Why travel to Antigua…

Antigua beaches

 

As a beach destination, Antigua is hard to beat with one of the driest climates in the whole Caribbean region, making it particularly popular among sunseekers. Antigua and Barbuda enjoys an average of eight and half hour of sunlight every day.

A vacation package to Antigua, one of the two Leeward Islands, has all the right ingredients for a fabulous holiday. Antigua was once the hub of British sugar cane production and the remnants of that time period remain today. Sail-less windmills and 18th century forts grace the landscape. One major center for activity is English Harbour where visitors will find wonderful restaurants and shops with colonial architecture overlooking the marina.

Jolly Beach Resort and Spa - Antigua

 

Antigua’s hotels are spread along a magnificent coastline. There are 365 beaches in Antigua, a perfect beach for every day of the year – most are quiet and protected by reefs, so feel free to explore them all! Scuba diving and snorkeling are also quite popular on Antigua.

Honeymooners or families will find plenty of adventure, from horseback riding and windsurfing to golf and fishing. Antigua is known as a sailor’s paradise, and is a popular mooring spot for a variety of vessels, including luxury yachts. You can charter your own yacht, complete with crew, at most Antigua hotels and spend a day sailing with the rich and famous.

 

St. James Club Antigua

 

Antigua provides culture and tranquility for visitors from all over the world, both young and old, who come for the beaches, but get so much more

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Marriages and Manhouts in Thailand

Manhouts in Thailand

 

For travelers who want a taste of the wild while contributing to the welfare of the jungle and its inhabitants, Four Seasons Tented Camp, Golden Triangle in Thailand provides a bonding memory that brings in the element of “never forgetting.”

 

The camp’s 15 inside/outside bungalows evoke the era of 19th century explorers but with amenities that range from wood-burning fireplaces, private terraces over the rainforest, rainshower outdoor showers and copper tubs for two, jungle walks through the cliffside resort expanse, jungle-shrouded side-by-side spa treatments, and a swimming pool overlooking the river.

 

But the camp offers something not found elsewhere – mahout lessons. The all-inclusive nature of this luxury camp extends to adopting an elephant and riding it, talking to it, feeding it and caring for it while visiting. Each elephant is a rescue elephant that was abandoned by loggers or farmers and left to wander to streets of Thailand’s cities with dim prospects for survival. A portion of each booking at the camp goes to an active elephant rescue foundation in Thailand.

 

“We get a lot of honeymooners here. It is a very romantic place. There is a lot of alone time as you are pretty isolated in this area at the border of Burma, Laos and Thailand with nothing but the sounds of birds and wildlife around you. But you are really not alone at all as you are out there exploring the jungle every day and forming a bond with the elephants,” says Maria Kuhn, spokesman for Four Seasons properties in Thailand.

 

A fairy tale wedding can be ordered up at the camp – but the knight in shining armor is actually a groom on an elephant. The sunset wedding ceremony takes place on the pachyderm’s back at the Camp’s summit with vantages of three countries. A white orchid campfire dinner for two culminates in the launching of traditional Thai lanterns into the night sky carrying the wishes of the newlyweds to the gods.

 

The camp can accommodate up to 30 guests total. An all-inclusive three- or four-night adventure package, which includes all meals and (house) libations plus arranged activities, mahout training and elephant excursions, one 90-minute spa treatment per guest and roundtrip air transfers from Chiang Rai International Airport runs around $1650 to $2,110 per night in a luxury tent through September and comes with a four or fifth night free.

Rooms with a View in Tahiti

Hilton Bora Bora Nui Presidential Suite

Even if you’re not getting married in Tahiti you can still invite the folks, the cousins, and what about the neighbors for a celebratory stay in French Polynesia’s latest resort manse: one of two Presidential Overwater Bungalows that opened recently at Hilton Bora Bora Nui. The mighty bungalows get their buzz strength from debuting as the first bi-level, overwater guest accommodations in the archipelago. And, indeed, there is room to spare in these spreads, far beyond the two bedrooms, three bathrooms, private pool, sundecks galore and personal Pacific Ocean to dive into.

The mini-mansions made their close-up in December as a counter-offer to the Royal Villas at the St. Regis and the luxury beachfront villas available at the new Four Seasons Bora Bora. They measure more than 3,000 square feet with all the conveniences of a modern Manhattan residence: mp3 players, assorted satellite TVs, Wifi, voicemail, cocktail bars, coffee service and, well, diving equipment.

Plus each villa comes with a couple of things most abodes do not: private check-in, welcome and farewell gifts, a bottle of Champagne and a fresh fruit platter waiting in the living room, complimentary in-villa massages in the “Well-Being” room (where there is a massage table, sofa, a sauna and a spacious bathroom), and twice-daily turndown service.

Hilton Hotels purchased the former Starwood property last year and the property’s 120 rooms, suites and villas underwent a general refurbishment. The resort extends along some 16 hillside acres providing views of the ocean and atolls from a variety of vantages, including the hilltop spa. It’s is an easy 15 minute “cruise” from the airport (which is a 45-minute flight from Papeete), and that said, anywhere you want to go in this remote Tahitian string of pearls requires the benefit of a motorboat rather than wheels. Getting out around Bora Bora – whether dining at Bloody Mary’s across the lagoon (a lively crowded seafood restaurant where patrons have their pick grilled, imbibe decorative alcoholic fruit drinks and walk on sand floors), feeding the mouths of friendly stingrays or tossing chum to the not so friendly sharks, can be arranged at the hotel at a moment’s notice.

But most of the time will be spent on the beach, on personal decks, dipping in the property’s stunning 1000 square meter infinity pool, or swimming with the fish in clear waters accessed right from the edge of your deck.

The two new overwater Presidential Villas run around $4,500 per night as a published rate.

La Mamounia: Still Magnificent

La Mamounia Hotel in Marrakech

 

If it looks like a movie set, that is because it is. Mamounia has played background to such classics as Hitchcock’s The Man Who Knew Too Much and Morocco with Marlene Dietrich. And the stars continue to haunt the mosaic-tiled halls: Jennifer Aniston, Gwyneth Paltrow, Orlando Bloom and Salma Hayek are recent sightings.

But Mamounia’s history is much deeper than the fleeting flash of stardom. The circa-1923 hotel in the middle of Marrakech has seen its share of presidents as well: Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt retreated there following a strategic summit during WWII. Today, following a three-year $180 million makeover La Mamounia is again in the spotlight, having opened its intricately carved doors last fall to reveal new interiors of Art Deco and Arabesque by famed French designer Jacques Garcia.

The property is surrounded by sprawling gardens more than two centuries old. And while the curious can admire the hotel from these vantages, they cannot glimpse the cavernous marble corridors or antique-laden lobby unless they book a reservation – for dinner or the night in one of the hotel’s 136 rooms or 71 suites.

Once in, the 27,000-square-foot spa should be sought, if only for a gaze upon the indoor pool surrounded by white couches and golden columns. The hamam lies just below where guests purify from the inside out on heated marble platforms surrounded by mesmerizing plays of ancient zellij design while doting attendants scrub the body until any memory of dirt disappears.

La Mamounia has come up with three exclusive “Unique Experiences” celebrating the mystique of Marrakech all available through the end of June.  From private art lessons with local artists, a helicopter ride through the Atlas Mountains and shopping with the Souk’s savviest shopping experts, visitors can have a seamless Moroccan sojourn with a stay in the country’s legendary digs.

* Majorelle’s Footsteps Experience:

Beginning with a complimentary airport transfer in a ruby red Jaguar guests get a jet-lag massage upon arrival and over the next three days, experience a 90-minute Hamam ritual, private art lessons with a local artist, a guided visit of the famous Majorelle Gardens and a tour of the Marrakech with a professional photographer. In addition, guests have a breakfast each morning, plus a la carte dinners at L’Italien and at Le Marocain, two of Morocco’s top restaurants.  Expect to pay around $4,500 per room per couple for three nights.

 

* Shopping Experience:

Similarly, this option begins with a complimentary airport transfer and a relaxing massage upon arrival. Over the next three days, guests take in the traditional a 90-minute Hamam ritual and then run around the faded pink city in a guided shopping tour of Marrakech that includes a $1,000 credit at selected boutiques at La Mamounia. The Shopping Experience also includes a beauty package: hair brushing and make-up for her, and haircut and shaving for him. Each morning, it’s a buffet breakfast, and for dinner, consider cocktails and a la carte dinner at Le Marocain – plus dinner reservations one night at an upscale restaurant in Marrakech. Rates run $5,700 per room, per couple for three nights.

 

* Morocco by Air Experience:

As with the other experiences, this choice starts with Jaguar or Range Rovers airport transfers and massage upon arrival. Over the next three days, guests enjoy a helicopter ride around the Atlas Mountains and a balloon ride at dawn. The thrill of the heights are complemented by the down to earth pleasures of the 90-minute Hamam ritual – and an added 90-minute Shiseido massage. It’s buffet breakfast each morning, as well as a la carte dinner at Le Marocain and another dinner at Le Francais by Jean Pierre Vigato. Prices begin at $10,500 per room per couple based for the three nights.

Rack rates run $558 per room per night.

In Barbados, it’s the Water

The beautiful water of Barbados

Perhaps it’s something in the water – or in the rum. Barbados, a dot on the map between the Caribbean and the Atlantic just above Grenada, is known for more than sun, soak and sand. It’s known for its ability to make babies.

True, romance abounds in these parts and couples from other countries can legally tie the knot at a moment’s notice (or, rather, a day’s planning). But they can also try their luck at the Barbados Fertility Centre, fast becoming the epicenter for affordable and easy IVF treatments and other fertility therapies.

The JCI-accredited clinic runs the gamete, or rather the gamut, of medical procedures, from ovulation induction to donor programs, freezing, fertility therapies and vitrification with overall success rates ranging from 14 percent (invitro-fertilization for women over 42) to 67 percent, depending on treatment and age.

The clinic brings in a staff of islanders as well as surgical practitioners from Ireland and the UK and works out of a plantation-style facility in the south coast town of Christ Church.

Although treatments range between $400 and $8,500 a la carte, (IVF, including embryo cryonics averages around $5,000) full “holiday” packages can be arranged for rates starting at $5,500 per couple, including flights, hotel, transport, treatments and wellness activities through the center. And then there are medical travel middlemen options such as Surgical Escape that put packages together for individuals and couples that take care of all details, from pre-travel doctors visits to full itineraries and follow-ups for one set price.

For people who want manage their romantic ventures through more traditional mores, the rum on Barbados might be a good way to start. So strong is the sugar cane heritage here that a Canivale-style festival swings into action from July 3 to August 3 in celebration of the sugarcane harvest.

Crop Over Festival is Barbados’ biggest, loudest, brashest, boldest and best-loved fest for the party crowd. Hailing from the 1780s when the island was the world’s top sugar state, the last stalks of the harvest have meant the crowning of the king and queen of cane in a flurry of pure flamboyance that continues in an ever-burgeoning blast of glory. The island writhes in a heady mix of music, dancing, carnivals, markets and cultural exhibitions – all culminating on Kadooment Day, August 3, when the costumes come out and rum washes through the streets.

Romancing the rum continues year ‘round for those who manage to stumble onto the Rum Trail. The rum-making tradition here dates back to 1703 and can still be found in four island distilleries that open themselves up for tours. In St. Philip find the Foursquare Rum Factory and Heritage Park; In St. Michel it’s the Cockspur Beach Club and the Mount Gay Rum Distillery and Gift Shop to proffer a proper view of just what Barbadian Water (as it was once called in taverns lining British ports) is all about. And then there are the more than 1,200 rum shops and “tippling houses” that serve glasses and island chats in comfortable, homey quarters.

Mount Gay is the world’s oldest rum (although Cockspur’s Five Star rum is considered to be the finest and Foursquare Spiced Rum the tastiest) and has a “must-do” hourly tour that lasts about 45 minutes, costs about $7 and ends with a tasting. The Mount Gay Rum distillery is found 5 minutes north of Bridgetown, the island’s capital, and offers two expanded tours to serious rum lovers. The first includes lunch on the veranda after the basic tour, for $40; and the second includes a cocktail tour in the afternoon for $30.

While sugar cane thrives across the island’s 166 square miles the rum on Barbados is not a mass-produced commodity. The spirit requires careful crafting, sometimes multiple distillations, and Kentucky bourbon white oak barrels are often used for the aging. Rum can be a complex affair that renders the smoothness of a dexterous Scotch. Seek hints of vanilla, coffee, chocolate, banana and almond in a spectrum of colorful brands.

Whether you go for the beach, the babies or the Barbadian Water, check www.visitbarbados.org for the possibilities.

Honeymoon Style: Cultural Discoveries

Eiffel Tower in Paris

You love learning about ancient traditions an dcan often be found wandering around museums. For your ideal honeymoon, you prefer to take advantage of all your destination has to offer, discovering the history, mystery, local life and more.

From centuries-old European churches to village markets featuring handcrafted treasures, incorporating cultural experiences into your honeymoon lets you truly experience the destination.

The many islands in the Caribbean each have their own cultural stamp, as witnesses in the food, traditions, and customs of each island.

Hawaii, Mexico, and Europe are also your best bets.

Cultural Discoveries Destinations

* Cozumel

* Madrid

* New York City

* Oahu

* Paris

* San Juan

* Santorini

* Venice

When you are ready to book your Cultural Discovery honeymoon, give us a call at 310-722-3099 or email us at Info@carterelitetravel.com

Honeymoon Sytles: Wrapped in Romance

Acapulco Beach

You’re a not-so-hopeless romantic and are always thinking of delightful ways to woo your true love. For you, the ultimate honeymoon of your dreams is one cloaked in romance.

Think charming European cities and luxury Caribbean beach stays for you romantic honeymoon. Hold on to your love and take an exciting ride through Italy’s winding streets on a Vespa Scooter. Or snuggle your sweetie high atop the St. Lucian rainforests during a breathtakingly beautiful tram-ride.

Wrapped in Romance Destinations:

* Acapulco

* Aruba

* Bora Bora

* Madrid

* Maui

* Moorea

* Paris

* Santorini

* St. Lucia

* St. Martin

* Venice

When you are ready to book your honeymoon to a Wrapped in Romance destination, give us a call at 310-722-3099 or email us at Info@carterelitetravel.com