Entertaining a Destination Wedding?
Details by Chad Chisholm
Our favorite luxury beach locations from Maui to the Cayman Islands
THE CEREMONY of a wedding is something to be enjoyed the globe over; from intimate gatherings to full-blown productions, the words “I do” conjure wedding plans big and small. As a wedding planner for over 20 years, I have enjoyed creating the ideal space for happy couples to exchange their vows. Destination weddings can be a perfect addition to really take nuptials over the top, with exotic locales providing a distinctive change of pace from the day-to-day routine of your hometown. Since Colorado only lacks an ocean, I bring you five tropical locations for a perfect destination wedding.
I love Maui so much that I was married there myself. The Valley Isle Resort of Maui in the Hawaiian Islands is a tremendous destination, offering everything from sun and surf to jungles and volcano peaks. With direct flights from Denver, this idyllic piece of tropical paradise is relatively easy to get to, and you and your guests will feel worlds away. Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort is a perfect spot in which to say your vows under the branches of a tree overlooking the ocean beyond. Warm sandy shores and chic infinity pools make for a picture-perfect, high-end destination wedding. For a rehearsal dinner, try Morimoto’s on the property for a meal you’ll never forget. Also consider the Studio Kitchen as an excellent space for a private event, with its showpiece chilled countertops for up to 100 guests to enjoy local fare and interactive cuisine.
With the melody of coqui frogs at night and gently lapping surf, Puerto Rico is another island paradise where you don’t need a passport. Previously owned by the Rockefeller family, Dorado Beach is now a Ritz-Carlton Reserve property, with ocean-facing luxurious rooms, fine dining and a spa you won’t soon forget. Spa Botanico is a perfect setting for wedding parties to relax before getting ready for the big day, an award-winning experience complete with rain showers and lounging pools in the lush jungle setting. Poolside day lounges and chilled, freshly cracked coconut service are just some of the indulgences on-property—as is digging your toes into the sand at the Posi+Ivo Sand Bar as you sip a craft cocktail or enjoy the omakase bar. Nearby, the largest wine list in the Caribbean can be found at fine-dining establishment COA. Whether strolling the grounds or hopping on a complimentary bike to cruise the property, relaxation is the key element found at Dorado Beach, a perfect place to exchange your vows.
Direct flights from Denver International Airport make this Caribbean dream come true. Seven Mile Beach beckons guests from across the globe, and the local food scene is incredible. A day trip to Rum Point is an absolute must while on the island for an afternoon of snorkeling and sipping rum punch, as is tax-free shopping in Camana Bay. Treat yourself to a private bungalow at the Kimpton Seafire Resort and Spa, steps from the ocean and beach cabanas. A highlight of this property for weddings is the Seabridge Lawn, which affords an excellent location as well as a comfortable space on the grass for the celebration itself. And the Aurea Ballroom is a stunning space to dance the night away under sparkling chandeliers.
CABO SAN LUCAS
A quick flight from the Mile High City, Cabo San Lucas is a favorite of Coloradans. Located on the Sea of Cortez, the jaw-droppingly beautiful property of Viceroy Los Cabos is picture-perfect (and your wedding photos will reflect this magazine-ready locale). Infinity reflecting pools, brilliant architecture and the iconic “nest” structure will have you and your guests agog. This property can accommodate intimate gatherings or larger weddings with several ceremonies and reception areas on the beach, rooftop or indoors. An impeccable rooftop bar is a high-end location for a perfect sunset welcome reception overlooking the ocean. Make sure to leave lots of time for photography, as you’ll want to capture every corner of this stunning resort.
The Bahamas are ideal for a picturesque destination wedding. An icon of the area, Atlantis on Nassau towers above the white sand beaches of Paradise Island. The resort is host to a variety of bespoke romantic experiences, fine dining and beautiful rooms. Private alcoves pepper the property, and over 20 different wedding and reception venues suit the tastes of couples the world over. The resort’s 14-acre marine mammal habitat encourages guests to swim with a variety of oceanic life, making memories that will last a lifetime. Be sure to plan time before or after the wedding to experience all the resort has to offer, including Atlantis Live! with its lineup of incredible world-renowned talent, Atlantis Casino and Aquaventure Water Park.
WHY A DESTINATION WEDDING?
When thinking about a hometown wedding versus a destination wedding, it’s important to consider how your family and guests will get to the destination, time of year and costs associated with producing the wedding. Local vendors can be curated by your wedding planner while planning your perfect day. You’ll also want to look into activities, local attractions and accommodation needs for your wedding party and guests. Many airlines offer direct flights to favorite tropical locales.
Destination weddings also afford the opportunity to streamline the guestlist for a more intimate event weekend. Expanding travel before or after the wedding is a wonderful way for guests to enjoy vacation time in the location as well.
Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort
3550 Wailea Alanui Drive Wailea, HI 96753
Dorado Beach, a Ritz- Carlton Reserve
100 Dorado Beach Drive Dorado, 00646, Puerto Rico
Kimpton Seafire Resort and Spa
60 Tanager Way
KY1-1303, Cayman Islands
Since 2000, John Tobey has developed a reputation for creating extraordinary experiences, applying his boundless creativity and impeccable sense of style to weddings, social events, corporate events and nonprofit galas, and he occasionally contributes to Colorado Expression.