By Ruth Weismer - 01/25/06 12:00 AM EST
New vacationers and seasoned travelers alike request it immediately — and it’s perfect for honeymoons: the all-inclusive getaway.
There’s only one person you should be thinking of while on a honeymoon, and nothing else should matter — especially the thickness of your wallet. At an all-inclusive, you pay one reasonable price upfront and get it all: food, alcohol, soft drinks, accommodations, activities, entertainment and even airfare. Taxes and gratuities are included too. Write it into the wedding budget, forget about it and let the wallet stay at home, unless you wish to buy souvenirs to remember your experience.
Finding the right destination is the first step. Do you want to stay at a specific island for one to two weeks, or do you want to sample different islands? If you want to do the wedding on the trip, do you want to get married onboard or on location?
After deciding on the location, choosing the right resort is imperative. Most resorts have a tremendous array of room and suite categories, dining options and activities. To find that perfect place for a honeymoon, the key is to balance activities with “romance time” in a place where you can make treasured memories.
The World Travel Awards names Sandals as the world’s best all-inclusive destination. Its resorts are nestled in the best beaches in Jamaica, the Bahamas, Antigua and St. Lucia. Think swim-up bars, unlimited premium drinks and deluxe rooms and suites. Even non-motorized water sports are included, as are scuba diving, golf, volleyball, tennis, fitness and resort-owned golf courses.
At the Sandals Regency in St. Lucia, all suites have personal butler service, and some have private plunge pools. The Regency is known for the popular “Bill Clinton Suite,” named for its famous patron, but constituents of all political stripes are welcomed.
Jamaica is the place to be for life at a different pace. Three all-inclusives that bring Jamaica to life are Couples, Superclubs and Sandals.
Superclubs has a unique Jamaican all-inclusive resort, great for romance and pampering. At the Superclubs’ Grand Lido Braco, an old-world Jamaican village is replicated on the premises. On Friday nights a street party is assembled in the town square, with food and dancing under an open sky. But deciding to stay in does not limit your options — midnight room service can include lamb chops and other delights. Superclubs has beachside properties in the Bahamas, Curacao, Punta Cana, Brazil and Jamaica, and the luxurious Grand Lido properties like this one attract couples.
Couples is the original couples-only all-inclusive. It has four upscale resorts in Jamaica with an exclusive, romantic feel. Couples Ocho Rios has excursions not included in other resorts, such as horseback riding, Internet access, his-and-her massages and champagne for honeymooners.
Many resort all-inclusives even feature complimentary wedding ceremonies, where engaged couples can plan a wedding for just the cost of a honeymoon. Premium weddings are also available; for example, Sandals offers weddings designed by celebrity wedding planner Preston Bailey, available for an additional charge.
If you want to see more than one island or locale, a cruise may be for you. Cruises include all meals, entertainment, and food, but alcohol and soft drinks are additional. Caribbean cruises can be very affordable, as they leave from many East and West Coast locations that do not require a flight. But a Hawaiian or European cruise may be a better choice, as it will be less noisy and more romantic.
For the ultimate in European luxury, Seabourn’s six-star cruising offers a romantic, intimate atmosphere. Princess, a five-star premium cruise line and the owner of the original Love Boat, has great European itineraries and fabulous honeymoon packages.
Norwegian Cruise Lines offers year-round Hawaiian cruises in its casual, freestyle atmosphere. It is the only cruise line that travels exclusively to the islands, while other cruise lines must sail to or from the West Coast and only in the spring and fall. If you don’t want to fly to or from Hawaii, Celebrity, Princess and Holland America offer round-trip Hawaiian cruises from California.
Weismer is the honeymoon expert for weddingdetails.com. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.