Fort Island, Dubai

Fort Island, Dubai

Fort Island, DubaiMadinat Jumeirah opens new Fort Island

Set on a private beach in Dubai, Madinat Jumeirah resort is an authentic recreation of ancient Arabia, capturing the natural beauty of the region. Madinat Jumeirah features two grand boutique hotels, Jumeirah Al Qasr and Jumeirah Mina A’Salam, accommodation in 29 traditional summer houses in Jumeirah Dar Al Masyaf, conference and banqueting facilities including two grand ballrooms, a 1000-seat amphitheatre and the region’s only dedicated entertainment centre and multi-purpose venue, Madinat Arena. The facilities are interconnected by 3km of waterways and landscaped gardens. The resort also provides extensive leisure and health facilities including Talise Spa and Talise Fitness, as well as Souk Madinat Jumeirah, a traditional retail and dining experience with 90 boutiques and restaurants showcasing the best of Arabia, including nightlife destination Pacha Ibiza Dubai.

Madinat Jumeirah offers the largest hotel event space in the United Arab Emirates. The new expansion was completed in October 2015. Set over 1,750 square meters, the space has tripled in size and is set to host banquets, parties, exhibitions, product launches, music concerts, weddings, sports events and festivals for up to 1,400 people. In the past six months the space was converted to host several international events including Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF), the World Economic Forum, the Museum of the Future and Art Dubai.

Fort Island is connected to the resort by four bridges and guests can also access the venue by the traditional wooden abra boats when staying in one of Madinat Jumeirah’s three hotels. Its privileged location, steps away from the bustling Souk Madinat, the 600-seater outdoor amphitheatre, Madinat Theatre and the nearest hotel, Jumeirah Mina A’Salam makes Fort Island a one-of-a-kind venue for spectacular events.

Fort Island was built in 2003 and has since been a unique stage for a significant number of conferences, events and a range of high profile occasions. The new Fort Island offers over 1,750sqm of events space, an overflow terrace area and four new bridges. In addition, it includes a new and enlarged fort building comprising a roof terrace, pantry, reception counter, prayer rooms, ablution facilities, and restrooms. The space can be arranged to cater for either 1,100 people banquet style, 1,400 people for cocktail/events, or alternatively can accommodate a large marquee of 35m x 30m.


Casino Wedding Tendencies in Nevada: Now and Then

Casino Wedding Tendencies in Nevada: Now and Then

It has been years since the first weddings were established in the biggest gambling centre of Nevada. Las Vegas became a wedding mecca for many couples seeking non-traditional ways of organising the ceremony.

What’s the tendency now? New Zealanders, being rather eccentric and enthusiastic in terms of any entertainment, often seek out wedding spots like Nevada casinos, despite the threat of ending up in regret and swift divorce, afterwards.

Las Vegas began to recover after the 2009 crisis as a popular tourist destination. In 2010, the number of tourists in the city increased by 2.7%. That’s up to 37.3 million.

Despite the fact that the popularity of Las Vegas increased amongst tourists, and despite the popularity of budget weddings in the state which enticed millions of adventuresome couples, the number of marriages in the city decreased by 7.2%, according to USA Today.

Casino Wedding Tendencies in Nevada: Now and ThenIn 2010, some 92,000 weddings were carried out in the city’s chapels, the lowest number since 1993. The most productive year for weddings was 2004, when more than 128,000 wedding ceremonies took place.

Nowadays, a wedding ceremony in Las Vegas is once again a popular consideration from couples all over the world, primarily due to a fairly simple procedure of marriage registration, but also due to the unlimited entertainment opportunities the city offers. It truly is is one of the most amazing cities of the United States.

Some couples find their homegrown nightlife quite boring : disco with DJs, concert halls, theatre, ballet, jazz and many other hot spots that, while well organised, seem too traditional. That’s why a lot of young and more risque couples prefer the immense variety of the Las Vegas casinos, night clubs, cabarets, concerts and live performances.

If you’re planning a Nevada wedding in a casino, and fancy a little online practice, head to Online Casino Guide.

It will either whet your appetite or put you off Las Vegas for life!


Semara Uluwatu unveils wedding packages

Semara Uluwatu unveils wedding packages

Semara Uluwatu unveils wedding packagesSemara Uluwatu unveils Early Bird Special Offer for Wedding Packages.

One of Bali’s most exquisite wedding destinations, Semara Luxury Villa Resort Uluwatu, has unveiled a new range of packages for couples lucky enough to get engaged over the New Year and Valentine’s Day period.

The breathtaking cliff-top retreat where supermodel Jennifer Hawkins and Jake Hall famously wed in 2013 offers flexibility for all kinds of weddings, catering for parties of 12 to 150.

Semara Uluwatu unveils wedding packagesA perfect venue for both the ceremony and reception, the tropical sanctuary of Semara Uluwatu overlooks stunning white sandy beaches and the crystal clear water of the Indian Ocean.

Weddings can range from one special day to a weeklong celebration where friends and family can also enjoy a fantastic holiday as destination weddings continue to grow in popularity as an alternative to formal weddings at home.

Semara Uluwatu unveils wedding packagesBali is one of the most desirable destinations for weddings worldwide due to its accessibility, amazing beauty and the stunning venues on offer.

Semara Uluwatu’s specialist events team can tailor wedding packages to exact specifications to ensure a unique and memorable event from world class catering and service, entertainment, even ice sculptures and fabulous fireworks – nothing is too much trouble.

The exclusive private resort has a choice of seven sensational and unique villas plus Selatan cliff top restaurant and Finns Beach Club.

For couples getting married in 2016 the resort is offering 2015 accommodation and event pricing if booked before 31 March 2015.

The savings by booking the early bird offer mean extra cash in budget to splurge on those personalised special touches for the big day and more poolside cocktails when the ceremony’s over.

For bookings or further information visit


Semara Uluwatu unveils wedding packagesSEMARA LUXURY VILLA RESORT

Jalan Pantai Selatan Gau, Banjar Wijaya Kusuma

Ungasan 80362 Bali, Indonesia

P +62 (361) 848 2111 | E :


Casino weddings: are they all they’re cracked up to be?

Casino weddings: are they all they’re cracked up to be?

Casino weddings: Are they all they’re cracked up to be?

Little Chapel of the Flowers
Little Chapel of the Flowers

A recent business report from the Horseshoe Casino in Cincinnati showed that the casino had suffered its lowest revenue in its whole existence this October.

The casino managed to gross just $13,956,000 during the month, trailing the other large casino in the region, Lawrenceburg, which grossed $14.1 million. The total is the lowest since December 2013, when the casino grossed $14.2 million, and casino owners are blaming a multitude of sources for the drop in revenue. For one, people are turning to online alternatives like while others are just looking for fun elsewhere.

In response to this, the casino is expanding its customer offering by echoing what’s made Vegas so famous: a whole lot of wedding chapels. It beggars the question then, what is it about casino weddings that makes them so popular?

Indeed, the majority of them may end up in regret and swift divorce – think Britney Spears and Jason Alexander in 2004. However, for the serious, and sober, amongst us, there has to be some appeal to the casino wedding. After all, why would Vegas have so many wedding chapels if it wasn’t a popular option?

Hangovers we’d rather forget aside, casino weddings do have a huge potential for fun – for one, the Las Vegas chapels certainly don’t scrimp on the décor. From flowers to hot desert backdrops, the celebrants will do their best to make sure your special day looks amazing.

And of course, there’s always the gaming element. Vegas is a huge function room in itself, so there are plenty of options for entertainment. If you feel like something different, you could get married on the world famous Roller Coaster at the New York New York hotel for a little thrill. Once the ceremony’s over, take your friends and family around the gaming rooms – it’s one thing to go home with the memory of the wedding, but another to tell friends how much money you’ve won!

Of course, on the flip side, a casino wedding does have its fair share of flaws, particularly within Vegas. With so many hotels available, it might sound good to be spoilt for choice, but could this lead to the potential ire of your guests? Moreover, if you’ve a gambling addict in the family, a casino wedding could be the worst thing for them.

In summary, there are definitely benefits to having a casino wedding, but they are best reserved for the kind of couple who like to live life on impulse – chances are then, that your friends will be the same, so you can all afford to take a little risk.

Venue: Yasawa Island Resort & Spa

Venue: Yasawa Island Resort & Spa

Venue: Yasawa Island Resort & Spa

Bula…welcome to paradise

Venue: Yasawa Island Resort & SpaA great deal of New Zealanders see Fiji as one word…Denerau!!! But as I recently discovered, on my very first trip to the “friendliest people on earth”, Fiji is much more than kava and warm welcomes.

A short 40 minute flight from Nadi Airport had me searching frantically for our grass landing strip, at the very top of the Yasawa Islands group. My much more relaxed (and much younger) pilot seemed unperturbed…he had done this flight hundreds (perhaps thousands) of times before.

Then, like the proverbial partying of the Red Sea, the dense forest below us opened up and within seconds we had landed, our bags were unpacked and our first (of many) cocktails were in hand. I couldn’t help but think I was being welcomed by Mr. Roarke and Tattoo to Fantasy Island!!!

“Bula! Welcome to Yasawa Island Resort and Spa.”

This exclusive retreat on one of the most remote and unspoiled islands of Fiji.

Take your vows on the sands of a deserted beach, before a tropical sunset or under the southern stars. You needn’t decide until you get there. Invite the choir from nearby Bukama village, choose traditional decorations and tropical flowers or summon a guard of Fijian warriors. A wedding at Yasawa is yours to command – make it as elaborate or as simple as you like.

Yasawa is home to Fiji’s first beachfront spa, just metres from the ocean’s edge on a sweep of soft white sand. The Baravi Spa draws its name from the Fijian word for beach and has been carefully constructed in a blend of traditional and contemporary styles, with an ocean-view massage deck perched over the sands in the open air, fanned by sea breezes. Their signature massage, the Baravi Rhythm, is performed by two synchronised therapists, working in time with the sound of the waves. Baravi Spa treatments and techniques have been sourced from around the world and adapted to local Fijian products and symbolism. Hot rock therapies use black volcanic pebbles to reflect the fiery rift that created Yasawa Island.

Honeymoon Suite

The name says it all – Lomalagi, the Fijian word for heaven. Hidden from the rest of the resort at the end of a deserted white beach, the Honeymoon Bure Lomalagi is a private retreat with its own horizon pool overlooking the ocean. This is Yasawa at its best – absolute luxury and complete seclusion.

Lomalagi has a vast split-level design, creating separate living and sleeping areas that open to expansive timber decks outside. Even the bathroom has access to the decks, along with a shower for two with views of the beach outside. Lomalagi has the finest luxury features and bed linen, Bvlgari bathroom amenities and a Bose Wave sound system. ♥


Yasawa Island Resort & Spa

PO Box 9779, Nadi Airport, Fiji Islands

Ph: + 679 6663 364, Fax: + 679 6665 044



Further Information: See Tourism Fiji’s website

Getting there: Fiji Air


Venue: Quality Hotel Parnell

Venue: Quality Hotel Parnell

Venue: Quality Hotel Parnell

Venue: Quality Hotel ParnellChoice Hotels’ four-star Quality Hotel Barrycourt has changed its name to Quality Hotel Parnell to better reflect its geographical location.

Venue: Quality Hotel ParnellThe 105 room hotel has also had a $3.5 million upgrade including\ new paint, carpet and tiles, climate control, updated furnishings and fittings, and the latest in TV/DVD facilities.

Situated on 3.5 acres of tree-studded grounds on Gladstone Road in the exclusive inner city suburb of Parnell, Quality Hotel Parnell’s rooms showcase expansive views over Auckland’s city and harbour.

The property provides extensive facilities including eight separate conference rooms, the largest of which can cater for 300 at a time. It is becoming increasingly popular as a wedding venue due to the Parnell location and the tree studded grounds.

Most suites have full kitchen facilities as well as wireless internet and SKY TV. Guests can also take advantage of the 24-hour reception, room service, and the on-site restaurant, cafe and bar.

Quality Hotel Parnell is within walking distance of the vibrant and quaint Parnell Village and the CBD, a stone’s throw to the Auckland Domain and Museum, Vector Arena and the shopping mecca of Newmarket, making it a great location for corporate or leisure travellers.

The makeover has been tasteful with every care taken to ensure the unique characteristics are preserved in the older parts of the building (dating back to 1905) while effortlessly combining more modern, comfortable fittings that befit the beautiful, peaceful surrounds.

The property is unique in that it is owned by the Norman FB Barry Foundation and run as a charitable trust. Income generated by the property is donated to charity, and in particular, a fund is being established to sponsor a Cancer Research Fellow at the Auckland Medical School. ♥

Venue: A subtropical sanctuary

Venue: A subtropical sanctuary

A subtropical sanctuary

A subtropical sanctuaryTucked away on Waiheke Island’s Palm Beach, Te Toki Retreat provides a stunning venue for your wedding ceremony and reception.

A subtropical sanctuaryPicture lush verdant plantings, smooth green lawns, romantic pathways and steps, a magnificent outdoor fireplace and total privacy.

The new outdoor entertaining space becomes a dance floor so guests can dance the night away. The spacious Atrium with its roaring fireplace overlooks the beautiful gardens and the sliding glass panels open up to let light breezes through in warmer weather.

The Retreat comprises two self-contained holiday homes nestling in six acres of sculptured gardens and manicured lawns. Each and every window offers an outstanding view. If you plan to spend the night, the Retreat House can sleep up to 12 in five bedrooms, as can the Guest House.

Why not spend the weekend and take advantageof the spa, pizza oven and 6-burner BBQ!

At night, the gardens come alive with extensive lighting, some of it coloured to provide a jewelled effect. A Balinese style outdoor bar supports your entertaining requirements and ample refrigeration for all your bubbly!

The Retreat can seat up to 150 guests, catering for both formal or informal settings. There is space for a marquee to be erected, or more intimate weddings can be hosted in the Atrium which has a capacity of up to 65 seated or 80 cocktail. ♥

Venue : Santhiya Resort & Spa, Thailand

Venue : Santhiya Resort & Spa, Thailand

Venue: Santhiya Resort & Spa, Thailand

Naturally Inspiring

On a recent visit to Thailand, I hopped a short boat ride across the water from Koh Samui to Koh Pha-Ngan and discovered a gem of a resort, Santhiya Resort & Spa.

Venue: Santhiya Resort & Spa, ThailandArriving on the boat, our luggage was squirrelled up to our rooms while we were escorted from the jetty along the pathway to the reception. It was hard to concentrate on the paperwork involved in check-in as the views kept distracting us.

Once settled, we took a walk around the property. A vast range of accommodation standards and sizes sprawl down the densely clad hillside dotted with coconut palms all the way to the white sandy beach below. We were lucky to enjoy the beauty of a Hideaway Pool Villa Suite with private pool and an outdoor bath. I loved the al fresco bathroom and the traditional Thai touches throughout. We had lush garden views, but there are also pool villas that enjoy seaviews – many of the rooms and suites do, in fact!

Venue: Santhiya Resort & Spa, ThailandIf it’s total luxury you’re after, enquire after the Royal Grand Pool Villa suite that extends over nearly 200sqm, private pool, living room, 2 bedrooms, private gardens and an open-air bathroom.

Chantara Restaurant offers up gourmet Thai and international cuisine. Set in a grand teak hall, the sea vista is panoramic. Down at the beach, By The Sea offers all day refreshments in the form of cocktails, smoothies and casual beachfront dining. Stop by Mahkok for an aromatic cup of tea or coffee while you peruse fabulous souvenirs.

Santhiya offers tailor-made wedding packages whether you’re eloping as a couple, inviting a handful of your closest, or planning something on a grander scale. In this unique atmosphere you’ll enjoy world-class service, making it an unforgettable destination for both you and your guests.

Venue: Santhiya Resort & Spa, ThailandAyurvana Spa offers romantic packages for the bridal couple, as well as manicures, pedicures and a fab range of facials, massages, scrubs and wraps.

Resort staff are adept at organising just about anything you need to make your wedding memorable, from flowers and a cake, to entertainment and more – just ask! ♥

Venue – Moana Sands, Rarotonga

Venue – Moana Sands, Rarotonga

Venue – Moana Sands, Rarotonga

A romantic getaway

Venue - Moana Sands, RarotongaMoana Sands Beachfront Hotel & Villas, on the beautiful island of Rarotonga, provides an idyllic location for a dreamy tropical wedding or romantic escape. With a picturesque stretch of white sandy beach and an iridescent blue lagoon providing the perfect backdrop, there’d no better place for you to exchange wedding vows or get to know each other better on your relaxing honeymoon away from the stresses of everyday life.

Both the Hotel and the Villas are perfect for a romantic beach ceremony. Being more intimate in size, you won’t be overrun with other hotel guests stopping to take a look – your vows will be private, just for you and your invited guests to share. In fact, Moana Sands offers the perfect opportunity to have complete privacy for your group if you plan well enough in advance. With 6 x 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom villas and 17 hotel rooms, your wedding party and guests could all stay together in one place and enjoy the stunning beachfront location as your own private hideaway.

Venue - Moana Sands, RarotongaThe team at Moana Sands will ensure that you are well looked after and that everyone has a wonderful time, not just on the day, but for their entire stay. The welcome mat is laid out and nothing is too much trouble. All hotel rooms and villas have spectacular panoramic views of the lagoon, reef and vast Pacific Ocean beyond, with private balconies or patios from which to enjoy them. Just a short 4km away from the hotel, the 2 bedroom villas offer a spacious home away from home, with contemporary décor and full kitchen facilities. The sparkling lagoon offers more than just a stunning backdrop for photos, it’s great for swimming and is teeming with colourful, tropical fish which you can marvel at when snorkelling around the coral heads. Complimentary snorkel gear is provided to all guests along with use of kayaks.

Food is an essential part of any holiday or special occasion, and the hotel’s Pawpaw Patch Restaurant offers a great range of menu options to keep everybody happy. Open daily for breakfast and dinner as well as catering for weddings and special events, their focus is on using fresh local produce to create tasty dishes. The restaurant team will work with you to ensure your food and beverage requirements are met within budget guidelines. The restaurant can be used as a reception venue, or you might want a marquee on the beach – there are many options to choose from.

For the actual ceremony, the Moana Sands wedding packages can be customised to suit your dream list and ensure your day is everything you ever imagined. Nothing is too much trouble as they work with one of Rarotonga’s leading wedding planners to make sure that you get everything you need. ♥


The quirky & zany wedding

Kenneth and Georgina sealed a memory at Moana Sands that will never be forgotten. Married in February 2011, Kenneth (a gardener) & Georgina (a swimming instructor) were accompanied to Rarotonga by their two friends, Maurice or John, for their nuptials. Having both previously been married, a simple but fun ceremony was the only requirement they wanted for their big day. With the help of the wedding coordinator, the hotel gardener and the coconuts that had fallen from the tree, Georgina ensured that her walk (or ride in this case) down the aisle was not only fun-filled but a salute to her husband-to-be and his career.

Dressed in her strapless red wedding dress, Georgina was laughing and smiling as she sat herself down in the hotel’s brand new red wheelbarrow while her ‘BridesMan’, John, wheeled her down the coconut beach aisle to Kenneth.

To top it all off, in-house guests on the beach were invited to celebrate with them by enjoying a glass of bubbly, wedding cupcakes and wedding photos.


The Romantic Getaway for two

The decision to take wedding vows on your own, without friends or family present, is not a decision made lightly. Many choose an intimate ceremony with just themselves, a celebrant and an unsuspecting Moana Sands staff member or in-house guest acting as witness to their ceremony.

Everyone loves weddings. When staying in a boutique property like Moana Sands it’s not hard for the bride and groom to make a few new friends, with in-house guests toasting success to the newly weds. On many occasions, couples have had in-house guests joining them on the beach for their first waltz and even the wedding cake has been cut up and dished out to the guests and staff.

Most wedding couples going solo sit down at sunset to a romantic, candlelit dinner for two, under the stars, on the beach, to celebrate their nuptials.

Venue – Te Toki Retreat

Venue – Te Toki Retreat

Venue – Te Toki Retreat

A Wedding Oasis

Venue - Te Toki RetreatCouples have been exchanging vows on New Zealand’s subtropical Waiheke Island for decades with its lush valleys, gorgeous vistas and hidden coastal nooks all providing a backdrop of natural beauty to enhance your wedding day. Less than an hour from Auckland by ferry, this beautiful island escape has many prized locations where the perfect wedding can take place, but none have the luxurious, multi-faceted benefits of those lovingly built into Te Toki Retreat.

Tucked into the hills near Palm Beach on the north side of Waiheke, Te Toki Retreat expands deceptively from the road to expose a broad variety of unique details rarely found in one venue. The 6-acre property overflows with sculptured gardens and manicured lawns, offering beautiful views from every window and direction. Just coming up the drive, you’ll be entranced by the picturesque sweeping Ceremony Lawn just to the right, while to the left trails climb amidst the dramatic native bush and lush tropical gardens.

This well-planned property is ideal for families coming together in matrimony, with two expansive houses that can sleep up to twenty-four people in style and comfort. While one family of up to twelve occupies the Te Toki Retreat House’s five bedrooms and two bathrooms, the other can escape up a brief trail to the Te Toki Guest House with another five bedrooms and three bathrooms in a modern two-storey, open-plan layout.

Both houses are comfortable and very well appointed; the expansive Retreat House is the focal point for most events. Closest to the Ceremony Lawn and boasting an ample kitchen for catering, it’s surrounded by beautiful decks and a stunning indoor/outdoor fireplace said by many guests to be the heart of the Retreat. The recently renovated hearth, with a wood-fired pizza oven, is the largest on the Island and is a gorgeous gathering spot at any point during your stay. Behind the house there’s a large, lush area for the marquee – ideal for formal and informal marquee-covered dinners, with seating for up to 150 guests. Next to the marquee lawn is an outside Balinese style fully-covered bar.

Once guests have departed, it’s easy to unwind with a variety of options. You can curl up by the giant fire or soak the day’s festivities away in the Jacuzzi tucked into the landscape above the Retreat, surrounded by exotic vegetation, dramatic fountains and garden art. There’s also a spacious, comfortable lounge for the kids or sport fans who wish to plug into the 55” 3D-capable, blue ray TV with all the SKY channels available.

Within Te Toki Retreat’s peaceful confines, all your senses can either be tapped or disengaged. Take a quick ferry ride over and see for yourself why Te Toki Retreat is the perfect venue for a wedding or civil union to remember. ♥