Getting Married at the Ritz Carlton Cancun

ritz carlton cancun Getting Married at the Ritz Carlton CancunIt’s always fun to revisit a place you have fond memories from your childhood and recently I had the opportunity to do just that.  While in Mexico to speak at the Love Mexico Weddings Conference, I got to spend some time at the Ritz Carlton Cancun.  A property on the Yucatan Peninsula where beautiful blue waters flow just outside of Downtown, the ‘U’ shaped resort encases a wonderful pool area that almost beacons you away from the beach, which is no easy task there.  The beach is as you would except in the Caribbean, clear blue water, soft white sand, plenty of space for R&R, but the waters are a bit rougher than you might except.  If you love to crash in the waves but like the warmer waters, then Cancun could just be the spot for you.

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The resort is close to completing it’s room renovations so you’ll find soft, serene, greys, whites and blue beach hues awaiting you while the rest of the property is as I remember it.  Grand staircases, a bit of old world regal charm, and exceptional service as one might except from a Ritz Carlton.  The staff was exceptionally friendly, accommodating and helpful.  The food was delicious and the property even boasts a gym (for those who can’t completely disconnect) with a fabulous view of the pool.

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For honeymooners looking for a quick flight, a very Americanized city but still the charm of the Mexican culture, you might just consider this spot as home.  If you’re considering a destination wedding, they’ve got all you need for that too.

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From stunning ceremony settings on the beach to two top rated restaurants, an epic spa and Cancun’s only restaurant on the beach (perfect for dinning under a cabana), the resort has all you need to say “I do,” host your rehearsal and even post-wedding brunch.  You can wed in front of the beautiful blue water, host a formal reception in the ballroom, and even lean on them for assistance with florals and other planning needs.

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For more information, check out their website here.

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Getting Married at Montelucia Resort & Spa

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While getting the opportunity to speak at the recent Engage!13 Luxury Wedding Conference in Scottsdale, AZ, I was lucky enough to stay at the host hotel, the Montelucia Resort & Spa.  Tucked in the shadow of the great Camelback Mountain (a desert mountain that resembles the shape and face of a camel), this residential-like resort takes full advantage of all the outdoor sunshine Scottsdale has to offer.

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When you arrive, you walk through two giant and commanding doors towards an outdoor living area (complete with fire pits for winter) and a small indoor lobby to assist you.  The hotel rooms are in a variety of buildings peppered throughout the rear of the property near the base of the mountain, which gives you the feeling that your neighbors aren’t hotel neighbors but those of home.

The rooms are spacious but that’s not why you stay at Montelucia.  For those looking for a fabulous destination wedding stateside, this property has it all.  There’s a chapel with high ceilings, lovely chandeliers and even removable pews.  The ballroom is beautifully appointed and sits adjacent to an outdoor manicured courtyard perfect for cocktails and an indoor/outdoor event.  They even have a villa suite that one could live in, complete with it’s own lawn big enough for an outside ceremony (and your home base for the week).

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The chef is creative but true to the culture around them.  We dinned on everything from southwest inspired fare and fabulous guacamole and avocado gazpacho to surf and turf with a twist.

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The event staff, headed up by Traci Mead and team are a delight to work with and make welcoming your friends and family with love and open arms a breeze.  The hotel is easy to get to, but outside of town for that feeling of disconnect and relaxation and for those who love the outdoors, you’ll find yourself plenty busy.

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To learn about their destination weddings (and honeymoons too!), check out their website here.

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All Photos by Elan Artists / Chellise Michael and Scott Clark Photography

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Weddings at the Hotel Jerome in Aspen, CO

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The newly renovated Hotel Jerome is hip Aspen-chic meets relaxed Colorado comfort.  I had the pleasure of attending a swanky fete there just a few weeks ago and I was certainly wowed by the new design.

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Nestled in the heart of Aspen, within walking distance to anything and everything you could want to do while in town, this boutique hotel boasts 93 swanky rooms and suites with every design detail imaginable.  Think wallpapers you want to rub, cowhide finished furniture and all the modern amenities of a luxury hotel while maintaining its nod to history.  The hotel was actually designed by my friend and the talented interior designer, Todd-Avery Lenahan.  He’s known for creating some of the most beautiful hotel and resort spaces around the world.  And this hotel spared no expense to make this place the fashionable spot to stay!

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The living room and J Bar are two of my favorite spots.  Preserving the rich history of the hotel while modernizing the look, you can see celebs ordering up a cocktail while you relax and unwind after a day on the mountain in a place that looks like this!

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They’ve also got a gorgeous ballroom for those winter weddings (complete with antler chandeliers) and in the summer, the garden terrace is perfect under a tent (be prepared for unexpected weather this time of year).

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The hotel can accommodate weddings of up to 250 and they’ve got a good curfew too (12am)!  The staff (especially Christine) is wonderful to work with when planning your wedding and of course the food is epic – we wouldn’t have expected anything less!

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If you want a chic city wedding in the town of Aspen, Hotel Jerome could be home.

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Bali Wedding + Honeymoon Villa Goodness

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Looking for a location for an exotic destination wedding?  Or perhaps a romantic honeymoon that feels like a fantasyland?  Then check out this villa in Bali that we’re loving this week!  The Villa The Sanctuary Bali is one of those one-of-a-kind destinations that boasts all the amenities of a luxury resort but with the privacy of your own home.  Perfect for an intimate destination, the estate has nine bedrooms on lots of private land!

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On property is one master villa with it’s own infinity pool and garden, an open-air living and dining room, a professional kitchen and is surrounded by tropical gardens, fountains, and lush Balinese flora and fauna.  There are four other pavilions that the nine bedrooms are spread between, one of which includes the perfect honeymoon suite with a private pool to enjoy just for two!  Built along a river, this magical place also has all the trimmings one would expect – Jacuzzi and sun beds, breathtaking views, a spa – a typical Balinese bale along the river with massage and lounging facilities, a media room, indoor / outdoor sound system, open air billiards room and even has it’s own wedding pergola designed with you in mind!

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If you want to wed in Bali and take 20 of your nearest and dearest, this might just be the spot.  Make a week out of it and enjoy not only your ceremony and reception here but a honeymoon too!

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 Secluded in a forest but close to the beach, this eco-friendly estate is the perfect hideaway for an intimate I do in Bali!

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The Biltmore Estate Asheville, North Carolina

the biltmore estate The Biltmore Estate Asheville, North Carolina

I recently had the opportunity to speak at THE wedding industry summit – Engage!13: Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina.  Among a myrad of things I love about this event, getting to experience a new luxury property is near the top of that list.  This trip was certainly no exception, did not disappoint, and in fact, exceeded by expectations by miles!  Held at the historic Biltmore Estate (still owned by the Vanderbuilt family today), we had the chance to explore 8,000 acres of unparelled beauty in the Blue Ridge Mountains.  To say this spot is serene is an understatement.  To say it’s glamorous, regal and magical is also an understatement.  The Biltmore is the perfect blend of fantasy meets fauna with beautiful grounds, mountains, trails, and water at every turn.

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A perfect place for a domestic destination wedding, one friend of mine described it as going to Europe without ever having to leave the states (great for your wedding guests!).  The home can be the backdrop to your tented reception, your wedding lawn and ceremony, and of course, tours for your friends and family.  The Inn is where you and your loved ones will stay, just a short hike away from the original property.

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When you wake up in the morning, this is what you will look out to.  Yes, it’s true!  Nothing but nature (and surburb service) surrounding you.

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Ideal for a destination wedding, they offer an array of activities to bring your two families together – horseback riding, barns and animals for the kids, rafting down the river, archery, segway tours of the land, wine tasting at their vineyard on property, even beer tasting too for the guys!  Your group will not know what to do first!  (I highly recommend a private walk along one of their many hiking trials too…)

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The Biltmore Estate is such a unique place, it’s one that the web just can’t do justice.  Having worked on weddings here before, I had no idea how truly special it was until I arrived.  Maura and her team welcomed us with open arms and showed us the best that North Carolina has to offer!  I will be back!

All Photos By: Allan Zepeda, Carla Ten Eyck, Jeremie Barlow 

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Tabacon Resort Honeymoons in Costa Rica

arenal volcano Tabacon Resort Honeymoons in Costa Rica

Looking for the perfectly romantic, secluded and luxurious honeymoon?  Then look no further than Costa Rica!  Specifically, a less frequented part of the country called Arenal.  Located at the base of a volcano lies a little gem of a property called Tabacon Grand Spa Thermal Resort.  A 102 hotel room spa retreat, built around natural hot springs to help restore your body from all that wedding work, Tabacon is  sexy and  sophisticated, yet unpretentiously blends into the natural habitat and culture.

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 Here you can wake up with the sounds of the jungle in your large (and I mean large), beautifully appointed room and hit the paths for hiking before you return to take a dip in the hot springs. For dinner, enjoy a private meal for two under an outdoor bungalow with chefs and staff tableside to cater to your every culinary need.  If you’re not quite ready to retire to your room, pay a visit to the steaming waterfalls one more time for a night swim beneath the stars.  During that time, the springs will be empty and oh-so secluded.

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But if lounging around isn’t your style, that’s okay!  Book a trip up the mountain with Sky Track and zip line on Costa Rica’s longest and highest track, which overlooks both the volcano and Lake Arenal.  Want more thrills and chills?  Take a tour of the canopy on the foot bridge if you dare!

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By then, you’ll have earned a little spa time to relax and work out that tension from flying above the jungle shelf.  Enter – the Grand Spa – it’s spectacular!  A highlight of not only the hotel, but the area too; this indoor/outdoor oasis is one you’re guaranteed not to want to leave.  I had the 90 minute hot stone massage in an outdoor bungalow.  Need I say more?  Well, I will.  Set privately behind jungle trees and plants, the bungalows are just steps from the running hot springs water so you hear the sounds of the jungle and water as you fall into a state of total relaxation.  Get the couples’ massage and you can experience it together with a private outdoor Jacuzzi to retire to once your treatment is done.

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Arenal might just be the most special place to see in Costa Rica if you love nature, peace and quiet, and adventure all-in-one.  And Tabacon is the perfect luxury home away from home in Arenal that you’ll likely never want to leave.  Honeymooners enjoy! weddings in costa rica Tabacon Resort Honeymoons in Costa Ricadestination weddings costa rica Tabacon Resort Honeymoons in Costa Ricahoneymoons at tabacon Tabacon Resort Honeymoons in Costa Rica

 ALL PHOTOS BY JOSHUA BOBROVE

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Mustique Honeymoon Villa Where the Royals Stay

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Mustique is quickly becoming a hot spot for honeymooners thanks to Wills and Kate who recently took time off for a babymoon on the island.  Mustique is a small island in the Grenadines (in the West Indies).  A lovely place to unwind without the hustle and bustle of big ports or cities, this oasis boasts some pretty spectacular villas you can call home on your honeymoon.

One such villa is where the prince and princess actually stayed!  Aurora Mustique is a spacious 3 bedroom suite house with awe-inspiring views of the island. The house includes a media room, a great room, viewing and dining gazebos, as well as a quaint little cottage with two extra bedrooms. You can live lavishly at the Aurora House, as it’s air-conditioned and fully staffed with a butler, chef, maids, gardener, and even Reggie, an adorable island dog ready to love! Of course, if you want you time spent here pet free, that can be arranged.

While you may want to just stay at your own private villa the whole honeymoon, there are also many things that can be done on the island during your stay! Of course you can visit the beach with its crystal clear waters. Or you can view the island by riding horses: super romantic! Or you can just stroll/explore on your own, walking along the paths (take Reggie too if you like!) So whether you are going to spend your honeymoon here or your babymoon (like Will and Kate), the Aurora House on the island of Mustique is a breathtaking location to spend your first few days of being newlyweds!

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Acqualina Resort and Spa

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Rarely do I arrive at a new destination property and my expectations are way off the mark.  The Sunny Isles (just outside of Miami) resort, Acqualina Resort and Spa, which I had the pleasure of visiting recently was one of those rare moments.  I had hopeful expectations but I had no idea the what delights really awaited us.  Champagne on arrival?  Check.  A full tour of the room amenities (which were vast to say the least)?  Check.  A staff of some of the nicest people I’ve met in my domestic travels?  Check.  What could be better?  The beauty of Acqualina is truly in the details.

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 We arrived in our one bedroom suite, complete with office and computer for any last minute wedding planning work to be done, and a kitchen worthy of any dream kitchen of mine, fully stocked of course.  Then a view that went on for miles.  The rooms were pristine.  Inviting, spacious, and a rain shower I couldn’t get out of.  This is certainly no typical Miami destination, set slightly outside the city, you feel disconnected in the best way possible (but with Bal Harbor Shops just down the way to satisfy your mega shopping fix of course).

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At breakfast, we asked for Ketchup.  It wasn’t simply delivered to the table, they opened the bottle for us and presented it almost as a gift.  Forget your toothbrush?  (We highly recommend it). Your toiletries will arrive on a silver platter immediately to your room as though you had just ordered a bottle of their finest champagne.

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 For me, it’s the little things that make the big difference in selecting a destination wedding location.  Acqualina has them in spades.  You know your guests will be treated with love, warmth, respect, and plenty of pampering to0 – what more could you ask for?!?

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But that’s not really why most people wed here.  The beautiful beach and grass lawns on the edge of the sand provide the perfect backdrop for a Florida wedding with a view that cannot be beat. Choose from three seaside lawns, a vast pool deck and even indoor spaces and a terrace for your destination “I do” and walk along the sand for those perfect sunset photos.

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Destination weddings aren’t just about the wedding day.  At this oasis you can spa on arrival, host your rehearsal dinner at the swanky NY hot spot Il Mulino on property (who have more staff than guests per table for a fabulous French style presentation and service).  Then perhaps venture out for a day of shopping with door to door service in their house car.  There’s even a kids club for your little destination guests to get their fun on too!

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 It’s rare that a property surprises me.  Acqualina not only surprised me but spoiled me.  They’ve set the bar pretty high for any Florida property to welcome your wedding.  Did you know that Florida is the number one domestic destination wedding location?  Now we know why.

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NYC Carlton Hotel Hip New Themed Suites

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We love it when old becomes new again, and the historic Carlton Hotel in New York, NY has just the ticket! They have just unveiled three themed specialty suites paying tribute to the exciting past of both the hotel and the city that has been its home for over 100 years.

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 Designed by W+CO Design Studio, the three suites are a fun homage (we are suckers for a good theme!).  The Broadway Diva Suite brings us back to New York’s Golden Age of Broadway, with a diva-approved massive  dressing room, mirrors, playbills, and sumptuous bedding, all to meet the high demands of a theatrical leading lady.  Because having an old Hollywood wedding isn’t enough, your bridal suite should match!

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The Speakeasy Suite is all about secrets and intrigue.  Designed like a Prohibition Era hideaway, it even has a hidden back room! The dark wood paneling, period photos of flappers and gangsters all give it an authentic 1920′s air.  Vintage wedding anyone?

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And the Terrace Suite is like a breath of fresh air from the metal and concrete of the city.  With organic materials like a grass cloth wall and ginkgo flower images, this suite offers a relaxing escape, complete with a private terrace and a stunning view of the Empire State Building (let’s not forget the romantic overhead string lighting too).

Now you can coordinate your destination wedding theme with your wedding night suite!  You can never go too far…the only difficult decision now will be which suite to stay in first!  For more information, check out The Carlton Hotel.

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Cyber Monday Honeymoon Travel Deals

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 It’s Cyber Monday, the last day of this ‘week’ of holiday sales and many of the deals and steals online today are travel driven.  If you are getting ready to book your exotic honeymoon or waiting for a great deal on your destination wedding travel, then act fast if these deals are what you’ve been waiting for.  Here are five of our favorite Cyber Monday travel sales going on NOW:

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1. Viceroy Riviera Maya: Save 35% off nightly room rates and spa services, reservations include daily breakfast for two, a room upgrade and a $200 resort credit to spend on property.  Hello honeymoon in Mexico!  Stay through Christmas Eve 2013 and book today to get the goods!

2. St. Lucia Travel: The tourism board of St. Lucia has grouped together its finest resort and travel offerings all for you – and all at a discounted rate.  Book by midnight and save 20% off all participating resorts on island and enjoy an oh-so romantic Caribbean honeymoon.

3. Princess Cruises: If a cruise is a bit more your speed, then book Princess today and save big (up to a $1000 per person big).  You could get a $100 credit plus other deep discounts on travel, sales vary by cruise.

4. The Cosmopolitan Las Vegas:  Planning a bachelorette weekend or a domestic destination wedding?  This swanky spot is offering a new deal every two hours to be revealed throughout the day so check back often to see where the wheel stopped and you could be in for a great discounted stay in Sin City!

5. Starwood Hotels:  Book today and travel through March 2013 and you could get up to 25% off your stay at their participating resorts across the globe (think St. Regis and Westin too).  Run a search on your destination and see what steals await you!

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For restrictions and rules, please see individual company websites.  Safe travels!

Photo Credits: Viceroy Riviera Maya

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