Asia & South Pacific

Mesmerizing Retreats

written by | Posted on June 1st, 2011

Beachfront bures (from approximately $880 per night dbl) have all the modern conveniences of first-class hotels, while the deluxe beachfront bures ($1,200 per night dbl) have secluded courtyards, outdoor showers, sundecks and plunge pools. Most quixotic and appealing are the overwater bures (about $1,500 per night dbl), with music systems, WiFi, enormous beds and a daily complimentary canape plate.

Contact: (888) 946-5458; likulikulagoon.com

vatulele Long one of the South Pacific’s premier honeymoon spots, Vatulele is a force to be reckoned with when it comes to romantic retreats. Attentive staff members greet guests at Vatulele airport’s grassy landing strip. The 12-sq.-mile island is a mere hop from Fiji’s Nadi International Airport, where most foreign arrivals first set foot on the country. This property is a treat for the senses, where magnificent ocean views are embellished with sweet-scented frangipani blooming all around.

Vatulele is as close as it comes to a deserted island. There are less than 1,000 inhabitants living in four villages, mostly on the north side of the island, sustained by fishing and weaving Fiji’s legendary Tapa cloth. Honeymooners will delight on the fact that, aside from Vatulele, the island is completely undeveloped. Vatulele is an all-inclusive resort steeped in romance. Even its name (“rock”) derives from a Fijian legend about a chieftain’s son from a nearby island who spent a heartbroken existence sitting on a rock staring out to sea, after being rejected by a princess. The resort, which opened in 1990 and retains a feeling of “newness,” is one of the top boutique hotels in Fiji and consistently ranked as one of the top 10 barefoot chic hideaways in the world. Its Sante Fe architectural style blends easily with tropical surroundings that captivate.

Fittingly, the resort has a pink and very private bure reserved for honeymooners, as well as 19 luxurious bungalows and two spacious villas. Rates stretch from approximately $820, per night for a beach bure, to about $3,300 for a plush 2-story villa on the point.

Contact: vatulele.com

aitutaki lagoon resort & spa Hidden in Aitutaki, an idyllic island gem in the Cook Islands, is Aitutaki Lagoon Resort & Spa, a perfect destination for newlyweds craving privacy and luxury in a wistful setting. It epitomizes everything that’s stylish and beautiful about the island chain and is a favorite honeymoon hideaway for New Zealanders and Australians. The Cooks lie just west of Tahiti, easily accessible through Air New Zealand’s daily flights from Los Angeles. Guests arrive by ferry to be welcomed by dancing girls and tropical drinks before being ushered to their thatched bungalows where nothing has been left to chance. Everything—from secluded dinners on the beach to the aroma of tropical flowers wafting through the rooms, along with buckets of iced champagne—is the result of meticulous planning. This resort will stun even the most jaded traveler who will be treated to what may be the most vivid colors on earth during sunrises and sunsets in the Cook Islands. With 40 seaside bungalows, Aitutaki Lagoon is the only private island resort in the archipelago and just may be the most opulent property between Hawaii and New Zealand. Life here is idyllic. The resort has the only bungalows built over water in the Cook Islands. Its villas are decorated with black pearl shell inlay on the walls and all have private plunge pools. When not lolling in double hammocks guests can indulge in “motu,” which is the local pastime of wading in the warm, shallow waters between islets. Indeed, it exudes a truly Polynesian flavor, allowing guests to delight on everything that makes the South Pacific the paradise it’s touted to be.

Rates range from about $245 dbl for a garden bungalow, to $1,100 for a royal honeymoon suite built on stilts over the lagoon.

Contact: (877) COOK-ISLANDS; aitutakilagoonresort.com

uma paro Uma Paro in Bhutan, the landlocked Himalayan kingdom with India in the south and Tibet to the north, is where couples will find bliss. The implications are endless. Just think of the phrase: honeymooning in a Himalayan kingdom.…

Yes, the bragging rights that will result after such a distant journey will be endless, for this is a land—with villages and towns where the populace prefers the colorful national dress to Western attire—that remains essentially unspoiled. A member of the Como Hotels and Resorts collection, Uma Paro is Bhutan’s most luxurious resort. This is where romance mingles with the Himalayas’ astounding landscape, and where snowy mountains loom over pine forests stretching in all directions. This understated yet elegant resort mirrors all the beauty of this ancient kingdom where ancient Buddhist traditions join hands with modern life. Uma Paro is a luxurious retreat in the heart of the rugged wilderness of Bhutan with views of a stunning valley that reflects all the serenity of the secluded kingdom. Honeymooners will delight in exploring Paro, the nearby town that is Bhutan’s main cultural hub. Its 29 rooms have wide windows with panoramic views of the mountains and valley. Its interiors are symbolic of the rich traditions of Bhutan and emit the feeling of Himalayan mountain retreats. The resort’s spa, Shambhala Retreat, offers treatments unlike anything else on earth and the Bukhari Restaurant is one of the most exclusive places in which to savor Bhutanese food. Some may be interested in renewing their recent wedding in an exclusive 2-hour marriage blessing ceremony in the nearby seventh century Kyichu Lhakhang Temple. This is one of the oldest religious shrines in the kingdom—a peaceful meditative retreat surrounded by orange groves and an interior lined with hundreds of prayer wheels. More than 20 monks conduct ceremonial rites to the rhythm of drums, horns and cymbals, while the couple is showered with flower petals.