Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Destination Wedding Locations: Necker Island, British Virgin Islands

Did you think the United States had a monopoly on Virgin Islands. No, the British have their version, right next door. In fact, one of the British Virgins caught our attention for sheer uniqueness: Necker Island. If you want privacy, this is probably the ultimate.

Wedding Logistics
The British Virgin Islands have a three-business-day residency requirement before you can get a marriage license. While the documentation and other rules are not as complex as other parts of the Caribbean, it is probably advisable to hire a professional wedding planner (who is independent or part of a resort) to help complete the paperwork. The cost is is about $60.

Costs, Accommodations, and Getting Around
Would you like to rent a Caribbean island just for the two of you? Necker Island is a 74-acre, privately-owned island that can be yours for a mere $5500. Per day. And that's the off-season, which runs from May through November.

Perhaps the best suggestion to make Necker Island slightly more affordable is to take with you 10 of your closest friends. The price for seven to 12 people is $7500, while 13 to 20 guests is $9500 per day. With ten people, the cost would be a bargain at $750 per person per day. Winter rates are higher, as you might guess. From November 14 to May 14, the cost for one to ten persons is $9000 and eleven to twenty guests is $10,900 per day. This place is so private that it counts among its recent visitors the Princess of Wales.

So what do you get for all that money?. Basically, the entire island, which includes two houses with "idyllic views," all meals, pools, two Jacuzzis, water sports equipment and airport transfers. And did we mention the staff of nineteen servants?

If this sounds too expensive, other islands in the British Virgins have more down-to-earth rates. One island in particular offers incredible beaches and top-notch resorts: Virgin Gorda, which, translated, literally means Fat Virgin. Despite this less than glamorous name, Virgin Gorda has powdery white sands and a somewhat rustic feel. Only developed in recent years, the island suffers from slow service, and occasional power and water shortages, even though the main resort has its own water desalination plant.

Despite of the drawbacks, many visitors are impressed by the Little Dix Bay resort (809-495-5555) on Virgin Gorda. This five-hundred-acre luxury retreat has all the modern comforts and a leisurely pace. The price is |615 per couple per night, with discounts available in the low season (summer and fall). All meals are included in that price. The Bitter End Yacht Club (809-494-2746) has comfortable cottages or you can stay on a yacht in the bay. This boat-focused resort runs $280 to $360 per couple per night, which includes meals. That's the high season rate; lower prices are available in the off season. There isn't much nightlife on Virgin Gorda; the laid-back ambiance is the main draw.

Another interesting island in the British Virgins is Tortola, which is the seat of the islands' government. The stellar resort here is the four-star Long Bay Beach (809-495-4252), which offers an affordable $1650 per couple package for seven nights in the low season. This price includes a private patio, breakfast, and four dinners.

What Makes it Special
Unlike the U.S. Virgin Islands, the British Virgins offer a more authentic Caribbean vacation. Here you won't find the throngs of tourists who just disembarked from giant cruise ships. While the pace is slower, many of the resorts are top-notch. The culture here is "sea-oriented." One travel book author likened the British Virgins to an "Americanized Bermuda, without the perfect packaging and with higher prices."

Insider Travel Tips
The most common way to get to the British Virgins is from Puerto Rico. You can also take a boat from St. Thomas. Insiders tell us you can count on delays and any boat trip should be taken with little or no luggage (it tends to get lost). The best advice: ask the resort for the best.route to get there. U.S. currency is legal tender in the British. Virgins.

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