Lust after the finest honeymoon destinations...
Going on honeymoon must rank as one of the most exciting and enjoyable experiences two people can have together. Months and months of careful planning and saving culminate in your wedding day, usually followed by a wonderful holiday somewhere amazing, where the memories and the romance can last forever.
Our theory is that the earlier you book your honeymoon, the better value it will be for you because you’ll have longer to anticipate, plan and choose all the extras that help make the experience perfect. So, whether you’re planning your own honeymoon, or helping others with theirs, we think our selection – of paradise beaches, luxury hide-aways and elegant hotels will leave you breathless with excitement. Who knows, you might even persuade the man in your life to do it all again together somewhere new and wonderful.
By the way, if you were wondering where the word honeymoon’ comes from, we’ve been doing some research. Hugh Grant said to Andie MacDowell in Four Weddings and a Funeral that it was so called because Honey because it’s sweet as honey, and “moon” because it’s the first time a husband got to see his wife’s bottom.
That’s partially correct, but the bit about bottoms isn’t. The word is believed to have originated in the mid 16th century, referring to the period of time following a wedding. A moon’ was another way of expressing a month, with the post-marriage sweetness waning like the moon.
Well, we don’t intend letting any affection wane, and this lovely line-up of honeymoon destinations will all work as top choices, rather than bottom!
South African Safari
Earth Lodge Private Game Reserve, situated in the Sabi Sand Wildtuin, South Africa, is the ultimate destination for a luxury safari. Considered the most environmentally sensitive lodge in Africa, it is home to 13 opulent and individually designed suites. This exclusive and romantic lodge is sculptured into the earth, making it almost invisible in the landscape. Intricately handmade twig chandeliers with gilded copper, bronze and silver branches twinkle softly, mirroring the night stars and adding that magical touch. Complimentary honeymoon services include a romantic turndown, a private dinner and Champagne on the last evening. The location for the private dinner can be chosen from a choice of locations including the outdoor boma with walls sculpted from tree roots, the dining area on the edge of a watering hole, the atmospheric underground wine cellar home to more than 6,000 rare bottles of wine and liqueurs, or in your suite accompanied by flickering candlelight. To relax and unwind, the Amani Spa at Earth Lodge features a double treatment suite where couples can be pampered together for an extra honeymoon treat ensuring it is a time that will never be forgotten.
Jacada Travel (jacadatravel.com) offers a three night luxury safari at Sabi Sabi Private Reserve from £3,100 per person based on two sharing. This includes return flights from London to Johannesburg, shuttle flights with Federal Air and accommodation at Earth Lodge, full board and activities. This includes daily open safaris by day and at night to see Africa’s big game accompanied by qualified rangers and Shangaan trackers, environmental awareness walking safaris, full breakfast, lunch and dinners, sundowner drinks, selected beverages, South African house wines and local taxes. Complimentary honeymoon services also include a romantic turndown service, one private dinner in the venue of the couple’s choice, and a complimentary bottle of sparkling wine.
Mustang Monument is a ranch with serious style, where philanthropic tourism meets luxury wilderness adventure. Surrounded by the wide horizons and soul-soothing open spaces of Nevada, the resort offers a 360-degree luxury experience and an unforgettable wildlife adventure. Totally unique and completely off-radar, the eco-resort is the perfect start for any newlyweds, king-sized accommodation is in either a hand painted tipi or a sumptuous safari cottage, there’ll be inner under the stars, romantic horse-rides over scenic valleys, and even a mountain top Native American blessing by a tribal chief.
Steppes Travel (08437789926, steppestravel.com) offers a five night stay at Mustang Monument Wild Horse Eco Resort from £2,995 per person, based on two people sharing a tipi. Price includes accommodation on a full board basis including return flights, most activities and excursions, and car hire.
Gstaad Palace is delighted to be offering undoubtedly the ultimate’ in luxury; the opportunity to rent the Palace in its entirety. Taking opulence, indulgence and glamour to a level not seen before, this exclusive offering enables guests to live like royalty in a Palace in a magical winter wonderland setting. Enjoy exclusive and spectacular views of the Alps, unparalleled service and a plethora of five-star spa and restaurant features. If you feel the need for company, there are in fact 100 bedrooms, so you could bring all your friends and let them unwind in the world-renowned nightclub GreenGo, relax in an indoor and heated outdoor swimming pool and de-stress on their four tennis courts and squash courts.
The package price per day is from £41,674 (CHF 60,000), available from 14 – 20 June, 13 – 27 September and 13 – 17 December 2015. More details from palace.ch
Recently reopened for Summer 2015, Purobeach Marbella is situated in one of the most striking coastal towns in Southern Spain. With two spas located around the beach club, couples can relax and enjoy a full range of massages and treatments as well as a variety of Global Treats including Asian Massage, Body Hydrating Massages as well as a selection of hand and foot treatments. Following an afternoon of pure relaxation and indulgence, honeymooners will leave feeling completely renewed from top to toe after the stresses of wedding planning.
Just 2.5 hours from London and a short drive from Malaga airport, Purobeach Marbella boasts a prime location on a picturesque sandy beach, surrounded by views of Gibraltar rock and the Moroccan Atlas Mountains. Moe details from purobeach.com
It might not get as much attention as cities like Paris or Venice, but Bruges is an incredibly romantic and charming city, and only four hours away by Eurostar. Wander through the Art Nouveau architecture and by the fairytale canals, pausing at cafés along the way to sample the famous Belgian beer and chocolate. Make sure you pop into Patisserie Academie for some excellent brownies and Dumon, the tiniest and most gorgeous of all the chocolate shops in the city.
A romantic city break at an old-world Bruges hotel, with champagne breakfast and Eurostar travel, costs from £195 for two nights. More details from secretescapes.com
Francis Ford Coppola’s hotel in Belize is the perfect romantic hideaway, with rooms designed by Sophia and Roman Coppola. There’s plenty to do if you get bored of lying on the stunning white sand beach. From snorkelling, trips to Monkey River, sunset cruises, excursions to the nearby Myan ruins and jaguar tracking in the jungle this is a honeymoon experience like no other.
Journey Latin America (020 8600 1881, journeylatinamerica.co.uk) specialises in tailor-made travel and small group tours to all of Latin America, including Belize. A 7-night stay costs from £1,944pp based on two sharing.
Santorini is world famous for its irresistible views, endless sunsets and the amazing contrast between the white countryside and volcanic black rocks from the region. Where best to take all this beauty in than in a luxury villa on the highest point in Oia? Villa Ourea sits on top of this majestic vantage point and offers breathtaking panoramic views, from the prominent colours of the Caldera to the golden of the sunset. The owners of the villa are design experts and have combined clean white sensibilities with shades of gray in the living area, extending to warmer pastel colours in the bedrooms that create a comfortable and relaxing ambiance.
A week here costs from £4,401 to £4,952 with Oliver’sTravels (0800 133 7999, oliverstravels.com)
Tucked away on the northernmost point of Hamilton Island in the Whitsundays, qualia is the perfect honeymoon destination for those wanting to unwind in their own private piece of heaven. Each of the 60 pavilions face the water, with some offering their own private sun-deck and infinity edge plunge pool so that honeymooners can enjoy some one-on-one time in the most beautiful of surroundings. Offering a collection of deeper sensory experiences, qualia immerses couples in tranquillity, with every element in order to relax the mind and spoil the senses. Catering only to adults, honeymooners can be rest assured that their holidays won’t be disturbed by little ones. Those wanting to explore the Great Barrier Reef can enjoy a bird’s eye view of the beautiful Heart Reef on a private helicopter flight – an unforgettable honeymoon experience. After a day out on the reef, couples can unwind in Spa qualia, offering contemporary and indigenous treatments and therapies designed to relax, revitalise and replenish. Nightly rates at qualia from AUD995 b&b (*£500) for a Leeward Pavilion www.qualia.com.au
Situated between Sarlat and Rocamadour, Chateau de la Treyne’s situation is the most romantic in South West France; resembling a turreted fairy-tale castle it is set high above the Dordogne beneath a wooded hillside, and is reflected in the river below. The chateau dates back to the 14th century and is today a luxury hotel (in the Relais & Chateaux portfolio) with 11 individual rooms and 6 suites each magnificently decorated to the highest luxury standard. The 300-hectare estate includes a stunning formal French Garden, perfumed rose gardens, a secluded heated outdoor swimming pool, tennis court and for guests who choose to marry in the hotel, there is a divine Romanesque chapel within the grounds. Dining in the Michelin star rated restaurant is always al fresco when weather permits to offer guests the most romantic views of the river as the sun goes down.
Rooms are priced from 440 per couple per night on a ½-board basis; flights to Brive Souillac (1/2-hour’s drive from the hotel) are from £50 pp return with Ryanair (www.ryanair.com)
Check out chateaudelatreyne.fr for more details.
Kandolhu is a tiny, tranquil island with a lush green interior encircled by white sands and coral reefs, yet with a choice of restaurants and rooms more typical of a larger island. Choose the excellent all inclusive option and you get access to all restaurants plus a large variety of drinks, including the minibar and in-villa wine chiller. The house reef can be reached from access points around the island, perfect for snorkelling – often amongst turtles – whilst there are numerous dive sites reached by boat in minutes from the dive centre.
It’s a 2-minute seaplane ride from the capital, Malé, followed by 10 minutes in a speedboat. Kuoni (01306 747008 or kuoni.co.uk) offers a seven night holiday at Kandolhu Island in a Jacuzzi Beach Villa with breakfast, including return flights on Turkish Airlines from London Gatwick via Istanbul and transfers in resort.
Prices for September 2015 from £2605 per person, based on two sharing. Book by 24 July 2015.