Unforgettable Honeymoons A World Away

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The spa at Otahuna Lodge in New Zealand
The spa at Otahuna Lodge in New Zealand

cambodia with artisans of leisure
“Cambodia is a great destination for adventurous honeymooners looking for something a little different and more off the beaten track than the typical European tour or beach getaway,” says Stephanie Dosch, travel specialist with Artisans of Leisure. The tour operator’s 10-day Romantic Cambodia itinerary takes newlyweds through this fascinating country with stays in captivating properties like Song Saa Resort, which our own Asia/South Pacific editor, Sergio Ortiz, who’s had the luxury of staying there, called “a virtual oasis of luxurious repose in an authentic design patterned after Cambodian fishing villages,” and Amansara, an Aman Resort that’s the former guesthouse of King Sihanouk and is located on the edge of Siem Reap just 10 minutes from the entrance to the Angkor UNESCO World Heritage site. “This tour is a truly magical way for a couple to celebrate their marriage,” continues Dosch. “It is the perfect balance of activity and relaxation. Travelers begin in Phnom Penh and tour the city’s palaces, pagodas and bustling markets, then escape to a private island retreat off the coast for a few days of snorkeling and sunbathing. The tour ends in Siem Reap with a stay at one of the country’s top luxury properties. Along the way, Artisans of Leisure can organize special activities like a private picnic on the beach, a leisurely cruise on Tonle Sap Lake to visit floating villages, or a romantic dinner among the temples.” The cost is $10,645 pp dbl and includes accommodations, private touring with one’s own personal guides and drivers, and preferred rooms in luxury hotels. Honeymooners can customize their experience to add-on not only the activities Dosch mentions, but others such as riding bikes to temples and local villages, visiting children’s centers, partaking in photography excursions, visiting traditional Cambodian art centers, taking private yoga lessons, hopping on a helicopter to explore remote jungle temples, or attending traditional Khmer dance performances. artisansofleisure.com

myanmar with avalon waterways
River cruises are all the rage, so why not recommend an out-of-this-world cruise on the Irrawaddy, where, in 2015, Avalon Waterways will be sailing a brand-new, 36-guest Suite Ship, the Avalon Myanmar. “An Irrawaddy cruise would likely appeal to a couple experiencing the joy of marriage a little later in life…perhaps a second marriage,” says Patrick Clark, managing director, Avalon Waterways. “Our demographics for Asia cruises skew a little more on the mature side of life: Those people who are well-traveled, educated and financially comfortable with more time off. The destination is very exotic and also appeals to a more adventurous traveler.” The 14-day Golden Myanmar & The Alluring Irrawaddy itinerary includes a 10-day cruise from Began to Bhamo with hotel stays in Yangon. The itinerary will have honeymooners watching the sunrise from a Bagan temple, exploring colorful markets, taking a sampan ride at sunset in Amarapura, watching a traditional dance performance by firelight, and visiting a monastery and presenting alms to the monks in Kya Hnyat, among other unforgettable moments. Sailings begin in September and are priced from approximately $6,069. Tell couples to take advantage of Avalon Waterways’ Celebration packages, which it currently offers on its Europe sailings, but which can easily translate to an Asia cruise. For example, couples can request that the stateroom be decorated, or perhaps there could be a bottle of sparkling wine, a floral bouquet, chocolates, or a fruit platter welcoming the couple upon arrival, or even dinner at a reserved table that has been especially decorated for the newlyweds. avalonwaterways.com or agents.globusfamily.com

papua new guinea with north star cruises australia
For the truly unexpected, steer your soon-to-be-wed clients to a honeymoon in very exotic Papua New Guinea, on the 10-day New Adventures in Paradise on board North Star Cruises Australia’s True Northship. This adventure cruise ship, which, the company says, is the only ship of its kind in the southern hemisphere that travels with an onboard helicopter, an air-conditioned Eurocopter, welcomes 36 guests and sails off into undiscovered areas of the world as it’s purpose-built for accessing shallow coastal environs and river systems that bigger ships just can’t get into. This Papua New Guinea itinerary—one of three the company offers to this country—explores this remote land in December, taking in the Bismarck Sea and the multitude of islands within it. Newlyweds will have the opportunity to spend time together as they go walking on scenic routes, fishing, snorkeling, diving, or get a bird’s-eye view of the magnificent active volcano at Rabaul from the ship’s helicopter or find just the right spot for a secluded picnic. The journey passes through a stunning tropical landscape of islands and reefs, and there’s plenty of opportunity to hang with the locals and to explore deep in the jungle on visits to isolated villages. Other highlights include visiting a grotto where fresh water pounds out of a rock face onto a pristine beach; waking up in the middle of the Solomon Sea among the corals of Star Reef and the stunning Lusancay Islands—a chance for couples to take a stroll around their very own deserted island; go bird, butterfly and orchid watching; and participate in a bit of voluntourism while taking supplies to local schools. On board, there are specialist guides and a naturalist, as well as modern staterooms and a sundeck, an observation lounge, a ship’s lounge, an alfresco bar and a sports deck. Cruise dates are Dec. 3-13 in both 2014 and 2015; rates start at $15,695 in 2014 and $17,295 in 2015. northstarcruises.com.au

otahuna lodge in new zealand
At this Relais & Chateaux property located in Canterbury in New Zealand, intimacy is key—there are only seven suites in this Victorian mansion and the surroundings spread out as far as the eye can see. The lodge, in fact, is surrounded by 30 acres of historic decorative and productive gardens, which annually produce more than 100 different fruits, nuts, and vegetables, and as an added bonus for the visual feast, there’s the fluted cone of an ancient volcano for a backdrop. Here, couples get the best of both worlds, as the lodge expertly intermingles the past with the very best in modern luxuries, and laid out for newlyweds is one of the country’s most beautiful landscapes. Couples can get lost on the grounds as they stroll down hidden paths that wind in and out of camellia beds and open out to a great expanse gently sloping down to an ornamental lake, which is crossed by three wooden bridges that link a daffodil field on one side to a forest on the other. Another highlight is the lodge’s exceptional culinary scene, which emphasizes the fresh Otahuna estate-grown offerings; come dinner time, newlyweds can find a private table for two in the sunken wine cellar, the intimate library, or the drawing room turret.
One of the lodge’s most popular packages for honeymooners showcases local highlights. It’s the 3-night Best of Canterbury, which includes a welcome gift; two 1-hour massages; cooking lesson for two people with executive chef Jimmy McIntyre; private guided tour of Otahuna’s 30 acres; one picnic or plated lunch for two people; and the choice of two private, guided tours: The Banks Peninsula with its volcanic harbors and the colonial fishing village of Akaroa, including a scenic harbor cruise to see the rare Hector’s dolphins; or Arthur’s Pass National Park with its dramatic mountains, beech forests and waterfalls including a 1-way journey on the TranzAlpine scenic railway. The package starts at $4,101. otahuna.co.nz

mongolia & siberia with nomadic expeditions
Yes, spending the first night as newlyweds in a Ritz-Carlton hotel is quite delightful, but why not recommend a honeymoon night in a ger camp in Mongolia at the Three Camel Lodge. It’s included in Nomadic Expeditions’ new itineraries that marry the Trans-Siberian Railway with Mongolia’s Gobi Desert and explore deep into the world’s less-explored areas. The stay at the lodge is magnificent in its own right—it’s located in the heart of the Gobi Desert, and provides honeymooners a once-in-a-lifetime experience of staying in handmade felt gers that face southward (a nomadic Mongolian tradition) and boast stunning views of the desert and Gobi-Altai Mountains—but the itinerary is simply sublime. Couples will start off their newfound life together with a renewed sense of the world as they take a 15-day railway journey that starts off in Moscow with a tour of this dynamic city and wraps up in Ulaanbaatar, where they’ll experience a traditional Mongolian folk dance and throat singing performance. Highlights along this honeymoon trail include visiting ancient Kazan, once a Tartar capital on the banks of the Volga; visiting Lake Baikal, the oldest and deepest lake in the world; viewing the Flaming Cliffs, which are set aglow in the late-afternoon sunlight; exploring the Gobi Desert; touring Tugrugiin Shiree, site of the “Fighting Dinosaurs” fossil; and interacting with local nomadic families. Aboard the Golden Eagle, couples can snuggle amidst the finest in luxury amenities with opulent quarters and top-notch cuisine, while the dramatic landscapes of Siberia and Mongolia dance across the window. Rates for the Golden Eagle Eastbound to Mongolia: Trans-Siberian Railway journey, with remaining departure dates in 2014 of July 27 and Aug. 27, start at $15,995 pp dbl for the Silver Class. nomadicexpeditions.com