If off-the-beaten-path is your favorite destination, these sublime honeymoon hideaways are your ticket to paradise
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South of France: Château de la Chèvre d’Or
Overview: If you’ve ever dreamed of living in an idyllic village in the South of France (with stellar Mediterranean vistas, thank you), this is your chance. Clinging to a steep escarpment with epic views of the sea, this is a place where famous actors, artists, and royalty, with names such as Bogart, Cocteau, and Grimaldi (Monaco’s royal family), have relaxed, dined and celebrated over the years. The refined atmosphere at this Relais & Château property is created by terraced gardens dripping with bougainvillea and jasmine, spectacular ocean vistas, some of the finest dining along the French Riviera, and completely unique accommodations. What’s so special about the property is that, instead of a block of uniform rooms, the hotel is comprised of 37 separate structures, many of which are located in the petite, medieval-era village of Eze. Each is totally unique, ranging from rock-walled cottages located on cobblestone lanes, to sleek modern suites featuring infinity pools. In addition to the stellar views of Cap Ferrat, there are other stars to be enjoyed here, too, namely the Chèvre d’Or’s two Michelin star restaurant. Beneath an elegant Belle Epoque-style glass ceiling, French haute cuisine is served on silver dinnerware and accompanied by a world-class wine list.
Suite of Choice: If you want to time travel and feel as if you are living as a noble couple in a bygone era, select the Jean Cocteau suite, located near the hotel in Eze village. And don’t worry, you’ll still have modern amenities like satellite TV, spa tub, and premium European beauty products.
Must do: After a day trip to the nearby Provençal cliffside villages, charter a sailboat or powerboat in Eze sur Mer and cruise the French Riviera in style.
India: The Oberoi Rajvilãs
Overview: The princely land of Rajasthan in India’s northwest region is a land of legendary kings, extravagant palaces, and perfumed gardens. Sound tempting? We thought so, too. One hotel property that captures all of these elements (and is regularly rewarded with accolades as one of the world’s top resorts) is The Oberoi Rajvilãs. Located just a few miles from the legendary Pink City of Jaipur, the Rajvilãs features accommodations fit for royalty. Think private walled gardens with blooming jacaranda trees, suites embellished with traditional fabrics and carvings, and colonial-style four-poster beds. The 71-room property is itself a splendor: buildings feature the graceful domes and spires of traditional Mughal architecture, complete with walls adorned with hand-painted gold leaf designs, while the 32-acres of lush grounds include an ancient Hindu temple and a historic mansion that has been converted into the hotel’s lauded spa.
Suite of Choice: For a one-of-a-kind experience, we recommend the Luxury Tents. Each is replete with an elegant bedroom featuring a king-size bed, bathroom with double vanity and claw footed tub, and accents and amenities including hand-embroidered fabrics, private bar, satellite TV, and a private terrace and garden.
Must do: Take a city tour of Jaipur, one of India’s most photogenic cities, and then, to experience Rajasthan’s wild side, book a Jeep safari through Ranthambore National Park to see tigers in their natural element.
Maldives: Shangri-La’s Villingili Resort & Spa
Overview: If your fantasy honeymoon conjures images of willowy coconut palms; beaches with no footprints, except for yours in talcum white sands; and seas in jewel colors, it must mean the Maldives are calling. The Villingili is yet another gem here, set within dense tropical foliage on a secluded island shaded by thousands of coconut palms and fronted by a mile-and-a-half-long white sand beach. The intimate, boutique-like environment includes over-water and unique tree house bungalows and villas, multiple fine dining options, and a signature CHI Spa, featuring an exceptional menu of treatments based on Himalayan wellness principles. This is also an active couples’ paradise offering myriad activities ranging from kayaking and diving the colorful reefs to exploring nature trails.
Suite of Choice: The Villingili offers enticing over-water bungalows, but for something you can experience nowhere else, try the resort’s exclusive Tree House Villas, set 10 feet off the ground with spectacular ocean and lagoon views and unmatched privacy. Accented with exotic furnishings from India and the Middle East, these luxe digs are also outfitted with the latest in modern amenities including broadband Internet, 40-inch LCD TVs, Bose DVD players, and iPod docking stations.
Must do: Book the resort’s private yacht for your own exclusive picnic on the equator and dive Addu Atoll for a memorable swim with the reef’s gentle giants: magnificent manta rays.
Thailand: Four Seasons Chiang Mai
Overview: Located in the north of Thailand, Chiang Mai is a land of bamboo forests, open-air markets, and the refined refuge known as the Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai. Here, local elements ranging from polished hardwoods and luxuriant silk fabrics are deftly interspersed with modern amenities and world-class service to ensure you have an authentic experience. The mood is set by a tableau that transports you into the heart of Southeast Asia: large open-air pavilions done in traditional village-style overlook terraced rice fields and provide uninterrupted vistas towards heavily forested mountains. The property’s 20 acres are landscaped with contemplative paths, lotus ponds, manicured gardens, and two small lakes where dragonflies and birds dart above the surface. The 98 suites, villas, and residences are just as evocative, featuring polished teak floors, vaulting ceilings, open-air showers, and canopied four-poster beds. Perhaps the resort’s most notable refuge, however, is its legendary spa, known for utilizing ancient Thai techniques and botanicals to sooth and pamper during treatments such as the Lanna Tok Sen ritual, an indigenous soothing massage that employs a wooden instrument to tap the body’s meridians.
Suite of Choice: If you are drawn by the mystique of Asia, consider the One-Bedroom Resort Residence. This palatial, traditionally-styled romantic retreat boasts a plunge pool and terrace, gorgeous Thai furnishings, a fireplace, and service quarters, as well as a live-in mae ban, or housekeeper.
Must Do: Take one of the tantalizing Thai cooking classes and carry home the tastes of your travels. And, of course, you must ride an elephant through the jungle at the nearby Maesa Elephant Camp.
International Packing Tips
- Tuck a pashmina in your carry-on as it works as a blanket or cover-up in conservative spots like India and Thailand.
- Bring embellished flats for those cobblestone roads in the South of France.
- Get into the culture by downloading music from your destination or reading a book by one of the country’s famous authors.
- Remember, you will need plug adapters and converters in India, so research technology.
- Bring a waterproof camera so you can photograph those giant mantas from your over-the-water bungalow in the Maldives.
- Don’t forget a copy of your prescriptions for border crossings.
- Don’t let sunburn and bug bites ruin the romance, so bring sunscreen and repellant.
Honeymoon expert Katie Frederick is the founder of the blog Ever After Honeymoons