Where to wed in 2016

WeddingSutra takes a look at the new venues at The Taj around the country

The first thing on a soon-to-be-wed couple’s To-Do list is to zero in on the location and venues of their wedding ceremony. Those planning to tie the knot this year should check out these luxurious new options that could make their celebrations extra special. Whether you’re looking at an ideal spot for your grand wedding within city limits or an extremely private wedding away from the general populace, these luxurious properties leave you spoilt for choice. These venues offer exquisite spaces for each ritual while also keeping your guests suitably entertained with their multi-cuisine experiences, spa rejuvenations, bespoke sightseeing services or relaxing by the poolside.

TAJ SANTACRUZ
Taj Santacruz reflects the spirit of Mumbai, in aesthetic and essence. A feast for the senses awaits you in the atrium, where a six-storey tall piece of Thikri art changes colour with the ever-changing hues of the sky. It fuses the best aspects of Palatial and Art Deco design; both are recurrent themes in Mumbai. The hotel seamlessly blends the traditional with the modern in its interior design as well as its culinary flavours.

Among the indoor and outdoor venues available for your wedding ceremony at this new property, the largest is the 4500 sqft Grand Ballroom with 4200 sqft pre-function area and a 3500 sqft adjacent lawn. The ceiling is twenty feet high with tracks for lighting and hanging speakers– an absolute delight for wedding photographers, sound designers and decorators. It can host up to 650 guests for a cocktail event. The Imperial Room should suffice for a smaller gathering of up to300 guests.

There are 279 rooms, including 22 suites, some of which face the airport runway. Guests can relish the city’s cuisine at Tiqri, taste authentic Chinese and Schezwan food at China INC., or take a gourmet trip down the French and Italian coast at Rivea, which houses an exclusive range of 60 wine labels from France, Italy and Spain. Little wonder then, that celebrities are often seen dining at these restaurants. The bride and groom could introduce their friends at an evening over ‘wine flights with half plates’ – a signature experience where a selection of three wines by the glass are selected to pair with each dish comprising your chosen meal. This will truly make for a memorable experience.

TAJ KRISHNA, HYDERABAD
Taj Krishna is located in Banjara Hills, in the heart of the city known for its rich Nizami history, a mere half hour away from the airport. This five-star hotel is nestled within a rich collection of trees and flowers, and immaculately manicured lawns. Treat your eyes to a panoramic view of the glittering city and the Hussain Sagar Lake.

The hotel has a sprawling 25,000 square feet of banquet area spread across lawns, poolside venues and a Grand Ballroom, which can accommodate between 30 and 1000 guests.

The Grand Ballroom at the Taj Krishna, Hyderabad, overlooks the lawns and is the perfect venue for a ‘timeless romance’ wedding theme. The ballroom can be partitioned into three areas and can accommodate 750 guests in theatre style. The new Grand Ballroom Lawns – 8,000 square feet of lush green expanse – can accommodate 700 guests, making it the perfect outdoor venue for a big fat wedding reception.

The Garden Room overlooks the pool and can host gatherings of 100 to 150 guests, making it perfect for a lunch that flows into the haldi or mehendi ceremony. Sapphire is ideal for sit-down functions, events and high teas. The Golden Room is a charming area with golden hues, true to its name, and can accommodate 100 guests in theatre style seating. Both, The Emerald Hall and The Pearl Room, can be divided into two separate spaces for the pre-wedding rituals.

Give your taste buds a superlative culinary experience with the authentic Hyderabadi specialities or some North-West Frontier cuisine at Firdaus. Or go on a memorable tour through the exotic Sichuan and Cantonese cuisine at Golden Dragon. Enjoy a good mix of global cuisine at Encounters or at the Al Fresco bistro. The Tea Lounge has an array of premium teas, coffees and herbal infusions. And you can end the evening with your friends at the Seasons Bar and Lounge.

TAJ SURAJKUND, NCR
Perched amongst the ancient Aravallis, a short distance from the Tughlaqabad fort, Taj Surajkund combines minimalistic decor, meticulous refinements, creature comfort, technology and installation spaces that breathe rustic chic. Inspired by the design of ancient stepwells, this hotel is an oasis so close to the city, with its sun-kissed courtyards, gurgling aqua bodies, edge-of-the-plate provincial cuisine, this step well-design-inspired hotel is an oasis. This luxurious setting is great for relaxation, especially with the array of signature experiences at the Jiva Grande Spa – there’s a complete Shringar ritual for brides-to-be. The hotel offers designer bridal suites, uniquely created to complement the wedding theme.

For the wedding ceremony, the Tango ballroom, is the best bet. A 7,500 square feet, pillar-less banquet space with an expansive three-sided pre-function area, it is the largest available venue here and can accommodate up to 800 guests. If you’re planning on an elaborate sit-down wedding dinner and dance for your reception, they have recently opened up a 21000 sqft lawn space that would be the ideal venue to host a big fat wedding. The property is situated amidst rich heritage that is bound to be a paradise for lovers. Aesthetically done floral decorations dotting a breathtaking view of the forests, with little canopies themed around the space by our specialized vendors, render it special.

Their catering services specialize in a wide range of themed cuisines ranging from Indian, Oriental, Continental, Fusion and many more. Food and drinks counters offering varied fare — street food, Thai specialties, a kabab station and ice creams and kulfi area, encircling the pool ensures a great gastronomic journey as well.

Overlooking the beautifully landscaped central courtyard with its al-fresco seating is the Oasis, an all-day diner with a selection of Italian, Chinese and Indian cuisine. Art connoisseurs can enjoy a quiet cuppa or share an interesting conversation at The Art Lounge. Guests could wind down at Easy, the lounge bar or head to the dhaba-inspired Indian speciality restaurant, Paranda, which serves the five-river cuisine.

The 2000 sqft activity centre with Xbox gaming, billiards table, virtual golf, PlayStation consoles and board games, can be an interesting ice-breaker for the bride and groom’s families. Or if you prefer to indulge their sweet tooth, lead them to Tado, the artisan and deli oven, for some decadent desserts. Maybe you could have them bake your wedding cake.

THE GATEWAY HOTEL, HINJEWADI, PUNE
Business travellers as well as leisure seekers prefer The Gateway Hotel, Pune, for its location at the heart of the IT action and its proximity to the industrial hub. It combines traditional hospitality with cosmopolitan efficiency. This means, one can not only be certain of the warmth that is characteristic of a Taj Hotel, but also that your needs will meet with instant gratification. The Gateway ensures a hassle-free experience by offering round-the-clock services. Inspired by the time-crunched professional, they provide options like an active menu, home-style cooking and in-room yoga that assist a fast paced lifestyle. And, if you don’t have enough time on your hands before the big day, they will even step in as your saviour by offering their residential wedding services.

The best venue here for a wedding event or reception is the Concorde – a versatile hall that accommodates 300 guests, with drop down screens at various points and an inbuilt suspended LCD projector. The hall can even be converted into two equal spaces with its an inbuilt partition door. This venue has a door large enough for the groom to make his entry in an SUV!

TAJ BANGALORE, BENGALURU
Taj Bangalore is the latest addition to the group’s luxury portfolio and the sixth Taj group hotel in the Garden City of Bengaluru.

A mere walk away from the Kempegowda International Airport, Taj Bangalore offers a panoramic view of landscaped gardens and the soothing water bodies adjoining them and a world of sophisticated luxury. The hotel reflects the city’s unique urban identity and extends to its guests the unmistakable Taj warmth and elegance. It is located away from the city’s madness, but not to cut off from it – ideal for couples with friends and relatives who can’t get away from work, but would want to be part of their big day.

The hotel reflects a contemporary, sleek design and architectural treatment. The 154 luxurious rooms and suites have a warm palette and chic textured furnishings. The hotel’s 12 luxury suites and a presidential suite are designed in anticipation of the needs of business travelers.

The melding of indoor and outdoor space and use of natural light is a tribute to the city’s temperate climate. In dedicated collaborative work-life zones, guests will be able to work, network, dine and socialize against the backdrop of extensive green lawns and open spaces. The high ceilinged event spaces lend themselves to making it the ideal setting for weddings events. The 9,400 sqft pillarless ballroom with a 27 ft. clear ceiling height is the perfect setting for grand celebrations, weddings, receptions and large family get-togethers alike!

Tamarind offers the North Indian fare where guests can choose dishes from the Royal kitchens while Soi & Sake offers the authentic Asian cuisine. Sit around the live Tepan grill or Sushi bar to see a culinary masterpiece created in front of your eyes. The 24-hour all-day dining, Café 77 East, has light-filled indoor and alfresco spaces ideal for the Bangalore year-round pleasant weather.

TAJ COROMANDEL, CHENNAI
Taj Coromandel, one of Chennai’s best known landmarks, is centrally located with easy access to shopping hubs and the airport. It presents a rich fusion of South Indian design and classic elegance. The hotel’s romantic Jacuzzi suites and wide variety of timeless fine-dining restaurants make it the ideal spot for those looking for leisure.

There are 212 grand luxury rooms and suites with breathtaking views of the city or the poolside, and guests can choose between smoking and non-smoking rooms. And if you are not feeling pampered enough as you soak in the luxury, there’s always the personalized butler service – a welcome resource if you’re a groom with a band of hung-over groomsmen and a lot of unfinished business on your to-do list.

The recently-redesigned Grand Ballroom at the lobby level is an exemplary setting for a large wedding gala and can accommodate up to a thousand guests. If your guest list is not too long, you could try a circular seating style, or have a sit-down reception dinner. Or you could club the Clive and Dupliex banquets at the lower lobby level, each having a capacity of 150 pax. If you’re having an intimate, private ceremony with just a few close ones, opt for the Willingdon Room.

If you’re welcoming your guests with a traditional south Indian lunch at the Southern Spice, choose from authentic Italian at Prego or authentic Chinese cuisine at the Golden Dragon for dinner. Or just pick from the buffet at Anise, the all-day diner. Enjoy a filter coffee as you watch the sun set over the city from the exclusive Taj Club Lounge or shake a leg to live jazz music while you sip on cocktails at Chipstead.

VIVANTA BY TAJ – GREEN COVE, KOVALAM
Remember gasping at that wedding picture of the bride and her pouty friends with their cocktails at a beach locale, the clear azure skies and sea in the background? That was shot at the Open Air Seaside Lawns at the Green Cove, Kovalam. If this tidbit hasn’t had your heart going aflutter already, imagine a bride in all her finery on a country boat in the lagoon, gracefully sailing across to her wedding venue. Or picture yourself sharing an intimate dinner on the beach with your closest friends, under the magical moonlit sky. There’s many a mesmerizing view of the sea and the backwaters at this resort that bring out a sigh, and will have your instagram followers hearting away.

Traditional kerala aesthetics are infused Balinese influences in the architecture and décor at this charming seaside and backwaters resort that blends in with the Arabian Sea.

The most lavish wedding venue here is the Agora convention centre – an elegant 3,800 square foot space with an alfresco lawn area. Suitable for about 400 guests, the hall and open air lawns face a lagoon. The Cabana Lawns, which hosts 75 guests, is ideal for a pre-wedding haldi ritual or a bridal shower. If you have twice the number on your guest list, you could choose the contemporary Tango hall for the ceremony.

Your friends will enjoy staying at the hillside cottages that dot the lush green 10-acre expanse. If you’re a glutton for luxury, lounge in a private pool at the exclusive Presidential Nirvana suite, or the Temptation villas with a private lap pool. Or you can head to the Jacuzzi at the Jiva Spa. There’s even space to a challenge your buddies to a game of golf or archery, but this may not be the occasion to do so. The only bow-and-arrow toting guest at your wedding should be Cupid!

TAJ MALABAR – THE PEARL ISLAND, KOCHI
If you’ve been dreaming of tying the knot on a private island, then head to the newly relaunched Pearl Island. Situated just off Willingdon Island and a short fifteen-minute boat ride away from the hotel in the midst of the backwaters, Pearl Island overlooks the Harbor. Where else could one get a private island with all- round views of the sea and the backwaters and all the privacy and space that an island offers?

Choose from an offer of Themes, including Kerala fishing village, an Onam Festival theme setting, or something as modern as a Pirate theme set up. With as much as 3 -4 acres available all overlooking the backwaters, opt for any other themes you may desire.

Vivanta by Taj – Malabar offers stunning views of the harbor and the Arabian Sea. One of the best leisure hotels in Cochin, it strikes a fine balance between old world opulence and contemporary design in its aesthetics. Just over an hour’s drive from the airport, the lobby overlooking the harbour, has classic elements that set the tone for the banquet facilities and guest rooms that deliver the ultimate in leisure experiences.

Vivanta by Taj Malabar offers a range of dining experiences – from Rice Boat, a seafood specialty restaurant, designed on the lines of a houseboat, and The Pavillion – a specialty restaurant that serves both Chinese and Thai, to the multi cuisine restaurant, Pepper.

The romantic cabana experience on the bayside is tailor-made for starry-eyed lovers. A more lavish option would be a luxury yatch cruise with a private valet, serving exotic dishes. They also offer a range of other sailing experiences.

And how can you be in Kerala and not explore Ayurveda? You can get your much needed pre and post-wedding rejuvenation at the Jiva Spa, which boasts of an Infinity Pool.

THE GATEWAY RESORT – DAMDAMA LAKE, GURGAON
The Gateway Resort Damdama Lake Gurgaon is a nature inspired sanctuary close to the city, but far enough to create your personal space for an intimate gathering. Nestled in the lap of Aravalli Hills on a sprawling 20-acre expanse, it offers 78 spacious rooms and suites with serene landscape views.

If you’re getting the pre-wedding jitters, settle back into your heart space as you hear a birdsong while you walk away the nervous energy in lush green pastures. The hotel offers convenient access to Damdama Lake, if you’re planning an intimate English-style picnic with your bridesmaids wearing frocks and feasting on decadent little cakes and savouries as you giggle and chatter away, or enjoy stop a moment to listen into the impromptu symphony by some of the 190 species of birds that frequent the lake.

If you and your spouse-to-be are adventure enthusiasts, definitely explore the adventure sports complex nestled within the resort includes activities such as Zorbing, Rock Climbing, Balloon Bursting, Blind Mine Field, Spider Web and more. The fitness center Active Studio, Celsius the pool, The Spa and the sports park provide perfect unwinding options.

There are five banquet spaces to choose from – three indoor, two outdoor – can accommodate between six to 600 people. Bargad, the banquet hall, and the 10,000 sqft Banquet lawns can host 600 guests each. So you can have an elegant outdoor reception dinner and an indoor mehendi and sangeet celebration.

Guests can indulge in a cosmopolitan mix of international cuisine and authentic regional home-style delicacies at the all-day diner Buzz, savour contemporary Chinese and Thai cuisine at the Sian or relax over a few drinks at Swirl the high energy lounge bar. For your friends who can’t do without a holistic diet, Buzz offers an Active Foods menu. The Gateway Resort Damdama Lake Gurgaon also brings on your platter the earthiness of Haryanvi food, using locally sourced produce paired with a selection of breads. The Bajre ki khichri is strongly recommended, especially for guests who were gorging on the delicacies through your four-day wedding feast.

VIVANTA BY TAJ – GUWAHATI, ASSAM
If you’re looking at an offbeat venue that combines a rich culinary culture, breathtaking landscapes, exotic wildlife and adventure, then head to Vivanta By Taj, Guwahati. Tranquil and calming, minimalist contemporary with splashes of local colours, the 150-room hotel is spread over five acres of shaded courtyard gardens, interspersed with betel nut trees, water bodies and local flora. The hotel’s distinctive architecture and design style is inspired by the unique architectural traditions of Assam.

For your wedding venue, there are two pillar-less halls that can be divided into two breakout venues. If you choose to keep it intimate, say, 50 guests, go for Rudra Sagar. If you prefer a larger banquet of up to 600 guests, Joy Sagar is ideal. This 6000-sqft ballroom has a separate pre-function area giving ample space for your wedding decorator to get creative.

The hotel’s signature oriental restaurant Umami, serves Japanese and Chinese cuisine. Seven, the all-day diner, offers an inventive approach to North Eastern culinary traditions as well as familiar global cuisine including Indian, Mediterranean and pan-Asian. You could explore the finest teas at The Tea Lounge, or head to Octave the live music bar that showcases promising young local musicians.

Guests can take a tour of the Kellyden Tea Garden where Assam’s finest brew is created, take in the scenery while dining on a Brahmaputra cruise complete with fresh local dishes served up from traditional recipes from the Brahmaputra belt or immerse themselves in the rich spirituality of the region on a temple tour.

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