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The Wedding Niche

Miramonte's Director of Romance makes sure a couple’s big day is perfect.

Friday, March 25, 2011
Steve Pike
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To begin, yes, Shawna Salwinski’s official title at the Miramonte Resort & Spa really is “Director of Romance.”

“Some people came here and had a bet with their friends whether or not that was true,” said Salwinski, who came to the 215-room Indian Wells, Calif., resort from Aspen (Colo.) Meadows Resort about 18 months ago. ”It’s sort of a creative marketing niche that we have here.”

Finding a niche is important for any hotel of resort – even one set at the foothills of the stunning Santa Rosa mountains – but particularly important when it comes to weddings. After all, a property can’t afford to make any mistakes. That’s where certified wedding planners, such as Salwinski, play a major role in the wedding business success of a hotel or resort.

“The first staff they meet are myself, my general manager and our executive chef,” Salwinski said. “They’re confident knowing we’re confident. We do lot of customization here. People know when they come here they’ll be treated like movie stars.”

Customization, according to Salwinski, includes everything from price point to décor to different vendors.

“A lot has to do with food and beverage,” Salwinski said. ”There are so many new trends and different styles. Brides are pretty resourceful. They’re looking for the next new thing and what’s going to make their wedding better than the one their friend had a month ago. We even have some elopement packages.”

So what is new? Perhaps start with “old.” Salwinski said, she’s seen a change in the bride-groom age demographic the past few years.

“The average couple is in its late 20s and early 30s,” Salwinski said. ”They’re career driven and not into taking a lot of time detailing out the wedding. A lot of traditions are fading away. There are no greeting lines or reception line or processionals. People want to make it now more of a party. They want their guests to have the experience, whether it’s location or food and beverage, rather than just packing so many details into the wedding.

“People are coming with just immediate family,” she said. “We provide them with a nice prix fixe private dinner with champagne and they get a small cake from a little bakery near the resort.”

It sounds simple, but Salwinski said, smaller weddings can be more difficult to plan and coordinate than larger weddings.

“There is so much more to fill in a day with a small amount of people,” Salwinski said. “Bigger weddings are constantly busy with all the friends and family. But here the bride doesn’t have worry about those kinds of details. I tell her to leave that to me.”

Steve Pike
Hotel Interactive® Editorial Division

Bio: Steve Pike is an award-winning golf writer and author who helped define golf business reporting in the early 1990s as the first Golf Business Editor for Golfweek magazine and later at Golf World and Golf Shop Operations magazines for Golf Digest. Pike further pioneered this genre at the PGA of America and Time Warner as the golf business writer and editor for PGA.com. He started in newspapers more than ...
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