Last year New York Times reported that the “dream” honeymoon has returned; in other words, couples drop austerity and small trips again in favor of remote, romantic vacations. As noted, plenty of evidence supports this – according to a statistic from a 2021 WeddingWire report, “more than 70% of couples who got married last year were moving on or planning to go on a post-wedding vacation, a number that has increased almost 20% from 2020 and back to pre-p
andemic levels. “This is undoubtedly exciting if you fall into that boat. Yet it also means that you are likely to travel at the same time as millions of other couples who are all heading to the same tired places, which can provide a crowded and stressful experience, so you may want to check out some incredible honeymoon destinations that you have never considered before – and luckily TZR got word from industry experts about some of the best.
For Liz Norment, wedding officer and honeymoon planner at Have Lover, Will Travel, these suggestions are rooted in what her clients are currently looking for: energy, solitude and compassion.
According to the planner, many seek to experience the true culture and beauty of places at the moment, rather than the traditional “all-inclusive” resort – they want to learn and explore and feel. “We want a practical experience; we are looking for a destination that is dynamic, ”she explains.
That said, she maintains that “loneliness is sexy” at the moment. “Of course, it still has its appeal to experience a foreign city, but as the ability to travel to ‘hubs’ changes almost daily, it becomes more attractive to find places off the beaten path,” explains Norment. Therefore, she continues, plan couples vacations by first choosing a hub and then planning day or road trips from these locations. “They are looking for freedom and the ability to either walk around and explore a destination all day or drive for a few hours and be transported to a completely different place, culture, feeling and experience.”
What about the compassion aspect of travel? Norment explains that in the last two years, “we have felt more connected to humanity as we all experience, suffer from and are afraid of the exact same but previously unknown enemy … So now travelers seek to give more than just take from a destination.We want to give back by wandering around farmers’ markets, experiencing local food, sharing the experiences locals are proud of, and hearing and sharing stories.We want to be mindful tourists.We want to feel us connected. ”
While travel planning has been taken up again and new trends are emerging, it does not change the fact that it is challenging and uncertain to design a holiday right now – especially one associated with a wedding. Because of this, Norment offers a few tips on how to manage the process successfully.
Perhaps most importantly, have an open mind. “I have worked with my clients to focus equally on destinations AND dates,” she says. “This means that if it’s most important to have the escape right after the big day, then let’s put a flexible plan in place for an ‘exotic’ destination, and also a backup plan somewhere locally.” Of course, using a certified travel advisor will also help, as it ensures “that a professional has control over the unpredictable.”
And finally, always remember why we travel in the first place. “This is especially the key to honeymoons! We travel to connect with our lover, to learn about a place, but also to learn more about each other,” says Norment. Five incredible places to do it ahead.
“[Iceland is] an unusual, unforgettable and quite above-ground, moon-like landscape, and is a surprisingly accessible (thanks to Icelandair extensive flight network) year-round destination with direct flights from NYC that takes about five hours, “Carolyn Addison, Head of Product at luxury travel planner Black Tomato, tells TZR . “It has a bucket list feel, so it’s ideal for honeymoons.”
Where to stay: “For an Icelandic twist on the traditional pool,” stay at The Retreat Hotel at Blue Lagoon, Addison says. “Lagoon Suites have direct access from their terraces right into the hotel’s private lagoon, so you don’t have to share it with tourists.” You would also be unhappy not to check out the new EDITION Hotel in Reykjavik, she continues: “Chic, minimalist, with the distinctive scent it has made waves since it opened in November and is an ideal and very relaxed, urban respite.”
Do you want the best of both worlds? Addison recommends Torfhús Retreat, which is “located in the rural landscape of Selfoss” and looks like an adventure. Secluded and alluring, yet conveniently close to Iceland’s indispensable Golden Circle and 90 minutes drive from Reykjavik. No light pollution makes Torfhús Retreat a great destination for stargazing and to catch a glimpse of the stunning Aurora. ”
What to do: Norment recommends taking a road trip around the Golden Circle, and explains that you should plan all stops and stays along the way. She also includes much more nature exploration on her list of recommendations, such as self-guided glacier walks, exploring black sandy beaches, swimming in the Blue Lagoon and immersing yourself in Reykjadalur’s hot springs, among others.
Are you and your partner design lovers, adventurers or food lovers? Addison says Morocco is the place for you. Plus, she continues, it has “a level of comfort and luxury that may surprise some who are not so familiar with the destination.”
Where to stay: “Rest up after the wedding chaos in a private riad on the lavish Royal Mansour,” says Addison. “Then head to the Atlas Mountains for hiking, cooking classes and sweeping views of Richard Branson’s Kasbah Tamadot.”
Another standout, she says? The “imitative Dar Ahlam”, which is “an easy 30-minute drive from Ouarzazate International Airport, making it an incredible place from which to visit both the Dadès and Drâa valleys.” (And of course lounge by the pool.)
What to do: Addison cascades over the “many amazing experiences” you can find in Morocco. But her favorites include “creating your own signature honeymoon scent in a private perfume master class in Marrakech, driving a vintage car out into the desert for an overnight stay in a private camp in the Scarabeo Desert for stargazing, camel rides and dinner by the campfire. Dreamy.”
“Really hard to beat food and wine shows combined with beautiful scenery, amazing nightlife and a huge variety of unique experiences that make Argentina a no-brainer, especially if you are getting married in the northern winter,” explains Addison. Plus, she continues, Argentina can easily be paired with a visit to Chile. “Both offer amazing landscapes and amazing experiences.”
Where to stay: “Stay with the legendary Faena [in Buenos Aires], where there is always fantastic, lively energy by the pool – it is also home to one of the city’s best tango shows, ”she says. “Next, check in at The Vines in Mendoza’s Valle de Uco for dinner at Francis Mallmann’s Siete Fuegos and endless views of the vineyards and mountains beyond.”
What to do: If you are feeling energetic, Addison recommends that you sign up for tango lessons. And for the less coordinated? “An easy tour of Buenos Aires’ best hidden bars is definitely a highlight.” So, in Mendoza, “cycling in the region’s incredible vineyards or exploring in a vintage 2CV before mixing your own wine to celebrate your honeymoon would also be right up there,” she says.
As Norment notes, Portugal may be small, but it has plenty to offer. Plus, she says, it’s super romantic, while still being one of the most affordable places to visit in Europe.
Where to stay: Norment has several favorites, but among them are Memmo Príncipe Real in Lisbon (“romantic, design-driven and captivating,” she says), and Vila Joya, whom she describes as “the best way to experience the Algarve.”
She is also a fan of the PortoBay Flores Hotel in Porto, because the “quiet space embodies the magic of the city” and the Sobreiras in the Alentejo, a “peaceful 22-bedroom property with private cottage-like minimalist suites and an enchanting pool.”
What to do: “My favorite trip to Portugal to [those] who loves food, wine and culture is flying to Porto and then spending time exploring the Alentejo wine region and the stunning, museum-like city of Évora, ”continues Norment. “For those looking for a greater urban energy and a fantastic coastal experience, you can fly to Lisbon and explore Sintra and Cascais. From there, drive down the coast to the stunning beaches and charming villages of the Algarve.”
Southwest of the United States
The car trip has officially returned, and yes – there can be romance in the endless discovery, Norment notes. Her clients’ favorite trips include a 10-day trip through the Southwest: Starting in Austin, ending in the Joshua Tree, and taking in New Mexico and Arizona along the way. “Think retro-chic hotels for vintage ‘glamping’ experiences, long stretches of flat roads dotted with cacti and plenty of space to breathe and relax together.”
Where to stay: Norment has lots of favorites for places to stay during your entire trip. In Austin, “Heywood Hotel, Austin Motel and Carpenter Hotel all embrace the city’s funky, artistic retro-western vibe,” she says. Then drive into New Mexico and stay in a dome house for “for isolation and uninterrupted stargazing.”
Next stop: Arizona, where luxury seekers can relax at the Sanctuary Camelback Mountain Resort and “relax with world-class spa treatments.” Finally, head to Joshua Tree and check in at The Castle House Estate – “a romantic ‘glamping’ style experience in castle-like ‘towers’.”
What to do: Norment says one should start with art and live music in Austin and capture the “nocturnal bat mode from Congress Avenue Bridge.” In New Mexico, you can “hike in forest trails, search moose and elk (from a distance!) And camp under the stars” in the Lincoln National Forest. In Phoenix you can visit the Camelback Mountains’ “famous spas” and enjoy the Desert Botanical Garden.
Then end your trip with one (or more) of the activities Joshua Tree has to offer. “Hike and discover waterfalls in Cottonwood Spring, look into the Joshua Tree Bottle Shop and choose a carefully selected bottle of natural wine, and then watch the sun set over the desert,” says Norment.