Panama offers romantics a wide range of places in the sun with lots of activities to enjoy right in the neighborhood.
Choose the Pacific Ocean and your honeymoon clients can sign up for a Panama Unexpected package at The Westin Playa Bonita, staying in a deluxe guestroom with ocean and garden views, where they can snuggle into a Westin Heavenly Bed and equally Heavenly Bath; staying fit together in the spa; and sampling cuisines of the world at six dining venues. Booked for a minimum of three nights, the package starts at $225 pp per night and includes accommodations and breakfast, airport transfers and two special adventures—a day tour to an Embera indigenous village in the rainforest and a truck safari tour to historic Portobelo and Isla Grande’s beaches.
P.S.: Couples can also tie the knot at the luxury vacation villa, Casa Naga, perched on a cliff above the Pacific Ocean, steps from its parent property, the aforementioned Westin, and also steps away from Playa Bonita Beach. The villa features six guest suites with indoor gardens and private plunge pools. The outdoor patio is beautifully landscaped and features a semi-Olympic infinity pool that descends like a fashion catwalk. There is also a large jacuzzi and a poolside palapa, where guests can lounge and barbecue. Casa Naga is fully staffed at all times, extra-specially staffed for wedding events. starwoodhotels.com or spgpro.com
Choose the exuberant forest-trimmed Caribbean coast and Ancon Expeditions may have just the ticket. The Panama-based company designs active vacations for clients of its Virtuoso agents, and proposes that honeymooners enjoy getting to know Panama while delighting in each other. Its Honeymoon Panama tour starts couples off at the gorgeous and stylish American Trade Hotel, housed in a restored landmark building in Panama City’s hip and historic Casco Viejo district. Included are three nights in a Super Cuarto King room with breakfast, as well as privately guided visits to the Panama Canal; a tour of Frank Gehry’s new Biodiversity Museum; an Old City walking tour and handicraft market visit; a private helicopter flight to the Embera indigenous peoples’ village on the Chagres River, returning by dugout canoe; and special lunches daily. Then, honeymooners transfer to the Caribbean for a 3-night stay at El Otro Lado. This seductive, tropical-rainforest-meets-beach boutique resort with pool and spa on Portobelo Bay mixes design, culture, nature and luxury in a unique manner in order to offer guests authentic, exclusive and custom-made experiences. Also on hand is total privacy in one of four exclusive, hand-crafted houses. With transfers throughout, this 6-night honeymoon is priced from $2,795. anconexpeditions.com
In Peru, Machu Picchu and Amazonia are regular entries on honeymooners’ wish lists.
Sumaq Machu Picchu Hotel offers a 2-day Romance of the Andes package, featuring accommodations in king-size beds in spacious and handsomely appointed Sumaq suites, many with balconies overlooking the Vilcanota River and Andes Mountains. During a stay, couples enjoy breakfast and dinner, a courtesy pisco sour and bottle of Champagne, a 90-minute massage and 15 minutes in the sauna of the Aqlla Spa, and a private tour of the ancient Machu Picchu mountaintop site. Consider adding a celebration of love with an Andean wedding ceremony called Arac Masin, blessed by an Andean priest. In fact, to make all these activities fit (including a cooking class or birdwatching hike), add an extra day. The 2-day package is $582 pp. sumaqhotelsperu.com
Inkaterra Reserva Amazonica, located along the meandering Madre de Dios River, beckons lovers to riverside romance with a Romantic Adventure in the Amazon, a 3-night package that indulges each couple with a bottle of cava, delectable dining, a flowering bath session, a cooling massage for two and a choice of daily escorted excursions on the river, in the rainforest, or along the canopy walkway. The 34-room and -suite lodge features accommodations with canopy bed, private bath, balconies and hammocks, and the $866 pp rate includes all meals, river transport from/to Puerto Maldonado airport and plenty of pampering. inkaterra.com or inkaterra.com/travelprofessional
Avanti Goes Amorous
The most-traveled roads to romance at Avanti Destinations (avantidestinations.com) lead to the sea for beach honeymoons in Costa Rica and Belize. “These are our top sellers,” points out company president Harry Dalgaard, “but Nicaragua is also now attracting honeymooners because it’s relatively undiscovered, which is fun; prices are lower than in other destinations, and you get so much for your money—unspoiled nature, rich culture and history; it offers vibrant towns like Granada and Leon; there are fewer tourists; and you have the perfect combo of practically private beaches and seductive in-the-forest luxury lodgings at Morgan’s Rock eco-lodge and the Aqua Wellness Resort. Among the Dalgaard beach-honeymoon haven picks in Belize are Victoria House, El Secreto and Portofino Beach Resort on Ambergris Caye, and in Costa Rica, Arenas del Mar on the Pacific Ocean by Manuel Antonio National Park.
Indeed, “we’re seeing steady growth in the number of requests for honeymoons in Central and South America,” Dalgaard points out, “and while most are for beach vacations, there’s increasing interest in booking multiple destinations within a country, and strong interest also for honeymoons that offer lots of outdoor activity.” Avanti’s most popular active honeymoon? Hiking the Inca Trail, according to the president.
Avanti offers the 6-night Romantic Belize itinerary, a honeymoon that includes time between the highland tropical rainforest of the Cayo District and the beach on Ambergris Caye. Champagne on arrival, couple’s massage and candle-lit dinner at both The Lodge at Chaa Creek in Cayo and Portofino Beach Resort on Ambergris are romantic features. Priced from $2,845 pp, the cost also includes a sunset canoe tour on the Macul River and one additional tour selected at Chaa Creek, as well as transfers.
The Inca Trail, meanwhile, beckons fit and adventurous honeymooners to follow in the steps of the ancients on a 5-day discovery trip to the legendary Inca outpost of Machu Picchu. The adventure includes three nights of camping, with the fourth night spent at a choice of fine lodges in Aguas Calientes; guide; porter service; all meals while on the trail; tent and sleeping pad; two entrances to Machu Picchu with a guided tour; and lunch at the citadel. The starting cost of $1,199 covers transfers and return by train to Cusco.
But your clients might be looking for just the right destination for their second honeyoon, so we topped off our interview with Dalgaard with one final question: For your second honeymoon, what destination would you pick? Without hesitation, he responds, Easter Island, staying at the Explora Rapa Nui. “And the nice thing about Easter Island is that the flight there from Santiago continues twice weekly to Tahiti, jump-off points for Bora Bora, really my most favorite honeymoon destination.” Now there’s a compelling combo.