Mountain High To Ocean Deep: Kota Kinabalu^s Dream Destinations
Last updated on 2010-02-22 , 11:10 PM
As an event planner/wedding coordinator that specializes in Destination Weddings, I am often asked to check out or ocular visit many a destination wedding venues in all parts of the globe. I do this enjoyable work partly as a tourist but mainly as the key person who can guide the couple as to the advisability of their chosen location and wedding venue.Most venues do not disappoint in delivering what their brochures and websites claim they offer.But now and then, one stumbles and finds a gem of a venue that is just plain perfect in holding that dream destination wedding.In a recent trip, I was lucky enough to find not one but two locations on the eco-paradise of Kota Kinabalu in Sabah.
Located just north of the equator (sunny tropical climate!), Sabah sits at the tip of Boeo, the world’s third largest island.Its state capital Kota Kinabalu, or KK, as it is popularly known, is a resort city set between the majestic Mt.Kinabalu and the South China Sea.You can tour KK in half a day and still leave plenty of time for the many activities it offers.For the more laid back traveler, KK’s cultural and traditional arts and crafts can be easily appreciated from leaing the art of Batik painting, haggling at the local market or just enjoying a short cruise through thick mangrove forests.But if it’s adventure one craves, then KK outdoes itself in offering wild river rafting down the Kiulu River, traveling to the Khas wetlands for a river cruise in search of exotic birds, monkeys and crocodiles, trekking through Kinabalu Park where you can walk along the 100 –foot-high canopy walkway.For the vertically adventurous, the jagged peaks of Mt.Kinabalu (4095m) beckons to be climbed and enjoyed.
KK does quite well on the romance angle too.And this is where my two “finds” come into the picture.For wedding destination hunters and eventual honeymooners, Shangri-la Hotel Tanjung Aru Resort and Spa (located a mere 10-minute-drive from the airport) and Shangri-la Hotel Rasa Ria Resort (a 45-minute-drive away from the city) is unparalleled in providing that dream of a tropical haven where nature still abound, but mode amenities can still be enjoyed.Lt’s face it, the bride and groom of today wants to get away from the standard “wedding package” of church and hotel and opt instead for the new, the different and the exotic….and if it comes with inteet access, WiFi connections, shopping, spas and warm and smiling hotel staff, then it’s a done deal.
Shangri-la Tanjung Aru is quite popular with the locals, especially those who wish to celebrate milestones in their life.It has several wedding set-ups from a candle-lit ceremony on the beach during sunset, a garden wedding complete with a gazebo or the traditional and classic wedding in its ballroom.What I found unique is its Solemnization Package where the hotel’s in-house wedding planner or account coordinator can arrange a solemnization services by the local registrar.After submitting the necessary papers and personally submitting it to the Registrar of Marriage (example: single status certificate, proof of identification, etc), the bride and groom, together with the required witnesses can be married civilly.Their wedding packages are complete with options to get the cake, flowers and entertainment from the hotel or you can personalize your choices by choosing to bring in your own.Menu choices are also available as part of the packages.
From playing golf in its 18-hole-championship golf course Dalit Bay Golf Club, its varied water activities (banana boat, water and jet ski, etc), jungle trekking, river-boat ride complete with native villages, batik-making lessons to yoga and Pilates classes, hotel guests and their kids will never run out of activities.Of course, it has a glorious pool (don’t forget the sandy beach!) one can just soak and cool-off in.
For those tying the knot, Rasa Ria’s Romance Wedding Package promises to take care of everything.From the locally available flowers, photography, cake and Civil Marriage officiant and civil marriage license to the cocktails and dinner for the reception.
The resort’s Wedding Pavilion, a meandering walkway with a quaint gazebo that faces the beach and sea, couples may choose to walk or ride in a decorated golf cart or buggy.One can even rent a horse for pictorial purposes.
The cost of holding a wedding in KK is not as expensive as expected.It is nearly comparable to holding a wedding in Cebu or any of the major provincial cities in the .One nice bonus is that the bride and groom can claim that they held their wedding in another country, thus giving the wedding a surprising inteational flavor.With KK, it’s like paying as if you’re traveling domestic – but you’re actually traveling overseas.
Any wedding destination must be easily accessible to travelers everywhere and have an airport that is not only fully operational, safe and clean, but also complete with mode conveniences.For those interested to know more – Cebu Pacific flies to Kota Kinabalu twice a week (Monday and Friday) from the newly opened NAIA 3.For inquiries, e-mail Tanjung Aru Resort and Spa at firstname.lastname@example.org or Rasa Ria Resort at email@example.com.