Paradise Found

written by | Posted on June 3rd, 2013

Singita Mara River Tented Camo in TanzaniaPrivate pool at the Amanjena in Morocoo.

st. regis mauritius resort

Couples who seek quiet time on the beach but crave cultural diversity will enjoy the richness of Mauritius, an island nation about 1,200 miles off the southeast coast of Africa in the Indian Ocean. A blending of Chinese, Indian, French and African cultures and the sensuous beat of sega puts newlyweds in a celebratory mood. At the southwestern tip of the island, the brand-new St. Regis Mauritius Resort is located in a privileged location at the UNESCO World Heritage site of Le Morne, bordered by a turquoise lagoon. The resort’s setting, with Le Morne Brabant Mountain on the horizon, is defined by a backdrop of sugar cane fields encircling towering peaks overlooking the Indian Ocean. Modeled in the colonial style after a Victorian-era sugar baron’s home, the resort boasts 172 elegant guestrooms and suites, ranging from 700 to 2,300 sq. ft., all with sweeping terraces and stunning views of the Indian Ocean. There is also a beachfront St. Regis Villa with private entrance, private pools and gardens, an infinity pool, a bar and private spa treatment room. (The resort also offers the famous St. Regis butler service.) The signature restaurant, Simply India, is headed up by Michelin-starred chef Atul Kochhar and the resort is home to Africa’s first Iridium Spa, including a full-service salon, jacuzzi, sauna and steam rooms, a dedicated men’s grooming salon, a 24-hour fitness club, and 12 treatment rooms with ocean views. There’s also a unique kite surfing school which affords access to “One Eye” at Le Morne, one of the most coveted kite-surfing locales in the world. Rates start at $630 per room, per night.

Guests can fly to London Heathrow then fly Air Mauritius from Heathrow to Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport (MRU). Alternatively, guests can fly to London Gatwick then fly British Airways from Gatwick to MRU. Those traveling via Johannesburg can fly Air Mauritius or South African Airways to MRU. The St. Regis will send a luxury car or minivan to collect guests from the airport, which is about an hour’s drive from the resort (not included in room rate).

(877) 787-3447 or stregis.com/Mauritius

 

 

amanjena, morocco

Aman is Sanskrit for “peaceful,” jena is Arabic for “paradise.” There is an enveloping sense of calm at Amanjena that feels almost sacred. Four miles outside Marrakesh city-center, Amanjena presents an oasis of palms and olive trees once owned by the royal family facing the Grand Atlas Mountains. (If you saw “Sex and the City 2,” you might recognize the palace-like property that was meant to be set in Abu Dhabi in the film.)

With its blend of Moorish and ancient Egyptian architecture spread across 13 acres, Amanjena consists of 34 terracotta-color villas and seven 2-story pavilions surrounding a turquoise lagoon from which a series of smaller lagoons seem to multiply throughout manicured gardens. The pavilions have domed living areas, open fireplaces and a private courtyard with gazebos, sofas and dining areas. Amanjena has a Thai restaurant and a Mediterranean and Moroccan restaurant as well as a Pool Terrace and Bar. For more privacy, couples can dine in a romantic Caidal tent in the olive grove, accompanied by traditional Moroccan music. While not indulging in the hammam, spa, or swimming pool, they can ask the concierge to arrange jaunts to nearby palaces, the Saadian tombs, the Khoutoubia Mosque, or Jardin Majorelle, owned by Yves Saint Laurent. For couples looking to go off-the-beaten path, recommend they spend the night in a Berber village, take a day trip to the seaside hamlet of Essaouira or hike the grand Atlas Mountains. Rates start at $1,045 pp per night.

Guests can fly into Marrakech on Royal Air Maroc, Air France, British Airways, or SWISS, Iberia (easyJet, Ryanair and Atlas Blue also fly to Marrakech). Amanjena will send a complimentary car and driver to collect guests from Marrakech International Airport.

(800) 477-9180 or amanresorts.com

odzala camps, the republic of the congo

While The Republic of the Congo may not seem like the obvious choice for a honeymoon, wildlife-loving, thrill-seeking couples might just choose it above anywhere else. The country’s temperate climate and ample rainfall yield dense, remote forests that harbor some of the highest known gorilla populations on the planet. The Odzala-Kokoua National Park in the Cuvette-Ouest region of the country is, in fact, one of the most important strongholds for forest elephant and western gorilla conservation remaining in Central Africa. Lucky for outdoorsy newlyweds, Wilderness Safaris has recently opened two new tented camps there, each with six sustainably built guestrooms designed in the style of the local B’Aka Pygmy groups. At Ngaga Camp, guestrooms are raised above the ground with a wraparound walkway allowing full appreciation of the forest canopy. Why not pair the excitement of up-close gorilla-spotting at Ngaga Camp in the heart of the forest with walking and boating at Lango Camp, which offers access to the Lekoli and Mambili rivers? As couples feast on European cuisine and nurse sundowners, elephants amble through trees, colobus monkeys swing from branches, and buffalo graze in the veld. Caveat: These camps are not for the faint-of-heart and probably also not for the first-time Africa visitor. Odzala is a 2-hour flight by small aircraft from Brazzaville, and the Congo Basin is filled with insects that go bump, buzz and bite in the night. The 6-night package at Odzala—which includes both Ngaga Camp and Lango Camp—starts at $5,885 pp excluding airfare to and from Africa.

Guests can fly South African Airways from New York or Washington, D.C. to Johannesburg then overnight and fly on to Brazzaville. From Brazzaville, guests are taken on a 2-hour, small aircraft charter flight by Wilderness Safaris to M’boko airstrip (a 40-minute drive from Lango Camp and 2.5 hours from Ngaga Camp), where they are collected by a car and driver, also from Wilderness.

wilderness-collection.com

singita mara river tented camp, tanzania

Singita’s new Mara River Tented Camp in the northernmost section of Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park encompasses six luxurious tented suites at the site of the great migration crossing. Here, fortunate visitors are privy to one of the “greatest shows on earth,” the annual wildebeest migration when thousands of these noble creatures cross the swollen Mara River in search of rain-dampened plains on the other side. This experience alone makes for an unforgettable honeymoon.

The camp, which runs on solar power, was designed by the Cape Town firm of Cecile & Boyd’s, which has given a contemporary twist to traditional safari style. And it comes with all of the amenities of a luxury hotel—and more. Sip a cup of Fair Trade coffee before your morning game drive or enjoy a fruit smoothie by the plunge pool. In addition to the six tents, there is a luxurious lounge, dining area, and outside seating as well as a sundowner bar tent. Cuisine is health-conscious and features grass-fed meat, organic eggs and creative entrees made from ethically sourced ingredients. What’s more, the entire Singita brand is focused on sustainable conservation and evolving local communities with its low-impact lodgings across the continent. So, couples can do some good while spotting game and sipping French champagne in the bush! Rates start at $1,275 pp per night during the high season and $950 pp per night during the low season.

Guests can fly to Kilimanjaro on KLM, Qatar Airways (or another airline) or fly Kenya Airways (or another airline) to Nairobi Jomo Kenyatta and then fly with Tanganyika Flying Company (TFC) into Serengeti Lamai. From Kili and Serengeti Lamai, Singita sends a car and driver to collect guests and drive them to the Singita Mara River Tented Camp.

singita.com/mara-river-tented-camp

royal malewane, south africa

An elegant 10-room bush camp in the Thornybush Game Reserve on the western edge of Kruger National Park, Royal Malewane not only offers superb traditional game-viewing but also couture safari pursuits such as hot air balloon rides and safari-by-horseback. Oh, and it’s also LGBT-friendly (as are most game lodges in South Africa). Hint: South Africa was the fifth country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage. Known for being luxurious yet unpretentious, Royal Malewane features elevated walkways linking private units set on stilts with cavernous open-plan bedroom/sitting rooms, floor-to-ceiling windows, fireplaces and enormous bathrooms. Rooms have antique canopy king-size beds, claw-foot bathtubs, and a private outdoor terrace with outside shower and gazebo.

For a real honeymoon treat, book the expansive Royal and Malewane suites, where up to four guests can enjoy the luxury of a private butler, chef and masseuse. The property features a dining room, lounge/bar, aromatherapy, boma, gift shop, gym, library, massage, room service, spa with heated lap pool and WiFi. Most importantly, Royal Malawane has traversing rights on 28,405 acres and some of South Africa’s best game trackers, which is—after all—why couples come. Rates start at $1,345 per room, per night.

Guests can fly SA Express Airways from Johannesburg to Hoedspruit Airport; road transfers can be arranged by Royal Malewane and take approximately 35 minutes in a comfortable air-conditioned vehicle. Alternatively, guests can fly SA Airlink from Cape Town to KMIA (Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport) in Nelspruit. Royal Malewane can arrange an air transfer with Cesszani charters from KMIA to Royal Malawane’s private airfield. Finally, guests also have the option of chartering their own private flights directly onto Royal Malewane’s private airstrip.

royalmalewane.com

 

getting intimate with cox & kings

Cox & Kings is the longest-running travel company in the world; its history stretching back to 1758 in London when Richard Cox was appointed as regimental agent to the Foot Guards in the UK infantry. It is now an independent tour company with offices in Australia, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, India, Japan and the United States. It’s renowned for its itineraries to Africa, and its honeymoon packages to this continent will leave couples in awe. But, according to Scott Wiseman, Cox & Kings’ president, the Americas, not just any honeymooning client should be on your radar.

Couples looking to honeymoon in Africa, he says, are those “interested in doing more than just sitting on the beach and relaxing after their wedding. Particularly when you go to Africa, you are not lounging around. You are active. You are getting up early, going on game drives. But these clients will, at the end of their adventure, book four days on an island to chill out.”

Once you’ve targeted the right client, Wiseman tells travel agents that selling honeymoons to Africa is much more than just selling the itinerary in the brochure.

“Travel agents selling this region can make extra money if they understand that they can upsell. For example, you can book your honeymooners in a private vehicle in many of the safari lodges as opposed to group vehicles. Also, many lodges these days offer outside bathtubs or even what they call ‘star beds’ where you can roll the bed out onto an elevated balcony and sleep under the stars. Or, arrange for dinner for two in the bush. And finally, keep in mind that you need at least two weeks in Africa and the Middle East since it takes some time to get there. Book your clients at a resort in the Seychelles or Mauritius for four days at the end of their trip. There’s a lot of opportunity.”

One of the operator’s most popular honeymoon packages to the region is the Classic South Africa itinerary. It’s an 11-day tour that gets people started with a few days in Cape Town, the Winelands, and then a safari experience in a private concession near Kruger. The trip ends on the Zambia side of Victoria Falls.

(800) 999-1758 or coxandkingsusa.com

Archived related articles (available on recommend.com/magazine/issue-archive):
The Seychelles’ Private Island Resorts (April 2013)