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Places like Paris and Bora Bora get all the honeymoon-planning attention when it comes to planning a honeymoon, but there are plenty of equally stunning spots around the globe that are a bit less traveled (and provide more savings). TPG Contributor Lane Nieset spotlights 10 dreamy hotels that set the scene for truly romantic getaways, from horseback rides on sandy shores to private candlelit dinners perched above the sea.
Park Hyatt Buenos Aires — Buenos Aires, Argentina
Buenos Aires’ old-world charm and blend of Italian and Latin culture makes it a favorite for travelers heading to South America — and the great exchange rate doesn’t hurt, either. Even better, it’s easy to book award travel here and save on your honeymoon expenses; see How to Book Award Travel to Buenos Aires. Once you arrive, settle into luxury digs at the five-star Park Hyatt Buenos Aires, set in the 1930s French palace Duhau in the district of Recoleta. You’ll find public spaces filled with chandeliers, fireplaces in guest rooms and the full-service Ahín Spa looking out on the gardens, where couples can find relaxation after a busy day of sightseeing.
Rates start at $510 or 20,000 Hyatt Gold Passport Points per night. Fly into Ezeiza International Airport (EZE).
The St. Regis Mardavall Mallorca Resort — Mallorca, Spain
If you’re the kind of couple that likes laid-back luxury and blissful, pale-sand beaches, then this island hideaway is for you. Set on the Balearic island of Mallorca near the capital, Palma, this 128-room hotel has all the necessary ingredients for a romantic escape, including one of the largest spas in Europe (with an Egyptian brine bath and ice cave) and a Michelin-star restaurant, Es Fum, which serves gourmet fare at tables overlooking the sea.
Guests can glimpse the sea from most rooms in the hotel, but those who want to splurge on a suite also get perks including butler service and a personal pool or private Jacuzzi on a seaside terrace. While there are certainly more affordable spots scattered throughout Spain, now’s the time to take advantage of the dollar’s strength and save a bit on a luxury destination deemed one of the most beautiful islands in the Mediterranean.
Rates start at 230 euros ($259) or 30,000 Starpoints. Fly into the Palma Mallorca Airport (PMI). For more on Mallorca, see Destination of the Week: Mallorca.
The Ritz-Carlton, Okinawa — Okinawa, Japan
This guesthouse-style property only has 97 rooms, so couples have intimacy as well as access to five-star resort amenities. Sneak away for a round of golf at the 18-hole course overlooking the East China Sea or stroll through the bamboo tunnel to the two-level ESPA spa to relax in a sumptuous spa suites; the Forest Suite, for instance, has its own treatment room and steam showers, as well as soaking tub and rain shower on a balcony overlooking the forest. You can also one of the hotel’s Cabana rooms for a soak, which feature a whirlpool on an outdoor terrace.
Not only is this destination a great deal (and one of our top value spots for 2015) thanks to the dollar’s strength against the yen, but it’s also a top pick for couples looking for a more off-the-beaten-path beach destination.
Rates start at 36,000 yen ($287) or 60,000 points. The closest airport, Naha Airport (OKA), is about an hour and 15 minutes away by car. For more on the hotel, check out Richard Kerr’s recent review.
L’AND Vineyards Resort — Évora, Portugal
If you like the idea of sleeping under the stars but pitching a tent isn’t your idea of romance, this five-star resort has the perfect alternative: a Sky View Suite with a retractable roof. Set on 66 acres surrounded by vineyards and woodland, the 22-suite hotel is just 45 minutes from Lisbon, offering couples a rural retreat in a sleek setting that brings a taste of nature indoors. Sit al fresco on the vineyard-covered patio at the regionally inspired Michelin-star restaurant, L’AND, or indulge in treatments at the Vineothérapie Spa by Caudalie, where the lotions, scrubs and serums are made with organic grapes.
Portugal is presently an affordable alternative to more popular (and pricey) destinations in Europe, and while this hotel (a member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World) is on the upscale side, the rates really are a deal — even for the Sky View Suite, which features vineyard views, a fireplace terrace and a private patio with a heated plunge pool.
Sky View Suites start at 307 euros ($340). Fly into Lisbon International Airport (LIS).
Coqui Coqui — Tulum, Mexico
Though set on the same Riviera Maya coast as hotspots like Playa del Carmen and Cancun, the quieter, more pristine Tulum is better known for technology detoxes and yoga retreats than huge resorts and a party scene, making it ideal for honeymooners who want to log off and enjoy their surroundings (and each other). Oceanfront Coqui Coqui adds a hippie hue to its thatched-roof rooms with hammocks and sheer netting over the beds, providing a low-key yet chic alternative to the classic beach resort setting. Keeping in theme with the area’s reputation, couples can also take part in their own version of a wellness retreat with a holistic spa treatment in view of the water.
Rates from $300. Fly into Cancun International Airport (CUN). For more ideas on activities in the area, check out 9 Ways To Do Riviera Maya from Cancun to Tulum and 4 Coastal Hotspots to Visit in Mexico in 2015.
The Laguna, A Luxury Collection Resort & Spa — Nusa Dua, Bali
Despite the number of high-end hotels lining Bali’s beaches, the island destination is actually an affordable option for a luxurious honeymoon. Case in point: The Laguna, an SPG Category 4 hotel that starts at 10,000 Starpoints or $128 per night, is dotted with tropical gardens and seven lagoons/pools, all set just off a stretch of white-sand beach. The 287-room resort has Balinese villas for couples who want a larger, more secluded space; each villa comes with a private pool, Balinese rain shower, 24/7 butler service and buggy ride to your very own reserved spot on the beach.
Rates from $128. Fly into Ngurah Rai Airport (DPS). For more on Bali, check out The Points Guy’s post What I Loved About Bali (And Why I Need To Go Back).
Narbona Wine Lodge — Carmelo, Uruguay
We rated Uruguay as one of the Best Value Destinations for 2015 thanks to its stellar exchange rate, laid-back culture and lower number of tourists than its South American neighbors. However, the destination is also a dreamy one for couples who crave a wine escape. Set in one of Uruguay’s first vineyards, this farmhouse-meets-lodge dates back to 1909 and was originally a grocer’s shop, but it’s since been converted into a five-room boutique hotel with suites named after grapes grown on site. Rooms mix modern amenities with antique furniture and charming touches like wood-burning stoves on the terraces overlooking the vineyard and winery. Not enough romance for you? Then imagine sampling Narbona’s own wines and cheeses over a candlelit dinner for two in the stone-lined Restaurant La Antigua Cava.
Rates start at $170. Fly into Carmelo International Airport (CAR).
One&Only Cape Town — Cape Town, South Africa
With the favorable current exchange rate, Cape Town is an affordable spot for honeymooners who want a cosmopolitan getaway that’s still in reach of more exotic excursions, from paragliding and surfing to whale watching and (especially if your trip isn’t going well) shark cage diving. Rated the number-one city hotel and resort in South Africa and the Middle East by Travel + Leisure, the luxe 131-room One&Only Cape Town not only offers views of landmark Table Mountain, it also provides an urban oasis in the form of island rooms surrounding the heated infinity pool. The rooms are also right by the award-winning spa, set on a private island in the waterway on the wharf.
Part of the Amex FHR program, rates at this property start at 5,220 ZAR ($415). Fly into Cape Town International Airport (CPT), and check out The Points Guy’s explanation as to Why Cape Town, South Africa is My New Favorite Destination.
Pacific Resort Aitutaki — Aitutaki, Cook Islands
With their idyllic beaches, turquoise lagoons and tropical reefs prime for diving, the Cook Islands in the heart of the South Pacific — halfway between New Zealand and Hawaii — are a great alternative to traditional honeymoon spots such as Tahiti or Bora Bora. At Pacific Resort Aitutaki, you can enjoy all of these things from the comfort of your thatched-roof beachfront bungalow. The 27-room resort is the ideal spot for beach lovers to sit back and bask in the sun or under the stars, with private sundecks leading out to the white sand and shallow, clear reef, and sunset dinners featuring fresh-caught lagoon fish served under a Bedouin tent on the beach.
At this Visa Signature property, rates with breakfast start at NZD 986 or $694, which may seem steep but are quite a deal less than other luxury beach bungalow options in the South Pacific. You’ll also save a bit since the Cook Islands use the New Zealand Dollar (NZD). Air New Zealand flies direct from LAX to Rarotonga (RAR), which is a 45-minute plane ride from Aitutaki.
Mystique, A Luxury Collection Hotel, Santorini — Santorini, Greece
Mystique is one of those mystical spots seemingly made for honeymooners, and while villas don’t come cheap, it’s the perfect excuse to spend those Starpoints you’ve been saving. Suspended on a volcanic cliff over the Aegean, the 38 rooms and villas have panoramic views of the sea from the terrace, but guests can also get a good view of the water and caldera from the infinity-edge pool. Toast to your recent nuptials over Santorini’s signature crisp, citrusy white wine, Assyrtiko, on your terrace or set off and explore the beaches by horseback. While the hotel is a bit of a splurge, the rest of the island offers plenty of value, from the food to sightseeing options.
Rates for Mystique start at $1,316 or 60,000 Starpoints — rather than the 30,000 points usually required for an SPG Category 7 property. The closest airport is Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport (ATH) — be sure to see Flying Direct to Greek Islands.
Where is your dream honeymoon destination? There’s no telling how much longer these cards will be around and available for new applications because of the Marriott takeover, so now might just be the perfect time to apply. Apart from hotel redemptions, you can transfer Starpoints to over 30 airline partners, and now also transfer points from Starwood to Marriott Rewards at a 1:3 ratio, opening up even more redemption options.
There’s no telling how much longer these cards will be around and available for new applications because of the Marriott takeover, so now might just be the perfect time to apply. Apart from hotel redemptions, you can transfer Starpoints to over 30 airline partners, and now also transfer points from Starwood to Marriott Rewards at a 1:3 ratio, opening up even more redemption options.