A destination wedding can take place virtually anywhere — it’s all relative, of course. But you’re not here to see just anywhere. You’re here to see a list of spectacular hotels in exotic locales — so that’s exactly what you shall have.
We wrote a whole thing about how controversial destination weddings can be, given their slightly inconvenient nature. But not every destination wedding needs a remote setting. Technically, any of the nearly 4,000 hotels on Tablet could be the site of your destination wedding — commonly defined as happening 100 miles or more from your home. So how to narrow down the list? We decided to poll our NYC-based staff for the exotic or far-afield hotels where they’d most want to have (or have already had) a destination wedding. If you’ve ever wondered where the experts at a boutique travel website dream of having their big day, you finally have your answer.
Jose Ignacio, Uruguay
Estancia Vik Jose Ignacio isn’t exactly what you’d expect of a high-end Uruguayan ranch. It’s not in the jet-set capital of Punta del Este, for starters — the hotel is located a mere twenty kilometers away, just outside the laid-back beach community of Jose Ignacio — and the aesthetic is a notable departure from the rustic woodwork and cowhides of a traditional estancia. The contemporary colonial-style mansion, set on a sprawling 4,000-acre near-seaside property, is a showcase for edgy South American artwork and innovative interior design.
For quite a long time Iceland’s spectacular beauty was rather let down by its relatively ordinary hotels. Lately, however, a new movement is afoot, complementing this island nation’s sublime, unearthly landscapes with some equally inspiring modern architecture and design. And it doesn’t take much more than a glance at Umi Hotel to identify it as an example of exactly what we’re talking about.
The Remote Resort
Vanua Levu Island, Fiji
They’re not kidding. Eight villas on an isolated peninsula on Fiji’s famous Rainbow Reef, accessible only by boat, all with plunge pools — the Remote Resort is exactly what it claims to be. Its founder is a veteran of the corporate hospitality world, and it’s safe to say he was ready to take his career in a different direction.
Think of a country escape within easy reach of Paris and you’re probably thinking of a palace built by the 18th-century aristocracy. As much as we love a good palace hotel, we also love hotels that take some liberties with expectations, and Le Barn is one of those hotels. Formerly an equestrian estate, it’s been redeveloped by a cutting-edge Parisian design firm, and the result is a hotel that’s comfortingly rustic and refreshingly stylish at the same time — its buildings combine classic agricultural silhouettes with contemporary construction and detailing.
Mont Rochelle Hotel
Franschhoek, South Africa
There’s very little that’s at all hip about it, but for most of us, that’s no obstacle — it’s difficult to find fault either with the stunning natural setting of Franschhoek, the valley at the heart of South Africa’s wine industry, or with Mont Rochelle, the superb small hotel on the hillside overlooking the village. It was French Huguenots who first settled this valley centuries ago (hence the name), and to this day there’s an air of Provence about the place, with its rustic farmhouse architecture and acres of vineyards.
The Constance Lemuria is probably the most modern resort in the Seychelles. This is not to say that it’s overdeveloped or garish, because it certainly is not, but merely to say that in the laid-back Seychelles one is hard pressed to find service this efficient — many of the other resorts have not quite shed their three-star reputation. In fact if you are out to rough it, this may not be your place — it’s more a decadent, lift-no-finger sort of resort.
The Vines Resort & Spa
If you’re planning a trip to paradise — in this case, the food and wine lover’s paradise of Mendoza — you’ve probably gone to the trouble of doing the requisite homework. But if you haven’t read up yet on the ins and outs of the Argentina’s largest wine-producing region, here’s the deal: most of Mendoza’s wineries and hotels are located in the sub-region known as Luján de Cuyo. But in recent years, some of the more exciting winemaking, and the more luxurious lodgings, are located in the Uco Valley, a ninety-minute drive from the city of Mendoza. There’s just more room out here, apparently, if the sheer size of the Vines Resort & Spa is any indication.
Punta Maroma, Mexico
The original Chablé Resort & Spa wasn’t lacking anything, strictly speaking — it’s hard to go wrong with a luxe-yet-tasteful luxury resort with a wellness focus and plenty of environmental and cultural sensitivity. But its location deep in the Yucatán jungle necessarily left beachgoing types without an outlet for that particular urge. A single hotel can’t have everything, of course, but the second Chablé hotel goes where the first one couldn’t: namely, Punta Maroma, on the Riviera Maya just to the north of Playa del Carmen.
For some of us, the fantasy of owning a Tuscan villa is sufficiently romantic; if you’re the Ferragamo family, however, you set your sights on something closer to an old-fashioned Tuscan principality. Enter Il Borro, the sprawling estate in San Giustino Valdarno that the Ferragamos bought in 1993 and have since been developing into the family-run agriturismo to end all family-run agriturismos. Il Borro comprises no less than an acclaimed, hundred-plus acre vineyard and winery, vast groves of olive trees amidst the cypress and oaks, plenty of rolling green hills, three villas, another three lavish farmhouses and — here’s the real coup de grâce — an entire restored medieval village.
Carneros Resort and Spa
Napa Valley, California
Finally a break from the Tuscan-Provençal style that seems to dominate the California wine country. Carneros Resort and Spa, at the south end of Napa, close to San Francisco, is rather more modern, its style a sort of rustic minimalism, its inspiration seemingly drawn not from Europe but from the American Midwest and Northeast.
Maybe you’re not up to date on your Portuguese history. (Then again, maybe you are.) Anyway the striking Belle Époque facade tells you a thing or two: despite the Vidago Palace’s relatively remote location near the country’s northern border, the hotel has a grand past based on its strategic position. Built in 1910, it’s near the Chaves hot springs, famous since Roman times for their healing properties — and a longtime favorite of Portuguese kings. More than a century later, the hotel is just as glamorous as the day it opened. But the opulent interiors have been smartly adapted to suit modern tastes.
The rest of the world may be heating up, and places like the Maldives may be slowly sinking into the ocean — but you’ll always have Norway. And if it’s a comfortably cool rural idyll you’re looking for, it doesn’t get much more picturesque than the Storfjorden, on the west coast, where the Storfjord Hotel sits surrounded by thousands of acres of protected woodland.