Friday, November 19, 2010

Real Honeymoon: Bali!

I am so excited to share the amazing honeymoon that I planned for Daniel and Angelica to Bali! It was featured in the latest issue of Utterly Engaged, and I wanted to include it here too.  They recently spent 2 ½ weeks in Bali, and stayed at 4 different hotels in different areas of the island.  They had some truly unique, memorable experiences. It was a perfect balance between relaxing, being active, and experiencing the Balinese culture.

One thing I loved about working with this couple is that Daniel planned a number of surprises for Angelica.  He surprised her with two different private dinners on the beach, scuba diving lessons off Menjangan Island, and an over the top luxury resort for the last 3 nights of their honeymoon.  These surprises throughout their honeymoon were so thoughtful, and Angelica certainly appreciated them.

I hope you enjoy reading about their incredible honeymoon!

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

We live in Oakland, California and love to travel, but we don't get to go other places as often as we would like. We're both civil rights lawyers and actually met working on a case together. Daniel is a rabid Oakland Raiders fan. Angelica is a karaoke aficionado. Although our interests often diverge, we both really enjoy relaxing, feasting, and exploring new places together. We got married on September 4 in the Bay Area.

2. What did you want for your honeymoon?

After planning the world's best wedding, we knew we'd need some downtime to relax and enjoy each other's company. Because Angelica likes variety and Daniel likes to take things easy, we knew we needed a place that offered a mix of activities and a lot of relaxation. We also wanted to be able to live it up a little bit in luxury, but not break the bank. So good value was very important to us.

3. What made you want to go to Bali?

We had a couple of friends who had been to Bali and had a great time. It met our needs in terms of offering a range of things to do - from scuba diving to cooking classes to getting pampered - and being relatively affordable. Bali is also far enough away that we knew we wouldn't be able to head there for a weekend getaway.

4. So how was it?

Awesome, romantic, everything we were looking for.

5. What was your favorite part about your honeymoon?

Daniel: In addition to spending so much time with my new wife, I really enjoyed our bike ride with Banyan Tours in the countryside of Ubud and a hike that we took in that area through the Ayang River. These were things we decided to do pretty last minute and felt very off the beaten path.

Angelica: The food, the massages, and the scuba diving. The food everywhere was so delicious -- very flavorful. We had an amazing private dinner on the beach at the Amankila and even took a cooking class in Ubud to be able to learn how to make some of the dishes ourselves. I loved all the massages we got everywhere that we stayed--the Balinese really know how to pamper people, and are so excited to meet newlyweds. Daniel also surprised me with introductory scuba diving in Northwest Bali off of Menjangan Island--the experience was amazing.

6. What did you think of each place you stayed?

In Kerobokon (southern Bali, near Seminyak), Daniel booked us a stay at the Dewani Villas -- a small family run inn in the middle of rice paddies. The rooms were very traditional and comfortable -- we stayed in an upstairs suite with an outdoor shower and amazing thatched roof. It has a lovely pool and a delicious breakfast. It was simpler than the other places we stayed at -- but the other places we stayed at were very luxurious. The first night we were unexpectedly upgraded to a private villa with Novus Bali Villas in Kerobokon. The suite was beautiful and great for relaxing after a 20 hour flight. We had breakfast right by our own private pool.

In Pemuteran (northwest Bali) we stayed at the Matahari Resort, which is a five star resort. It was a little bit over the top in terms of the decor, but the amenities were beautiful, especially the spa. We got massages both at the spa and by the ocean that were just heavenly. Our suite had both an indoor and outdoor shower -- and the shower head was shaped like a stone dragon. We also really enjoyed the buffet at the beachside restaurant on our last night there. The service was terrific.

In Ubud, we stayed in a private villa at the Komaneka Tanggayuda for five nights. This was far and away our favorite place that we stayed. The service was great--everyone learns your name--and we just loved the architecture of the villa (which was all windowed walls) overlooking a small infinity pool with a view of the rice terraces. Every morning we had breakfast in our private bale (small hut) by our pool. We also really enjoyed the free tea and Balinese snacks every afternoon. The spa services here were great as well -- loved the soaking tub carved from volcanic rock. It rained every day we were there, and was so nice to have our dinner or tea brought to the room.

Finally, in the town of Manggis (east Bali), we stayed at the Amankila Resort for three nights. This place was our biggest splurge. The resort is situated on a bluff overlooking the ocean. It was tastefully luxurious in every way. While we were there, we just relaxed in a cabana by the pool for three days straight. The infinity pools are beautiful -- and the service is also top notch. We had a romantic dinner on their private beach--it was a truly memorable feast. We would highly recommend it to other couples. Our package included a snorkeling cruise aboard the Amankila XVI--the boat was great with beds to lounge on. We did have one sleepless night when we were tortured by a very noisy gecko, but the hotel took care of the problem when we complained.

7. What did you think of each area you stayed in?

We stayed in South Bali first, not too far from Seminyak. We thought it had some really nice looking beaches and a variety of things to do, especially if you’re looking for nightlife. But we felt good just spending three nights there and that it might have been too touristy for us to stay the whole time.

Then we hired a driver to bring us up to northwest bali and stayed in Pemuteran. This is a very sleepy side of the island, and from what we gathered, most people are there to go diving or snorkeling off of Menjangan island. We did two days of diving and were really blown away by the beauty of the reef and the sea life. The rest of the time we spent at our resort.

Next, we headed to Ubud, in the mountains. We really enjoyed our stay here -- even though it's not near a beach -- there was just so much to do. We visited the monkey forest, took cooking classes, did a cycling tour, and had some incredible food and the restaurants there. We really found it to be the most dynamic city we stayed in.

Finally, we relaxed before heading home in Manggis, where the Amankila is--it's just a few miles from Candidasa, where we headed for dinner one night. We mostly spent time at our resort here so can't say too much about the area. It was a convenient place to stay to be able to reach the airport. The snorkeling we did was pretty good although not as spectacular as in the northwest.

8. What advice would you give others who want to go to Bali for their honeymoon?

Go! It was such an amazing place for a honeymoon. The Balinese people are so welcoming and excited to meet newlyweds. The island is rich with culture and beauty. The food is so tasty. The massages are heavenly. And there are so many great places to stay and things to do. While the airfare is a major cost, it's definitely possible to find lovely accommodations for a very reasonable price.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Real Honeymoon: Kauai

 Richard and Kurra recently celebrated their honeymoon in Kauai.  They had a wonderful honeymoon at The Sheraton Kauai.  During their honeymoon they did a lot of fun activities, and had a great time exploring the island.  I hope you enjoy reading about their honeymoon!

  1. Where did you go?
Kuaui, Hawaii
  1. How did you decide on this destination?
We both have never been to this island, weather seemed to be good during September and we wanted to go to a place that had a lot of outdoor activities.

  1. Did you like where you stayed?
We loved the Sheraton. The location was very convenient and we had no trouble getting around the island from this location.
  1. What did you think about the destination?
It was absolutely beautiful! There were a ton of things to do and the locals were super friendly! We loved Kuaui!

  1. Did you receive any special honeymoon amenities or upgrades?
We were upgraded a category on the room to a partial ocean view.
  1. What was your favorite part of your honeymoon?
All of the activities: kayaking, hiking, snorkeling, Captain Andy’s catamaran tour and definitely the horseback riding.

  1. Do you have any suggestions for other couples going on a similar honeymoon?
Pick an activity everyday – most of them you can do in a half day and you will have the rest of the day to relax on the beach or enjoy a few cocktails!
  1. What 3 words would you use to describe your honeymoon?
Beautiful, Adventurous, perfect!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Real Honeymoon: Europe Cruise

At Park Guell in Barcelona 

Garrett and Jessica recently celebrated their honeymoon by staying in Barcelona, taking a 7 night cruise to France and Italy, then returning to Barcelona and taking a train up to Madrid for a few nights.  Cruises are a great way to see a lot of different destinations, and then you can return to your favorite places at a later time!

Here is what Garrett and Jessica had to say about their honeymoon:

1. Where did you go?

We flew into Barcelona and stayed for 2 nights before embarking on our 7 day cruise to Nice (France), Genoa, Florence, Rome and Salerno (Italy) and back to Barcelona. Then we took the train to Madrid for another 2 nights and flew back to the states.

2.  How did you decide on this destination?

We knew that we wanted some new destinations to explore together and we love cities and experiencing various cultures. Europe has always struck us as being the ideal honeymoon destination so we went for it.
In Cinque Terre, Italy

3. Did you like where you stayed?

We enjoyed the locations of the hotels. We also loved how each of them was unique. They are not your typical big-chain hotels but had a very local flavor in addition to the English speaking staff.

4. What did you think about the destination?

Each city was very enjoyable and we really overdid ourselves with the exploration but it was well worth the physical effort.

5. Did you receive any special honeymoon amenities or upgrades?

We did receive a fruit platter at the U232 hotel but everything else was fairly standard.

At the Colosseum in Rome

6. What was your favorite part of your honeymoon?

We loved exploring Rome on our own. We took the train in from the port and got around on a tourist map using their public transportation system. It was neat seeing history blended with modern Rome.

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

There is no pressure to book the shore excursions with the cruise. All of them are overpriced and you are able to get the information you need to get around from the concierge. There’s so much to enjoy on your own that it’s well worth the effort and planning. Also, don’t overdo yourself, otherwise you will spend many weeks recovering from what was supposed to be a relaxing time after the wedding.

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

Adventurous, Cultural, Busy

    Monday, November 8, 2010

    Utterly Engaged: Issue #13

    Have you seen the latest issue of Utterly Engaged?  If not, head over there right now!

    The theme is "World Wide Web" and features international weddings and vendors.  The pages are filled with incredible pictures and amazing creative talent!

    Be sure to check out my article featuring the honeymoon I planned for Daniel and Angelica, starting on page 8.  They had an unbelievable honeymoon in Bali!

    Thursday, November 4, 2010

    Real Honeymoon: Big Island and Kauai

    Christie and David recently celebrated their honeymoon in Hawaii.  They visited the Big Island of Hawaii and Kauai and had an incredible time.  I hope you enjoy reading about their honeymoon!

    1. How did you decide on these destinations?
    We knew we wanted to stay closer to home for a short flight and wanted to know what we were getting. We chose Hawaii because we got to stay in the USA, use our own currency, and expect great meals and service. It’s just easy and although it may be more expensive than other destinations the peace of mind is totally worth it. Driving, shopping, eating; everything is just so easy and carefree!

    1. Did you like where you stayed?
    We loved the properties we stayed in. The Fairmont Orchid is a great location and teeming with Sea Turtles every day! The service and food were fabulous! The ocean view doesn’t hurt either. It is a bit further away from town so that is something to consider. The room was great and we were upgraded!
    The St. Regis in Kauai is like nothing else in the world! The view of Hanalei Bay is magnificent and so romantic. We were also upgraded at this property and the service is top notch. They really know how to make honeymooners feel special. We also both celebrated birthdays at the St. Regis! Such a treat. So luxurious and well thought out by the designers. The pool and beach are also phenomenal!

    1. What did you think about the destinations?
    The big island really is huge! We loved driving around and seeing all the different landscapes and climate. Great for adventure but also for relaxing. We got a good taste and saw the amazing sights of the volcanoes and jungles.
    Kauai really is the best Hawaiian Island for romance. It is so lush and dreamy. Everywhere you turn it is beauty everywhere. From the hiking to snorkeling to beaches, it was amazing!

    1. Did you receive any special honeymoon amenities or upgrades?
    Oh yes! Champagne in our rooms, special dinner reservations and higher room categories than reserved. Ocean View at Fairmont and top floor Ocean View at St. Regis.

    1. What was your favorite part of your honeymoon?
    Sitting in a lounge chair with a tropical cocktail watching the sunset on the beach was probably my favorite part! But then again the Helicopter ride in Kauai was once in a lifetime! We also had a blast paddle boarding on Hanalei Bay, and hiking the Napali Coast. So hard to choose!

    1. Do you have any suggestions for other couples going on a similar honeymoon?
    Definitely splurge! It is so worth it. You want to feel pampered and special on your honeymoon! You only get one! We love the ocean side couples massage on the Big Island and the Gourmet meals. We stayed in beautiful properties and the time of the year was perfect. No Rain, No loud families and No crowds! Can’t beat that! We also got a convertible car which was a blast!

    1. What 3 words would you use to describe your honeymoon?
    Romantic, Bliss, Adventure! 

    Interested in having Ever After Honeymoons plan your honeymoon?  Contact us for a quote request!