The World's Most Romantic New Resorts
Published 09/03/2014 | 02:30
From an 18th century French mansion to Witches Rock surfing or complete isolation Pól Ó Conghaile reveals the six hottest spots for honeymooners in 2014
1. St Regis Resort, Le Morne Mauritius
The St Regis Mauritius Resort is the ultra-luxury brand's first hotel in Africa. St Regis calls it "the best address on the island", and given its location on the white beaches at the UNESCO World Heritage site of Le Morne, who are we to argue?
The resort overlooks the Indian Ocean on the south-western tip of Mauritius, right beneath Le Morne Brabant Mountain. It's modelled on a Victorian sugar baron's manor house, with vast terraces, colonnades and sumptuous rooms designed to marry the island's colonial heritage with a super seaside setting.
In fact, it's conceivable couples might not want to leave the resort. St Regis boasts the region's first Iridium Spa (partnering brands are Valmont and Bella Luccè), Atul Kochhar created its signature restaurant, Simply India and activities range from snorkelling to kite-surfing and cruises.
Guests have a choice of 172 rooms and suites, but for a real splash, try the beachfront St Regis Villa with its private entrance, gardens, infinity pool, bar and spa. Oh, and there's butler service, too.
Details: stregis.com/Mauritius from €372 per night.
2. Andaz Papagayo Costa Rica
This one's hot off the press. Andaz, the designer line of Hyatt, opened its Papagayo resort in Costa Rica just before Christmas, right at the point where the gulf meets the rainforest. It's the first Andaz to open in Latin America.
Andaz is a good brand for couples looking both to immerse themselves in the local culture and each other. The design concept, for instance – by Costa Rican architect Ronald Zurcher – features 153 rooms shaped like cocoons and seashells.
That's just the beginning. Andaz Papagayo has also recruited a team of 'cultural insiders' to dual up the authenticity – surfer dudes Alex and Mike Faherty of the Faherty Brand label have created a guide to the country's hidden surf spots, for example.
Music has been curated to include local artists like Manuel Obregon and Ruben Blades and there's a series of artworks by Cartago's Salvador Odrec.
I like the sound of the Witches Rock Surf Package, which includes a full day at Witches Rock National Park, with complementary board shorts or bikini, and a pro photographer along to shoot the ride. That, and the 11,000 square-foot spa.
Details: papagayo.andaz.hyatt.com from €365 per night
3. Domaine de la Baume Provence, France
Romance doesn't have to come with a side of palm trees. Nor is every couple looking for a beach holiday. For a dream holiday with a difference, why not stay in an 18th century mansion in Provence?
Domaine de la Baume is the former home of expressionist painter Bernard Buffet, and it recently rebooted as a 15-room boutique resort.
It's set on a 99-acre property basking between the Verdon Gorges and French Riviera, and French interior designer Jocelyne Sibuet has individually decorated every one of the rooms.
An ochre façade, shady chestnut trees, horse rides on the estate, restorative treatments in the Pure Altitude Spa and gourmet Provencal dinners combine to create a classic space a million miles from the Maldives.
Mais oui, s'il vous plait!
Details: domaine-delabaume.com from €440 per night
4. The Perdue Hotel Turkey
Looking for a little private time? The Perdue Hotel is just a half-hour from the package holiday hotspot of Olu Deniz, but those 30 minutes might as well be light years. And romantic isolation starts with the name – 'Perdue' means 'lost'.
Hotel is the wrong word for what's on offer here. The resort opened just last year, and takes the form of eight thatched, safari-style tents overlooking the aquarium-blue waters of the Aegean. Each suite has private balconies and Jacuzzi baths, and the only way to reach them is via a steep path in the Perdue's Land Rover.
Massages and yoga classes are available as well as Mediterranean cuisine from the a la carte restaurant – and if you get bored lolling in the ocean, or the infinity pool, you can explore nearby Butterfly Valley or trek the Lycian Way. It's a far remove from the real world.
Couples can book directly, or buy tailormade honeymoon packages with UK tour operator, Elixir (elixirholidays.com). A week's accommodation including flights from Dublin and transfers costs from €1,450pp. Why not add a mini-cruise on your own luxury Turkish gulet, a traditional boat complete with crew and chef?
Details: perduehotel.com; from €230 per night.
5. Beach House Iruveli, The Maldives
It's impossible to talk romantic resorts without mentioning the Maldives. Cobalt skies? Check. Swaying palm trees? Check. Floury white sands? Check.
This Indian Ocean archipelago is an idyllic honeymoon escape. Hundreds upon hundreds of islands are splashed with balmy lagoons, tropical fish and sparkling beaches.
You even get to transfer by seaplane or speedboat... ("the entire flight there was like being on the pages of 'National Geographic'," one couple raves). The five-star Beach House Iruveli, set in the Haa Alif atoll, comes kitted with all the water villas, spa treatments, restaurants and reefs luxury lovers could want.
It has just added a romantic castaway package to the nearby (and completely deserted) island of Govvafushi.
Skirting across dolphin-spotted waters, guests can overnight with a traditional Maldivian dinner and bubbles on the beach from $550/€400pp. A complimentary honeymoon package is also offered to couples staying four or more nights within 12 months of their marriage – including champagne on arrival, a half-day excursion and cocktails and chocs on your final night.
Details: beachhousecollection.com/ Iruveli rooms from €235pp
6. Palais Namaskar, Marrakech, Morocco
Here's a resort with a shot of exotic spice – even a lick of rock 'n' roll – for your luxury romantic getaway. The 41 villa and suite Palais Namaskar opened last year on the desert outskirts of Marrakech, and it's been scoring cool points ever since.
Couples can chill in isolation (pool suites offer over 100m2 of living space with jasmine-scented gardens and glass-walled showers for two) or mingle with Marrakech's finest in the public spaces.
DJs play in the rooftop bar, and fashion brunches are often scheduled for Saturdays – with models floating around the tables as guests tuck into dishes by Antoine Perray (formerly of the Plaza Athéneé).
What to do? When you're not enjoying the pools, Moorish arches and spa treatments, you can sign up for desert expeditions, hot air balloon trips, or venture out to explore Marrakech's Medina, gardens and Djemaa El Fna.
Details: palaisnamaskar.com from €590 per night
NB. All prices subject to availability