WeddingSutra’s eye in the sky takes you to destinations where the hottest soirees and power weddings are taking place. So here’s a round-up of where the most high-profile NRI and India-based families are traveling to, and the A-list wedding planners who are orchestrating the events at picturesque islands, royal forts or white-sand beaches.
Milestones to Memories (MtoM): Waldorf Astoria, Ras Al Khaimah, UAE
“This year the Middle East continues to be a hot favorite for destination weddings. An intimate or grand wedding in the Middle East followed by a lavish reception back home is the preferred choice for our clients who are industrialists based in Mumbai and Bangalore. Earlier this year, we managed Mohit Marwah and Antara Motiwala’s (#antumoh) wedding at the Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah hotel. (Mohit Marwah is actress Sonam Kapoor’s first cousin). We will be managing another grand wedding of a high-profile industrialist family at the same venue in December this year.”
The Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah hotel can be reached in just 45 minutes by car from the Dubai International Airport. This exclusive property offers the convenience of location as well as beautiful beachfront venues, sprawling indoor spaces, scenic views of the Arabian Sea and even a golf course.
Shaadi Squad: Suryagarh, Jaisalmer and Taj Bekal Resort & Spa
“Last month, we managed a wedding at the majestic Suryagarh, Jaisalmer, in Rajasthan. This luxury hotel has close to nine different venues, most of which are outdoors. This itself is a novelty amongst Indian venues and regal properties. Every venue within Suryagarh is unique and huge! The hospitality and food experience is top notch, and all of this makes it our hottest pick for the coming wedding season.”
“In December, we are looking forward to planning our first wedding and discovering interesting experiences in Kerala. The wedding and post-wedding celebrations are being held at the Taj Bekal Resort & Spa which is just perfect for an intimate destination wedding.”
Suryagarh, Jaisalmer, a luxury boutique hotel, was designed to look like a historic fort. Lying just 18 km from the city airport, it offers distinctive heritage architecture alongside modern amenities. Its charming courtyards, pavilions, domes, ballrooms, outdoor spaces, and exotic Rajasthani accents make it a splendid choice for traditional Indian weddings.
Taj Bekal Resort & Spa lies 80 km from the Mangalore airport. The property’s architecture is inspired by traditional Kerala houseboats, and the lush lawns and beach near the tranquil backwaters are perfect for intimate wedding celebrations.
The Wedding Designers: Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa, Oman
“In November this year, we are planning a wedding with 350 guests at the Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa in the Sultanate of Oman for a client who is a Gujarat-based business magnate. The functions will be hosted at different venues of the Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa which is one of the most sought-after holiday/ celebrations destination in the Middle East. With magnificent ballrooms, large lawns and the main beach, alongside other charming locations such as theTurtle Beach, this unique property has enough venues for big wedding functions.”
The Shangri La Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa, which lies 45 minutes away by road from the Muscat International Airport, mirrors the grandeur of an Arabian palace. Spread over 124 acres, this plush property offers unique touches such as exquisite handmade chandeliers in the main ballroom, a pristine beach, stunning water views and lush gardens surrounded by the contrasting starkness of the Hajjar mountains of Oman.
Perfexion Events: Umaid Bhawan Palace, Jodhpur, Rajasthan
“No matter which part of the world the ‘Billionaire Club’ travels to, there will be one destination which will always host a super high-profile wedding. And that is the Umaid Bhawan Palace in Jodhpur which hosts at least two wow weddings every year. While we have been managing weddings all over India, and abroad, managing a palace wedding in our hometown is always a special experience. In December this year, our clients from Pune are hosting their destination wedding at the Umaid Bhawan Palace. All the celebrations will be held in the Palace, and one function will take place at the MehrangarhFort.”
The Umaid Bhawan Palace, which lies just 15 minutes away from the Jodhpur airport, is a majestic magnet that attracts grand weddings among the truly affluent crowd. The yellow desert sandstone exteriors of the palatial property enclose 26 acres of gorgeous gardens, designer interiors and the rich patina of regal history which make a wedding here a truly exotic and extravagant affair.
Vivaah-VOWS: Elexus Hotel & Resort & Spa, Kyrenia, Cyprus
“This week, we are designing the celebrations of an NRI family from Dubai at the newly opened Elexus Hotel & Resort & Spa in Cyprus. This new five-star hotel on the coast between Catalkoy and Esentepe has a huge room inventory, and with its picture-perfect views, it is an ideal destination for a romantic vacation or a family holiday. Cyprus has not played host to many Indian weddings, but going forward this destination will witness more.”
An idyllic island in the Eastern Mediterranean, Cyprus boasts of immense natural beauty. The new Elexus Hotel & Resort & Spa here is a 25 and 75 minutes ride away from the two airports in Kyrenia where the property is situated. With stunning water views and massive outdoor venues, this property is perfect for large-scale weddings in a relatively new destination for Indian weddings.
Seven Steps: Ciragan Palace Kempinski, Istanbul, Turkey
“This year, we are managing a big wedding at the Ciragan Palace Kempinski in Istanbul which has played host to many power weddings and magnificent celebrations of the rich and famous around the world. The wedding with around 400 attendees will unfold at different venues of the Palace hotel, as well as in the Sait Halim Pasha Mansion in the heart of the city which was built in 1878.”
Counted as one among the top 15 most expensive hotels in the world, the Ciragan Palace Kempinski in Istanbul has everything to host a destination wedding with a difference. A 45- minute ride from the airport brings one to this stunning property housed in a 19th-century Ottoman palace. Its charming terraces, ballrooms, and manicured gardens offer stunning views of the Bosphorus river. The hotel can host up to 1,000 people making it ideal for large-scale wedding celebrations.
Cineyug Celebrations: Al Bustan Palace, Oman
“Our clients from New Delhi were looking for a lavish property that was easily accessible for their 600 guests. After scouting for locations all over, they decided to host it at the majestic Al Bustan Palace, a Ritz Carlton Hotel in Muscat, Oman. The property was closed for extensive renovations for close to two years and is reopening in a week. So there is much excitement and anticipation even for those who have already been here. All the celebrations will take place at the indoor and outdoor spaces of this hotel which is a symbol of Omani culture and hospitality.”
Al Bustan Palace, a Ritz-Carlton Hotel, makes an impression on guests the minute they enter the property which offers stunning natural views of the Hajjar mountains, stony cliffs, the Gulf of Oman’s pristine waves and lush gardens. Situated 45 minutes by road from the airport, this hotel is expected to maintain its position on many of the ‘Best Luxury Hotels’ lists.
What makes a place a super aspirational destination? With top international tourism boards and hotel chains vying for a piece of the Indian wedding pie, what makes some venues/places more sought-after or popular? We asked Sabbas Joseph, co-founder and director of Global Wedding Academy by Wizcraft MIME, to share his insights. “Destinations are chosen or most sought after on the basis of a few factors; the top most being distance – the closer the better. A single flight that is not more than four to seven hours long is desirable.” But while distance is all-important, the uniqueness of a venue or location is equally important. “No other family member or business associate should have used the destination for their wedding/celebrations. The rarer the location, the better, especially if there are romantic or dramatic stories and history associated with it. Other factors like quaintness, privacy and ‘no-one before me’ are also key drivers in making a destination or venue aspirational.”