HEAVENLY HONEYMOONS (PART 1)
It's the most meaningful holiday you’ll take as couple after your big day, but don’t let that make deciding on an ideal honeymoon destination become a daunting task. In the first of a two-part series, travel writer and editor Anisha Patel, who has visited countless luxury resorts and hotels all over the world, rounds up the ultimate Top 10 once-in-a-lifetime trips (in no particular order) that you’ll remember forever, from boutique beaches to aspirational adventures.
1. OKAVANGO DELTA, BOSTWANA
A safari is a great option for couples who love the great outdoors and want a more rugged, adventurous honeymoon experience. But instead of sticking to the run-of-the-mill lodges that cater for the masses, why not try a more intimate hideaway that’s ideal for two? Botswana’s Jao Camp is set on a large, remote island in a private concession bordering the Moremi Game Reserve, and boasts nine spacious, luxury tents which are nestled beneath a leafy canopy of shady trees. With king-sized beds, en-suite facilities, an outdoor shower and private veranda, this is glamping at its best. Visit at the end of March when the plains flood and you’ll not only get to spot wildlife on open vehicle game drives, but also by water in a traditional mokoro canoe. But you can keep the Big Five checklist at the ready whenever you go, as lions, elephants, buffalo, rhinos and leopard can be seen in the area throughout the year. (www.wilderness-safaris.com)
© Wilderness Safaris/Dana Allen
2. VENICE, ITALY
A popular destination for celebrities and tastemakers from Elizabeth Taylor to George Clooney (who has even helped create two of the bar’s signature cocktails), the Hotel Cipriani by Orient-Express does grandeur and relaxation in equal measures. It’s renowned for being Italy’s most expensive hotel, but you’ll get what you pay for from the moment you’re picked up from the airport in a custom-built boat – surely how any honeymoon experience should begin? – and zipped over to Giudecca Island in the Venetian lagoon, where the Palazzo-style property is hidden, away from the hubbub of St Mark’s Square. If the impressive Murano chandeliers, polished parquet wood flooring and silk curtains aren’t enough, book room 44, a junior suite that’s a particular prime spot for honeymooners: its large private terrace overlooks the Olympic-sized pool, which also happens to be the only pool you’ll find in a central Venice hotel. (www.hotelcipriani.com)
© Hotel Cipriani
3. VAMIZI ISLAND, MOZAMBIQUE
If you’re a bit, “been there, done that, got the luxury bath toiletries” when it comes to lavish Indian Ocean getaways, this tiny, conservation-focused islet in the remote Quirimbas archipelago will be your paradise found. Vamizi Island Lodge features 13 palatial villas decked out in gorgeous East African details such as hand-carved wooden furniture, daybeds and wrought iron lanterns. And the award-winning South African architects who designed them certainly had seclusion in mind: each villa is so widely spaced and well hidden that you can go all day without seeing anyone but your new spouse. It’s also barefoot luxury at its best, so the only formal dress code is remembering to wear a shirt in the restaurant – the rest of the time, all you need is your swimwear and the complimentary sun hat and sarong that’s provided in the rooms, whether you decide to cool off in your private plunge pool or take a castaway picnic on a ship-wrecked beach. (www.vamizi.com)
© Vamizi Island, Mozambique
4. TOFINO, CANADA
Tofino has bags of romantic appeal. Take the Wickaninnish Inn for instance. Set on the super-exclusive Chesterman Beach, every room comes with a fireplace as standard, so cosy nights in while watching the waves of the Pacific Ocean crash below you are definitely on the agenda. The hotel also offers an exclusive “All You Need is Love” package, which includes a four-course dinner at The Pointe Restaurant – which has a floor-to-ceiling, 240-degree view of the wild beach below, an evening turndown service complete with white orchids and chocolate truffles, and keepsake Champagne flutes to take back home with you. (www.wickinn.com)
© Russ Heinl, Christopher Pouget, Peter Jackson
5. COSTA RICA
For that drop-dead gorgeous beach factor with a nature fix, you’d be hard pressed to beat this tropical island, which has become a popular hotspot for newlywed couples. You’ll understand where its name – translated as ‘rich coast’ – comes from when you discover that it’s home to jungles teeming with wildlife, beaches edged by lush rainforests and rugged volcanic peaks. There are plenty of beachside havens to choose from when you’re not busy being at one with nature, but the attentive staff at the Four Seasons Costa Rica at Peninsula Papagayo take care of those little touches that make your honeymoon extra special – and helped earn the resort Travel + Leisure magazine’s World’s Best Service Hotel title for 2013 – like organising Champagne breakfasts, candle-lit dinners and ‘Rejuvenation for Two’ spa packages, which includes a lesson in how to massage your partner. A skill, no doubt, that’s bound to come in handy for years to come. (www.fourseasons.com/costarica)
© Four Seasons
With your passports at the ready, join in for Heavenly Honeymoons Part 2 here!
Anisha Patel is a London-based editor and writer specializing in travel and food. She currently edits Travel, the inflight magazine for Thomas Cook, and contributes travel features for titles such as PrivatAir and EasyJet Traveller. When she’s not jet setting her way around the world from Nepal to Namibia, she can be found eating her way around London’s best restaurants, and plans to blog about her gourmet adventures very soon. Watch this space.Follow Anisha on Twitter.
Feature Image: Kiwi Collection