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FrontRunners: Terms of Engagement

Patricia Harris

Historians may dismiss the legend that Annie Palmer, mistress of Jamaica’s Rose Hall plantation, murdered three husbands before she was killed in 1831, but that has not stopped the Ritz-Carlton from taking the White Witch of Rose Hall as a cautionary tale.

Since opening 18 months ago on the ocean edge of the original plantation, the Ritz-Carlton Rose Hall (800.241.3333, www.ritzcarlton.com) has made a point of getting marriages off to a good start through the services of an engagement concierge. About twice a week, the staff helps a prospective bridegroom pop the question.

“We can do anything that is honorable,” says Ritz-Carlton spokeswoman Verona Carter, issuing a challenge to guests’ ingenuity. The most requested service is a custom dessert for the venerable hidden-ring ploy. Other engagements have been more creative.

One of the first gentlemen to enlist the engagement concierge’s services wrote new lyrics to the tune “Brown Eyed Girl.” The concierge arranged for Montego Bay musicians to perform the piece as a prelude to the proposal, taking the bride-to-be entirely by surprise. Then, several months later, the singers reprised their performance at the wedding in New York.

Engagement assistants have also been enlisted to clear stretches of Rose Hall’s white sand beach to create secluded settings for sunset proposals as the pink sky is reflected in the green Caribbean water. Carter says many couples become engaged during a moonlit dinner concert for two aboard a catamaran. Looking for an even grander gesture to win over your future bride? The Ritz stands ready to fly you and your companion to a private cove for a gourmet picnic. After that, you are on your own.

As for the White Witch, she reserves her fury for duffers who dare tackle the Ritz-Carlton’s undulating 18-hole championship links that bear her name.

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