At the Aman-i-Khás wilderness camp near India's Ranthambhore National Park in Rajasthan, nine canvas tents have all the splendid comforts of a Moghul summer palace. In the quartzite Aravalli Hills, where leopards and gazelles roam freely through ancient temple ruins, you can lounge like maharajahs on a mocha-and-cream daybed, surrounded by billowing cotton partitions. Kerosene lamps cast a soft glow for reading Kipling in a mahogany camp chair; a languorous soak in a sunken tub removes the grit after a rugged tiger safari on the savanna. (The park is one of India's best for spotting big cats.) Dine bush-style on fiery curries within the camp's secluded courtyard. No kitties allowed.
Ranthambhore, Rajasthan; 800/477-9180; www.amanresorts.com; $2,300 for four nights, double, all-inclusive.
BY LOIS SMITH BRADY, NEW YORK TIMES REPORTER
A lot of people resent "destination weddings," which have become increasingly popular—among brides and grooms, anyway. These far-flung events require guests to travel to an uninhabited island off the coast of Maine, a castle in Portugal, or a mosque in Turkey. One might have to take multiple airplanes to get there, or navigate roads with potholes as deep as bathtubs, or stay in a hotel with no outgoing lines. In some people, this creates wedding rage.
Even the smallest amount of traveling can unnerve wedding guests. I once attended a wedding that required everyone to walk for miles, literally. It took place in Manhattan and was called the Seven-Stop Wedding. The couple led their guests to seven of their most sentimental spots. We visited the park where they first kissed. We climbed stairs to the rooftop of an art museum.
I don't recall the significance of the rooftop (the proposal, maybe?), but I do remember everyone huffing and puffing when they got there. The experience was like boot camp. But I remember it more clearly than the 50 other ceremonies I attended as a wedding reporter that year. The walking added much more camaraderie than you'll ever feel at a church wedding. It was a calorie-burner, and you can't say that about many parties.
A conventional wedding is the opposite: it always seems like an uninspired beginning, like a very long, uninteresting first sentence to a novel. Generally, it is full of rhetorical language and other things that put you to sleep. You certainly don't feel sleepy or bored as a wedding guest standing barefoot on a beach on Maui—even if your flight in was delayed.
Traveling is an apt metaphor for love. Both can be risky and both give you a heightened sense of all the things that can go terribly wrong. You can lose your luggage or get on the plane heading to Reno instead of Rio. Your heart can be broken, badly. These days, walking down the aisle means taking a fifty-fifty chance. Why not bring your guests to a place where the chance of their luggage being lost is also fifty-fifty, as is the chance of having Internet service, or even room service?
Once, I flew into Buffalo, New York, to watch a couple say their vows next to Niagara Falls. The bride and groom could easily have had a similar five-minute, inaudible civil ceremony at city hall. But it was worth traveling for the background roar and the symbolism. Another time, I went to a wedding in Utah where every guest stayed at the same slopeside hotel, which soon took on a dormitory atmosphere. Most guests had never been to Snowbird before; many didn't ski. But the unfamiliar "Where am I?" feeling seemed perfect. No matter how much you read about marriage, no matter how much you quiz your parents or your therapists, as a bride and groom you will always walk down the aisle into your own uniquely unknown territory.
And when someone can take you elsewhere, that is love. It's a form of unintentional, unplanned traveling. As John Steinbeck said, the best kinds of journeys are not the ones you take. The best are the ones that take you.
2 One & Only Palmilla
At the tip of Mexico's Baja peninsula, One & Only Palmilla takes moonlight serenades seriously. The 172-room resort can arrange a Latin guitar trio to strum ballads on sandy coves facing the Sea of Cortés, atop a historic bell tower, or in a Casa Gardenia suite. There, your personal butler serves dinner on a bougainvillea-covered patio under the lunar glow. For a more social outing, go public at Charlie Trotter's C Restaurant, a blue-glass fantasy where the star chef reinterprets traditional Mexican seafood dishes. Then retreat to a king-sized bed fitted with your choice of Egyptian cotton, pressed linen, or cotton sateen sheets. Moonlit madness guaranteed.
San José del Cabo; 877/472-5645; www.oneandonlypalmilla.com; doubles from $475.
Cruises for Couples A lapping sea, a painted sunset, you, your significant other—and 750 other couples?Cruising would be so romantic were it not for the madding crowds. Thankfully, a growing number of yachting companies understand that when it comes to shipboard romance, less is more. 3. The Oberoi Group just began sailings through the backwaters of the Indian state of Kerala aboard the two-story, 16-passenger Vrinda (800/562-3764; www.oberoihotels.com; doubles from $1,250). Glide through the palm-lined waterways, kicking back with a chai on deck or relaxing in the wood-paneled staterooms down below. 4. Spiritually inclined couples can ride up Laos's Mekong River during a three-day cruise on the 24-passenger Vat Phou (Absolute Asia,800/736-8187; www.absoluteasia.com; doubles from $420). Guides lead trips to previously inaccessible Khmer temples and past the Khon Phapheng waterfall, Southeast Asia's version of Niagara Falls. 5. For a more traditional excursion, try Windstar Cruises, which began ferrying passengers aboard its masted sailing ship Wind Surf (800/258-7245; www.windstarcruises.com; doubles from $3,486) in the Baltics last summer. The 13-day cruise starts in St. Petersburg and winds through port cities in Poland, Lithuania, Finland, and Sweden before reaching Copenhagen.