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SURVEY RANKS V.I. NO. 10 AS HONEYMOON CHOICE

Nov. 11, 2003 – The Virgin Islands made the Top 10 list in Modern Bride magazine's 7th annual honeymoon survey of travel agents, but just barely.
The annual survey polled the travel professionals on the 50 best honeymoon destinations. This year, as in all six previous years, Hawaii finished in first place. The results appear in the October/November issue of the magazine, currently on newsstands.
However, the Caribbean dominates the list, with Jamaica, St. Lucia and Aruba also figuring in the Top 10 along with the territory — which was tabulated as a single destination, not by individual islands. Add Mexico and Bermuda if you count them as part of the region, as the Caribbean Hotel Association and the Caribbean Travel Organization, respectively, do. The rankings:
1. Hawaii
2. Mexico
3. Jamaica
4. Tahiti
5. Bermuda
6. St. Lucia
7. Italy
8. Las Vegas
9. Aruba
10. U.S. Virgin Islands
As to why those other islands — the ones that comprise the nation's 50th state — persist in first place, Modern Bride had this to say:
"Hawaii … say it slowly with your eyes closed and it conjures images of long, sultry beaches and afternoon breezes as soft as the sound of its name. Hawaii is the good life in a single word." But what makes it the favorite pick for those who book honeymooners year after year, the magazine added, "is that it's one of those rare destinations with something for absolutely everyone."
Indeed, the poll findings bear this out. The travel agents were asked not only to rank their favorites on an overall basis but also to rate them in areas of special interest. And Hawaii finished in the Top 10 for adventure, affordability, beaches, food, nightlife, romance, sexy ambience, snorkeling and diving, and trendy locales.
Costa Rica ranked first for adventure, Mexico for affordability, England for culture, Italy for food, Las Vegas for nightlife, Tahiti for seclusion, Jamaica for sexy ambience, the Cayman Islands for snorkeling and diving, and Colorado for winter sports.
According to a release from Martin Public Relations, the territory's mainland publicity agency, "The U.S.V.I. was chosen because of the laid-back feeling of the islands, the award-winning nightlife and the ease of travel to the destination as a U.S. territory."
Modern Bride described No. 2 Mexico as a nation of great joy and great value and hailed No. 3 Jamaica for its music and its funky vibes. Las Vegas was the only destination to make the Top 10 without benefit of beaches.
The magazine poll also collected data on travel agents' preferred properties for certain types of honeymoon amenities.
For "ultimate honeymoon suite," these were their favorites:
1. The Overwater bungalow, Bora Bora Lagoon Resort
2. The Plunge-pool suite, Sandals, St. Lucia
3. The Bungalow, Mauna Lani Bay Hotel, Hawaii
4. The Tree Camp suite, Londolozi Private Game Reserve, South Africa
5. The Honeymoon suite, Four Seasons George V, Paris
For "Ultimate resort for seclusion, the winners were:
1. Bora Bora Lagoon Resort, French Polynesia
2. Vatulele Island Resort, Fiji
3. Peter Island Resort, British Virgin Islands
4. Little Palm Island, Florida Keys
5. Hotel Hana-Maui, Hawaii
For "most luxurious bathroom":
1. Four Seasons Resort, Hualalai, Hawaii
2. Caesars Pocono Resort, Paradise Stream, Pennsylvania
3. Cap Juluca, Anguilla
4. Anse Chastanet Resort, St. Lucia
5. Maroma Resort and Spa, Riviera Maya, Mexico
And for "best room service":
1. Halekulani, Oahu, Hawaii
2. Four Seasons Resort, Nevis
3. Fairmont Kea Lani, Maui, Hawaii
4. The Ritz-Carlton, Cancun, Mexico
5. InterContinental Beachcomber Resort, Bora Bora
The Martin P.R. release quoted Tourism Commissioner Pamela Richards as saying: "We always have believed that our destination is the perfect romantic backdrop for honeymooners. It is an honor to have one of the world's top bridal publications provide an objective endorsement of what we have always known. This opinion poll of travel agents is highly respected in the honeymoon industry and a good endorsement of our overall tourism product."
According to Hugh Riley, CTO director of marketing for the Americas, "the Caribbean, by its very nature, offers the right recipe for romance with inspiring sunsets, warm trade winds and intimate beachfront accommodations." But he added that the attractions for newlyweds are more than sun, sand and surf. "The region offers ample activities, entertainment, and a rich culture that can be experienced through its people, music and cuisine," he said.

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