Weddings involve life-altering decisions, so when planning your post-knot-tying getaway, be sure that the most important decision you’ll have to make is “shade” or “sun.” That’s the beauty of the countless packages offered in all of the tried-and-true honeymoon spots like Paris, the Caribbean and Hawaii. Your dinner plans are made, excursions are planned and spa treatments are booked. All you have to do is say when.
Luxury hotels understand this too, and for them, romance is a serious business. With such staunch competition for honeymooning clientele, hoteliers are raising the stakes. Complimentary bottles of champagne? That’s for amateurs. Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas is offering a Honeymoon at the Cove Tower package, which includes private jet service and (of course) a dedicated butler and massage therapist. The price tag is $100,000, which may seem over the top to some, but the idea behind it is right: your honeymoon is the time to indulge. After all, planning a wedding these days is a huge investment of time and money, and harried couples appreciate being pampered.
“Most couples are looking for a place that is obviously romantic, but also a place to create memories,” said celebrity wedding planner and lifestyle expert Mindy Weiss, who picked the One & Only Palmilla in Mexico and Parrot Cay in the Turks and Caicos as two of her favories. “After all, for most couples this can be their first real trip together.”
One thing hotels are doing to help make the occasion more special is to add memory-making features to their packages. As part of Peter Island’s Ultimate Honeymooner Package, professional photographers arrange a photo shoot and frame the results for the couple to take home. The Banyan Tree Phuket’s Heavenly Honeymoon includes a villa decoration and wedding gift.
Couples coming down from the wedding day high will appreciate the exciting excursions that some packages offer. “Once they have recovered from the stress of the wedding and once they start getting bored of relaxing, they want to experience the destination,” said Lisa Light, wedding designer and author of Destination Bride. That can involve hiking, biking, fishing, sailing, golf and more. The Moments Package from One & Only Palmilla in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, for example, proposes a unique way to experience the destination: a tour around the Baja desert in a Hummer then a horseback ride to a lagoon, ending with a cooking class at a local farm. And on a honeymoon at the Jamaica Inn, newlyweds might be coaxed into leaving their Deluxe Verandah Suite with an opportunity to swim with dolphins and a romantic boat trip with a guided tour of Dunn’s River to and from the falls.
Many newlyweds count on their honeymoon to provide much-needed alone time in the form of intimate meals and spa treatments within the luxurious surroundings of a secluded villa or cabana. The famous overwater Polynesian bungalows of Hotel Bora Bora are best enjoyed with a candlelit champagne dinner, perhaps after a day of sailing on a catamaran, all of which are built into the Honeymoon Escape Package. And at Venice’sHotel Cipriani, several dinners are included in the two romantic packages — a three-course candlelit meal arranged on the large terrace of your junior suite and another after a gondola ride.
Location, of course, played a big role in our determining the value of the honeymoon itineraries. Lisa Light suggests sensual escapes like Bali, the Grenadines and Jamaica. And Susan Moynihan, the Editor in Chief of Destination Weddings, said, “For many couples this is the only chance to get two or more weeks off from work, so use it to your advantage and travel to farther climes like Bali, New Zealand, India or the South Pacific.”
But traditional honeymoon spots are still hot. While other packages offer more bells and whistles, a lavish suite at the historic Hotel de Crillonin the middle of Paris whispers romance. With the intimacy of the petite hotel and the impressive views of the Place de la Concorde, the Tuileries and the Seine, a simple yet elegant package with flowers, champagne, and a unique cocktail created in honor of each couple makes for a memorable honeymoon.
Spa pampering is also an excellent way to wind down after the wedding furor, and most luxury resorts offer a varied menu of treatments and classes designed to be experienced together. Weiss, who has planned the weddings of Gwen Stefani and Gavin Rossdale as well as Heidi Klum and Seal, said, “Double massages are so romantic, although one bride told me that her new husband got the giggles during their massage.” The One & Only offers up a private couples yoga class plus a massage for two in a seaside cabana, among other spa services. And the Summer Honeymoon package from Parrot Cay in the Turks & Caicos entails a half-day of indulgence spent in the Spa Cottage, where couples are also treated to a private dinner.
With so many incredible resorts in extraordinary and romantic destinations, choosing only 10 of them proved difficult. These days, there are packages for every type of couple, like the Carats of Commitment at Cap Juluca for couples wanting a commitment ceremony but not a wedding. There are also many kinds of honeymoon suites, such as the one at the Four Season's George V in Paris with a terrace facing the Eiffel Tower. But taking into account factors like noteworthy excursions, special mementos, ideal honeymoon locations and deluxe wellness services, we picked packages that are sure to be icing on the wedding cake.