With a good friend of mine getting married this August, a press release from The Leading Hotels of the World on exclusive wedding destination hotels is inspiration for posting this piece, and what could be better than having an entire Leading Hotel completely to yourselves for this once-in-a-lifetime occasion? Here are just a few outstanding properties that can be engaged for the exclusive use of your wedding party and guests, assuring that this most special event will be exceptional, unique and unforgettable.
Tuscany is one of the most beloved regions in Italy for weddings, with its stunning rolling countryside and the vineyards of Chianti. Set in the heart of this romantic region, Castel Monastero – with its 74 rooms and suites housed in an ancient stone building – offers the unique setting of a medieval village, which has remained unchanged through the centuries. With an exclusive buy-out, you will have the whole resort at your disposal with a variety of venues for all the special events surrounding your wedding: the rehearsal dinner, welcome reception, after-hours party, and so on. The restaurants, banqueting spaces – even the 1,000-square-meter spa – are all yours. For intimate ceremonies, the hotel even has its own parish church on property, or the staff can organize access to the nearby Badia Monastero for larger wedding parties. Through its various partnerships, the hotel can provide assistance with all the relevant documentation needed for civil and religious ceremonies. Depending on the season, rates for a full buy-out start at EUR 30,000 per night, including accommodation, buffet breakfast and service charge. Tax, food and beverage items, flower decorations, music, entertainment, etc. are extra. www.castelmonastero.com
Even if your eyes aren’t Irish, they will surely be smiling if you plan your wedding at Adare Manor in County Limerick. The former home of the
Earl of Dunraven, the hotel was built in the 1830s, and incorporates a number of endearing works of whimsy: a turreted entrance tower at one corner of the building rather than in the center, 52 chimneys (one to commemorate each week of the year), 75 fireplaces and 365 leaded glass windows (one for each day of the year). The scenario for your nuptials might well begin in Lady Caroline’s Room where you and your bridesmaids put on the final touches as the photographer snaps away, while at the far end of the house, the groom and his attendants get ready to leave for the church. The hour approaches and you pass beneath the vaults of the Great Hall and out to your horse-drawn carriage for the ride to Trinity Abbey. On your return to the Manor, butlers receive your guests with flutes of champagne, as they gather in the drawing room and library before a dinner served in the historic Minstrels’ Gallery, followed by dancing. As the evening winds down, small groups of guests filter downstairs to the Tackroom for a bit more dancing, a few favorite songs around the piano, and a final toast before you and your husband take your leave. The cost to hire out Adare Manor begins at approximately EUR 17,000 per night, depending on the season. Food, beverage and entertainment are extra. http://www.adaremanor.com/
Nestled in the Berkshires area of Massachusetts, Wheatleigh was built in 1893 by Henry H. Cook as a gift to his daughter Georgie on her marriage to Carlos de Heredia. It is an idyllic setting for any wedding, from a weekend celebration to a midweek getaway or a Sunday afternoon gathering. A Florentine palazzo atop a Berkshire knoll overlooking the mountains and lake, Wheatleigh offers exquisite cuisine and 19 individually designed guest accommodations, along with 22 private acres and terraced lawns. A staircase lit by brilliant Tiffany windows leads to the Great Hall, porticos face rolling hills, and century old trees overhang the sculpture garden. All conspire to create an atmosphere that is at once intimate and grand. Enjoy Wheatleigh as your own private estate for a weekend of festivities, from the prenuptial party, to the wedding dinner, to the farewell brunch. Chef Jeffrey Thompson will craft unique menus for every event. With attention to each detail and incomparable service from the first tasting through the departure of the last guest, Wheatleigh’s European-trained staff will create the extraordinary wedding you envision. Just 2 ½ hours from New York or Boston, the hotel is easily accessible, yet charmingly removed from urban hustle and bustle. Nightly rates for a buy-out start at approximately USD 14,000. Food and beverage, entertainment and other incidentals are extra.
Set amongst an eight-acre vineyard, surrounded by a rose garden and fountains, Northern California’s 57-room Bernardus Lodge is backed by
the stately Santa Lucia mountain range. This serene inland location is just 15 minutes from the Pacific Ocean, so you get the best of both worlds, with the additional advantage of guaranteed sunshine in the mini micro-climate of Carmel Valley. At once rustic and refined, the Lodge is the ideal embodiment of sophisticated California living. Your exclusive use of the property opens a variety of public areas for different activities, without your having to be concerned with the wedding party disturbing other guests. For example, the croquet/bocce area is typically used for a cocktail reception for the first hour and half, however with a buy-out, the area can be strung with festive lighting and the revelry can last until midnight. To soothe pre-wedding jitters, The Spa at Bernardus Lodge offers an array of distinctive services from vinotherapy to marine-inspired treatments to international traditions, elevating relaxation to an art form. Buy-out rates start from approximately USD 22,000 per night in low season. Food and beverage, entertainment, flowers and other incidentals are extra. http://www.bernardus.com/
Carlisle Bay is set on one of the most stunning beaches on the unspoiled south coast of Antigua with 82 beautiful contemporary luxury suites, and the perfect backdrop for weddings. Whether you are planning an intimate ceremony, or wish to share the occasion with family and friends, Carlisle Bay offers a spectacular setting for your special day. The resort will happily create an unforgettable experience for you to treasure – from exchanging vows on the jetty to barefoot banquets on the beach for up to 90 people. With its exceptional restaurants, outstanding collection of original art and photography, Carlisle Bay is especially adept at creating bespoke menus, theming, entertainment, private boat excursions and picnics. A bit overwhelmed with all the pre-nuptial activity? Relax and let your nerves be soothed in the 17,000-square-foot Blue Spa. A three-night exclusive buy-out in low season begins at USD 141,450, double occupancy. Tax, service charge, food and beverage and incidentals are extra.
The island of Mustique is the very definition of a tropical escape, and it has served as the beach-chic playground for royals, celebrities and
discerning sophisticated travelers since the 1960s. A former warehouse and sugar mill, the Cotton House features interiors inspired by theatrical designer Oliver Messel, and – with just 17 rooms – it artfully sets the stage for exceptional, intimate weddings. The ceremony can be held almost anywhere on the island, in the famous Bamboo Church, under the 200-year-old Baobab tree, on any of eight beaches with Atlantic and Caribbean views, in the hotel gardens, on the hotel jetty, even aboard a boat on a sunset cruise… the choice is yours. A three-night minimum stay is recommended, since wedding couples must be in the country for 48 hours to obtain the marriage license, and the hotel will arrange a day for you to take the short trip to the island of St. Vincent to meet with the officiating minister and to obtain your marriage license. Assistance will be provided in St. Vincent for all legal details. Rates start at approximately USD 23,000 per night on a bed-and-breakfast basis, including service and government taxes. http://www.cottonhouse.net/
What place on earth could be more romantic for exchanging vows than French Polynesia? With its 80 bungalows – 50 of which are over the water – the Bora Bora Pearl Beach Resort is located on its own islet or “motu” in a crystal clear turquoise lagoon facing Otemanu Mountain – taking privacy to a new level. Whether you choose to have the celebration on the resort’s Forever beach or in the intimate chapel, a wedding at Bora Bora Pearl Beach promises to be a magical event to cherish always in your heart. When the island is all yours, the possibilities are endless – and the resort can organize a range of Polynesian-themed activities for you and your guests: snorkeling, diving, outrigger canoeing, kayaking, catamaran cruises, relaxing with a soothing treatment at Manea Spa in the couples’ Royal Suite, or simply lying back in a hammock on the beach. In the midst of such idyllic surroundings, you might just believe you have found yourself on the mythical South Pacific island of Bali Hai! There is a three-night minimum for exclusive use of the resort, and rates start at USD 30,000 per night. http://www.pearlresorts.com/bora/main.php
Zulu Camp at Shambala Private Game Reserve is situated in the picturesque central region of the Waterberg mountain range, where the
climate is sub-tropical and temperate for most of the year. Covering almost 12,000 hectares of natural landscape in South Africa’s Limpopo Province, Shambala is home to the Big Five, the leopard, lion, elephant, black and white rhino, and buffalo, as well as numerous antelope species. Zulu Camp itself offers an unforgettable experience in the most breathtaking bushveld setting with the river running through the camp. Designed along the lines of a traditional African village, it welcomes guests in its honeycomb-shaped thatched chalets, built with natural materials and separated from each other by streams from the nearby river. Wedding parties of up to 16 people will enjoy destination-specific activities, including game drives, bush walks and picnics, an elephant-back safari, and a sundowner cruise on Douw Steyn Dam, as well as all meals including selected beverages. The cost for a complete buyout is ZAR 124,000 per night. Supplementary décor, entertainment, premium spirits and wines, spa treatments and other incidentals are additional. http://shambalagamereserve.com/zulu-camp/
For information and assistance arranging weddings at these – and other – Leading Hotels,
or call at +852 2191 9696 / +86 21 6279 8951.