Bit of a strange post for a DJ here but as we press towards the Summer I'm seeing more and more brides looking for honeymoon inspiration on the Facebook groups and wedding forums. I have several loves in my life and travelling is one of them - for some reason I clearly remember a social ed lesson when I was in 3rd year where we'd to do multiple choice questions and one of them was: what would you like to have achieved by time you're 30? Most involved material things like having a nice house and dream car or being retired but, and this is despite the fact I'd never been further than Butlins in Ayr, I chose "to have a passport full of stamps."
I'm not sure why that always stuck with me but I managed to fill my first one by time I was 28, I've done it all from busking across Europe in £15 a night hostels to whooping it up in some very exclusive 5 star hotels and although it's obviously very subjective, I figured it might be quite helpful to give brides and grooms some suggestions given that it's little over a year since I enjoyed my own honeymoon.
So with that in mind, let's jump in there...
This is where we honeymooned, the Rendezvous resort to be precise and it was fabulous. The food was incredible and unlike a lot of holiday resorts, not stodgy at all - we both actually lost weight! Most resorts will be the same and there's plenty of fresh sea food and great steaks to be had.
The people in St Lucia were fantastic too, even the grifters when you wandered off-resort were pleasanter than your average one.
The weather was incredible (I will caveat that we've always been VERY lucky with weather despite travelling during rainy seasons for the most part so make sure you check the seasons before you travel) and it was extremely relaxing and opulent.
This however is possible the biggest drawback I found - it was too quiet for my liking. Very middle to upper class, there was a dress code even for the buffet restaurant and so on and apart from the big street party on a Friday night, not a whole lot to do outside the hotel.
I tend to judge places I've visited by how desperate I am to go back and to be honest, although it was fab to see and do once, I think once is probably enough for most people.
My wife and I have recently returned from a trip to Bali and Jakarta partly to visit a friend who lives out there but mainly to celebrate our anniversary.
Being totally honest I wasn't enamoured by the idea, it's the best part of 24 hours travelling to get there and surely it's just another place with some beaches?
WRONG, JIM, VERY WRONG. The place is about as close to paradise as I've ever been and it really was incredible to see.
You can hire private villa with pool, cleaning staff and a cooked breakfast cheaply and there's plenty to get out and about to see and do to. We went quad biking, white water rafting, visited a Buddhist temple, monkey temple, coffee plantation and plenty of other cool places.
It really took my breath away and there's a great culture and history to the place. The locals are also incredibly friendly.
Jakarta was amazing too but we had the benefit of our friend with the inside knowledge on where and where not to go plus his very plush company car and driver to get us around comfortably - I'm not sure how hot I would have been on the place if we'd been doing it completely on our own but if you don't mind the hustle and bustle and getting around on sketchy little mopeds, it might be worth checking out if you're over that way anyway.
Really the only downsides are that it's relatively expensive for alcohol and you spent A LOT of time in traffic so book a driver with a nice car, plan what you'll do day to day and enjoy.
We spent Christmas and New Year here.
Remember what I said about judging a place by how desperate I am to go back? We're going back in October...
It's like Disneyland for adults and really needs to be seen to be believed. We did two weeks there but that allowed us to do it leisurely, I know lots of people spend a week here then somewhere else.
Plan out your spending as it racks up pretty fast - the buffets are great value especially if you get one with free beer and wine but even if you have to pay a supplement for mimosas or cocktails, do it.
The shows are incredible too, there's a Cirque De Soleil stuff all down The Strip, residencies by some of the biggest musical artists in the world and plenty of weird and wonderful other stuff to check out too.
One thing to be aware of is the 'resort fee' which hotels in the USA charge. Most hotels in Vegas charge it (the ones that don't are generally more expensive anyway) and at $30-50 per day, it can rack up quite fast. One alternative that we're doing next time is hiring an apartment - we've got an awesome location halfway down The Strip, get to use the nearest hotels facilities (and discounts!) and we'll save $200ish by not having to pay the resort fee.
It's definitely one place everyone should see before they die.
Another place to be wary of the resort fee but my goodness, what a place it is.
There's so much to see and do I couldn't even begin to list them and we'll probably go back next year but this is also a must see.
Everywhere you look you spot a location you've seen on TV or film and there's just an incredible energy about the place. The flights aren't overly long either which is a plus.
Make a plan on what you're going to do and enjoy, it needs to be seen to be believed.
Another place I absolutely fell in love with - I actually nearly bought a timeshare before my then fiancé wondered why I was being so secretive on my MacBook!
I'm not a beach person but the beaches were amazing, the weather was incredible, the resort staff were incredibly friendly (beware that's not always the case outside of the hotel though and you need to be quite stern when approaches by hawkers and begging kids as they won't leave you alone otherwise)
The music is to die for and there's also plenty of stuff to do off-resort though I would suggest going with a group just to keep yourself right.
Get yourself round to Rick's in Negril and jump off the cliffs if you dare - I wimped out the first attempt but imbibed with renewed vigour after some rum punch I went for it - it's a great picture / video opportunity.
We've actually just booked to go back in 2019 and when I was on the flight out I met a couple who had been 14 times in the 3 years since they'd first visited... if that's not a testament to how this place can grab you then I don't know what is.
OK I'm throwing in a wild card here for people who don't want to go long haul or anywhere too hot.
I'm kind of biased as this is where I propped to my darling wife but the place is fantastic. We based ourselves in Reykjavik and hired a car so we could tour the Golden Triangle and see the natural wonders of the place.
Every where you look there's a waterfall, geyser, hot spring or prehistoric volcanic feature - it feels like you're on a different planet at times.
Reykjavik itself is awesome. You can walk just about anywhere you would want to go and the local are friendly. It's got a really unique vibe too as it's geographically so isolated from other countries.
The Blue Lagoon is a must visit and if you're lucky you might see the Northern Lights (we got a tiny glimpse the night we got engaged which was nice)
It is cold and it is expensive to eat and drink but it's a place like no other and well worth checking out.
So that's just a couple of suggestions based on my own experience. As for final thoughts and tips:
- Don't be afraid to bargain. We've just saved nearly £100 on our next holiday by asking travel agent A to beat travel agent B's price - they did it without hesitation and that money is better in our pocket than theirs.
- Don't think you need to use a travel agent. If you just want an easy 2 weeks with a hotel, flights and a beach somewhere then it's the way to go but just about all of those holidays mentioned we did ourselves. With Expedia, AirBnB etc... so easy to use nowadays you can build yourself a truly bespoke holiday and it's usually much cheaper than doing it via a travel agent.
- Don't be afraid to spend money. This goes for on the actual honeymoon and when you're there. You do get what you pay for and saving a few hundred quid on a certain resort or hotel might be the different between a great holiday and a once in a lifetime holiday. The same for when you're out there too. The way I look at it is - in 10 years time, am I going to be glad I saved a bit of cash just now or am I going to be glad we had an amazing meal, trip or experience?... Don't burst the credit card but if you can afford to push the boat out, just go for it.
- Treat yourself. Tied in with my previous point, if you're on honeymoon, push the boat out - book yourself into the airport lounge, go for the Wagyu steak, crack open a bottle of champagne or get stuck into the fancy cocktails with dinner. There's nothing better than really enjoying yourself and making the most of your time away - before you know it you'll be back at work so make the best experience and memories you can.
So that's my thoughts and "wisdom" on doing a honeymoon, I hope you choose somewhere awesome and have an amazing time when it comes.