Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Real Honeymoon: Costa Rica

When Bill & Amy contacted me they asked for beaches, local culture, day trips and great food.  Based on this description I put together a variety of custom options and they decided on Costa Rica, which ended up being the perfect honeymoon location for them!
            They split their honeymoon between two resorts, and two different areas of Costa Rica.  They started at Tabacon Grand Spa Thermal Resort located at the base of the Arenal Volcano.  Then they stayed at the Four Seasons Resort at Peninsula Papagayo in the Guanacaste Region.  This was a great way to experience the different areas of Costa Rica, and they had a rental car so they could explore the areas on their own.
            I hope you enjoy reading about their fabulous honeymoon!

  1. Please provide a brief description of the two of you.

Bill and I are both architects who met at graduate school in New York City.  We had worked on several projects together after graduation and one thing let to another.. five years after graduation we got married in Brooklyn NY.  We had been working so much over those last five years, we had never been out of the country together, so our honeymoon was a great opportunity for us to take a break.

  1. What did you want for your honeymoon?

We wanted to relax, but we wanted to have the option to be active.  We haven’t spent a great deal of time “relaxing” so we were excited to see if we could do it!  It was a personal challenge for us to let go and enjoy a beach/mountain vacation.

  1. What made you want to go to Costa Rica?

Costa Rica to us, was the right distance from NYC, it had warm weather in April and we had heard wonderful things about it over the years.  We had thought that the option to be in mountains and the beach would keep us occupied for the ten days.

  1. So how was it?

Everything we had hoped for!   It was so easy to unwind, the people we met were so friendly and helpful. The atmosphere was laid back, perfect for us to really get in tune with the lush surroundings.

  1. What was your favorite part about your honeymoon?

Bill and I really enjoyed the drive to La Fortuna, we loved the activities near the volcano Arenal and especially the hot springs, super lush surroundings!   Honestly, we LOVED the beach on the Papagayo Peninsula too.  We ended up seeing a lot of monkey’s on the beach and it doesn’t hurt to have your beach chair prepped every morning.  It would be hard to choose.

  1. What did you think of each hotel?

So much luxury, almost too much luxury!!  Tabacon was a wonderful place to start, as it was very intimate and felt culturally … Costa Rican.   We took advantage of the spa at Tabacon and had the most relaxing outdoor lava treatments, massage and mud masks, with the sounds of the spring in the background.  I would say that would be the absolutely highlight of the hotel.

  1. Did you like splitting your time between two resorts and areas?

Absolutely!  We are fairly active people and like to move around.  Moving from one region to next felt like two vacations.  When one location was over, you really had time to reflect and enjoy the next place.  We enjoyed the arrangement as well, mountains first then beach, perfect combination.

  1. Did you do any activities?

Bill and I hiked, we kayaked, we hung out on hanging bridges, we had guided wildlife tours, we went to the spa, but our favorite activity seemed to be eating, the food was incredible!

  1. What advice would you give others want to go to Costa Rica for their honeymoon?

Absolutely use a car, but get a sporty 4x4!  If you want an adventure that is varied then Costa Rica is for you.  There is so much to do and it is all quite accessible.   The country is so oriented to tourism it is really hard not to enjoy every moment.  The Costa Ricans seem very proud of their country and want to share the beauty.

  1. Describe your honeymoon in 3 words.

Lush, extravagant and alluring!

Real Honeymoon: Dominican Republic & St Thomas

Mike and Dana were lucky enough to spend 1 week in the Dominican Republic and 1 week in St Thomas for their honeymoon.  They started at a luxury, boutique, all inclusive resort called Zoetry Agua in Punta Cana.  Then they flew to St Thomas and spent a week at the Ritz Carlton.  I hope you enjoy reading about their amazing honeymoon!

 1. How did you decide on this destination?

We liked the pictures of the Zoetry Agua, in Punta Cana, and knew we wanted to stay there.  After that, we picked St. Thomas because it was close to Dominica Republic and looked fun and different. 

 2. Did you like where you stayed?

We liked St. Thomas better than Dominican Republic. 

 3. What did you think about the destination? 

Dominican Republic was very nice.  The Zoetry is an all-inclusive resort, and it was very relaxing and beautiful.  However, there’s absolutely nothing to do there (other than lay out), so after about 4 days of laying out and reading, we were bored and ready to try something new.  St. Thomas was just as beautiful as Dominican Republic, and there was more to do – watersports, shopping, restaurants, etc.

4. What was your favorite part of your honeymoon? 

Taking the catamaran around St. Thomas and snorkeling. 

5. Did the hotel provide any special honeymoon perks for you? 

We got a complimentary room upgrade at Zoetry so we had a private plunge pool.  Zoetry also gave us champagne and put special flowers on our bed and in our bathtub.  The Ritz gave us chocolates and champagne.

6. Do you have any suggestions for other couples going on a similar honeymoon?

Yes, I would say that it was good that we went to Dominican Republic first, and relaxed for a few days.  It was nice to do nothing after the wedding and just decompress.  Then, it was fun to go to St. Thomas where there’s a little more to do.  We went for two weeks total.  I would recommend going somewhere where you can relax for 3-4 days and then do something fun after that.  I would also say that 2 weeks is a little bit long – if we could do it over again we’d do it for 10 -11 days.

7. What 3 words would you use to describe your honeymoon?

Relaxing, Needed, Expensive!  :)

Real Honeymoon: Spain

I am very excited to share the incredible honeymoon of Lia and Troy.  Their story is too cute-They met while studying abroad in Sweden, then backpacked all over Europe together. They weren’t able to make it to Spain though.  They always wanted to visit Spain together as a way to complete the trip they took when they met.  Five years later they got married in Berkeley, and knew that Spain would be the perfect place to spend their first days as newlyweds!  Cute right???

Troy and Lia visited Menorca, Madrid, Toledo and Barcelona.  They had an absolutely incredible honeymoon.  I hope you enjoy reading about it!

1. What did you want for your honeymoon? 

We wanted to be able to relax after the wedding and a year of planning.  We envisioned white sands and turquoise waters but we aren’t really resort people.  We both love city vacations and exploring as much as we can while we’re traveling.  So we thought somewhere we could relax for a few days and then take off to see the city sights would be perfect!

2. So how was it?

AMAZING! It was everything we had imagined and more!  We got the right amount of relaxation and activities, and stopped to enjoy the food and wine and just enjoy each others company as newlyweds.  The Spanish, and especially Catalonian people had a laid back yet friendly attitude that we really connected with. 

3. What was your favorite part about your honeymoon? 

Each morning we would find a table in a Plaza, sit outside and drink café con leche and eat churros before starting our busy day.  It was so peaceful to have that time to soak in our surroundings every morning and map out our adventure for that day.  

4. What did you think of each hotel? 

Each hotel was perfect.  Our hotel in Menorca, with our own private balcony overlooking the Mediterranean, gave us the relaxing experience we were looking for.  In Madrid we were right in the middle of it all!  We stayed in the penthouse suite and our location made it easy to get everywhere we wanted to go fast- we were just a few blocks away from Plaza Mayor and Puerta del Sol. Toledo is a charming old city and our hotel, while modern, fit the ambiance of the city perfectly.  Our last leg of the trip we ended with a bang in Barcelona.  Our hotel there was so swanky and chic- we really felt like were living the high life, even though it was still very reasonable and in our budget.

5. What did you think of each city? 

The island of Menorca was a beautiful, low-key paradise.  The beaches we saw, were straight off of a postcard.  Madrid was classic Europe with cobblestone streets and big plazas filled with people and a buzzing energy.  Walking around Toledo made you feel as though you stepped back in time; full of history and diverse religious heritage.  More cosmopolitan than Madrid, there was A LOT to see and do in Barcelona.  We loved all of the Gaudi architecture and sipping Sangria on the beach.  Basque tapas, bike tours and boutique shopping were equally exciting.

**They took this picture from my favorite tapas restaurant in Barcelona- looks delicious right?  You pick from a variety of options, then pay based on the number of toothpicks on your plate!

6. Did you like visiting so many different areas of Spain? 

Absolutely!  If you’re going to fly halfway around the world, you should take in as much as you can!  Plus, the different Spanish regions, have such diverse cultures, you can’t say you’ve seen Spain unless you have experienced more than one.  There are several regions we would still love to visit and we know they will be totally different than the areas we saw.


7. What advice would you give others that want to go to Spain for their honeymoon? 

DO IT!  If you like immersing yourself in the language, culture, food, etc., of a country, Spain has SO much to offer.  This is a place where they know how to have fun and yet still there is a romantic, cool, mellow vibe. 

8. Describe your honeymoon in 3 words. 

Relaxing.  Magical.  Buzzing. 

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Real Honeymoon: Dominican Republic

Kyle and Elizabeth recently returned from a fabulous honeymoon at Dreams Resort in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.  The Dominican Republic is an amazing destination, and really offers a lot for honeymoon couples.  There are great beaches, a lot of fun activities, and incredible resorts.

Enjoy reading about their honeymoon!

  1. Where did you go?
Dreams Resort in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

  1. How did you decide on this destination?
Two separate newlyweds had suggested Dominican Republic because of the affordable price for a honeymoon location.  Dreams Resort had the best balance of what Kyle and I both wanted from our honeymoon.  I wanted to be able to relax, while Kyle wanted to do fun activities.  Dreams had a spa center for me and many free on-site activities for Kyle.  It was perfect match for us.  Plus the all-inclusive benefits allowed us to better enjoy our time without worrying over all the details of where to get food and having enough money.

  1. Did you like where you stayed?
We loved where we stayed.  The service was outstanding.  The amount of respect and assistance they gave everyone made us feel like royalty.  The ambiance at Dreams is designed to ensure your stay is comfortable and stress free.  It was simply divine.

  1. What did you think about the destination?
The Dominican Republic had beautiful beaches, and the atmosphere was fun and festive.

  1. What was your favorite part of your honeymoon?
The food and complementary 24-hour room service was incredible.  The resort had nine different restaurants with various styles.  From Asian to French, Mexican to American, you could taste flavors from around the world.  Also, some restaurants were sit-down, while others were buffet.  The 24-hour room service was a luxury that we had never experienced.

  1. Did the hotel provide any special honeymoon perks for you?
We stayed in a honeymoon suite with a private Jacuzzi on the balcony.  Also, a bottle of champagne and fresh fruit plate was provided upon our arrival.

  1. Do you have any suggestions for other couples going on a similar honeymoon?
Definitely go with a resort that is all-inclusive and fits your style.  It will allow you to get the most enjoyment out of your honeymoon.

  1. What 3 words would you use to describe your honeymoon?
Relaxing, Luxurious, and Intimate.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Real Honeymoon: Playa del Carmen, Mexico

Playa del Carmen is definitely one of my favorite destinations for a honeymoon.  There are gorgeous beaches, a vibrant downtown area filled with beach bars and shops, and incredible resorts.  Plus you can visit Mayan ruins and there are a lot of fun water sports close by.

Adam and Malia recently stayed at The Royal in Playa del Carmen for their honeymoon.  This is a gorgeous all inclusive resort located on the beach.  They are such an adorable couple- you will definitely agree by the end of this post!

  1. Where did you go?
We went to Playa Del Carmen, Mexico

  1. How did you decide on this destination?
It had everything we were looking for…white sand beaches, affordable, not an overly long flight, and it was all-inclusive.

  1. Did you like where you stayed?
Yes!! The Royal was amazing. All the amenities were over the top spectacular. The food was amazing; the drinks (which were included) were fantastic and not cheap liquor, which I appreciated. I loved that it was close to 5th avenue and the shopping. There was so much to do, but also a great place to just lie around the pool and relax.

***Some bars on 5th Avenue in downtown Playa del Carmen have swings instead of barstools- how cute is that???

  1. What did you think about the destination?
It was a great destination. I have been to Mexico before but the Caribbean side gave us both a different impression. It was clean, the people were so nice and it felt that we were a bit secluded which I enjoyed.

  1. What was your favorite part of your honeymoon?
My favorite part of the honeymoon was relaxing by the pool. After all the planning and chaos of the wedding events it was so good to have a cocktail waitress attend to me while I lounged poolside all day. My husband’s favorite was visiting Chitiniza: the Mayan ruins. It was great that we both got to enjoy a bit of our favorite parts of a vacation. Playa Del Carmen’s location provided lots of activities to do, so we were both very happy!

  1. Did the hotel provide any special honeymoon perks for you?
Our bed was decorated with rose petals when we arrived. We requested the room have a “romantic” feel, so everyday our turn down service included romantic aromas and décor on the bed. It made for a very romantic honeymoon. They also provided a bottle of champagne and a mini cake upon arrival. On our last day they sent up chocolate covered strawberries as well. I loved that they recognized and celebrated this wonderful event.

  1. Do you have any suggestions for other couples going on a similar honeymoon?
Make sure and talk with your new spouse about what they expect from this trip. Adam and I think of vacations very differently: I like to relax and he likes adventure. We were able to find a location that offered both.

  1. What 3 words would you use to describe your honeymoon?
Romantic, Relaxing and Adventurous