Honeymoon Ideas & Answers
Honeymoons That Won't-Break-the-Bank
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Dan Sondhelm, an Alexandria, VA-based financial marketing consultant and self-described “point junkie,” earned enough currency through Starwood Hotels' loyalty program and frequent flyer miles—he travels about 50,000 miles a year—to cover his 2006 honeymoon in Tahiti, which would have cost about $8,000. “We saved a ton, so we could put that money toward having fun when we got there,” he says.
Low on points? Seek donations from friends and family, since most points are transferable. “I never thought we'd be able to afford a 10-day honeymoon in Hawaii on the salaries of a nurse and teacher,” says Lia Moss, of Chicago, who with her husband, Ben Blair, visited the Big Island this past August using miles donated by Ben's dad. “That saved us about $1,500. Crazy!”
The only caveat with miles: Book early, at least six months out, as supply (the number of award seats available) is limited and demand is high.
Pick a Package
With a package that bundles hotel, airfare and a rental car, you'll know upfront what your final tally will be. St. Louis-based occupational therapist Laura Gayer was looking for a way to honeymoon in Tuscany this past September with her husband, Andrew, when she found Untours (untours.com), which offers apartment stays that allow you to live like a local. The two-week package included airfare, lodging and a car. “I priced everything out separately and found we were doing much better and with much less hassle,” says Laura. The cost of their two weeks was $5,500, not much more than what typical honeymooners spend on an eight-day trip. To ensure you're getting a good deal, do as Laura did and comparison shop the components online. You may find more deals. For her Mexico honeymoon, Christine dug around Orbitz.com and found a coupon good for $200 off the package she bought on the Web site.
Know the Hotel Biz
Because room rates are a big expense, it pays to know the ins and outs of booking. For example, a new hotel will often offer introductory pricing at up to half its normal rates as operations get up to speed (but you may risk construction noise or service lapses). Tourism bureau Web sites can usually tell you what's new, or visit HotelChatter.com for the inside scoop.
Also, wherever you go, broadcast that you're on your honeymoon. “Tell everyone,” advises Adam Burke, senior vice president of customer loyalty at Hilton hotels. You might just find a bottle of champagne waiting in your hotel room. “If they know it's a honeymoon, you may end up with unexpected extras,” he says.
Consider a Condo
If privacy appeals to you more than a swim-up pool bar and room service, consider a condo rental. You'll have a kitchen, so you can eat in for breakfast and lunch, and save the dine-out budget for a romantic splurge. Go a step further with a villa or house rental. Portland, OR-based photographer Laura Mazy spent her 2006 honeymoon with her husband, Sierra, on Moorea, in French Polynesia, in a $200-a-night house she found via word of mouth; most resort rates are triple that. “We rented a Jeep to shop at local markets and read journals from previous guests who had great tips,” says Laura. “It was the perfect way to do it.”