With so many travel magazines, blogs and flash deal sale sites offering a myriad of potential honeymoon locales, hammering out the details of the perfect romantic getaway can be a daunting process. While all vacations come with a certain element of the unexpected, expectations couldn’t be higher when it comes to your honeymoon. There’s a lot of information out there, and it can be challenging to navigate it all without a trusted adviser.
But before you get whisked away to your own private beach, careful preparation should be taken to ensure your romantic vacation for two isn’t disrupted by poor planning. Utilizing a travel agent may seem outdated in this digital age where immense amounts of information are available with the swipe of your finger, but if you’re looking for a highly personalized, human touch, it’s the only way to go. Think of them as your personal travel concierge. Select a travel agent that will spend the time to get to know your preferences as a couple. Aside from budget, a good agent will keep your style, personalities, and interests in mind, and help you find the perfect honeymoon spot, whether you decide to stay in Louisiana or have an adventure in Tuscany.
Keeping It Local in Louisiana
Just because you’re lucky enough to live in Louisiana doesn’t mean you should overlook it for your honeymoon destination. New Orleans is an immensely popular honeymoon spot, and is great for the couple that’s either pressed for time, trying to stay on a budget or opting to delay their honeymoon to a date long after the wedding.
Lila Fox Ermel of Constant Tourist Travel (717-6144, constanttouristtravel.com) recommends Soniat House on Chartres Street in the French Quarter for newlyweds. “It’s sophisticated, private, and its location makes it perfect for strolling Royal Street and the French Quarter, and dinner at nearby Café Amelie, the best courtyard in the Quarter,” Ermel says. If you’ve got extra time, a trek to Acadiana can be just the quick trip you need to really feel like you’re getting out of the city. Ermel recommends catching the Zydeco Breakfast at Café Des Amis in Breaux Bridge, La., grabbing a bite to eat at The French Press in Lafayette, La., then taking a leisurely cruise back via to New Orleans via I-12 “for a most memorable meal at La Provence in Lacombe.”
Exploring The 50 States
With picturesque, crystal blue waves and sugary sand beaches, Destin, Fla., is a short drive that will utterly transport you. “Since Destin is so close to New Orleans, we consider ourselves your beach,” says Jamie Hall of Emerald Grande (800-676-0091, emeraldgrande.com). Florida receives 340 sunny days a year, which practically guarantees picture perfect moments for the duration of your honeymoon. Enjoy panoramic views of the Gulf of Mexico, Choctawatchee Bay, and Destin Harbor. With their luxuriously furnished condominiums, you’ll have the comforts of home right on the beach at the Emerald Grande.
If you’d rather cross the country than just a few state borders, Lucienne Gore of Town and Country Travel (838-8702) suggests San Francisco and wine country as a city/country combo trip. “It can be as laid back as you want, or as active as you want.” Fly into San Francisco and stay at the Sheridan at Fisherman’s Wharf, which has fantastic views of the Golden Gate Bridge. Then rent a car for three nights and explore Sonoma, with a good night’s rest at the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn.
When you think honeymoon, the Midwest might not come to mind, but Karen Wild of Lagniappe Travel Services (1100 Poydras St., Suite 2050, 582-2220, lagniappetravel.com) suggests Indiana, Iowa and Idaho for affordability, as well as the Class 4 whitewater rapids. “There’s stuff in the U.S. that’s really cool to do that people don’t think of,” she adds. Wild recommends Denver, Colo., in the summer months and playing Wild West on a dude ranch in the summer. “They’re close to home if you don’t want to get a passport and deal with that stuff,” Wild says. National parks can also provide gorgeous, dramatic views and romantic, rustic settings for two.
Island Hopping in the Caribbean
The Caribbean is hands down the most popular area for New Orleanian couples. It’s relatively close with a short plane ride, and features all inclusive resorts are attractive options after the stress of planning a wedding.
Island hopping is a wonderful way to get the most out of your trip. “Fly into St. John, which is a U.S. Virgin Islands, take a 15 minute ferry, with 240 inlets to snorkel, then take a day trip to the British Virgin Islands,” Wild suggests.
“Amanyaraon Providenciales in the Turks and Caicos Islands is a favorite of mine right now for chic, beachy honeymooners looking for absolute seclusion and tip top luxury,” says Ermel, “Their individual ocean pavilions – done in head to toe white and teak – have retractable windows that open the entire bedroom to private terraces overlooking nothing but the ocean.”
Bethany Todd of Gone With The Wind Travel (4051 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Suite 201, 888-9198, gwtwtravel.com) also loves the Caribbean for its all-inclusive packages, particularly at the Sandals Grande in Antigua. “Right now they have a special, nonstop flight to Cancun. It’s a great value: $1200 per person per week. Everything is included, from the airfare to your meals.”
With your choice of staying on a secluded beach, or being tucked away on the side of a lush hill landscape, Sandals in Ocha Rios also offers all inclusive packages. “It’s got a lot to offer everyone,” Todd says. From gourmet restaurants to adventure tours, the resort boasts 500 rooms, and includes thoughtful, romantic touches such as champagne in your room and rose petals the first night of your honeymoon, in addition to fresh flowers and breakfast the next morning.
Choose Your Own Adventure
For active couples, a strenuous hike might be more enticing than a sleepy beach trip. Melinda Bourgeois of Travel Central Vacations (3221 N. Causeway Blvd., 834-7000, travelcentralvacations.com) cites Costa Rica as the latest hotspot “because it does have all inclusive resorts, and it’s on the Pacific Ocean. You can spend a few days at the resort, then go to the interior, hot springs, zip lines. You can relax and be active.”
However, even adventure seekers need downtime. Bourgeois stresses to avoid being overactive during your first couple of days. “Be careful of over scheduling yourself. You need some time for freedom.” She suggests penciling in a two hour dinner to ensure that the two of you have time to sit down, relax and unwind from the stresses of the wedding.
Heading south of the border? Wild opts for a water park of the more natural variety. Located 76 miles south of Cancun, Mexico, XEL-HA eco park offers such diverse offerings as helmet diving, snuba- a combination of snorkeling and scuba, and dolphin encounters. Feel like you’re in the heart of the jungle, with iguanas strolling the nature trails, while having conveniences such as restaurants and shops when you’re done exploring.
Canada doesn’t immediately pop into mind when thinking honeymoon, but Wild recommends flying into Calgary, renting a car, then driving to Banff, Lake Louise, Jasper. With lots of wildlife and over 30 waterfalls in the area, it’s a breathtaking road trip you won’t forget. Go during July or August, when temperatures are more conducive to warm weather activities, such as getting up close and personal with a 300 foot waterfall.
If you’re the outdoorsy type, Belize’s Ka’ana Resort satisfies your cravings to get away from it all. “It’s tucked deep in the jungle – providing the privacy that nature-loving newlyweds want,” Ermel explains. “And just because it’s remote doesn’t mean it lacks in the luxe department – each individual stylish villa comes complete with its own private plunge pool and dedicated houseman. Think personalized helicopter tours above the jungles & waterfalls, visits to Mayan ruins, cave tubing, kayaking, jaguar trekking.”
Crossing the Pond to Europe
If you’re looking to recreate Under The Tuscan Sun, Rome, the Amalfi Coast, and Florence are all meccas of culture, incredible food, and romantic evenings. “Lately Italy has been a hot spot,” Gore notes.
For her clients, Ermel likes “pairing culturally rich Florence with the breathtaking Amalfi Coast, with stops to tootle through must-visit villages such as Ravello, Sorrento, and Positano. She also likes Florence for its intimate feel and versatility. Stumble upon art houses, take a couples cooking class, or dart off to a Chianti wine tour or bike ride through Tuscany. In Florence, stay at the JK Place Firenze Hotel, which offers “romantic design, and private yet central ambiance” or opt for the “sexy, secluded boho hotel overlooking the sea” at Ca’ P’a on the Amalfi Coast.