Love in Far Off Lands: 4 Romantic Get Aways

JumeirahDhevanafushi

The Jumeirah Dhevanafushi is one of the fine resorts in the Maldives being offered in Greaves’ romance catalogue. (Courtesy of Greaves)

The experience of an exotic destination adds another level of bonding to weddings and honeymoons. Destinations around the world want to present themselves as idyllic settings for the main event. While these locales may be a little too late for this year’s June brides, they make it worth a couple’s while to marry outside the June zone. While Ireland may be within the temperate zone, Thailand and India can at least promise warmth the year round.

Destination weddings can be especially effective when the friends and family are already scattered in different locations around the U.S. and the world. In that case, the wedding serves as a neutral destination. It’s always smart to choose resorts that have wedding planners available. For the modern honeymooner look to make a combination of active traveling and laid back time in a resort setting.

(Editor’s note: For even more romantic inspiration, check out the The 2014 Official Destination Weddings & Honeymoons Directory in the September issues of Vacation Agent and Agent@Home. Click the link for details on getting yours.)

South Asian Romantic Experience

Ancient Himalayan monasteries in Bhutan, the rain forests of Sri Lanka, top end resorts in the Maldives, the national parks of India and more. South Asia has become much more accessible to luxury travel with the emergence of Dubai as an aviation hub.

Dubai has become a great place for high-end stopovers as well. South Asia, with its legendary commitment to spirituality would make an ideal honeymoon setting for the right couples. Greaves Tours LLC, a specialist in South Asia, created a new 28-page honeymoon destination guide to India as well as other regional destinations like the Maldives, Bhutan, Sri Lanka and Dubai. Greaves can handle even the most opulent honeymooners. One program includes the operator’s private plane.

“We’ve designed this destination guide to help couples think beyond the traditional for their honeymoon by showcasing options such as dining at an elephant camp, climbing to the top of an ancient monastery and sipping tea with local monks, or diving into the Indian Ocean straight from their over-the-water villa,” said Ian Cambata, Greaves’ director of business development. Any trepidation about sending a young couple to such exotic far off locales should be assuaged by Greaves’ 30 years of customizing journeys in the region.

Buddhist Beach Nuptials

Romantic Buddhist bliss awaits at Zeavola. (Courtesy of Zeavola)

Romantic Buddhist bliss awaits at Zeavola. (Courtesy of Zeavola)

On the idyllic Thai island of Phi Phi, out in the Andaman Sea, couples can take their vows in a traditional barefoot Buddhist ceremony on a white sand beach at Zeavola. Couples can plant a “love tree” as part of the ceremony. The Thai Wedding Ceremony Package involves monks and is conducted in the morning, with the reception, cocktail and dinner in the evening. It includes a Buddhist prayer ceremony, holy water pouring and bonding ceremony, a floral arch, champagne and cake cutting ceremony.

Zeavola’s wedding planners can assist couples with special requests and in navigating the sometimes complete legal requirements of marrying in Thailand. The wedding specialist can organize a Thai marriage certificate.

The weddings are enhanced by the resort’s teak wood villas. Zeavola’s Pool Villa Suites include private gardens, outdoor rain showers and more. For the Western Wedding Ceremony Package, a celebrant conducts a blessing ceremony with an exchange of vows. If a couple wants the ceremony to be traditionally Christian, a priest can be arranged at extra cost. Divers love the resort because it’s set within a national marine park. The resort can also offer weddings underwater.

The Thai Wedding Ceremony and Western Wedding Ceremony are priced at 71,000 baht ($2,192) and 65,000 baht ($2,007) respectively. Beverages are extra and so are a host of other options including make-up and hair, manicure and pedicure, Thai costumes for the bride and groom, photography, VDO and scuba diving. An array of live entertainment options is also available.

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Lake Placid: Farm to Table

Salad of yellow beets, spinach, heirloom tomatoes, lemon cucumber, goat cheese, with a dressing featuring maple syrup. The dish was served as part of a customized Farm Tour Tasting Menu at the Generations restaurant, at the Golden Arrow Lakeside Resort in Lake Placid, N.Y.

Salad of yellow beets, spinach, heirloom tomatoes, lemon cucumber, goat cheese, with a dressing featuring maple syrup. The dish was served as part of a customized Farm Tour Tasting Menu at the Generations restaurant, at the Golden Arrow Lakeside Resort in Lake Placid, N.Y.

Lake Placid, N.Y. – Asgaard Farm & Dairy in New York’s Adirondack Mountains is pretty picky about the products it will sell.

Caitlin Aherne (who makes caramels — and soap — from goat’s milk at the farm in Au Sable Forks, N.Y.) said the proprietors recently fed an entire batch of below-standard goat cheese to the pigs, which must have been pretty nice by piggy standards! [Read more...]

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Galveston, Pre-Cruise

The Disney Magic will leave from Galveston and head to Barcelona. (Photos by Kelly Monaghan)

Editor’s note: This is the first of a series of articles from Intrepid Traveler publisher Kelly Monaghan as he makes his way from Galveston to Barcelona on the Disney Magic (and beyond).

As a travel agent, I always advise cruise clients to fly in to their port of departure a day early, because if you miss the sailing you’re pretty much screwed. (Unless, of course, you buy the somewhat inflated airfare option from the cruise line, in which case they have to look after you if the airline screws up.) The one-day-early rule is especially important in the winter when bad weather can really throw a monkey wrench into air travel plans for us northerners. But it was spring. What could go wrong? [Read more...]

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Capitol Chic, By George, A hotel report for travel agents

The winds of change are blowing through the smoke-filled, wood-paneled rooms of Washington’s power hotel scene. Enter the Hotel George, a chic new boutique hotel on Capitol Hill that is making a blatant play for the kind of hip, upscale clientele being attracted to post-modernist hostelries like Manhattan’s Paramount.

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Regal Airport Hotel Hong Kong

Hong Kong’s new airport boasts a cozy corporate refuge
(A site-inspection report for travel agents.)

Just steps away from Chek Lap Kok, the vast and glistening new air terminal on Lantau Island, Regal Hotels’ fifth Hong Kong property offers a convenient refuge for the harried Far Eastern business traveler. Whisper-quiet, with around-the-clock room service, and special “jet-lag menus,” the hotel makes an ideal choice – in fact, the only choice — for that layover between Bangkok and New York. Yet thanks to a high-speed rail link, the airport is just 23 minutes from the bustle of Hong Kong’s Central business district, making the Regal Airport a tempting alternative for a longer stay.
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Around Ireland By B&B Part 2

Driving Tips In Ireland

For most American visitors, the drive part of their fly/drive visit to Ireland will be the most exciting — and not necessarily in the best sense of the term.

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Staying in Disney’s Backyard

Perri House B&B

Note: Perrihouse has changed management since this article was written.

Why stay in a boring old hotel when you can stay in a wildlife habitat?

In Lake Buena Vista, behind Disney World’s vast expanse, past Mickey’s enormous support operations, down a street with the unromantic name of State Road 535, you’ll find Perri House, an intimate bed and breakfast establishment nestled on 16 acres that have been lovingly returned to their near natural state by owners Nick and Angi Perretti. In fact, they’ve done such a good job of coaxing dozens of species of birds to come calling that the National Wildlife Federation has certified the property as an official Backyard Wildlife Habitat.

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Portofino Bay Hotel


A smashing luxury hotel opens at
Universal Studios Escape

by Kelly Monaghan

Can’t afford that trip to Italy this year? Not to worry, you can head for Orlando, Florida, instead and stay in ducal splendor at Portofino Bay –
Portofino Bay Hotel, that is, the new super-luxury Loews hotel that is the first of five planned themed hotels to open at Universal Studios Escape.

The hotel is an astonishing near-photographic reproduction of the original Portofino, a small Ligurian fishing village that became a favored getaway for Europe’s rich and famous, so much so that a stay at the real Portofino’s Splendido Hotel (yes, that’s its name) will run you $600 to $700 a night. You don’t have to be famous to stay at Orlando’s Portofino Bay but it might help to be rich because the room rates start at $250 and rise to about $500 a night, still a lot less than the Splendido.

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Chateau Whistler Resort

Mark and I are going to Whistler this weekend so he can participate in a charity golf tournament. The whole brood is staying at my favourite place – the Chateau Whistler Resort – and the golfers are golfing at Nicklaus North. I am not one of the players. How would you like to accompany us on our trip? You and I could repose while the others whack their balls. You’ll come? Great! I knew I’d convince you if I put it that way.

Chateau Whistler has been the place to stay in Whistler since it opened in 1989. Despite the rapid expansion of this resort town, no other place has matched it yet in glory and comfort. In fact, I have happily spent a couple of days in the Chateau without ever venturing out its doors.

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Boogaard’s B&B, An Amsterdam Find

The first thing you notice about Boogaard’s B&B in Amsterdam are the stairs. Then there are the stairs. Oh yes, and did I mention the stairs? Suffice it to say there are a lot of them, steep and shallow, then narrow and winding.

Now that I’ve given fair warning to those who hate to (or can’t) climb stairs, let me hasten to add that the climb to the top is worth it. I did it with one of the heaviest bags I’ve ever taken on a trip (that’s a whole ‘nother story) and I’m glad I did.
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