Las Vegas has always been the place for fun weddings but New York State has now seen the potential. It became the sixth and largest state to legalize gay marriage in a tight vote, with the gay marriage bill approved by 33 votes to 29 votes against. Luxury hotels in New York were waiting with bated breath, ready to extend their finest luxury wedding packages and venues to same-sex marriages.
The in-house wedding planner at the Plaza can arrange everything for a splendid ceremony for couples in the Grand Ballroom Foyer with a personal butler to attend to the in-room pre-ceremony preparations. The St Regis New York is not to be outdone, offering wedding banquets for up to 200 guests with a 10 to 1 ratio of waiters to guests – and I didn’t get that figure the wrong way round! The cloud-painted ceiling in the event space certainly sets the perfect scene for romance.
The Mandarin Oriental offers stunning views of the New York skyline along with a horse-drawn carriage ride and fireworks while at The Pierre there is white-glove service and a choice of six lavish venues. Don’t be surprised if the next save-the-date wedding note doesn’t mention New York as the venue – for all couples.
Bookings at hotels in Shanghai are on the up as couples flock to the city to get married. The attraction is Thames Town, a reproduction English village straight out of a London film set, where newlywed couples can pose for their wedding pictures.
This satellite suburb in the Songjiang suburb of China’s most populous city was built in 2006 as a replica English village attraction. The medieval architecture, cobbled streets, faux historic parish church and half-timbered 16th century cottages provide the perfect backdrop for newlyweds to pose and dream of a honeymoon far, far away.
Guests to Thames-Town-by-the-Yangtze can also get married in a lawn ceremony with the steepled church as a backdrop. This romantic setting is reached through a floral arch and along a red carpet – very Duchess of Cambridge style. Alternative wedding locations in this surreal town are hot air balloons, on bicycles or ceremonies aboard a yacht which sails across Lake Huating. Ideal for small wedding parties, the yacht’s luxurious interior is bedecked with heart-shaped balloons for the ceremony.
When it’s all over there is a great choice of luxury hotels in Shanghai from which to enjoy the rest of your stay.
Tourist chiefs in the UK have been rubbing their hands with glee at the announcement of a royal wedding next year.
VisitEngland Chief Executive, James Berresford, said that with the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the London Olympics following in 2012, the tourism industry had a tremendous opportunity to attract many extra overseas tourists.
“I’m absolutely thrilled for [Prince] William and Kate [Middleton, his fiancée], and thrilled for tourism as well,” he said. “The wedding next year will mean that once again the eyes of the world will be turned to our nation. We will have a wonderful opportunity to showcase all that is best about the country.”
Last week, the Office for National Statistics announced that the number of visits made to the UK by overseas residents in the first nine months of this year totalled 22.48 million – a 2% dip on the 2009 total.
by Andy Moreton
Whatever the occasion, whatever the weather, London remains a must-see city. Take a look at Luxique’s selection of luxury hotels in London.
The Maldives will introduce strict guidelines on conducting wedding ceremonies for tourists after a foreign couple were mocked and abused at a beach resort.
The couple thought they were taking part in a marriage renewal ceremony conducted in the local Dhivehi language. But the celebrant used the occasion to insult them and call them names.
The couple, whose nationalities have not been revealed, were called ‘pork-eating infidels’, and told that their children would be ‘bastard swine’. Other hotel employees were at the ceremony, but said nothing. The ceremony has appeared on YouTube, with translations.
The nation’s President, Mohamed Nasheed, was aghast when told. In his weekly radio address, he said he was disgusted by the incident and described the behaviour of staff as ‘absolutely disgraceful’.
All tourist hotels without exception will be required to follow the new guidelines which will be issued shortly. “No stone will be left unturned to ensure that an incident like this never happens again,” the government said in a statement.
The Maldives – an archipelago of almost 1,200 coral islands – is a favourite of well-heeled Westerners lured by its white sandy beaches.
The Vilu Reef beach and spa, where the incident took place, promises to offer ‘a tranquil beach where couples can renew marriage vows hand in hand against a golden sunset backdrop, where their everlasting love can be sealed by a kaleidoscope of romantic hues’.
by Andy Moreton
The Maldives is – generally – the friendliest paradise in the world and Luxique offers ten luxury hotels there.
The city council in Verona is giving couples the chance to get married on the stone balcony where Romeo is said to have wooed Juliet in Shakespeare’s play.
The 14th-century Casa di Giulietta, or House of Juliet, is one of the top tourist spots in Verona, drawing more than a million people every year.
It was once the home of the Cappello family - possibly the model for the Capulets of Shakespeare’s play; however, historians say there is little evidence linking it to the tragic love story.
Mary Handley, an English businesswoman who’s been organising weddings for foreigners in Italy for the past six years, said she was sure the Juliet weddings would be popular. “It’s extremely romantic, the weather is usually co-operative and your photos are going to be wonderful,” she said. But she gave a warning that the bureaucracy could sometimes be complex and an interpreter was required by law if the couple didn’t speak Italian.
A balcony wedding will cost citizens of Verona 600 euros (£556 / $775). Couples from elsewhere in the European Union will have to pay 700 euros (£648 / $905), while non-EU couples will face a bill of 1,000 euros (£926 / $1,293).
Tourism councillor Daniele Polato said: “We’ll be offering tourist packages just like Las Vegas does, with wedding and honeymoon. It’s a way of using the city’s artistic heritage to boost tourism.”
Despite the lack of historical fact, the courtyard beneath the balcony contains a bronze statue of Juliet. It’s the custom for visitors hoping to be lucky in love to stroke her right breast, which is now highly polished.
‘Fair Verona,’ as Shakespeare called the city, is in north-east Italy and, as well as the Romeo and Juliet connection, is famous for its summer opera season. This takes place outdoors in the Roman amphitheatre called The Arena.
by Andy Moreton
Luxique can help you arrange accommodation at two luxury hotels in Verona – the impressive Due Torri Baglioni, which is close to the Juliet Balcony, and the elegant Byblos Art Hotel Villa Amista.