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29 May 2017Last updated
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10 romantic places to say your vows

Not one to settle for a run-of-the-mill wedding? A romantic interlude awaits at one of these picturesque destinations, says Tania Bhattacharya

By Tania Bhattacharya
29 Apr 2016 | 12:00 am
  • Source:iStock Image 1 of 2
  • The Greek island is a typical Mediterranean haven, with gorgeous weather and views all around.

    Source:Shutterstock/iStock/Cheli & Peacock Safaris Image 2 of 2

Greece

Perhaps the most stunning of all Greek islands, Santorini is a typical Mediterranean haven with views to die for. Fall in love all over again, as cornflower-blue skies blending into the azure Aegean Sea and secluded beaches create the perfect setting for the most important day of your life. White-washed buildings rise in tiers along the gentle slopes, their tops coloured in myriad nautical and pastel shades, and when the sun sets, the entire island glows a soft crimson. Santorini has lost none of its ancient charm, so take a walk around to explore it at the leisurely pace it is known for. Nothing is rushed here, and you can truly enjoy the ceremony and after-party without stressing over the nitty-gritty.

Book a wedding package at Astra Suites Santorini, and all will be taken care of! Named one of the top 25 hotels in the world by TripAdvisor last year, it offers panoramic views over the Aegean, and is luxurious enough to bowl you over. With wedding packages starting from €1,400 (about Dh5,827) and a minimum stay of five days (not included), this boutique property will arrange everything, from booking your ceremony to paperwork, all fees, make-up and styling, beverages, photography, decorations, catering, cake, transportation and entertainment. The hotel can accommodate a maximum of 70 people, 
and the helpful staff will try and make your every wish come true.


Return airfares from Dubai to Athens on Emirates start from Dh2,804. Take a ferry to Santorini from the Greek capital, about 10 hours away. Visit www.astrasuites.com/en for bookings and more information.

India

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Located high up in the Himalayas, The Khyber Himalayan Resort & Spa offers spectacular views over the valley and a posh experience.

A big, fat Indian wedding in an extravagant setting like a Rajasthani fort and Bollywood-style entertainment – such images spring to mind when you think of tying the knot in India. But if you lean towards elegance and ethereal beauty, head to the ski resort of Gulmarg in Kashmir. Cradled in the lap of the snow-capped Himalayas, it’s the perfect place for a memorable ceremony. A spectacle to behold – which remains forever undisputed – Gulmarg’s verdant landscapes in summer and dazzling white splendour in winter make it ideal for weddings all year-round. You just can’t escape its enchantment!

Perched at a height of 8,825ft in the Pir Panjal range is The Khyber Himalayan Resort & Spa, an 85-key five-star property. It’s Gulmarg’s first luxury resort, and deservedly so – the views across the valley are breathtaking, and its world-class Khyber Spa by L’Occitane is among India’s best. Here, all wedding packages are customised to individual specifications, and you can make the most of the resort’s landscaped gardens, and over 10,000 sq ft of banquet space.

Return airfares from Dubai to Srinagar on Jet Airways start from Dh1,866. Gulmarg is about two hours away by road. Visit www.khyberhotels.com.

Austria

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The Alpine scenery at Zell am See appears like a painting come alive with its rolling meadows, snow-capped mountains and striking views.

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Marriage is for a lifetime, and the timeless magnificence of the Alps best reflects that thought. Be inspired and head to the fairy-tale-like Zell am See, in Austria. The scenic town appears like a classic painting – 
a placid Lake Zell surrounded by trees and a township, with the Alps towering over it all. Its medieval architecture is wonderfully quaint, adding to the popularity of this well-known ski resort. Its green meadows are the only venue you need for a dreamy wedding.

No one does romance better than the Romantikhotel Zell am See, which offers a range of wedding packages throughout the year starting from €705. Your best bet is 
A Dream Come True at €1,550 for two. It includes the ceremony, welcome drinks, a wedding feast, spa treatments and more. 
The pretty property exudes typical European charm – perfect for a romantic celebration.

Return airfares from Dubai to Salzburg on Turkish Airlines start from Dh2,443. Zell am See is 80km away from Salzburg by road. For more information, visit www.romantik-hotel.at.

Mexico

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Verana, in the sleepy beach town of Yelapa on the Mexican coast, combines natural beauty and luxury with ease, and is romantic to boot.

This North American country is all fiery passion and tropical beauty – just right for the two of you to escape to for a private, cosy ceremony. Make a beeline for the coast, off the Bahía de Banderas, to the sleepy beach town of Yelapa. A little secluded in comparison to Mexico’s more commonly visited resorts, it rests by a small cove where fishermen sail for fresh catch and forest-covered hills rise into the clouds. Yelapa is the stuff dreams are made of – salsa in the air, strong cultural motifs in every corner, and laid-back in its approach to life – and will mark a unique beginning to the adventurous journey we call marriage.

Built into the jungle sprawling the hills of Yelapa is Verana, a stunning natural retreat with exhilarating views over the cove and the Pacific. It’s an experience unto itself, very green, open and bright. You sleep under mosquito nets, and spend time in 
the library or lazing in the patio of your casa, taking in vistas that will silence you with their splendour.

Naturally, a wedding here will be a memorable affair, and the property specialises in creating the perfect one. 
The I Do package starts from $2,900 (Dh10,652) for two and includes a five-night stay with meals, private ceremony, cake, flowers, photos, and special wedding dinner. But if you want a bigger party, the hotel can accommodate up to 36 guests and about 50 for a reception.

Return airfares from Dubai to Puerto Vallarta start from Dh8,660 on British Airways. Take a taxi to Boca de Tomatlan, about 20 minutes away by road, and then a boat to Yelapa. For more information, visit verana.com.

Vietnam

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The Banyan Tree Lang Co is très chic and romantic, perfect for a destination wedding.

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Averdant retreat in the heart of Asia, Vietnam radiates natural beauty. Its beaches are just as appealing as its rolling terraces and majestic mountains, and you’ll find traditional Vietnamese hospitality wherever you go. There’s much to see and do here – think sailing at Ha Long Bay, sampling local cuisine, and bathing under countless waterfalls – so combining the wedding and honeymoon is the best option. Head to the fishing town of Lang Co in the central coast, where rugged mountains herald the sea, shades of blue and green are everywhere. 
It’s a romantic escape unlike any other.

The Banyan Tree Lang Co is an idyllic resort, hugged by the mountains on one side, and the sea on the other. It’s bright, airy and very tropical, and perfect for wedding celebrations that can last well into the night.

The property offer three different types of destination wedding packages, with inclusions such as stay for two nights with breakfast, unlimited spa treatments, flowers and decorations, beverages, a tantalising menu as well as discounted rates on photography, videography, make-up and styling, and also recreational activities. A dedicated romance concierge will work round the clock to make your day and stay truly memorable.


Return airfares from Dubai to Da Nang, Vietnam, on Cathay Pacific start from Dh2,043. Lang Co is 60km away by road. For more information, visit www.banyantree.com.

Jordan

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Situated on the shores of the Dead Sea, the Jordan Valley Marriott Resort & Spa makes for a unique destination to say I do.

The stark landscape of Jordan is dramatic in beauty, but the Jordan Valley offers some respite, with date palms dotting fertile lands, and a gentle river flowing into the Dead Sea. It’s a calm and serene place where the young and old from the world over come to heal. That quietude is just as perfect for an intimate wedding, with the sand-coloured hills rising around the sea providing a fascinating backdrop. Float in the salty waters of the Dead Sea – one of the world’s greatest natural wonders – enjoy relaxing spa treatments consisting of its minerals, and you’ll be glowing on your Big Day.

If you want an open-air wedding and reception against the panorama of a setting sun, book yourself into the Jordan Valley Marriott Resort & Spa. The outdoor two-tier terrace is ideal for both intimate gatherings as well as large receptions. The property’s talented wedding planners will manage it all, combining luxury and practicality with practised finesse. This includes setting a budget, deciding on a menu, arranging table settings and finding florists, photographers, a band and other entertainment for your wedding. Add to that spa treatments and plush accommodation, and it’s more of a holiday with a once-in-a-lifetime twist.


Return airfares from Dubai to Amman on flydubai start from Dh941. The Dead Sea is an hour and a half away by road. Call +961 5 356 0400 for information on prices and details or visit www.marriott.com.

France

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Go French all the way for your special day, and wed in Bastide St Mathieu, an 18th-century manor in the heart of the French Riviera.

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Paris may be the most romantic place on Earth, but that adage applies to all of France. Its charming countryside and coastal cities are particularly inviting, especially when a lavish wedding is what you have in mind. Head to Grasse in the French Riviera, where the rich and famous let their hair down and settle in for a posh holiday. Its spectacular location, alluring year-round weather and upmarket buzz are worth all the hype, but if you prefer a more private party, a medieval chateau 
or historical manor are just the thing. Surrounded by the mountains, the setting is unparalleled in scenery as well as the 
chic quotient.

A deluxe 18th-century, Provençal-style manor in the heart of Cote d’Azur, Bastide St Mathieu is a charming venue for a quintessentially French wedding. Set amid gorgeous landscaped gardens flush in the dazzling Mediterranean sunshine, it can be rented in its entirety for three days starting from €15,000 (June to August). The manor can accommodate up to 18 people in its lavish rooms, and 150 guests in its premises during a wedding. Catering, decorations, entertainment and more cost extra.

Return airfares from Dubai to Nice on Air France start from Dh2,326. Bastide St Mathieu is a 30-minute drive away. For more information, visit www.bastide-stmathieu.com.

Kenya

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Getting married in the heart of the African wilderness is an adventure in itself, as you discover new rituals and cultures.

Don’t scoff at the thought of tying the knot on a safari in the wilderness of Africa. Turns out, it’s not a far-fetched idea, and can be breathtaking in beauty and scope. Kenya’s landscapes make for powerful visuals, especially as the backdrop for a simple ceremony amid its semi-arid terrains or savannah grasslands. The equatorial country has some of the best game reserves in the world – large swathes of untouched land where the wild roam free. It’s almost a metaphor for the liberating experience 
of love, and surrounded by traditions and folktales, Kenya will have you under a spell in no time.

The dramatic beauty of Masai Mara, an iconic game reserve, is ideal for a wedding celebration in the wild. Add to that generous doses of luxury and posh amenities, and you have an experience of a lifetime waiting for you. Cheli & Peacock is known for its swish safaris that combine the best of both worlds – wilderness and urbanity. Needless to say, a wedding will be a well-appointed affair. Planning services start from $1,140, which includes all the paperwork and fees. The location charge of $2,160 at Cottar’s 1920s Safari Camp in Masai Mara provides meals, decorations, music facilities, cake and beverages for up to six people. A larger gathering can be accommodated at an extra cost.

Return airfares from Sharjah to Nairobi on Air Arabia start from Dh1,044. The Masai Mara National Reserve is a six-hour drive away. Write to info@chelipeacock.co.ke for details.

Sri Lanka

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The Anantara Peace Haven Tangalle Resort goes beyond guest specifications to make weddings extra special.

The tiny island nation in the subcontinent is just a hop, skip and jump away from Dubai, so if you want to wed on a whirlwind, this is your place. Sri Lanka’s spectacular scenery and virgin beaches make for a fabulous tropical setting if the sun and sand are what you and your partner prefer. Tangalle in the extreme south boasts picture-perfect views and a mild, coastal climate – ideal for a breezy wedding as the Indian Ocean swallows the flaming orb of the setting sun. Did Cupid just strike your heart?

Set on a rocky outcrop jutting into the ocean, the Anantara Peace Haven Tangalle Resort is a charming hideaway, far from prying eyes. Surrounded by a coconut plantation, it will blow your mind with its natural setting and views over the foaming sea. Spectacular sunrises and sunsets are common here, and you can dial up the romance by signing up for a beach wedding. Every ceremony is tailor-made to suit guests’ needs, but there are special add-ons such as breakfast in bed, couple’s spa treatments and dinner under the stars that are bound to make your wedding delightful.

Return airfares from Dubai to Colombo on Srilankan Airlines start from Dh1,228. Tangalle is a three and a half hour drive from the capital. For more information, visit tangalle.anantara.com.

Oman

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Straddling the Arabian Gulf and the striking Hajar Mountains, the Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah resort is just right for an elaborate wedding and parties.

Just a leisurely drive down the UAE, this Arab nation is a natural wonder, with stark mountains rising from the Arabian Gulf, fjords, lush hill stations and beautiful deserts. But this panorama of geographical marvels is just the beginning; Muscat, Oman’s capital, is an intriguing port city, luminous in the shadow of the Hajar Mountains when dusk falls. A wedding here means you’re at home away from home – the warmth of the Omani people, coupled with the stunning topography and a culture that has developed as a blend of the east and west ensure that your special day remains a celebration of love, life and relationships you’ll always cherish.

The Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa has embraced the majesty of the Hajar Mountains and made it its own. Here, time comes to a halt, and luxuries take you back to eras of royalty and grandeur. Bang in the middle of this striking property is a private beach, where the loudest celebrations mingle with the sounds of the ocean to spectacular effect. Go all out if you want 
a big, fat, loud Indian wedding here and you won’t be disappointed.

The classic wedding package includes a dinner buffet, a night’s stay in the bridal suite, wedding cake, staff and entertainment facilities. You can, of course, go for the royal package for a grand display, but it’s a bespoke ceremony that will bring 
on the fireworks. All prices on request.

Return airfares from Dubai to Muscat on Oman Air start from Dh664. Call +968 2477 6245 or email events.slmu@shangri-la.com for more information and bookings.

By Tania Bhattacharya

By Tania Bhattacharya