extra on things the whole group can enjoy together, like a group excursion, rather than spending extra money on things like upgraded wedding flowers or decor.”

Suppliers are changing with the trends, she noted. “Most of the resorts used to be very cookie-cutter in their wedding package options. I'm loving that resorts have branched out and now have wedding packages to fit the way couples envision them. I'm seeing more options available for various religious ceremonies and same-sex marriages. It's great to see that couples no longer have to pick and choose options A through E and now have more flexibility to customize their special day as they see fit.”

When it comes to the honeymoon, a new trend is a split stay. “Couples love the idea of picking a lower-priced resort for their wedding so more family and friends can attend, and then when everyone goes home, they move to a different resort or destination to experience their honeymoon.”

Also popular are the new overwater bungalows at Sandals Resorts and Karisma Resorts, she said. “I'm finding that despite the high price tag, my clients want to experience something they can't get everywhere else in the Caribbean, without having to travel outside of the Caribbean to experience it. While I've branded myself as a Sandals specialist and focus most on all-inclusive vacations to the Caribbean and Mexico, I am still happy to assist my clients in sending them anywhere they wish to go.” The latest hot spots for honeymoons, she said, are Greece, Mexico, Thailand and Costa Rica. 

For Greece, they are looking for a destination like Santorini where they can relax and immerse themselves in the beauty of the surrounding area while taking in the incredible views. For Thailand, they want to see multiple places at once; “we've booked everything from cruises to island-hopping packages for clients interested in this destination.” And Costa Rica is all about mixing luxury and adventure, “staying in a beautiful hotel with great views and amenities, but also spending a lot of time exploring.”

Solomon also said she's noticed another big change in client behavior – traveling again for the first wedding anniversary.

“I found years ago that I'd book a couple and it would be a few years (maybe even a few kids) later before they'd contact me again to take another trip. They were taking the time to get settled and build a nest egg. Now, more often than not, my honeymooners come home ready to rebook their next trip and they're going back every single year. Those clients used to be few and far between before, but now that seems to be more of the norm,” she said.

The budgets for upscale destination weddings and honeymoons also have changed, Solomon said.

“Years ago couples would come to me and say $3,500 was pushing their max budget, but I'd be able to find them something within that budget. Now their max budget is double, sometimes even triple that. As the cost of resorts and flights continues to rise, clients' budgets are rising too, and most have found that they'd rather have luxury and comfort than stick to a restrictive budget,” she said. “On average, with flights and all-inclusive resort, most of my clients spend from $5,000 to $8,000 on a honeymoon or destination wedding at an all-inclusive resort.”

Daily Top List

Travel Tends for 2019

1. Getting off the Instagram trail

2. Solo travel is an undeniable force.

3. “Wokeness” and travel collide.

4. The continued return of destinations hit hard by political and natural disasters.

5. The mode of travel helps define your trip.

Source: UpRoxx


National Parks Make Headlines, Serve as Reminder to Travel Advisors to Ready Clients for Peak Season

Despite the current shutdown disruptions, the time for travel to these natural wonders will soon be upon us once more. Tour operators are at the ready, which means now is the time for travel advisors to think ahead.

TMR Recommendations
Top Stories
Regent to Add Sister Ship to Seven Seas Explorer
Regent to Add Sister Ship to Seven Seas Explorer

The ship, on order from Fincantieri shipbuilders, will be delivered in 2023.

Oceania Insignia, Newly ‘Reinspired,’ Sets Sail on 180-Day World Cruise
Oceania Insignia, Newly ‘Reinspired,’ Sets Sail on 180-Day World Cruise

At $6,000 a month, you can see the world onboard the first of four Oceania ships that have been lightened and brightened.

Agents Talk About Emerging Luxury Travel Trends for 2019
Agents Talk About Emerging Luxury Travel Trends for 2019

River cruising and ocean cruising continue to be perennial favorites, while guided vacation experiences are growing in popularity.

Silversea Sets Course for Second Phase of Silver Wind Refurbishment
Silversea Sets Course for Second Phase of Silver Wind Refurbishment

The refurbishment will include the addition of a fleet of Zodiacs and kayaks for guest exploration, a revamped theater, a completely refurbished spa and salon, and new additions to its suites and staterooms.

Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy Buys Belmond
Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy Buys Belmond

Wall Street said the deal, which closed for $3.2 billion, underscores the growth of the luxury travel market.

Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection Reveals Name of First Ship
Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection Reveals Name of First Ship

The name of the ship, set to launch in February 2020, reflects the brand's signature color.

News Briefs
TMR Report Cards & Outlooks
Advertiser's Voice
Advertiser's Voice: Tauck