A trip to a postcard-perfect beach is never a bad time, but that’s not the honeymoon that speaks to all couples. Not in 2018, at least. Newlyweds these days are interested in something more tailored, which makes Abercrombie & Kent’s bespoke and luxurious Tailor Made trips all the more appealing. According to Elisabeth Sucharda, a senior private travel consultant with the renowned travel company, “the average age of newlyweds is now 30, so most tend to want something beyond the traditional beach resort stay, preferring an experiential getaway in an Instagram-worthy place.”
The staff of destination experts at A&K are well versed in planning customized experiences that reflect a couple’s personal passions, working with their local offices around the globe to find the perfect fit for each. Using the duo’s interests and hobbies, they can suggest spots around the world they might never have found. Now, some of their most popular destinations are South Africa, Israel, Morocco, and Egypt, with Thailand also making a comeback when it comes to romantic beach-y holidays with a strong sense of culture. We asked Sucharda to suggest up-and-coming destinations perfect for a slew of different types and interests—see what best describes you, and you might have your ideal match!
The most epic and unexpected honeymoon location for...
Though Sucharda loves Spain, Portugal, or Italy for classic foodie honeymoon choices (in the latter she recommends Bologna with its rich history of cuisine, along with a private truffle hunt, Tuscan winery visit, and Vespa-fueled sightseeing inspired by Roman Holiday), Vietnam is the place that’s less expected. “We can arrange a fantastic food crawl tour in Hanoi, visiting the top spots in the city for famous dishes,” she says. “These are down-home places where the same family has been creating the dish they specialize in for generations. It includes the restaurant where President Obama and Anthony Bourdain ate, which is so good.” The gorgeous Four Seasons Nam Hai is a top beachy place to rest your bellies before flying to busy Ho Chi Minh City or perhaps visiting Siem Reap.
Along with the aforementioned Belize and Guatemala, “Morocco beckons from its historic cities to its mysterious desert, by exploring the UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Volubilis and Meknes, and staying in a private tented camp in the desert amidst the Erg Chebbi dunes,” says Sucharda. The ultimate history lesson comes in Egypt. “Imagine yourselves as Antony and Cleopatra as you travel down the Nile, unchanged for thousands of years, from the comfort of a private dahabiya, a traditional sailing yacht, with spacious staterooms, sun deck, and opulently styled dining area,” says the expert. An Egyptologist guide plans romantic surprises like a candlelit dinner on an island on the Upper Nile. As of fall 2018, the Grand Egyptian Museum hosts more than 50,000 ancient artifacts, many never before seen by the public.
“Winter in Iceland can be magical,” says Sucharda. Imagine watching the Northern Lights from a private hot tub, taking a helicopter to the top of a glacier, and embarking on a thrilling snowmobile adventure or a trip via special super Jeep across the icy wilderness. Viking history, unique food, and wonderful people complete the package. A&K can also arrange for a stay in a private luxury base camp, designed by an experienced mountain and glacier guide in Thórsmörk, the remote glacial valley of the gods with views of the famous Eyjafjallajokull volcano. Private chef included! Deplar Farm is another prized property where skiing, snowshoeing, snow biking, hiking, whale watching, and snowmobiling are all possible in a remote part of the country unknown to most tourists.
The appeal of South Africa is that it combines safari, food, wine, and urban experiences with some of the best design anywhere in the world. A few of the Pinterest-worthy destinations include Royal Malewane, an ultra luxe safari hideaway near Kruger National Park, Birkenhead House in Hermanus (where whale-watching is the activity du jour from July to November, and foraging for mussels is a fine distraction), and La Residence in the wine lands, where newlyweds can indulge in a private blending experience. “The honeymoon ends in Cape Town at one of the most talked about new hotels in the world, the Silo, where colorful, eclectic pieces are juxtaposed with modern industrial architecture, six floors above the newly opened Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa.”
If getting up close and personal with a wild array of sea life is important to you two, consider booking a luxury chartered yacht in Indonesia. “Combine the islands of Komodo or Raja Ampat with cultural experiences in Bali,” says Sucharda. On the first two islands there is epic diving to be done in pristine water, while in Ubud there’s unique culture to experience and the brand new Capella lodge in Ubud, “which evokes the feeling of an African safari camp set in the lush tropical forests of Bali.” Fiji is also a top option thanks to its mostly untouched coral reefs.
Sucharda’s recommendation is the Fijian private island resort of Laucala, for its plethora of activities that are included. Those include “horseback riding on trails or through the water, snorkeling, water sports, jet skis, sunset catamaran cruises, traditional cultural nights, and even a submarine with a glass top.” The all-inclusive getaway is the picture of paradise, more like 10-star than five. For more beachy luxury along those lines, Sucharda also loves the Brando, in Tahiti.
For city people there’s nowhere cooler than Singapore, combined with a journey aboard the Eastern and Oriental Express train to Kuala Lumpur and then Bangkok, says Sucharda. Alternately, she recommends touring one of Europe’s beautiful historic cities such as Budapest, Vienna, or Prague, all easily explored on foot. And for a South American metropolis, try Rio de Janeiro, “a lively city where you can learn all about Carnival by visiting the workshops where crews work on parade floats year-round,” she recommends. “Explore the Amazon, perhaps searching for jaguars in the Patanal, or continuing onto Buenos Aires, Argentina, for private tango lessons.”
New Zealand’s South Island is high on Sucharda’s list for couples who thrive off adrenaline, since it’s “blessed with perhaps the world’s largest concentration of stunning natural wonders, offering a pristine environment for outdoor enthusiasts.” It’s like a choose-your-own-adventure: There are helicopter tours of Milford Sound that land on ice floes, river safaris, and epic hikes. “For ultimate privacy book the remote Minaret Station, accessible only by helicopter.” Lord Howe Island, the “Galapagos of Australia,” is an unspoiled paradise for remarkable geology, wildlife, and a rare coral reef. A nontraditional honeymoon can be had in Nepal and Bhutan, at the secluded romantic Aman resorts. “Spend your day hiking to the legendary Tiger’s Nest Temple before braving Bhutan’s famous river rapids,” says Sucharda, who also recommends exploring the architecture and temples of Kathmandu, and searching for tiger and rhino on a safari.
New Zealand and South Africa are beloved for their world-renowned vinos, but for a less expected choice, venture to Chile, where Colchagua Valley is one of the world’s “most exquisite and lesser-known wine regions.” There are private tours available of boutique wineries, and at MontGras Winery couples can mix and blend their own wine, leaving with a bottle of their own label.
Art and Culture Seekers
Naoshima Island in Japan’s Seto Inland Sea is an incredible art island renowned for its contemporary museums and outdoor sculptures. The Chichu Art Museum, designed by Tadao Ando and built into a hillside, has paintings from Monet’s Water Lilies series as well as a remarkable installation by James Turrell. Benesse House Museum showcases contemporary painting, sculpture, and photography with striking sea views. “One of Yayoi Kusama’s iconic pumpkin sculptures stands by Miyanoura Port," says Sucharda. "The Art House Project is a collection of architectural art pieces, many in repurposed traditional homes.” Another lesser-known option: Guatemala and Belize. Think ancient temples, colonial architecture, ornate churches, Mayan ruins, and the option to jet off to a private island resort like Cayo Espanto.