A honeymoon was once a simple affair – get married, have a party then head off to the airport for a fortnight in the sun. But in recent years we’ve seen the emergence of all sorts of modern twists, from babymoons to buddymoons, minimoons to maximoons. Yes, really. Jane Anderson, editor of 101 Honeymoons, explains the latest trends and recommends the best places to go.
Would you take a handful of friends on honeymoon? That’s what an increasing number of British newlyweds are doing, according to a recent survey. The research for Travelex found that as many as 20% of couples have shared their post-wedding travels with mates, with the main reason being to save money. The poll showed that some newlyweds even take along family members – though presumably this would be known as a “Familymoon”. The most popular destinations for group honeymoons are Dubai, Thailand, France, South Africa and Turkey, according to the survey. Perhaps it’s no coincidence that these are all destinations where the pound has strengthened over the past 12 months against the local currency.
“If you are travelling with a group it’s worth staying in a luxury villa with a private pool. You’ll get more freedom and privacy than you would at a hotel, and it works out great value, particularly if you eat in the villa and share the cooking. Vintage Travel has some great properties in Mallorca, some with a detached cottage next to the main house where the newlyweds can get extra privacy. Another idea is to hire a fully-crewed gulet – a traditional wooden sailing boat – off the coast of Turkey.”
Not all couples wait until they marry before having children – so what sort of honeymoon can you expect as new parents? Some couples might have the option of leaving their baby with grandparents while they hot-foot it to a foreign beach. But it seems that others prefer to take their little darlings with them. This kind of holiday is all about bonding with your baby – the three of you spending quality time together. It helps if baby is a good sleeper.
“Don’t even think about self-catering. I would opt for a stylish hotel that specifically caters for young children, where you won’t feel out of place or a nuisance to other guests. One of the best is the Almyra in Cyprus, which has a Baby Go Lightly service so that you can pre-order all your baby paraphernalia, from cots to disposable nappies. There are nannies on hand as well so you won’t miss out on spa treatments and romantic dinners. I would stick to short-haul with a baby, but if you do want to go long-haul, choose a destination that doesn’t have too much of a time difference to disrupt baby’s routine such as Dubai or Mauritius.”
If you’re cash rich and time poor (or cash poor and time poor), you might want to take a short honeymoon of just a few days. This can be every bit as glamorous as a fortnight away, and even more so if you pool all your budget into a short stay. Rather than two weeks in a two-star hotel, you could spend a memorable two nights in a luxury five-star. Many couples take a minimoon immediately after their big day and then take a longer honeymoon several months later, particularly if their wedding is at the “wrong” time of year for a dream destination.
“The UK is an obvious choice because you won’t spend a lot of time and budget on air travel. My favourite hotels include Gilpin Lake House in the Lake District and Lucknam Park near Bath. Paris is a classic minimoon destination. If you live in London or the South East, you can hop on Eurostar and be sipping champagne in the French capital within a couple of hours. I love the new Peninsula Hotel Paris.”
A wedding can be a time to take stock of your life before moving on to the next phase. Now could be the last chance for a “big trip” before you’re tied down by a mortgage and children. Increasing numbers of honeymooners who have never done a gap year are using their wedding as an excuse for an extended period of travel – anything from a month to an entire year.
“South East Asia is a great destination for a couple of months – it’s beautiful, exciting and cheap. If you want to tick off a number of countries, invest in round-the-world tickets. These offer a lot of flexibility on itineraries and dates and work out excellent value. Combining Asia, Australia and the South Pacific is a classic route.”
Modern luxury travel is less about vast hotel suites with gold-plated taps and more about valuable once-in-a-lifetime experiences. This trend is bleeding into the honeymoon market, as increasing numbers of couples want to tick things off their bucket lists, rather than lie on a sun bed on a diet of cocktails and canapes. Psychologists agree that sharing an adventure together can be more of a bonding experience than simply relaxing at a five-star resort.
“Don’t be timid – the idea of an adventuremoon is to push yourselves outside your normal comfort zone. Borneo, for example, is a great destination. You could go trekking, river rafting, camping and stay in a traditional Iban longhouse with Selective Asia. Hardcore couples could head to Iceland for a four-day Arctic survival experience – including snow-kiting and ice fishing – with Epic Tomato.