Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Honeymoon Planning TIPS from the experts at HoneyLuna

So much time, energy and money go in to planning your wedding day. It is, after all, the day you’ve dreamed of your whole life! It has to be perfect! It is the day you walk down the aisle, say I do and kiss, sealing the communion of your new life together. And then what? You go off on your dream honeymoon, right? But is it your dream honeymoon? How much do you really know about your honeymoon? What are your expectations? Did you spend as much time gathering critical information for your honeymoon as you did for planning your wedding?

You will be spending more time together on your honeymoon than you did on your wedding day. Your honeymoon is an important time for laying the foundation of your new life together. Making sure your honeymoon is your dream honeymoon is not just about reading a travel or guidebook for your destination. Planning your honeymoon takes time, thought, communication and work – from both the bride and groom. We all dream of that exotic locale or tropical paradise, but if your expectations aren’t met, that tropical paradise can become a tropical nightmare and a ruined honeymoon. (Thus, not the ideal start to your married life!)

Be sure to talk about your honeymoon ideals BEFORE you book your honeymoon! HoneyLuna recommends you review the following questionnaire. The bride and the groom should complete this separately and then discuss it – together.

1 -What is your ideal honeymoon setting? (ex. tropical, big US City, Europe (what countries?), mountains)

2 - How much time can spend on your honeymoon (including travel time)?

3 - What is your ideal honeymoon “activity level”? (lie on the beach and do nothing / Some beach / some activities, all golf, lots of museums, all adventure!

4 - Is nightlife important?

5 - Is shopping important?

6 - Do you want to visit someplace that’s new to both of you?

7 - If traveling outside the US, do you prefer an English speaking country? ( English speaking is a must, foreign language is ok, or foreign language is ok)

8 - How much do you have allocated to spend on your honeymoon? ($1,500, $2,500, $10,000 – choose an amount that seems right to you and BE REALISTIC!)

9 - Do you want to use a honeymoon registry service which allows friends and family to “buy pieces of your honeymoon” as wedding gifts?

10 - Do you want a couples’ only resort?

11 --When do you want to leave for your honeymoon? (immediately, a few days later, a delayed honeymoon)

12 - Do you have “separate activities” that you want to do on your honeymoon (groom golfs – bride doesn’t, bride wants massage – groom doesn’t, or we will spend all our time together!)

13 - Do you want an all-inclusive resort that includes meals, alcohol and lots of activities?

14 - Would you like to stay at one place or move from place to place? (If you want to see more than one place (i.e. Maui and Kauai) How many places? How many days at each place?)

15 - Do you want a large, a medium sized property or something smaller / more intimate?

16 - Do you want luxurious with lots of amenities like spas and room service or maybe quaint and charming but not so luxurious? (remember to keep your budget in mind)

17 - How much time will you spend in your room?

18 - Do you want a patio or balcony? Do you want a view? If so, how important is this (remember to keep your budget in mind)

19 - Is weather a factor for you? (i.e. I don’t want to worry about hurricanes, I don’t want it to be too hot, I don’t care if it’s rainy season)

20 - And because this is SO important, think about it again. How much do you have allocated to spend on your honeymoon? ($1,500, $2,500, $10,000 – choose an amount that seems right to you and BE REALISTIC!)

Answering these questions together will help define what BOTH of you really want. Take this questionnaire with you if you meet with a travel agent, or have it in hand as you start to plan and book your honeymoon here with

And don't forget to create your honeymoon registry for your dream honeymoon!

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FREE FIFTY DOLLARS cash back when you book your honeymoon or travel package through by October 31, 2009 -- see attached coupon for details.

Monday, October 12, 2009

A wonderful (un)honeymoon in Jamaica at Sandal's Dunn's River

I spent last week at Sandal's Jamaica Dunn's River (it was a vacation, not a honeymoon). I have to say, I was absolutely blown away by how fabulous both Jamaica and Sandal's both were.
I have also tweeted already how I went from skeptic of the swim up bar, to a true believer!! My one suggestion is that Sandal's build a swim up bar at/in the beach! I realize most people prefer the pool over the beach (not sure why) but I'm a beach nut. It sure would have been nice to get in the Caribbean, swim on up to bar in the sea and order a cocktail. No worries, I made do with the swim up bar at the pool!
Ok, so Sandal's for a honeymoon. Absolutely!! Sandal's for a vacation. YES!! I am not being paid to blog or promote Sandals - my experience there was just that good. (Although I will say at times I did feel the staff was a bit "Stepford Wives-ish" -- but I would take that over complaceny and bad service.) Sandals is over the top in service, hospitality, and a "no brainer" vacation or honeymoon. The food was excellent, the wine was quality, the drinks were great, the staff was so gracious, accomodating and friendly. I never really understand the Sandal's formula until I went there - and they have perfected it.
The one surreal thing about Sandal's Dunn's River to me (and this by no means a complaint, just a comment) was the Italian theme. The lobby was gorgeous -- but Italiante. The restaurants were great -- but named things like Columbo or Marco Polo. I had to remind myselves several times that we were in Jamaica. You could spend a whole week there and never leave the property - and if you didn't, you could probably convince yourself you had honeymooned on the Italian Riviera. We however, wanted to KNOW that we had vacationed in Jamaica. So we ventured off the property to explore a bit and get a "feel" for Jamaica (although we did miss it while we were away!)
If you want to get out and explore or take tours -- and we did, Sandal's can help you with that too. We rented a car and drove out to Port Antonio. Port Antonio is where the Hollywood set goes in Jamaica but it is largely ignored by the typical tourist crowd. The resorts there and the beaches were, however, spectacular. Anyway, the road is new and it was a gorgeous drive (on the left) with several stops in small charming Caribbean/Jamaican towns. All the while we had stunning sea views on one side and gorgeous, lush, tropical mountain views on the other side.
Here is a NOTE: If you are in the area of Dunn's River or Ocho Rios, don't take a tour to Dunn's River Falls. We almost didn't go visit them because the guide book said it was overrun and overrated. However, we stopped there on our way to return the rental car at 8:30 in the morning right when they open. (If you don't rent a car, take a taxi.) We had the entire place to ourselves. But for the employees, there were no tourists there at all. Just us. When we left at 10 a.m. the first 3 buses of tourists were showing up and hundreds of people were headed toward the falls.
Back to Sandal's, if you are on your honeymoon (or just a really romantic vacation), they do an excellent job of creating romance. DO put things on your HoneyLuna Honeymoon Registry like their "private dinner for two on the beach" or "private beach cabana rental". If you can swing it, go Concierge service all the way. (We didn't and I found myself coveting the "concierge services" of those that did!)
I would definitely return to a Sandal's property - and by the # of the returning guests in their Signature Guest program, so do many others.
One last thing, I haven't actually done the math, but with all that is included with Sandal's ultra all inclusive, I do now believe that with the quality and luxury of the accomodations, the excellent food, snacks and beverages, the included activities like kayaks, hobie cats and even SCUBA, that a Sandal's vacation is actually more affordable than a comparable "a la carte" vacation with the same volume of food, alcohol and diving added up. It just feels like more because you pay a lump sum up front rather than doled out over time.
Trust me, it's worth it!
P.S. DO NOT believe!! It said 60% chance of thunderstorms for weeks before we arrived and for each day we were there. It was sunny and gorgeous -- with just one brief storm in the middle of the night.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Honeymoon in Jamaica - but first the Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas

I just returned from a fabulous 1 week stay at the Sandals Dunn's River in Jamaica. No it wasn't my honeymoon but it sure felt like it! More on that later....

Before leaving for Jamaica, I attended a show in Las Vegas and stayed at the Hard Rock Hotel. There are definitely those that LOVE Las Vegas... and those that don't. I admit, I do fall into the latter category. I also admit, even when I was "younger" I never liked really loud music -- whatever the genre.

The Hard Rock Hotel just about gave me a nervous breakdown! The hotel was lovely, the pool was gorgeous, a wonderful selection of restaurants, our room had a beautiful view, the rock and roll photos and artificats interesting... the problem? It was SO LOUD! Always LOUD! Everywhere you went, music blasted -- the casino, the hallways, the shops, the elevators and even the restaurants. Thankfully it was not being blasted through the speakers in our rooms.

Oh but wait - we didn't need speakers in our rooms because we could hear the music BLARING by the pool. We were on the top floor of the hotel and may as well have had the rock bands in our room for as loud as it was.

And trust me folks, there is no fast forward -- this isn't an ipod shuffle - this is you take what they are blaring and live with it.

The best ( or worst part depending on how you look at it...) was the private pool party where the music was blaring -- again blaring -- at 1 a.m. in the morning. Now I love David Bowie - really I do - I own many of his albums (now CDs) but Suffragette City blaring at 1 a.m. through my hotel room window was just too much.

As if that wasn't enough... someone in maintenance thinks having the leaf blowers cleaning the pool area at 5:30 a.m. is a GREAT idea. I am not kidding. Maybe I'm the only one who actually goes to bed and sleeps in Las Vegas -- and leaf blowers at 5:30 a.m. go unnoticed by others?

Noise Noise everywhere... It was relentless. So honeymoon in Las Vegas - sure it's a great place with a lot to do. Honeymoon at the Hard Rock - not unless you don't want to sleep or relax on your honeymoon. Ok well maybe you don't want to "sleep" on your honeymoon but you have other ideas about keeping awake and I bet it's not loud music!

Thankfully my 3 days in Vegas were followed by a fabulous, relaxing week at Sandal's Dunn's River Jamaica - where it was "quiet". More on that later....