The Robb Report Limited Edition Luxury Summit 2016 Sees Much Talk on Weddings, Hospitality & Travel

Business Events | December 9, 2016 | News

Robb Report Limited Edition Luxury summit Oberoi Hotels and Resorts

Robb Report India organised its Limited Edition Luxury Summit 2016 to celebrate the finer things in life, at The Oberoi Gurgaon on November 26. The gathering of a select few from the magnificent world of luxury included connoisseurs and consumers of nothing but the best. New age royals who are the keepers of exotic ancient Indian heritage, and fashion gurus whose genius dictates the course of the business on the global map, to trendsetting globetrotters and fairy tale wedding planners, all graced this much awaited event.

The Wedding Session

In a country that's known for its 'big fat weddings', Frank Daamgard from Monte Carlo, Pilar Angulo from Spain, and our own Punit Jasuja, shared what a perfectly planned, dream destination wedding is, along with restaurateur Marut Sikka, who happens to be Bill Clinton and Atal Bihari Vajpayee's favourite chef.

While Daamgaard planned and executed his first Indian wedding across venues in Monaco in 2011 and Angulo took wedding planners by surprise with a fairytale wedding for an Indian couple in a tower in Bilbao, Sikka and Jasuja have experienced the Indian wedding industry for decades. “The wedding industry earlier was highly fragmented with little synchronization. Call one bartender, one caterer and one decorator and plan a wedding,” says Jasuja. But if there’s one aspect that’s remained unchanged over the past 20 years or more, it is the food. “Food is basic, it’s an essential part of weddings. If the food isn’t great, you cannot enjoy the best décor or location,” says Sikka.

With food being the all-important ingredient in a memorable wedding, exotic international destinations often turn out to be logistical nightmares for the planners and chefs. For a wedding in Venice, Sikka worked with local Italian bakers to make the Indian ‘pav’ for Mumbai Street fare pav bhaji and got electronic tandoors to grill aubergines and tomatoes for the all-vegetarian wedding. For a wedding in Puglia, Sikka had flown in seeds of Indian vegetables to plan them well before the wedding celebrations. “Good food makes a good wedding,” he says. Interestingly, “over 85 per cent” of all destination weddings that he's done have been vegetarian affairs, posing a challenge to chefs. “People want Indian food, including Indian street food,” he says.

While Rajasthan and Goa continue to be popular domestic destinations, high flying Indians are taking off to exotic locales for their big wedding celebrations. Ever since he did a multi-venue wedding for 850 guests across Monaco in 2011, Daamgaard has been flooded with requests for weddings in Monte Carlo. “It’s the world’s smallest country but we managed to find venues for various functions for 850 people,” he says. With help from the local authorities, he cordoned off the main Casino Square for the baraat, organised the sangeet at the elegant Hotel De Paris and had a mehendi bash at the Hotel Hermitage. “At the Casino Square, there were 350 guests but 1500 onlookers who just came to watch,” he says. 

Exploring unchartered destinations is the new norm among couples. “People want unexplored places that offer privacy and intimacy,” says Jasuja. So, when Angulo presented the exotic offerings in her town, Bilbao to a couple, they lapped it up and went on to have a fairytale wedding in a private tower. “It was the first time the tower was opened up to outsiders for a wedding. Instead of a horse carriage, the groom arrived in a Rolls Royce,” she says. 

Even as we see instances of weddings getting cancelled for paucity of cash, over the past few weeks, the experts are confident that it’s only a brief phase. “For Indians, a wedding is that occasion when people indulge themselves to the best of their ability and that will never change,” says Sikka. 

Tips to organise your dream destination wedding:

Jasuja says: “Don’t overthink. If the couple and the families are happy, all guests will be happy.”

Sikka advises people to take decisions fast. “Don’t keep decisions lingering.”

Daamgaard tells people to work with a local planner who has all the right contacts. “He can get you the best deals and the best service.”

Design, Travel and Food

The Summit had Hollywood and Michelle Obama's favourite designer, Bibhu Mohapatra, and stunning actor Aditi Rao Hydari talking about their most luxurious style statements.

Globetrotter Ankur Bhatia of the Bird Group, along with enthusiastic young travel planner of Byond Travel, Vikram Ahuja, discussed trends in luxury travel. With technology making its presence felt in everything that surrounds us, VistaJet International's Sheena De Boisgelin, and Marine Solutions' Gautama Dutta, talked about ways that hi-tech travel change the world of explorers and passionate adventurers.

This also offered the perfect opportunity for fine food lovers to relish Michelin-starred chef Vineet Bhatia’s ‘twists of taste’; the talented chef talked about fusion food and what lies beyond that. So his chocolate samosas, blue cheese naan, or even his dream biryani kofta that he mentions, are all products of keeping the signature "Vineet Bhatia" present and alive. This again is the reason behind his very unique eponymous London restaurant that is a 'no carbs, no music' place! Quite popular among the who's who all over the world, the interesting restaurant serves a 15-course menu that starts with finger foods and ends with lip-smacking desserts. Speaking about these, Bhatia says, "Its all about savouring flavours and not storing calories. So, unlike the old master chefs, I use minimal ghee and carbs and create my popular recipes."  

This was followed by a session by the 'miracle doctor' to the world's rich and famous - Dr Sepp Fegerl - who holds the key to the eternal fountain of youth. The medical director at luxury resort and spa Viva Mayr Altaussee, talked about what anti-ageing truly means.

Luxury Beauty

For all those who appreciate everything that’s aesthetically appealing and beautiful, India’s age-old beauty secrets were revealed by Kama Ayurveda's Vivek Sahni, along with luxury leather maker Sahil Malik, and the man responsible for putting India on the global fashion map, Sunil Sethi of FDCI. For those who’ve always loved dazzling Faberge eggs and have an eye for haute horology, Faberge’s Sean Gilbertson and Ulysse Nardin's Patrik Hoffman together shared why this is the time to watch out for.

Heritage and Hospitality

Lakshyaraj Singh Mewar of Udaipur and Diya Kumari of Jaipur, shared their royal experiences, and spoke of how they are still maintaining the cultural heritage that dates back thousands of years. Contemporary artists Jiten Thukral and Sumir Tagra, allowed the audience delve deeper into their abstract world, accompanied by noted art collector Abhishek Poddar and one of India's leading curators and art consultants who's proved that art can cross all boundaries, Pooja Sood. Daniele Cristanellli, a representative from Italy's noted Sartori family spoke on drinking the finest white Amarone. And the day ended with Arjun and Vikram Oberoi, from the pioneering Oberoi family, discussing how India can welcome the world with open arms, and spread the authentic Indian hospitality world over, as they share their priceless secrets on why they’ve been one of the best in the world in the industry.

Robb Report Limited Edition 2016 organised its inaugural luxury summit in India on November 26 at The Oberoi, Gurgaon.

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