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Backwater vows

God’s Own Country has become the new hotspot for earthly unions.

india Updated: Mar 31, 2010 01:12 IST

Kerala, with its coconut palm lined beaches, tranquil stretches of backwaters, and houseboats, is slowly turning out to be a much sought-after destination of the super rich, who wish to exchange wedding vows in ‘God’s Own Country’. The state hotels have been receiving a lot of enquiries for
conducting weddings, hotel industry sources say.

Beach theme
“We do an average of one wedding every two months. Most requests are received from the UK market and we have recently started to aggressively promote high-end weddings at the Leela Kovalam,” said NC Somaiah, General Manager, the Leela Kempinski, Kovalam.

The preference for a wedding destination is generally based on whether the guests like to conduct the wedding in a beach, desert, mountains, old fort etc. Once this is ascertained, the location is decided. “Kerala is preferred when beach or backwater becomes the theme of the wedding,” he said.

Desi Pattaya
Zuri Kumarakom, located on Vembanad lake in Kottayam, has conducted six weddings in the 2009-10 fiscal, mostly of US or UK-based NRIs. Kerala is an
alternate destination to Malaysia, Thailand, and Bali and is more affordable, says Sarat Valsraj, Food and Beverage Manager of the hotel.

Typical North Indian weddings with three days of celebrations of sangeet, mehendi and the wedding reception have been held in a Kerala ambience, he says. Instead of the horse, the groom comes to the venue atop an elephant, which is arranged from vendors in Kochi. A wedding complete with all arrangements, including food and rooms for about 150-175 guests, would cost between Rs 30 lakh to Rs 40 lakh, said Valsraj.

Appam for reception
On food at such weddings, Valsraj says that though North Indians prefer to have food typical of their region, a Kerala meal also forms part of the feast.

The 72-room hotel, part of Zuri Hotels and Resorts, Bangalore, has a special package for honeymooners this summer. The newly-weds can enjoy additional services like floral bath, romantic candlelit dinners and a 30-minute couple spa treatment.

Engagements and wedding eve functions are mostly held at the Taj Malabar, Kochi. Beeda Garcia, banquet manager, said all needs of the guests are well taken care of. “At least two days before the event, we sit with the guests and go through the minutest details to ensure that nothing goes wrong.”

While logistics are dealt with, lack of direct flight connectivity from North India is a big problem in organising such weddings. Skilled labour for arranging North Indian cuisine and event management is not available in Kerala, and has to be outsourced. Movement of large groups from one location to another in large buses is difficult due to narrow roads, said Somaiah. Somaiah recalled hosting a wedding for a guest from UK in Nov 2009. “So impressed was he with the experience that he not only promised to come back for his wedding anniversary, but also promised to promote us.”