Photo By: Courtesy of Vatulele Island Resort
The sweetest part of a new marriage should be the honeymoon.
Thanks to social media like Facebook and Match.com, these days people can learn each other’s story before their first date. But in the days of arranged or shotgun weddings, the bride and groom needed a little intimate time to get to know one another.
The nuptial trip copies an upper-class Indian tradition of newlyweds and their parents traveling to visit relatives who were unable to attend the ceremony. In the 19th century, the Brits adopted the custom as a vacation for the happy couple.
Today, honeymoons tend to feature romantic or exotic locales that couples can recall fondly. Following are details on a few for the scrapbook.
Local travel agents have experienced a surge in bookings at adults-only, all-inclusive resorts like Sandals. The reason? Value and convenience.
“Couples are looking for the most value, and all-inclusive resorts are also easy – everything’s right there,” said Elke Fryer, travel counselor at All Horizons Travel in Los Altos.
Inclusive destinations usually include all meals as well as sports equipment, games and pools, including some with swim-up bars.
“It depends on their budgets, but all-inclusives seem to be the ticket, because then they can spend on things they like to do,” Fryer said.
Although Sandals resorts in the Caribbean are quite popular, Fryer also advises clients to try Club Med.
“You can go to Club Med now. It’s changed a lot – it’s quite appropriate,” she said of the resorts’ former “anything goes” atmosphere.
Priscilla Repetti, a partner at nearby Ligtelyn Travel of Los Altos, said her clients generally set a budget ranging from $7,000 to $10,000, depending on the destination. The length of couples’ vacations varies, taking into consideration finances and available time off from work.
She recommends that honeymooners taking a weeklong trip visit a beach resort, a week to 10 days for Fiji or Tahiti, and up to two weeks for a European sojourn.
Repetti also touts the benefits of all-inclusive resorts.
“I’m signing a couple up for one in Punta Cana (in the Dominican Republic) tomorrow, as a matter of fact,” she said.
She favors the Sandals properties, adding that honeymooners like the idea of “no hidden or unexpected costs – once it’s paid for, there’s no added expenses.”
Club Med isn’t as fancy as Sandals, whose tagline is “The Luxury-Included Honeymoon.” To compare their amenities, visit www.sandalsresorts.com and www.clubmed.com.
The Mayan Riviera
Fryer frequently books honeymoons to Cancun, on the tip of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula.
It’s also on the Mayan Riviera, which stretches from Cancun to the Mayan ruins of Tulum at the southern end and includes the island of Cozumel. Located in the state of Quintana Roo, the Mayan Riviera follows the Caribbean to the southern border with Belize.
The flight from Los Angeles takes approximately five hours. The weather is usually sunny, but during the rainy season – September to November – hurricanes can whirl.
For those interested in archaeology, the ancient Mayan ruins of Tulum beckon. Visitors can also book day trips to Coba or Chichen Itza, ancient cities that feature Mayan pyramids and ruins.
Tourists in Cancun love to shop for silver – stamped with “925” for authenticity – at Flamingo Plaza and Plaza Caracol.
It’s easy to locate Cancun’s party scene on the main strip or in the hotel zone along Boulevard Kukulcan. Revelers populate the three-story Coco Bongo Nightclub. For a quieter evening, listen to live jazz at the Roots Jazz Club and restaurant.
A diverse array of activities on the island of Maui allows newlyweds romantic encounters with the outdoors. Hiking around the Haleakala National Park and watching the sunrise from the East Maui volcano are memorable experiences.
After checking into a hotel, many visitors drive around the island or head to Hana in a convertible. The picturesque scenery and colorful tropical flowers are beyond belief.
A popular honeymoon hotel is Maui’s Fairmont Kea Lani, an oceanfront all-suite and villa luxury hotel with tennis courts on a 22-acre property. Many couples also check in to the Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa or the Hyatt Regency on Kaanapali Beach – especially if extended family joins the newlyweds.
Regardless of the island you visit, expect a five-hour flight from the Bay Area.
What could be more romantic than Venice? Some honeymooners want the thrill of riding in a gondola on the Venetian canals.
“Venice is so expensive, though, that I like to book smaller tours, and have them stay three nights in Florence, a couple of nights in Rome,” Fryer said.
Repetti finds the Amalfi Coast a popular draw for newlyweds. Located along the Sorrentine Peninsula on Italy’s southern coast, the area boasts a Mediterranean climate.
Both travel agents field requests for country villas in Tuscany, perhaps popularized by Frances Mayes’ best-seller “Under the Tuscan Sun.”
Paris in the springtime is another European destination that evokes romantic associations.
“This is a good destination if they are having a fall or spring wedding,” Fryer said.
Fryer likes boutique hotels in Paris. She often recommends the Hotel Vernet, a small luxury inn near the Champs-Élysées. To see all the sites in Paris, especially for first-timers, requires as long as two weeks.
Bali, Fiji, Tahiti
A trip to the exotic South Pacific or Indonesia is “totally different” from a European honeymoon, Fryer said.
“These are all beach, all the time,” she said.
Of course, you can go hiking, but the main activities are snorkeling, swimming and scuba diving.
Repetti recommended spending a week to 10 days in these beach hideaways. She particularly likes to book the Vatulele Island Resort in Fiji, a private island. Each guest receives a massage daily. Bungalows come with or without a private pool.
For the scuba-diving couple, there’s the oceanfront Jean-Michel Cousteau Fiji Islands Resort, run by the late oceanographer Jacques Cousteau’s son.
All Horizons Travel is located at 160 Main St., Los Altos. For more information, visit www.allhorizonstvl.com.
Ligtelyn Travel of Los Altos is located at 220 Main St., No. 203. For more information, visit www.ligtelyn-travel.com.