After experiencing all of the stress that comes with planning a wedding, some couples look forward to the honeymoon more than the big day itself. And while many newlyweds still opt for classic locations, such as Tahiti and the Bahamas, others are shaking things up with unique destinations, accommodations and activities.
Two area travel agents, both experts in planning dream honeymoons, shared their insights on the best destinations and newest trends for 2017.
If you build resorts, the honeymooners will come. More and more, popular hospitality companies are looking to set up shop in Central America. Costa Rica and Panama are two areas in particular that are seeing a boom in newlywed travelers, says Joe LaSota, owner of Honeymoon Travel and Destination Wedding in East Dundee.
“It’s something new,” he says. “I think everyone wants bragging rights with their honeymoon. Central America is exotic with the rainforest, wildlife and ruins.”
Many existing resorts in this area have stepped up their game, adding top-notch service and accommodations to match industry leaders flooding the region. But because Central America is up-and-coming as a honeymoon destination, it’s still possible for savvy couples to score a great deal.
Thanks to a strong exchange rate between the U.S. dollar and the euro, this year will be a great time to plan a European adventure. For couples with honeymoons in the off-season, it will be especially easy to score great deals on airfare to a number of popular destinations.
Italy, Paris and Greece are classic choices that exude romance and will likely continue to remain top choices for newlyweds. But increased globalization has helped generate interest in other areas of the continent. Many millennial couples are booking trips to Norway, Iceland and destinations across Eastern Europe.
European honeymoons also are perfect for couples looking to stray from the typical all-inclusive resort.
“It’s not just lying on a beach,” says Dana Prichard, a travel consultant at Cary Travel Express, who specializes in honeymoons and destination weddings. “Its more of an interactive type of vacation. Couples are seeing different places and exploring history and culture.”
The perfect honeymoon may be a short (domestic) flight away. Whether it’s to save money or take less time off work, many couples are opting to stay in or near the U.S. for their post-wedding vacations. According to a 2016 survey by Westin Hotels and Resorts, three out of four couples say that they are staying in the U.S. or Canada for their honeymoon.
The most popular close-to-home destinations? Anywhere west.
Besides the moderate weather, the never-ending array of outdoor activities allures many honeymooners.
“Couples that are adventure-seekers want to do more activities, like hiking and kayaking, and a lot of that is out west,” says Prichard, adding that Arizona, California and Colorado are some of the most popular options.
More couples are embracing an active and healthy lifestyle, and they want their honeymoons to reflect that. The Westin survey found that 80 percent of couples reported being more active and health-conscious during their honeymoon than at home. And, if given the chance to redo their honeymoon, 44 percent would prefer to be even more active.
“Some people want to relax after the wedding, but some couples still want to explore and be active,” says Prichard.
Some resorts offer free rentals of workout gear, so couples can sweat it out without packing extra stuff. And many resorts have an abundance of active excursions nearby, such as rock climbing, parasailing, scuba diving and more.
More and more newlyweds are looking to make the most of their time away. The number of couples who have visited more than one destination on their honeymoon has increased from 35 percent to 70 percent in the last five years, according to the Westin survey.
Many couples see this as a way to maximize their time spent out of the office. Prichard says this is typically most popular with couples traveling internationally.
“If they’re going to go far, they’re going to want to do multiple destinations,” she says. She often sees this with couples traveling to Europe, where travel among countries is convenient and inexpensive.
While destination-hopping can add more planning and logistics to the trip, there are still ways to achieve the same effect with a smaller budget and less hassle.
“I’d recommend doing split resorts at the same destination,” says LaSota. “They can feel like two totally different destinations.”