Sponsors and creative partners of the fourth Annual Destination Wedding Planners (DWP) Congress organised by Dubai-based QnA International, in Phuket, Thailand, shared certain factors that influence the sector’s success and resilience. These include the characteristics of chosen destinations, natural beauty and mystical charm; the opulence of luxury; the unique designs; and the exclusivity surrounding the event.
Creative partners are now looking at targeting the global wedding industry to explore new markets and build their brand beyond borders. Supporting this statement, Elie Azar, founder, ParAzar, Lebanon, said, “When I started ParAzar it was out of desire to achieve growth not only in our local portfolio of services but internationally too. Having mastered the local wedding luxury segment and grown organically into the regional one, serving weddings in Lebanon and the neighbouring countries in the Levant and the GCC with up to 2,000 attendees per wedding, I felt it was time to expand our brand in the luxury wedding segment and gain more exposure internationally.”
Five key wedding trends are set to take the industry by storm in the coming months according to these experts - the gravitational pull of Asia as a destination; the emphasis on culture; the importance of experiential dining and authentic flavours; the need for exclusive experiences; and the increasing preference for longer stays.
According to Joe Blackman, CEO, Collection 26, “With the Brexit situation in the UK, leaving the European Union, I think this may make people specifically from London look much further afield in terms of weddings. During the first stages of Brexit, there is going to be an increasing amount of trade uncertainty and airline tariffs and prices will also likely increase. We are seeing more enquiries in Asia, and I think that well become the next hot destination in 2018/2019.”
“Mexico is becoming increasingly popular too, especially with the peso being devalued currently,” he added.
TOP ASIAN HALTS
Popular destinations in Asia cover a vast range of exotic destinations from Thailand, to Japan, to Bali, Maldives and the UAE.
With the appeal of experiential dining growing expeditiously, there has been an interesting turn of events when it comes to the food served at weddings, “We find that guests are more open to experimenting with new cuisines, such as game meat, which definitely enhances their entire experience,” said Aleit Swanepoel, founder and chairman, The Aleit Group, South Africa.
Experiential travel was the main travel trend for 2016, and it has had a ginormous impact on the destinations now being chosen for weddings. Echoing similar views Aleit Swanepoel added that many couples are embracing experience weddings, with an African theme, for example. “What I love most about these weddings, is the wonderful energy that builds amongst the guests when they travel together. Weddings become a three-day event, with pre-wedding BBQ’s, cocktail functions and excursions.”
Longer stays continue to be a growing trend. “People are paying for guests’ all-inclusive experience so that all their guests can stay in one place; meaning they cover airfare and hotel rooms,” adds Alison. The guests usually tend to increase their stay at the destination and explore the destination at leisure pre and post wedding.
Florence and Tuscany are already very popular and leading Italian destinations for international weddings. In fact, about 42 per cent of the global wedding market share is in Tuscany, and 19 per cent in Florence, but why should Venice be far behind? With its incredible scenery, uniquely historic heritage and stunning views of the Venice skyline, San Clemente Island is the ultimate location for all types of weddings.
San Clemente Palace Kempinski has been recently awarded The Best Wedding Hotel 2017 by World Tourism Forum at the annual World Tourism Awards.
For larger weddings, grand events with up to 1,000 guests can be held among four hectares of the island’s lavish gardens surrounded by a centuries-old park. The entire island – including the resort’s 190 rooms and suites, three dining outlets, various event venues and wellness facilities – can also be booked for exclusive use.
For more intimate celebrations, the island also offers the perfect secluded, romantic venues, including an outdoor ceremony atop Sunset Hill, offering the best views of Venice at sunset. Another option is San Clemente Palace Kempinski’s own gourmet restaurant, Acquerello, where guests can enjoy the resort’s inventive Italian cuisine while dining on the terrace overlooking the Lagoon and St. Mark’s Square. Also on the island is the 12th-century San Clemente Church, the ideal backdrop for any traditional ceremony – as one of the oldest churches in Venice, it has been ranked among the most beautiful hotel wedding chapels in the world.
The St. Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort located on the unspoiled Dhaalu Atoll offers breath taking aerial views of the 22 acres Vommuli Island, tucked into the turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean. The resort is surrounded by a large ‘House Reef’ and the island defined by several distinct ecological areas: lagoon, beach, coastal and jungle.
The 77 island and overwater villa accommodations, each with a private pool, are peppered throughout these areas, with each offering unique activities and amenities. The lagoon boasts a water amphitheatre and The Iridium Spa; the beach area includes two signature beachfront restaurants; the jungle houses a recreational centre and a pop-up café; and the coastal zone provides a dive centre and a signature bar.
The hotel offers a Vows Beyond Expectation wedding package (starting from $8,499++) on its white sandy beaches, overlooking the alluring waves of the Indian Ocean. As the largest three-bedroom overwater suite in the country, The John Jacob Astor Estate is a perfect venue to host an intimate wedding for 6 to 10 people. The beach in front of Caroline Astor Estate is suitable for guests who are looking for a more quiet, private beach wedding.
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