Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Top 15 Luxurious Honeymoon Destinations

This idyllic retreat in upstate New York offers a rustic setting, luxurious accommodations and world-class dining, with chefs preparing your meals according to specifications you send well in advance. Four lodge-style buildings house a total of 11 guest quarters, each with a view of the lake and their own chiseled stone fireplaces. No children under the age of 18 are allowed unless all 11 guest properties are reserved; this costs $23,312.50 per night, which includes all taxes. Otherwise, nightly rates start at $1,250, which include three full meals per day, tea, snacks and an open bar, plus activities such as boating, cross-country skiing, nightly cruises on the lake and bonfires.

An 88-suite resort on the island of Mauritius, Le Prince Maurice has an open plan with no reception or cashier's desk. Guests are made to feel at home while wandering the wooden bridges that span the private lagoon or meandering through the landscaped gardens that frame the guest residences and the outdoor pool. The restaurant, which is suspended dramatically above the pool, serves fresh seafood every night, and there is a library if you need a moment to reflect. Rates start at $1,524 per night for a junior suite, with a minimum stay of ten days during high season (Dec. 23 through July 1).

The One & Only Ocean Club in the Bahamas was once a private estate, and it retains the air of a treasured hideaway. Bronze and marble statues are scattered throughout the terraced gardens, which are modeled on the gardens of Versailles. With the resort's 106 rooms spread among two wings and several two-bedroom cottages, you'll never feel crowded--and if you do, retreat to your room for dinner where 24-hour room service is available for you and your brand-new better half. Nightly rates start at $760 for a standard room.

This private game reserve in South Africa takes its name from the Sand River, which winds through it, and you'll see lions, elephants and hippopotamus all in a day's work. The best part? You don't have to give up your creature comforts to see the creatures. Guests choose from among five luxurious lodges, and there's a spa offering massages, Ayurveda and acupuncture. Furthermore, the cuisine is impeccable, and there's even a wine cellar offering over 12,000 bottles of rare African wine. Per couple rates are $1,888 per night.

Taveuni Island is one of only two land masses in the world that the international date line hits, so you can say you love her more today even when it's officially still yesterday back home. Each of the two-bedroom, two-bathroom villas in this Fijian resort is designed for utmost privacy, leaving you to spy on endemic bird species, such as the orange dove, or pass the time another way. Nightly rates are $825 per night, with a five-night stay minimum.

Feel like reenacting Shakespeare's balcony scene with your newly betrothed? Verona, the meeting place of Romeo and Juliet, is within striking distance of this intimate and ivy-covered manor. L'Albereta, located in Franciacorta between the southern shore of Lake Iseo and the Po River Valley, is deep in the heart of several vineyards and was once the estate of the Moretti family. An on-site riding school, four nearby golf courses, a spa and Italian chef Gualtiero Marchesi are among the many reasons to visit. Day trips to the nearby towns of Brescia and Pergamo are recommended if you're looking to stretch your married wings. Nightly rates start at $340.

This 70-acre resort is hidden within a 1,500-acre private oasis full of exotic flowers and native birds. Even with all that space, Las Alamandas only accommodates a total of 30 guests at a time. Each of the 15 suites, located in six brightly painted villas, has an oversized Mexican tile bath--perfect for scrubbing à deux--as well as private terraces. If you decide on their honeymoon package, which starts at $1,920 for six nights in a garden-view suite, you'll receive a complimentary bottle of champagne, a couple's oceanfront massage and complimentary horseback riding. Otherwise, room rates start at $430 per night for a beachfront villa during the high season (October through May), or at $610 per night with meals included.

The natural materials, such as pink granite and thatched roofs, which went into the design of the Lémuria Resort of Praslin, were intended to help preserve the environment for the resident wildlife, while subdued lighting was installed to avoid scaring off turtles that come ashore at night to lay eggs. A three-tiered pool leads down to the ocean, and guests can play tennis, windsurf or kayak free of charge (there are additional charges for scuba diving, deep-sea fishing and mountain biking). Rates start at $1,514 per night for a junior suite, including breakfast, with a minimum stay of ten days during high season (Dec. 23 through July 1).

The Palazzo Vendramin, a 15th-century residence, is part of the Grand Hotel Cipriani in Venice, Italy. Both hotels are located on their own island, directly across from Piazza San Marco--a private vaporetto shuttles guests back and forth. Palazzo Vendramin's guests can avail themselves of the Cipriani's facilities, including the heated salt-water pool, spa and bars. But private butlers--on-call from 7 A.M. to 11 P.M.--the eight lavish apartments and the added privacy of the property make it perfect for honeymooners--or for anyone looking to unwind regally. Nightly rates start at $2,578 for a junior suite, including breakfast.

Whether in a Hollywood movie or real life, there can be no more romantic or luxurious urban hotel than the Ritz in Paris. From its understated entryway and gilded rooms to the aura of intrigue and history that permeate every corner of this legendary hotel, the Ritz offers honeymooners the perfect escape, as well as the perfect place to stay in what is arguably one of the world's most romantic cities. Partly this is because the hotel's name has become synonymous with luxury, style and comfort, but also because the staff is simply extraordinary. Want a reservation at the most exclusive restaurant? The concierge can get it. Want to order a Rolls-Royce filled with your beloved's favorite flowers and a picnic lunch of her favorite delicacies? Pas de problem, monsieur. Want to be left alone in your room and order everything from room service? The waiters are as prompt as they are discreet. Want Colin, the hotel's famed bartender, to create a signature cocktail to memorialize your stay? He will be glad to. For a truly memorable stay, book one of their Prestige Suites, such as the Duke of Windsor Suite, which goes for €5,200 (around $6,333) per night.

Amanjena, which means "peaceful paradise," was Amanresort's first property in Africa. Open-air fountains flank the entrance, which is sheltered by palm and olive trees. The architecture, particularly the rose-colored walls and open-air buildings, was modeled on the Moorish packed-earth buildings that once crowded Marrakech. Reflecting pools and the guests' pavilions radiate out from the bassin, the central-heated swimming pool. Nightly rates for a pavilion with a private gazebo start at $800, plus a 20% tax and service charge. Pavilions with a private pool are $1,350 per night, plus a 20% tax and service charge.

Clinging to a cliff over the Mediterranean Sea, equidistant from Nice and Monaco, the Château de la Chèvre d'Or is situated in Eze, a tiny village established about 500 B.C., which even today feels medieval. The landscape is equal parts rocky cliffs, blue sea and lush green fauna--and the hotel's infinity pool, winding gardens and nearby Astrorama (observatory) capitalize on their location. Extravagantly furnished rooms and three separate restaurants add to the possibilities for mutual spoiling. If only married life could stay this way. Nightly rates start at $450.

Your wedding featured fireworks, several species of exotic birds or a 36-piece orchestra, we think a honeymoon on Great Mercury Island off the coast of New Zealand might be just your thing. This 5,000-acre private island, owned by a New Zealand resident, was only made available for rental last year, and Tom Cruise is among the celebrities who have already taken advantage of it (no word on who he took with him). A 25-minute helicopter ride from Auckland, which is included in the room rate, takes you over a rugged coastline and volcanic hills to the doorstep of the island's two villas--perfect for those "family-mooning" with the in-laws or with children. The chef on the island will cook to order, serving dinner on the beach or anywhere else you care to dine. Rates start at $19,395 per night for up to six people. For parties of seven or more, there is an additional nightly charge of $895 per person.

New York can be one of the most romantic cities in the world, but there's nothing sexier than feeling like you own it. That's the illusion created by the two new Presidential Suites at the Four Seasons (although a regular room there is quite nice, too). Toast yourselves with a bottle of Cristal upon arrival, feast on a bowl of fresh fruit and enjoy the private bar--all complimentary. The Four Seasons knows how exhausting a honeymoon can be, which is why packing and unpacking services are offered free of charge. The Jacuzzi and working fireplace are perfect for reliving the big moment, and you can call ahead to request to have a romantic selection of CDs and DVDs waiting for you upon arrival. You may think the million-dollar view of Central Park is priceless, but the Four Seasons has it pegged at $15,000 per night. Standard rooms start at $495. The Four Seasons New York is a part of Ty Warner Hotels and Resorts

Halekulani's restaurant La Mer is home to Hawaii's only Michelin-starred chef, who used to cook for the royal family and Grace Kelly in Monaco. If that isn't reason enough to visit, this refined hotel on Waikiki Beach recently opened the honeymooners' dream suite. Every element of the 2,135-square-foot Vera Wang Suite was designed or chosen by the wedding-dress genius, right down to the embroidered pillows on the bed, the crystal and silver in the dining room, and the 19th-century Chinese writing desk. A 24-hour formal butler and arrival treats, including Champagne and foie gras, are included in the room rate, which starts at $4,000 per night and goes up to $5,500 for an adjoining bedroom. Standard rooms start at $385 per night


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All the Best!