By Divya and Vithika (Divya Vithika Wedding Planners, Bangalore)
On WeddingSutra.com, we often read about dream wedding venues and celebrity wedding hot-spots so naturally we have been keen to visit the resorts and castles from Europe to North America, which international celebrities found romantic enough to say ‘I do’. Now in India, it is not uncommon for conversations among the uber-rich to revolve around the most luxurious venues for weddings. In fact, our first meeting with a potential clientsometimes have the ‘dreamy’ element to it—talkson where on Earth we should go to make it extra special. And our pick for the classiest place to pledge lifelong commitment would be Umaid Bhawan Palace, Jodhpur where we spent time with Mr. Vincent Ramos, the Hotel’s General Manager to find out what makes it one of the most royally refined venues in the world.
The magnificent Umaid Bhawan Palace managed by the Taj Group of Hotels is one of the world’s largest private residences and it also has a private museum and opulent marbled squash courts. The pool, housed deep beneath the palace itself has zodiac signs marked on the pathway around the pool in black and white tiles,and it is probably the most flamboyant pool you will ever see.Close to Umaid Bhawan Palace is Mehrangarh Fort which is known to be one of the best preserved forts in India and a venue for royal dinners and luxury soirees.
Q. Umaid Bhawan has played host to some of the most high-profile weddings, tell us more about weddings which take place here.
Vincent Ramos (VR)- The unique combination of a top hotel chain (Taj) with the pride and individuality of a royal home (the royal family lives in a part of a palace) offer a unique and enjoyable combination that cannot be found anywhere else in the world. When we invite guests it is an invitation to ‘Live life like a Maharaja’which we pursue with a passion and our bespoke services make the experience a fairy-tale extravaganza.Typically, a two or three day wedding celebration at our venue begins with a Cocktail Dinner by the Poolside, a Mehndi at Meherangarh Fort, Sangeet at the ornate Marwar Hall, and the Wedding cum Reception at the famous Baradari Lawns. Almost every function is infused with the rich, vibrant local culture to make it a memorable event. Having said that, today, many brides and grooms want the Rajasthan experience and also want to party at a very trendy venue—so we are witnessing many such celebrations in Umaid Bhawan and Jodhpur which is now a glamourous destination and one of the trendiest places in India.
Q. Tell us more about your clientele.
VR- Our wedding clientele are usually the very well-heeled Indians whose budget (both families combined) would be in the range of a few crores or more- this would include what they’d spend on accommodation, venues & food, entertainment & decor. They include business families from Mumbai, Delhi and other cities and Chairman/ MD’s of trans-national companies, NRIs from USA, Europe, South East Asia and other parts of the world.
While weddings keep us busy during the peak season (November to February), the rest of the year we are busy with other social events and leisure travellers- families from all over India and NRI’s and foreigners from all over the world, who include the world’s mega-rich and super famous.
Q. Apart from weddings what other events do you host?
VR- Since Umaid Bhawan Palace is a heritage property it is primarily an exotic wedding destination. The wedding functions are spread over various ceremonies and different venues including the spectacular Mehrangarh Fort which is located close-by. The other events hosted here include the Polo Season, Brand Launches, Conferences, Music Festivals, Outbounds, Birthdays, Anniversaries etc. Recently a top corporate organised an event/ conference where the theme was ‘Big Fat Indian Wedding’. The three-day conference kicked off with a mela theme evening at the Mehrangarh Fort, guests were greeted with champagne and ‘Safas’ (turbans) were tied, the entrance was lined with lancers on horses and camels, a royal procession comprising torch bearers lead the way up to the fort ramparts. Day two started with the unique Champagne Museum Walk where the ladies admired the fine collection of Victorian and Edwardian antiques at the palace followed by spa treatments at Jiva Spa while their spouses held court at the Marwar Hall. The evening was a completely different experience compared to the previous day with a Bollywood theme party at the outdoor pool-side. Day 3 saw women and children enjoying a kite flying experience at the lawns and a shopping trip into town while the men continued their conference at the Marwar Hall. In the evening the glowing palace face provided a splendid backdrop to the grand finale of the conference. Guests walked down a pathway lit with glistening flames of candles surrounded by the lush palace gardens and the whiff of desert breeze. The experience was further enhanced with rich Rajasthani cuisine, traditional costumes and the ambience of a splendid Rajasthan royal wedding.
4. Tell us more about Mehrangarh Fort?
Umaid Bhawan Palace has the sole rights of hosting events at the Fort. The Mehrangarh Fort encloses many palaces, which are known for their intricate carvings, beautiful stained glass windows and sprawling courtyards, making it a perfect royal backdrop. The fort has been witness to world-class events like magnificent receptions with world renowned entertainers, Diwali, New Year celebrations and the British Polo season.
5. We have talked a lot about the property now we would like to know a little about you.
I joined as the General Manager of Umaid Bhawan Palace, Jodhpur in May, 2013. I have an experience of 22 years in the Art of Hoteliering. Previous to this I have had a stint with Four Seasons Group and the Leela Group of Hotels.I have completed my Graduation in Hotel Management from the Institute of Hotel Management, Goa and I pursued my Masters in Business Administration from S.P. Jain Institute of Management and Research, Mumbai.