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Groom’s Guide: Prince of Tides

Your best bet at being the husband of her dreams? Plan a killer honeymoon.

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For the groom-to-be tasked with plotting the perfect honeymoon course, it’s not such a small world after all. And there’s a lot to do in it. And so many places to stay. How’s a guy to choose?

Rest assured, our guide to where, when, and with whose help puts the whole world in your hands. Think of it as a honeymoon primer for   guys on their way to a husband-of-the-year award.

 

Where to Wander

Still throwing darts at world maps? Try homing in on the vibe or tone you’d like for your trip first. Then, once you agree that museums are a higher priority than rock-climbing, for instance, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how quickly you can start whittling down your list.

For those traveling immediately after the big day, relaxation is a typical motif, and all-
inclusive, one-price resort honeymoons are attractive options. If eating, drinking, and sticking close to your king-size pillow top are priorities, there’s a lot to be said for a week or two of wallet-free living.

But those who value their freedom—and those accustomed to Seattle’s best restaurants—will want to ask questions before committing to a pay-up-front-then-stay-put package.

For starters, find out what the resort’s dining options are like, whether they require advance reservations, and whether they offer any recompense if meals or events are missed. You don’t want to leave the grounds in search of kiddie-free waves only to find, upon your return, that dinner’s over. Hunger isn’t romantic.

Considering some of these potential restrictions, Emily Murphy of Manette Gracie Events notes that it can be “fun to stay somewhere all-inclusive for the first few nights, then switch to a second hotel” for the remainder of your getaway.

Even if the two of you agree on how you want your honeymoon to feel, you might not automatically agree on where it should take place. For Queen Anne residents Sean Ferris and Megan Clark, a little negotiation helped align differing agendas. The bride-to-be, a wedding planner, had her heart set on Italy, which Ferris had already toured. The couple eventually compromised by going to Italy and Croatia—an agent from Ever After Honeymoons helped them get there.

 

When Is as Important as Where

Summer is prime wedding time in Seattle, but it’s the rainy, humid, sticky, buggy season in many tropical spots. A notable exception, however: Hawaii. It’s a relatively safe, sunny bet any time of year. You won’t mind the light morning showers. If your celebration takes place during Seattle’s sunny season and you’re picturing a beachfront start to your marriage, you may opt for a minimoon closer to home right after the big event—Murphy recommends Hotel de Haro on San Juan Island or British Columbia’s Salt Spring Island—and save the real excursion for when equatorial temperatures are prime.

0112-grooms-guide-Cinque-terre-italyKeep in mind, however, that high season in the Caribbean—January through March—offers beautiful weather but not many bargains. When possible, consider traveling on the cusp of low season; Caribbean spots like St. Lucia and Antigua are stunning in April.

Likewise, September is a great time to be in Italy, which offers longtime favorites like Venice and newly popular Cinque Terre. You’d pay twice as much in June or July, and the cobblestone streets and romantic canals would be twice as crowded.

 

A Little Help from (Hired) Friends

It isn’t surprising that professional planners like Stephanie Solomon of Solomon Event Planning advise couples to find great travel agents. People with her experience know that organization and management can sometimes come only from an uninvolved third party.

If you’re targeting a specific corner of the world, consider agencies that specialize in that region. Bellevue’s Down Under Answers, for example, has 20 years’ experience in the South Pacific. The company’s president, Kirk Demeter, notes that his agents not only help customize trips based on whether honeymooners prefer to “swim with sharks or just lie on the beach,” but also in terms of their budget. And therein lies the chief benefit of travel pros; the layman, no matter how well groomed his skills, can’t negotiate package elements the way industry insiders can.

Agents are also helpful when it comes to knowing identification and immunization requirements in different countries. Tap into their knowledge of electric outlet converters, travel insurance, and more, and let them help you ensure that postwedding name changes are consistent from tickets to passports and other documents.

Of course, many couples will choose to put together their own itineraries. When Nick Lewandowski and wife-to-be Brianne Wigeland set out to honeymoon in Italy, for example, they went to expedia.com and planned their tour of the northwest coast without any assistance. In fact, although they booked their flights and lodging long in advance, Lewandowski says they left the rest—restaurants, activities, day trips—until they got there. It makes for a nice metaphor about starting off your life together in the hands of friendly strangers, but the Belltown couple’s story might easily have gone the other way.

 

Chivalry Is Not Dead

You might not want to tell your future wife that wedding designer Steve Moore took personalization to the next level when planning his French honeymoon. He and his wife, Jamie Moore, love to dress up, so he surprised her with a vintage 65-carat smoky quartz necklace to go with the vintage gown he bought her. Best to skip altogether the part where he designed and created several other dresses as well.

But DJ and all-around dude-adviser Austin Beaver says there are lots of small gestures that can make you look like a prince. A personalized travel kit—including magazines, earplugs, a custom playlist for the mp3 player, and something totally frivolous and sweet—sets a romantic tone. To carry it through upon arrival, Beaver recommends a bottle of Champagne or an in-room massage. Better yet: a surprise room upgrade. Spending tons of -money isn’t the key, though; it’s the extra dose of attentiveness and consideration before and during the honeymoon that puts newly minted grooms in good stead.

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Take Our Leads

Need a little nudge selecting a primo destination? Here are five dream spots to get you going.

1.  If you need an entire island to yourself  > Taprobane Island
This lush private island off the southern coast of Sri Lanka was built in the 1920s by a count, and the royal vibe remains. There isn’t much room to roam (only two and a half acres), but why wander when you’re looking out at the Indian Ocean from your treehouse mansion? taprobaneisland.com

2. If you want old and new Europe in the same 10 days > Amorfa, Hvar Grand Beach Resort
The Old World looms in the background of this shiny Croatian resort on the clear blue Adriatic. But it’s also minutes from the trendy beach club Bonj “les bains.” Yacht charters are offered—for those who don’t bring their own—lending to the jet-setting atmosphere. suncanihvar.com

3. If your idea of romance is bungee jumping in style > Matakauri Lodge
A luxury spa resort seems like an appropriate place to unwind after a day of paragliding or white-water rafting in Queenstown, New Zealand, one of the world’s prime destinations for adventure sports enthusiasts. (It claims to be “the birthplace of bungee jumping,” in fact.) White-knuckle thrills aren’t the only appeal here; the lakeside suites look out on scenery familiar to fans of the Lord of the Rings movies. matakauri.co.nz

4. If you dream of living large in Paris > Paris Luxury Apartments
Sometimes, “cozy” is just another word for “cramped,” but these hotel-honeymoon matchmakers have the in on posh accommodations. The company’s concierge will also stock your refrigerator with Champagne, book your excursions, and make reservations with the city’s best restaurants. parisluxeapt.com

5. If you want to simply stay put in the sunshine > Ritz-Carlton Kapalua
Framed by a pair of world-class golf courses, this beachfront Hawaiian property features a three-level, 10,000-square-foot pool, huge spa and fitness facilities, and six on-site restaurants, making it awfully easy to spend a week without leaving the premises. Ah, Maui time! ritzcarlton.com