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Once in a lifetime honeymoon experience!

Nestled between verdant rainforest and white-sand beaches on a private island, The St. Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort overlooks the alluring waves of the Indian Ocean. Explore the tropical beauty and rich marine life of this peaceful, eco-conscious setting.

A large variety of water sports and excursions at the diving center can be arranged by their signature service, the butlers. In addition, an exquisite culinary fare awaits at their six restaurants and bars.

Boasting refined furnishings and island-inspired design, each of the 33 on-land and 44 over-water villas promises picturesque ocean or garden views from private terraces and pools.

From diving and snorkeling or speedboating and windsurfing to deep-sea fishing and glass-bottom kayak tours, the Vommuli Dive and Water Sports Center is the ideal gateway to indelible recreation on—or beneath—the azure waves of the Indian Ocean.

Set on an idyllic private island in the Republic of Maldives, The St. Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort spans nine hectares in the Dhaalu Atoll. Of the 1,192 islands that collectively make up the 26 atolls of the Maldives, only 200 are inhabited, making this resort a rare gem. An untouched tropical landscape, thickly forested and lined by sparkling sands, a lagoon teeming with sea life, and the azure Indian Ocean, this resort welcomes guests into an exclusive paradise unlike any other.

Encounter a distinctly unique, distinctly bespoke experience at The St. Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort. Designed to be ecologically friendly, they offer 77 inspired accommodations, including 44 overwater villas and 33 on the land. Enjoy an unrestricted view of either the Indian Ocean or their island’s lush tropical gardens from your private terrace.

Contact Avant-Garde Travel to learn more about this romantic honeymoon package.

Five Reasons Why Rwanda is the Luxury Honeymoon Destination

Rwanda, The Land of a Thousand Hills is a lush green landscape nestled in the middle of Africa. The respectful and hospitable nature of the Rwandese people makes it a warm place for visitors. Rwanda has also become a central hub for meetings and innovation with the new convention center built in partnership with the Gates Foundation.   Named the 9th safest country in the world, Rwanda has become Africa’s best kept secret and so romantic!

#1: Gorilla Trekking at Volcanoes National Park

Many know Rwanda for the work Dian Fossey started with the silverback gorillas. New recognition was garnered thanks to Ellen DeGeneres’ foundation celebrating the work and continuing major conservation efforts. The Ellen DeGeneres Campus of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund will provide diverse offerings and contributions to community and most importantly protecting the gorillas. There are roughly only 1000 Silverback Gorillas left in the world.

Volcanoes National Park is located in a small town called Musanze and less than 3 hours from Kigali (the Capital City of Rwanda). To experience Gorilla Trekking in Rwanda, the permits are $1500 per person. You will hike up a hill and enter into the forest with a team of trackers. It could take you 5-7 hours to find a gorilla family, which just depends on the gorilla families and where they choose to go. Short treks of 30 minutes to 1 hour are available for those desiring a less strenuous endeavor. To experience the gorillas in their natural habitat and in their element is a truly surreal feeling and a must visit!

Where to stay:

Singita Kwitonda Lodge – Opening in August 2019 (taking reservations). Located at the base of the Volcanoes National Park. The Singita brand is expanding their footprint in Africa with their continued efforts in thoughtful conservation. This lodge is going to be gorgeous! Having met with representatives from this hotel and seeing the renderings, it will be a highlight in Rwanda luxury.

Bisate Lodge – Located at the base of the Volcanoes National Park, this luxury lodge is taking Rwanda to the next level in the luxury market. Locally sourced materials and design create a welcome warm experience for discerning travelers. It is seriously a bucket-list hideaway, perfect for a romantic honeymoon.

African safari lodgePhoto: Bisate Lodge, courtesy of Wilderness Safari

 

#2: Lake Kivu

Lake Kivu is the world’s eighteenth deepest lake that sits on the border between Rwanda and the Republic of Congo. The waterfront towns offer a serene backdrop while visiting Rwanda. This destination is the perfect stop when on your way to Volcano National Park and Nyungwe National Park. The quiet environment welcomes meditation and yoga.

Where to stay:

Lake Kivu Serena – Relax while overlooking Lake Kivu, take a bike ride around the town of Gisenyi or enjoy a yoga session in their fitness facilities.   Simple accommodations while experiencing Lake Kivu.

resort, pool, AfricaPhoto: Exterior Lake Kivu Serena, Courtesy of Lake Kivu Serena

 

#3: Akagera National Park

It may surprise most people to hear that you can experience the Big Five in Rwanda and that there are a reported 18 Black Rhinos living in the park. While Akagera doesn’t compare to safaris in Masai Mara, South Africa or Botswana (yet) it is truly something to experience while in Rwanda.

Just a two-hour drive from Kigali, it offers a beautiful and convenient savannah and marsh landscape. There are over 482 bird species nestled within the park. Some of the activities to enjoy at the park include fishing, behind the scenes tour that includes conservation efforts and night drive experience with guide. The best part is you can visit the park for only $50 per day.

Where to stay:

Magashi Camp – With six spacious tented guest rooms with private access to a portion of Akagera, this luxury accommodation doesn’t compromise on luxury. This brand-new camp, opened in December 2018, will be sure to set a new standard for guests visiting Akagera.

luxury tent, AfricaPhoto: Magashi Camp tent rendering, courtesy of Wilderness Safaris.

 

#4: Nyungwe National Park

One of the unique things about Rwanda is the diversity of the landscape. This national park is set within lush rainforests, tea fields and waterfalls. There are 13 hiking trails that cover the terrain and vary in distance. A unique experience involves chimpanzee and monkey trekking in the forest within their natural habitat. Scale the Nyungwe Forest Canopy and traverse the forest beneath you. You may also see one of the 300 bird species local to that area.

Where to stay:

One & Only Nyungwe House – In the mountains, surrounded by rainforest and tea plantations, this resort is a treat for your senses. The intimate 22 luxury rooms and suites integrate nicely with the local landscape. This sanctuary will rejuvenate your soul with its spa and fitness sanctuary. Dine in the wilderness. You will leave with piece of Africa left in your heart after this experience.

Nyungwe National Park photo: Nyungwe House, courtesy of One&Only Nyungwe House

 

#5: Kigali

As the Capital City of Rwanda, Kigali is the energy that breathes life into the rest of the country. All trips begin and end through Kigali where the international airport is located. You’ll find the city to be very clean and well maintained. The residents of Rwanda take pride in their country and even have a unified day of service called Umuganda on the morning of the last Saturday every month. During Umuganda, the entire population (12 million) devote some time to their local community including cleaning the streets, cutting grass, repairing roads and much more.

Visit the many museums and art galleries, shopping centers to get some locally woven baskets or fresh Rwandese coffee or tea to take home.

Rwanda’s history is one of healing and forgiveness. A visit to the Kigali Genocide Memorial helps to educate and honor the memory of the one million Rwandans killed in 1994. Reflection on the past but acknowledgement of how far the country has advanced will make you appreciate the resilience of the people and country by the time you leave.

Where to stay:

 Kigali Serena Hotel – Located in the heart of Kigali, the 148 rooms and suites are nicely appointed private and peaceful retreat. Enjoy a treatment in their spa, workout in their fitness facilities after a long flight or just people watch in the lobby while drinking local Rwandese tea.   It is where the elite Rwandese business meetings are conducted and affluent locals hang out. Simple accommodations to start your adventure in Rwanda.

Kigali, resortPhoto: Kigali Serena Hotel, courtesy of Kigali Serena Hotel

Rwanda is positioning itself as the luxury destination for honeymooners who are looking for unique experiences. Whether you’re including the destination as a pre-post Kenya, Botswana or South Africa safari or visiting the destination exclusively there is plenty to see and do during your visit.

For more information on any of the hotels and Rwanda as a destination, or to schedule a complimentary planning consultation, email Janelle Ruhumuliza at janelle@lilacsandchai.com (affiliate of Avant-Garde Travel).

 

Iceland is a country of sharp contrasts. A place where fire and ice co-exist. Where dark winters are offset by the summer’s midnight sun. A country where insular existence has spurred a rich and vibrant culture.

Contact Avant-Garde Travel for help planning an incredible honeymoon experience you’ll never forget.  Feel the thrills of the great outdoors on this comprehensive Iceland adventure tour. This self-drive journey allows you to explore the sights at your own pace and includes countryside boutique accommodation that let you fully recharge for each day’s adventures. This is an active holiday that features the best Iceland’s southern and north eastern region has to offer.

iceland, honeymoon

Travel & Honeymoon Expert: Avant – Garde Travel

If you are thinking of the most amazing exotic honeymoon and the average Hawaii or Caribbean destinations won’t do, then Thailand might be the ticket for you!

boat, Thailand

Thailand, dock, water

A luxurious honeymoon in Thailand is a great way to relax and unwind after months of preparing for the wedding.

Thailand

Thailand sunset

Newlywed couples will enjoy the activities lined up for this 14-day tour which includes a stroll through Bangkok’s Chinatown, a Lanna style wedding ceremony, bathing of elephants, visiting monks at templesand much, much more.

Thailand

Thailand waterfall

Need help planning your upcoming Honeymoon? This is one of the most important parts of your wedding – don’t leave the planning to the last minute! Contact Avant – Garde Travel to make your honeymoon unforgettable!

Las Alamandas Resort

Mexican Resort

Managed as an exclusive private estate, where every guest is a VIP, Las Alamandas Resort is the brainchild of Isabel Goldsmith-Patiño. Just 42 guests at a time are welcomed to 16 suites distributed over seven private villas, all with soaring ceilings, shaded terraces, Mexican-tile bathtubs, stone mosaic walkways and jewel-tone furnishings. Guests are treated as family, with massages offered by a trained masseuse and candlelight dining in the Oasis Restaurant, where the fish and seafood are brought in daily by local fishermen.

Contact Avant-Garde Travel for special 4 night Honeymoon Escape special good through December 18, 2019.

Las Alamandas Resort

Las Alamandas Resort

 

 

The Ultimate Honeymoon Escape

Tuscan Villa

Out of the way and out of this world, Relais Borgo Santo Pietro is the Tuscan retreat of your dreams. Follow a cypress-lined drive to this romantic 20-room boutique hotel and estate, where luxury meets seclusion with sumptuously private garden and pool suites. Amble amongst the 13 acres of fragrant gardens, lounge by the infinity pool with spectacular views over the Valle Serena or enjoy a spa treatment made using freshly picked ingredients. Our Chefs’ farm-to-plate approach uses the estate’s own organic harvest and has earned Meo Modo restaurant a Michelin star; learn kitchen secrets at the on-site cooking school.

outdoor dining

Avant-Garde Travel is offering an exclusive, one-of-a-kind honeymoon package, giving you the opportunity to experience a luxurious honeymoon retreat at Borgo Santo Pietro, your home away from home in Tuscany. Their unique romance package combines seclusion with ultimate luxury. With handcrafted intimacy, they will create a personal and unforgettable honeymoon escape for you and your newlywed.

bathtub, chandelier

Contact Avant-Garde Travel now to take advantage of this special, it is only valid for travel now through October 30, 2019

Tuscan breakfast

 

Bora Bora, over the water bungalows

French Polynesia – The iconic Overwater Bungalow is a top request for Honeymooners. A tropical paradise awaits you after only an 8-hour flight from LAX. Imagine the romance, privacy and tranquility as you toast sunsets from your private plunge pool. Consider the luxurious Four Seasons Bora Bora where you can hop from your bedroom to your plunge pool and step strait into the lagoon from your own private deck.

massage

bora bora, tahiti, over the water hut

For more honeymoon hotspot advice contact the Travel Experts at  Avant-Garde Travel

spa,

Thailand – Thailand’s diverse landscapes offer the perfect balance of pristine beaches, unique culture and magnificent cuisine. Known as “The Land of Smiles” Thailand’s world-famous hospitality is sure to spoil any couple. For exotic wildlife plan a once in a lifetime journey to Chiang Rai for a stay at Anantara Golden Triangle Elephant Camp.

For more honeymoon hotspot advice contact the Travel Experts at  Avant-Garde Travel

Top Honeymoon Picks

Aimee Leon, Avant-Garde Travel

 

Paris – Its true what Audrey Hepburn said, “Paris is always a good idea”. Known as the “City of Love”, you cannot find a more iconic backdrop for your honeymoon adventure than Paris. Imagine sitting on your hotel balcony with your lover, sipping Rosé Champagne, with the Eiffel Tower sparking in the night behind you. Oh La La!

Paris, Eiffel Tower, champagne glasses,

 

Thailand – Thailand’s diverse landscapes offer the perfect balance of pristine beaches, unique culture and magnificent cuisine. Known as “The Land of Smiles” Thailand’s world-famous hospitality is sure to spoil any couple. For exotic wildlife plan a once in a lifetime journey to Chiang Rai for a stay at Anantara Golden Triangle Elephant Camp.

Elephant, bride and groom, Thailand

 

French Polynesia – The iconic Overwater Bungalow is a top request for Honeymooners. A tropical paradise awaits you after only an 8-hour flight from LAX. Imagine the romance, privacy and tranquility as you toast sunsets from your private plunge pool. Consider the luxurious Four Seasons Bora Bora where you can hop from your bedroom to your plunge pool and step strait into the lagoon from your own private deck.

bora bora, tahiti, over the water hut

 

Cruise – Imagine a floating boutique hotel with gourmet cuisine, award winning entertainment and over the top suites taking you to fabulous destinations around the world. Not only is cruising an excellent value it’s an efficient use of time as you cruise between destinations while you sleep. Like more time in port? Check out Azamara Club Cruises where every voyage features longer and overnight stays in port, so you can experience your destinations at all hours of the day.

cruise ship, honeymoon

 

Adults Only All-Inclusive Resorts – Adults only all-inclusive resorts are abundant in Mexico and throughout the Caribbean. Whether its resorts focused on Wellness & Spa or Golf enthusiast packages, couples have plenty of options for their individual style. Accommodation choices range from swim-up rooms to suites with your own private plunge pool. The best part about an all-inclusive resort? You know exactly how much your honeymoon costs before you arrive.Sandals Resort, over the water huts, sea, ocean

 

 

Italy – Take a Vespa ride through the streets of Rome, admire Michelangelo’s statue of David in Florence and top it off with a romantic gondola ride through the canals of Venice. From history to cuisine, Italy offers an endless amount of options to experience la dolce vita and is a perfect destination for a European Honeymoon.

Vespa, Italy

 

Africa – A destination full of culture, captivating sunsets, untamed wilderness and extravagant accommodations – Africa is one of the best honeymoon destinations in the world offering the most romantic luxury safaris.  Imagine dining at breakfast with your loved one and having a beautiful giraffe as your special guest at Giraffe Manor. Africa provides a romantic backdrop for the adventurous honeymooners and an unforgettable once in a lifetime experience. Roar!giraffes, dinner table

 

Paris, Eiffel Tower, champagne glasses,

Paris – Its true what Audrey Hepburn said, “Paris is always a good idea”. Known as the “City of Love”, you cannot find a more iconic backdrop for your honeymoon adventure than Paris. Imagine sitting on your hotel balcony with your lover, sipping Rosé Champagne, with the Eiffel Tower sparking in the night behind you. Oh La La!

Paris

Honeymoon Expert: Avant – Garde Travel

Kauai, known as the Garden Isle because it is covered by a tropical rainforest on a large portion of the interior of the island.  It also just happens to be my personal favorite Hawaiian Island. After all the hustle, bustle and stress of pulling off your dream wedding, Kauai is the ideal honeymoon hotspot to unwind.  With accommodations running from deluxe resorts to airbnb to camping, there’s something for everyone. You might want to start your trip at one of the many spas for a rejuvenating treatment to set the mood and then hit the beach!

 

Kauai, beach

Kauai, beach

Kauai, beach

You can explore a different beach everyday until you find your favorite. I’m a south shore gal and the beach across from Brennecke’s in Poipu is one of my favorite offshore snorkeling spots. You might just need to visit Brennecke’s deli for a refreshing shaved ice to cool off! If you are in Princeville or along the north shore, be sure to visit Anini beach.

Kauai, sea turtle

Keep your eye open and you should see some honu (green sea turtle).

Kauai, Mai tai, tropical drink

Nothing like a mai tai after a day at the beach to kick of your Hawaiian honeymoon!

Kauai, waterfall

When you want a change from the sunny beaches, go inland to see incredible waterfalls and explore the rain forest.  Feeling more adventurous? You can take a helicopter tour or hike to the center of the island to Mt Wai’ale’ale, known as the second wettest spot on earth. It gets an average of 450 inches of rain a year!!

Kauai, chicken, rooster

You won’t be on the island long before you start seeing chickens, and lots of them everywhere.  This started when coops were blown open in Hurricane Iniki in 1992.

Kauai, Princeville, sunset

A must on your itinerary is a boat tour along the Napali Coast. The beauty is jaw dropping and you might even recognize a few places from the movies such as Jurassic Park that have been filmed there. And depending on the time of year, you might spot dolphins or whales. You can also hike the coastline.  If you are a more adventurous and experienced hiker and want to do a multi day hike/camp, you will need a permit  that you should get in advance.

Kauai, Princeville, sunset

However you spend your Hawaiian Honeymoon, active with golfing, tennis, and hiking or relaxing at the spa and beach, you will agree it is truly an island paradise.

Italy is such a romantic country and the Amalfi Coast is a perfect romantic honeymoon that offers something for everyone. Amalfi is in the Campania region of Italy and is a UNESCO World Heritage site covering 34 miles. Amalfi Coast

 

Arguably they number one thing to do is drive the coast from Sorrento to Salerno. However by “drive” I suggest hiring a driver or taking the bus if you are on a budget.  My husband wanted to drive it himself and white knuckled the whole time and was so busy driving he didn’t enjoy it at all.  The roads are EXTREMELY narrow, curvy and hug a cliff. At one point, he had to pull in his side mirror to barely get by the car on the other side!

Amalfi Coast drive

 

Personal recommendation: We stopped at Ristorante Torre Normanna in Maiori for a scenic lunch break. The food was fantastic and you can’t beat the view. And if you are considering a destination wedding – you could even have your reception there!

Amalfi Coast

Sweetheart table, Amalfi Coast

 

Another option for seeing the coast is a tour by boat. It’s a great way to get to see the coast from a different perspective.  If you are driving parking is a nightmare and the boats can drop you off to explore Positano, Amalfi, and Ravello without the hassle.

Amalfi Coast

Another boat trip you don’t want to miss is a tour out to Capri. Where you’ll get to see so many beautiful grottos where the azure colors are breathtaking. Once on Capri, be sure to stop and have an afternoon Spritz in one of the cafes.  Capri, Spritz, Aperol

While we are on the topic of cocktails, Sorrento is world famous for their lemons and you have to try the limoncello while here. We did a foodie walking tour that was fun and included a stop at one of the producers.  When you need an afternoon pick up you won’t have any trouble finding an espresso and be sure to try some gelato!

gelato

Spring and early fall are the best time to visit. Summer is overcrowded and late fall into winter can be cold and rainy. Whenever you choose to go, you can be sure a honeymoon along the Amalfi Coast is truly “la dolce vita”!

 

Bora Bora, honeymoon

Looking for a once in a lifetime honeymoon experience? Visit our friends at Avant-Garde Travel to learn more about this romantic honeymoon package.

Bora Bora, honeymoon

The St. Regis Bora Bora features Overwater Villas starting at 1,550 square feet, entirely air-conditioned, with large glass floor panels to reveal the translucent lagoon beneath, as well as spacious outdoor living. Suspended overwater is the Lagoon Restaurant, with views of Mount Otemanu, while Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s menu offers the finest dining experience. The St. Regis Butler service offers packing and unpacking, coffee and tea delivery with wake-up calls, champagne sabering and more. The Miri Miri Spa by Clarins, on its own private island and offering Tahitian- and Pacific Rim-inspired treatments, is a defining feature.

 

Bora Bora, honeymoon

Bora Bora, honeymoon

Bora Bora, honeymoon

10 Reasons Why Working with a Qualified Travel Consultant Is the Best Honeymoon Decision You’ll Ever Make
By: Becky Gillespie – Kahal Travel

Eisenhower Photography

SAVE TIME
How much time did you spend searching the internet for your last getaway?  Probably a few hours wading through websites – and that was just for a 2-day trip to Palm Springs. Imagine the amount of time you could spend researching your honeymoon – the most special vacation of your lifetime – and it turns into a part-time job.  A travel consultant has all the information at their fingertips to do the searching for you and find the best option.

PERSONAL TRAVEL SHOPPER
If you have ever worked with a personal shopper, you know the value of having someone who knows you, knows your preferences, knows your price range and who will help you pull together that perfect outfit.  Travel consultants are your personal travel shoppers – they get to know you, your likes and dislikes, and even the little details that would make for your perfect getaway all within your budget.

EXPERT GUIDANCE/ DESTINATION EXPERTISE
When was the last time you went to a 3-hour seminar on the island of St. Lucia or traveled to Tahiti so you could check     out all the hotels first hand?  If you answered “never”, then you probably only have a superficial knowledge of a destination.  Travel consultants get constant updates on the destinations, resorts and cruise lines through first-hand travel experience, seminars and special emails just for the travel industry.  Consultants take pride in their knowledge and keeping current in their areas of expertise.  Considering you probably don’t have the time to put in more than 100 hours of study for each place on your honeymoon list, it’s best to turn to the experts.

UNBIASED INFORMATION
There is no shortage of information on hotels and resorts.  From review websites to family and friends, everyone has their opinion. However, chances are that the friend from second grade that you found on Facebook has very different tastes in vacations than you.  Unlike review sites and even friends, a travel consultant is focused on finding the right location for you.

MAXIMIZE YOUR HONEYMOON BUDGET
The saying “you get what you pay for” has never been more true than when booking your honeymoon.  Everyone wants the best possible deal for their honeymoon, but sometimes the lowest price isn’t necessarily the best “deal”, especially if that lowest price ends up being a room with two twin beds in a sketchy part of town.  Your travel consultant has access to a myriad of resources and will help find the best options to get you the amenities you desire at the best price possible.
Eisenhower Photography
PRE-TRIP PREP
Do you need vaccinations for hiking the Inca Trail? Will you be able to charge your iPad on the ship sailing the Greek Isles?  Your travel consultant will know all these answers and more about the places you are heading on your honeymoon.  From climate/weather conditions, currency exchange rates, visa requirements and even whether or not a hotel has WIFI, travel consultants will make sure you are well-informed before you leave.

ASSISTANCE WHILE YOU TRAVEL
Although no one likes to think about it, what do you do if something goes wrong?  You have someone on your team when you have a travel consultant. If the airline cancels the flight to your destination, your travel consultant will work to get you rebooked so you are not waiting in line or waiting on hold on the phone.   Or you get to your hotel and the ocean view room you reserved looks out to the parking lot – your travel consultant will straighten it out while you relax on the beach.  Why waste your valuable honeymoon time when someone else can take care of it for you?

THE VIP TREATMENT
When was the last time you were greeted by name on arrival by the hotel manager?  Everyone wants to be treated royally on their honeymoon.  But how do you get that treatment when you are just another name on the hotel’s guest list?  That’s where a travel consultant comes in!  Travel consultants spend time cultivating relationships with hotels and cruise lines so that they can offer special perks to their clients and notify the resorts when they have clients heading on vacation. Anyone ready for some free champagne?

BUSTING THE EXPENSE MYTH
The number one reason people don’t use a travel consultant is because they believe it will be much more expensive than planning a trip on their own.  Surprisingly, that is not the case.  The rates that travel consultants get for flights, hotels and cruise packages are competitive with what you find online. While some consultants do charge a nominal fee for their work (about the same amount you might spend for a lunch or dinner out), the benefits that come with using a qualified travel consultant far outweigh the minimal cost – particularly when planning the trip of a lifetime.

YOU DESERVE IT
With all the work you are doing putting together your wedding, couldn’t you use a little pampering?  Treat yourself to a travel consultant – go ahead, you deserve it!

By: Bob Brichmann

The honeymoon is usually the culminating event to the wedding experience. It’s also the fun part – the time to let down your hair and let loose or chill and disappear for a few days. Everyone should take a honeymoon, even if it’s for only one night!

Our beautiful state of California has so many honeymoon opportunities. There are warm and relaxing bed and breakfasts. There are lavish resorts with spas. There are urban resorts with multiple entertainment offerings within a short driving distance. There are relaxing, outdoorsy, golf and hiking getaways.

California has the sea, the sun, the desert, the mountains and the forests. Why expense that far away trip or cruise when some hidden gems are hiding right here in your own backyard?
Eisenhower Photography
Catalina Island – The Island of Romance
Take a short ferry ride from San Pedro, just north of Long Beach, and you’ll arrive in beautiful Two Harbors, Catalina Island. Located on the Isthmus of Catalina and about twenty-six miles from Avalon, Two Harbors is home to the perfect “get away” honeymoon location – the Banning House Lodge. “It’s a romantic place. It’s a step out of reality and so private. There’s peace and quiet. It’s cozy, warm and homey. You can’t pass up the views and beautiful courtyard,” states Kate Panzer, Manager for the Banning House Lodge.

This Craftsman-styled bed and breakfast was built in 1910 as the summer home for the pioneering Banning brothers, who once owned Catalina Island. Over the years, it has changed ownership hands a few times, but became a B&B in roughly 1991. The Wrigley family currently owns it. High on a hill, the Banning Lodge offers sweeping views of both the Isthmus and Catalina Harbor. There’s no TV or radio. It’s limited to handling thirty-eight guests with only twelve rooms. While other places in Avalon might tend to be more contemporary, the Banning Lodge offers that small town feel, but with class.

“Off season (Oct-April) might be the best time to visit. There are fewer crowds, less hustle and bustle. Outdoor activities abound – hiking, biking, diving, kayaking and even resting and doing nothing. You can even rent a Humvee to tour the island,” adds Panzer. Romance? Privacy? A beautiful island? This looks like a good call for a honeymoon.

Disneyland Fairy Tale Weddings & Honeymoons
Disneyland is not just for kids. It’s for the kid in all of us. Now…Disneyland is a prime honeymoon destination, as well. A visit to Disneyland is, of course, filled with roller coasters and rides, shops and restaurants, cotton candy and mouse ears. However, Disneyland has seriously dialed it up a notch to include a very adult-friendly and enticing honeymoon vacation experience.

They offer three beautiful hotels on site: Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa, the Disneyland Hotel and Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel. Each offers differing styles and amenities. “The jewel of the resorts is the Grand Californian. Its redwood décor and 1st class amenities…its stunning lobby and outdoor fireplaces…it’s beautiful,” shares Korri McFann, Manager of Marketing for Disney Fairy Tale Weddings and Honeymoons.

The dining experience is as fantastic and it is varied. Their signature fine dining restaurant is Napa Rose, featuring classic California cuisine and top-notch wine pairings. Their old-school Hollywood Steakhouse 55 offers a cool, retro vibe. Yamabuki is their Japanese dining experience featuring sushi, tempura and much more. Nearby is the ESPN Club Bar for sports and the “guy” getaway. There’s a House of Blues, Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen and much more to choose from.

Of course, stepping into the true Disney world, there’s Downtown Disney with its walkway, shops, bakeries and eateries. There’s Disneyland and California Adventure – both incredible entertainment and amusement parks, too. For honeymooners, there’s a full, relaxing spa. You can get a massage or facial while your new husband takes in a ballgame at the bar or naps poolside. They offer outstanding concierge service to help you experience the entire LA basin – from the beaches to Hollywood.

“It’s a magical experience. You might feel like a child again, but there’s the adult side, too. You are both taking in a new life together and Disneyland sweeps you away from reality,” offers McFann.
Eisenhower Photography
Gold Mountain Manor – Big Bear
Nestled in the scenic mountain region of Big Bear lies the historic and beautiful Gold Mountain Manor. “For an intimate, romantic and old-fashioned feel, step back into another era…another time. We offer a warm ambiance with the smell of fresh-baked cookies in the air. It’s luxurious and down to earth,” exclaims Cathy Weil, owner of Gold Mountain Manor.

How romantic does this sound? Private jacuzzi for two in your room. Fireplace. Minimal guests on site (four rooms and three suites). Make your own milk bath. You can even have a masseuse visit you in the privacy of your own suite. For those that love the outdoors, this is an ideal honeymoon. It’s a four-season resort. Gold Mountain Manor is one mile from the lake for all the water sports imaginable (parasailing, water skiing, kayaking, etc.). There is wildflower nature hiking and biking everywhere. It’s ten minutes to the quaint village of Big Bear and its boutique shops. There is winter skiing to your heart’s content.

Built in 1928 as the Maltby Mansion for Alexander and Bessie Barrett, movie moguls and producers of the day, the Manor has exchanged hands a few times. It started as a B&B about twenty-five to thirty years ago. Offering morning breakfasts and special weekend evening wine and hors d’oeurve hours, this B&B offers a truly well rounded experience. They even stay in touch with the real world and offer modern tech conveniences – Wi-Fi, flat screens, DVD players, etc. However, it still maintains its warm, quiet and old school nature.

Pelican Inn – Muir Beach
Just twenty minutes from the Golden Gate Bridge, tucked inside the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, lies the intimate, seven room, countrified and English accented Pelican Inn. Mountainside and woodsy, it’s filled with old English quaintness, including a huge lobby fireplace, antiques throughout and a cozy Tudor bar. Their dining room even serves traditional English fare like bangers and mash along with other traditional American delights.

“One of my brides said it was beautiful. They ate a hearty breakfast and then they were off on a bike ride to Muir Beach. All around $200.00 a night. The price and value was great,” says Susan Ashley-Howell from Romantic Honeymoons. Beautiful sunsets, killer ocean views, a short trip to the heart of vibrant San Francisco, this B&B-like inn offers inner romance and proximity to endless fun. Now that’s a honeymoon.

“Given the economy and peoples’ time and travel restrictions these days, it makes sense to choose a closer and more drivable place for your honeymoon,” adds Ashley-Howell.

Other Great Ideas
There are plenty of other beautiful honeymoon hot spots and secrets dotting the California landscape. Big Sur offers some of the most scenic coastline anywhere. B&B’s are up and down the coast. Be sure and also check out the small luxury hotel Post Ranch Inn. It has incredible views, spa treatments and more and is just a few minutes from Monterey and Carmel.

The California side of Lake Tahoe and the surrounding area offers beautiful, lush forest and trails with endless outdoor activities. It’s considered the quieter side of the lake – ideal for that romantic getaway. For those of you into winter sports, look no further. One has to consider the wine country, both Napa Valley north of San Francisco and, what many consider the new Napa, the Temecula Valley region. Many beautiful resorts and B&B’s have sprung up to accommodate honeymooners. The rustic, warm and romantic air within wine country will make you feel like you are in the old countryside of Italy.

Right here in our own backyard of San Diego lies the historic and luxurious Hotel Del Coronado. From its spa to its restaurants to its beautiful gardens and overall grandeur and that million-dollar Pacific Ocean view, the Del has it all for honeymooners. Of course, don’t forget the beach!

Honeymoon getaways in California are plentiful. Do a little homework and seek some expert advice from a professional travel agent when planning that special post-wedding bit of rest and relaxation.

By: Dena Roché

Everywhere you go in Hawaii greetings of “Aloha” ring, but in Hawaiian culture Aloha isn’t simply a way of saying hello, it’s a lifestyle that offers wisdom for newly married couples.

Paradise Helicopters

Paradise Helicopters

Cultural Director Lily Dudoit of the Sheraton Kona tells me that Aloha stands for being modest, united in harmony, being pleasant, humble, teachable and patient. Not bad pillars for newlyweds to embrace as they start married life together in paradise.

Hawaii is diverse, and each island offers special experiences for all kinds of couples. If you want to visit all the major islands, allow plenty of time, lest your honeymoon goes from relaxing romance to travel hopping stress.

Relaxed Paradise

Westin Maui Resort & Spa

Westin Maui Resort & Spa

The Westin Maui Resort & Spa Ka’anapali beach – Maui

If you’re looking for romance, and you’d better be on your honeymoon, Maui is your destination. Quiet breezes, beautiful beaches and ocean sunsets define the island that Conde Nast Traveler has called the best in the world over 15 times.

Enjoy this tropical paradise with a suite at the Westin Maui Resort & Spa at Ka’anapali Beach. This lush resort features a white sand beach, five pools, golf and a Heavenly Spa. The property affords views of Lana’I and Moloka’I.

Maui is known for its Road to Hana, a twisty 68-mile stretch featuring 59 bridges, jaw-dropping waterfalls and bamboo forests before arriving at the Seven Sacred Pools in Kipahulu where you can take a relaxing dip.  Another iconic must-do for many is a visit to Haleakala National Park, the world’s largest dormant volcano.  Early risers will love the sunrise from the summit. Adventurous types can partake in zipline courses, horseback rides, or snorkeling or diving at spots throughout the island.  Guests at the Westin can join a catamaran sail directly from the resort’s beach. The trip is a must do during the winter months when it is whale season.  At the nearby Sheraton Maui the daily cliff diving ceremony, which honors the legend of the last chief of Maui, Kahekili, who proved his spiritual strength by leaping from Black Rock into the ocean, is an ideal way to spend a sunset happy hour.  Or for the true romantics, the Westin can arrange a private dining experience in a cabana overlooking the beach.  The four-course meal with champagne and wine paired with a stunning sunset can’t be beat for a honeymoon memory.

Garden Paradise

St. Regis Princeville

St. Regis Princeville

St. Regis Princeville – Kauai

Kauai isn’t called the Garden Isle for nothing.  Mother nature has blessed the oldest Hawaiian island with greenery, tropical foliage, rivers, mountains, waterfalls and the Grand Canyon of the Pacific, Waimea Canyon, a 3,000 foot deep canyon that is a must see. A popular activity is to begin a sunrise or sunset bike tour at the rim and glide down 12-miles of winding road.  Since so much of the island’s interior can’t be seen by car, try other methods like a kayak paddle up the Wailua River to see the landscape featured in Raiders of the Lost Ark, or an ATV tour through unspoiled thick vegetation, rugged terrain and breathtaking landscapes.

While the island exudes a decidedly laid-back, hippie vibe in its tiny towns, for your honeymoon it’s time for casual elegance and sophistication at the St. Regis Princeville. On the north side of the island, it’s the ideal place to simply relax and enjoy time together at the 5,000 square foot infinity pool, or the beach fronting Hanalei Bay. The waters are protected by the Anini reef so they’re calm and the snorkeling is amazing.  Stand-up paddle boarding, diving and sailing are also available.  Enjoy a couples Ali-I Lavender Butter Pohaku massage in the Halele’a Spa couples suites.  The treatment uses basalt river stone and a lavender butter made on Maui to melt away knots. After the service relax in the co-ed couple’s lounge before heading to a romantic dinner at Kauai Grill, a Jean-Georges Vongerichten restaurant that Zagat calls the best dining on the island.

A Whole New World

Sheraton Kona

Sheraton Kona

Sheraton Kona _ The Big Island

The Big Island is all about roots and new beginnings. The youngest of all the islands, it’s known for volcanoes, and the best way to see God shaping the world is from the air on a tour with Paradise Helicopters. The three-hour flight takes you over all five of the island’s volcanoes, affording sights of simmering lava tubes pitching smoke in the sky, calderas, smooth and jagged lava rocks and red hot flowing lava.  From the air you’ll get a true sense of the diversity of this island, which boasts 11 of the world’s 13 climate zones, and see black sand beaches, lush valleys with walls peaking over 2,000 feet, and waterfall after waterfall.

To experience lava rock up close, stay at the Sheraton Kona which sits on 22-acres peppered with black lava rock on historic Keauhou Bay, the birthplace of King Kamehameha III. The recently renovated resort sets itself apart by bringing the Hawaiian culture to its guests. Daily cultural tours provide insight into Hawaiian history, and resort activities ranging from hula lessons to lei making lets travelers interact with the culture. Exclusive to the property is the opportunity to sail the bay on a guided tour in a Kini Kini Sailing Canoe. Book the Kiele Suite featuring an expansive lanai to soak in the swaying palm trees, crashing waves and other-worldly rocks. In the waters directly in front of the property there is a unique opportunity to snorkel at night with Manta Rays. These gentle giants, whose wing span can reach 18-feet, are playful creatures that love to interact with snorkelers.  With no teeth, barbs or stingers there’s nothing to fear when one decides to shimmy up your belly as they make graceful flips in the water.

Coffee lovers might turn their noses up at Starbucks after days waking up to the famous Kona coffee.  Kona’s high elevation, volcanic soil and cloud cover create this unique coffee bean. Most coffee plantations, like Kona Coffee, Greenwell Farms and Living History Farm offer tours.

A Classic

Royal Hawaiian

Royal Hawaiian

The Royal Hawaiian _ Waikiki Beach

With a direct flight from Phoenix to Oahu, starting married life with a stay on the famous Waikiki Beach is easy, and the place to do it is at the Grande Dame of hotels, The Royal Hawaiian. The iconic pink hotel has been the place for luxury since 1927 and makes a great base for lolling on the beach, snorkeling, sailing or climbing Diamondhead.

But first things first; after a long day of flying, refresh at the spa at the Westin Maona Surfrider, the oldest hotel on the beach, and the property that ushered in Hawaii as a tourist mecca.  Relax together in a spa suite enjoying the new lomi lomi facial designed to rehydrate and massage away jet lag.  Cap the day with a romantic cabana dinner back at the Royal Hawaiian’s Azure restaurant, drinking in the sunset while enjoying farm-to-table cuisine, or head to the property’s luau show, the only one featuring this classic Hawaiian entertainment paired with a sit-down dinner.

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I Do

Tying the Knot in Hawaii

While Hawaii is a great spot to relax after the hustle of the wedding, it also makes an ideal locale for the wedding itself. A big plus for brides is that there are no legal or language barriers to work through to tie the knot.

For many brides, planning a destination wedding incorporating the local culture into the ceremony is a must. At the Sheraton Kona, couples can add traditions like having the service conducted by a Hawaiian Kuha (minister), a Hawaiian chant to accompany the bride down the aisle, or a Hawaiian blessing during the service.  Weddings are done in the onsite chapel or at many outdoor locations around the property. A popular service at the Westin Maui Resort & Spa is the Hawaiian Ceremony, which features a traditional lei exchange and blowing of conch shells during the ceremony.  Newlyweds also like to do this as a renewal of the vows they just took and a remembrance of their honeymoon.

For couples looking for a more traditional ceremony, the Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa’s Ali’I Package offers a private heart-shaped lawn at the pinnacle of the famous Pu‘u Keka‘a cliff (Black Rock) to say I do and serves up the wedding night in the presidential suite.  The Maona Surfrider on Oahu has the only private beachfront in the state of Hawaii that can serve alcohol, making it an ideal locale for ceremony or reception. At the Royal Hawaiian, brides can tie the knot in the Coconut Grove, which was featured in “Mad Men” and then have their reception in the Monarch Room which is known as The Carnegie Hall of the Pacific, having played host to legendary Hawaii entertainers since the 1920s. For the quintessential Hawaiian postcard wedding, the St. Regis Princeville is the only hotel on Kauai that can perform ceremonies at the most prime viewing point overlooking Hanalei Bay.