Hey Stacy! I actually just signed our contracts for getting married in St Thomas April 5, 2014. We picked the Marriott Frenchman’s Reef followed by Havana Blue (at the Marriott, but owned separately). It was really nerve racking picking stuff online just by pictures and reviews, but fingers crossed – the place will be just as pretty as the pictures show! The Oceana was really pretty, too… but not quite what we were looking for. Not sure if you want them, but here’s a few tips I found…
1. If you are willing to wait a full year, Marriott Frenchman’s reef gives GREAT discounts for govt employees (teachers, cops, firefighters, military, etc). I’m sure other hotels do the same. The rates are subject to availability, so you’ll need to book almost exactly one year to the date (when they open up the rooms). I found these rates even cheaper than their wedding/group rates.
2. All the hotels in the area seem to tack on daily “resort fees” to the rooms for use of beach towels and chairs. (REALLY?!) Some of the hotels will offer you more with the fees, but definitely push them on it because I have found most are willing to at least lower them for groups if you complain a lot.
3. READ the contracts before signing them. Havana Blue wanted a 50% deposit with no hope of refund. A friend from college who is now an attorney rewrote the contract for us to cover instances such as a hurricane so that we could get a refund. The owners didn’t even put up a fight – approved our changes right away.
4. Food on the island is expensive. As it seems like everything else is as well. But there’s a KMART up the road we’re planning to buy bottled water and snacks for all the rooms from. Some places will ship things there, but other sites won’t (Amazon tacks on some fees and will only ship certain items)
Let me know if you find anything else! We’re still trying to find a “welcome dinner” site somewhere else on St Thomas or St John. We’re researching photographers, hair/makeup, etc hoping to find some deals somewhere… the photographer fees are pretty high there ($500 an hour… gets slightly less as the number of hours goes up, but not by much). I’m used to NYC prices and they’re still WAY cheaper than the ones I’ve found there.
And PS… I’m dying to know how someone else had 50 people for $10,000. No matter where we researched, places were tacking on fees for one thing or another… $500 to get married at 5 PM, $85 per person for dinner (does not include drinks or cocktail hour in that price… add $15 pp for cocktail hour apps and then all the drink costs), $250 an hour at Havana Blue to just have the party AFTER dinner private… private dinner would have been an extra $2500… We’re expecting to pay between $15k & $20k for 30 guests (“welcome dinner” & day after brunch included in that along with photographers, etc). So much for destination weddings being cheaper and easier! LOL