Sunday 21 July 2019

Mini-moon now, long-haul later: 8 hot honeymoon travel trips

The latest honeymoon trend? Take a mini-moon now, and the trip of lifetime later. Jillian Bolger explains how...

The Maldives can be heaven... Photo: Getty
The Maldives can be heaven... Photo: Getty
Foreign romance: Sleep under the stars in Botswana
Machu Picchu, Peru. Photo: Deposit Photos
Thailand is famed for its beautiful beaches
Regal surrounds: A luxurious suite at Ballyfin House
The Owenmore Restaurant at Ballynahinch Castle
Four-star hotel: Harvey's Point
Gregan's Castle
Our best kept secret? Romantic Newforge House in Armagh
Dunbrody House
The Great Ocean Road. Photo: Australia.com
Carrig House, Co Kerry
Bali: The Ubud Village Resort & Spa
Express across Eastern Canada. Photo: Sunway
Ritz del Rey, California

Jillian Bolger

There's a best time to visit any honeymoon destination... but what's a couple to do if it doesn't coincide with their wedding? Take a mini-moon now, and a long-haul trip later, Jillian Bolger says. Here's her seasonal guide.

1. Spring Wedding

Laois now, The Maldives later

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Regal surrounds: A luxurious suite at Ballyfin House
 

Now: Want to start married life in the lap of luxury? It's hard to argue with Ballyfin. So much more than a hotel, this exquisite country house allows you to step back in time and experience big house living with the finest of modern comforts. Explore the vast Co Laois estate, enjoy delightfully relaxed service - the bedrooms are exquisite, but the Westmeath room, with its four poster bed, silk drapes and decadent golden finishes, is our particular pick.

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A beautiful beach in the Maldives
 

Later: Few places in the world offer a wow factor quite like the Maldives. White sands, palm-fringed islands, endless horizons and luxe villas straddling turquoise waters teeming with kaleidoscopic fish make these Indian Ocean islands the perfect choice for a chilled beach honeymoon.

Details: B&B from €580 per couple; ballyfin.com. Seven nights B&B at Six Senses Laamu from €4,500pp including flights with Emirates; mahlatini.com.

More: Magical Maldives: All you need to know before your trip to paradise

Clare now, Peru later

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Gregan's Castle
 

Now: The Burren is beautiful in spring, and you'll enjoy it even more tucked away in the magical Gregan's Castle. This 18th century manor is one of Ireland's best-loved hideaways, with a relaxed blend of chic interiors, gorgeous bedrooms, warm staff and outstanding food. With beautiful gardens, a unique wilderness at your door and the Cliffs of Moher a short drive away, this luxurious bolthole will deliver a mini-moon that's as active or relaxed as you choose. 

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Machu Picchu, Peru. Photo: Deposit Photos
 

Later: Peru offers honeymooners a thrilling opportunity to get off the beaten track and enjoy dramatic mountain terrain and fascinating ancient culture. From colourful Lima to the Colca Canyon, awe-inspiring Machu Picchu to legendary Lake Titicaca, it thrills with beauty and diversity. Finish up with a trip through the Amazon, hiking leafy trails and enjoying the incredible wildlife.

Details: B&B from €179 per room; gregans.ie. A 13-night Best of Magical Peru and Amazon tour costs from €2,849pp, including flights, stays and guided tours; tropicalsky.ie.

More: 10 steps to the perfect honeymoon: Pól Ó Congaile's top tips

2. Summer Wedding

Wexford now, Botswana later

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Dunbrody House
 

Now: Dunbrody House, Kevin and Catherine Dundon's luxurious country house hotel, is at the heart of Wexford's Hook Peninsula, with Kevin's modern Irish cooking a real draw. Honeymooners will be torn between the glamorous Waterford Suite and their new Cosy Cabin in the woods.

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Foreign romance: Sleep under the stars in Botswana
 

Later: If the idea of a luxury safari in paradise appeals, then pop Botswana top of your list. A peaceful and vast country, it offers, arguably, the best game viewing in Africa. With low visitor numbers and large herds of animals, Botswana is home to exquisitely remote luxury camps accessible only by light aircraft. Be sure to include the Okavango Delta.

Details: B&B from €95pps; dunbrodyhouse.com. Seven nights all-inclusive staying in luxury camps and lodges in Botswana from €10,200pp including flights, transfers and scheduled camp activities; mahlatini.com.

More: Beauty in Botswana: Magical moments on the safari of a lifetime

Donegal now, California later

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Four-star hotel: Harvey's Point
 

Now: Tucked between the Blue Stack Mountains and Lough Eske, Harvey's Point puts you in the lap of luxury surrounded by nature. TripAdvisor's No.1 Irish hotel provides a famously warm welcome, attentive service and great food. The all-suite property is a pleasure to return to after a Donegal day trip, too - newly-weds are invited to lock their own padlock on the hotel's Lover's Bridge to mark their love. 

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View from Santa Monica Boulevard in Los Angeles, California
 

Later: SoCal, co cool. An indulgent, sun-kissed honeymoon in Southern California requires a luxurious beach front address with easy access to the strip. Skip LA and stay six miles north in the fun seaside neighbourhood of Marina del Rey. Its bustling marina is a great spot for boating, swimming and water sports fans. A few kilometres from Venice Beach, sizzling Santa Monica (above) and Malibu are close by too.

Details: B&B in an executive suite from €198; harveyspoint.com. Flights and five nights in the Ritz Carlton Marina Del Rey from €1,782.50pp; cassidytravel.ie

3. Autumn Wedding

Connemara now, Bali later

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The Owenmore Restaurant at Ballynahinch Castle
 

Now: Wild, serene, remote - a mini-moon in Connemara is the perfect antidote to wedding madness. Choose Ballynahinch Castle, a sumptuous 18th century pile renowned for its remarkable welcome, excellent food and easy luxury. Book a Riverside Suite with four-poster bed and views of the meandering river. There's 10 miles of walking trails on the leafy estate and you're a short drive to Clifden, Roundstone and the splendid Dog's Bay beach.

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Bali: The Ubud Village Resort & Spa

Later: Fragrant, exotic and beautiful, Bali never disappoints. The idyllic Indonesian island offers a mesmerising mix of local culture, delicious food, tropical scenery, glorious beaches, dazzling sunsets and welcoming people. Balinese hotels are some of the finest in the world, as are their spas. Choose a twin-centre beach and forest honeymoon that allows you to experience the two sides of the island. 

Details: B&B from €195 per couple, ballynahinch-castle.com. Seven nights at The Laguna, Nusa Dua and three nights at The Ubud Village Resort & Spa, €1,695pp. emiratesholidays.com 

Kerry now, Canada later

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Carrig House, Co Kerry

Now: A Victorian hunting lodge on the shores of Caragh Lake in Killorglin, Carrig House is a romantic hideaway owned by the charming Slattery family. The cosy country house enjoys sublime views and perfect sunsets - hire bikes, swim in the lake or hang out on Rossbeigh beach, before returning in the evenings for dinners in the Lakeside Restaurant. The canopied rosewood bed in the Presidential Suite belonged to an Indian Maharaja, making this our favourite room in the house.

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Express across Eastern Canada. Photo: Sunway
 

Later: Eastern Canada has so much to offer. From Toronto, Ottawa, Quebec City and Montreal to the mighty Niagara Falls and Ottawa's vineyards, it makes a captivating honeymoon destination. Remove the stress of driving and join an escorted tour that allows you both to relax while on the road. An escorted itinerary will include plenty of free time, while introducing you to Canada's highlights, colonial heritage and incredible natural beauty.

Details: B&B from €150 per couple; carrighouse.com. Best of Eastern Canada, nine days from €1,950pp in four-star hotels, including flights and many meals. Sunway.ie/escorted-tours

More: The Canadian Bucket List: 30 things to do in Canada before you die!

4. Winter Wedding

Dublin now, Thailand later

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Art Tea at The Merrion Hotel
 

Now: A winter mini-moon at Dublin's Merrion Hotel is one of the most perfect things we can imagine. The incredible Georgian interiors, impeccable service, lavish bedrooms with comfy beds, sinking into fireside sofas for evening drinks, dressing up for dinner in Guilbaud's next door, feasting in The Garden Room and morning swims in the lovely pool - all make it a five-star city stay to savour. Spoil yourselves with a huge bedroom in the Main House with its original period features, including fireplace, ornate ceilings and beautiful sash windows.

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Thailand is famed for its beautiful beaches
 

Later: Thailand is one of the most accessible countries to visit in Southeast Asia. Friendly and affordable, its tropical islands are honeymoon favourites, with flawless beaches, unspoilt scenery, delicious food, wonderful people and plenty of activities. Five-star hotels offer good value and there's great night life, if you fancy an evening out.

Details: Rooms from €295; merrionhotel.com. Seven nights B&B at The Nai Harn Hotel from €1,289pp, including flights and car hire, sunway.ie

More: Roz Purcell's Thailand: 10 reasons to put Phuket on your travel list

Armagh now, Australia later

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Our best kept secret? Romantic Newforge House in Armagh
 

Now: The perfectly proportioned Newforge House may be Ireland's best-kept secret. Romantic and cosy, the Blue Book period home was renovated by John Mathers - who grew up here - and his wife, Lou. With just six bedrooms it's intimate, exclusive and a hot foodie ticket. John's cooking features the best local artisan produce, and is a serious magnet for food fanatics. Book the romantic Hanna Room, with its four-poster bed and wonderful views of the gardens and prepare to be delightfully spoilt.

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The Great Ocean Road. Photo: Australia.com
 

Later: Australia is a dream destination for adventurous travellers - from spectacular scenery to lively cities, an amazing food and wine scene, magnificent beaches and fascinating history, it offers a pick-and-mix style honeymoon. The ultimate destination for a serious road trip, you'll make new memories around every bend.

Details: Rooms from €154; newforgehouse.com. An 11-night self-driving tour of Melbourne, the Great Ocean Road (above) & Kangaroo Island from €1,279pp. australiansky.ie 

NB: All prices subject to availability/change.

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