سه شنبه 19 اسفند 1393 ساعت 9:23 ب.ظ
When Carly Zipp Garbis got married last August, she knew what she wanted.
“We wanted a big party; we wanted a great party,” she said. But it was a challenge finding space for her 300 guests in a place that fit her requirements: close to Washington, a half-day’s drive from New York City, and near a major airport.
She and her wedding planner, Lindsay Landman, eventually found the Salamander Resort and Spa, a 168-room resort in horse country in Middleburg, Va. It had been open only a year when Mrs. Garbis’s wedding took place.
As big as Mrs. Garbis’s wedding was, it was not unusual. About 30 percent of the Salamander’s weddings have included 250 guests or more, and about 10 percent are in the 300 range. Most of the destination weddings the hotel hosts are for clients who, like Mrs. Garbis, come from New York.
The Salamander is just one of a growing number of luxury hotels and resorts that are renovating and expanding to capitalize on the lucrative business of supersize destination weddings.
“Destination weddings used to be tiny,” said Ms. Landman, who is based in New York. “The smallest one I have next year is 150.”
Within the last two years, Ms. Landman said her average guest count had crept up from about 200 to 280 to 350 guests. “We’re in this place where people are spending more on weddings. They have more to spend.”
These couples need space, she said, and they want the high level of service that a luxury hotel or resort can deliver.
“Having a staff that catered to us and being able to take over the hotel and having the feeling like it was ours for the weekend, it was just one of those weekends every bride dreams of,” Mrs. Garbis said.
And the clients are willing to pay for it — Mrs. Garbis characterized the cost of her wedding as being in the six figures — which is behind the recent spate of development.
At the Rosewood Mayakoba in Mexico, requests for large wedding space prompted the hotel in 2012 to build a beachfront function area that could accommodate 400 people. Only two years later, the hotel expanded the space so it can hold 500. The hotel said it had five weddings with guest counts of more than 400 booked.
When its sister property, the Rosewood San Miguel de Allende in Mexico, opened in 2011, managers had to contend with an unexpected demand for weddings with head counts of 400 or higher. To avoid turning down these requests and losing potentially lucrative business, the hotel last year turned some of its outdoor space into a plaza that can host weddings of up to 800 people.
It has been a hit. “Since we opened it in August we held four weddings, and for this year we already have four wedding confirmed for that space,” said Oscar Molina, director of sales and marketing.
He said that the demand from the United States caught them by surprise. “We had this image that American weddings were smaller,” he said.
Instead, expensive weddings — driven by an increasing number of people with the means to pay for them — are growing bigger. According to research conducted by the Knot, a wedding planning website, the average bride who married in 2013 and spent more than $60,000 on her wedding had 201 guests, up from 196 just one year earlier. The typical wedding in 2013 averaged 138 guests.
Comprehensive data going back to the end of the recession was unavailable, but Virtuoso, a high-end travel agency network, says that many of its member agencies say interest in destination weddings has increased year-over-year, along with their size.
While the growth of hotel spaces springing up to cater to this market is good news for the bride with a long guest list and a flush budget, it’s also good news for the resorts. The Knot’s research found that this subset of high-spending brides spent an average of $91,148.
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Scudder 12 days ago
Now *this* is some trickle-down economics!
Butch Burton 12 days ago
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phoebes-in-santa fe 13 days ago
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“The way we negotiate is it becomes a multiday event,” said the wedding planner Jung Lee, co-founder of the event planning firm Fête. “It becomes, for sure, a lucrative business for the hotels.”
Wedding groups like Mrs. Garbis’s tend to spend more on food and drink than a comparatively sized business group would, she said. When her clients, who often work in finance or real estate, bring hundreds of guests to a resort, they tend to want to stay on the premises. This means that the hotel books revenue from rehearsal dinners, reception after-parties and brunch the morning after.
“In addition to the larger numbers, we’re seeing more resort spend from those guests as well,” said Shane Allor, director of sales and marketing at the JW Marriott Scottsdale Camelback Inn Resort and Spa. Last year, five of the 22 weddings that took place at the Camelback had over 200 people. So far in this calendar year, the hotel has already fielded nearly 100 more inquiries for weddings than it did in all of 2014, Mr. Allor said.
The resort just completed construction on a new outdoor space and renovations to its golf club to accommodate weddings of up to 300. “It’s almost like a vacation,” he said.
But creating an atmosphere like this takes a lot of space.
“The No. 1 thing we look for is that there can be unique spaces for all the different events going on,” Ms. Landman said. “That’s been a really big shift.” Often, even hotels with sizable ballrooms aren’t equipped to offer three or four different spaces that can hold 300 for a meal.
For Mrs. Garbis, the search for the right space was worth the effort.
“There really weren’t that many that could hold that many people,” Mrs. Garbis said. A tried-and-true solution — cutting the guest list — wasn’t an option. It had to be just right.
“I’m an only child so my parents were going all out with the guest list,” she said. “And I didn’t want anyone to feel left out.”