An Ode to Romance

written by | Posted on June 5th, 2013

Penthouse Terrace at The Setai

the setai, miami beach

Tried and true. That’s The Setai, Miami Beach, an architectural marvel where serenity reigns. Yes, hotties like SLS Hotel South Beach might be the talk of the town for now, but for a truly refined honeymoon that will have your clients reminiscing for years to come, book the elegant and intimate Setai, a member of The Leading Hotels of the World. Its cocoon-like golden- and brown-toned ambiance wraps up guests in a gorgeous Art Deco—both of South Beach and Asian influence—embrace, although right outside its grand doors is the city’s celebrated beachscape and nightlife.

“The Setai, Miami Beach is an oasis amidst vibrant Miami. Guests can choose to experience the destination or remain on property, experiencing our immaculately maintained private beach, three temperature-controlled pools, exquisite couple’s spa packages, and we also have the newly re-vamped Setai Grill, which serves high-end steakhouse fare and houses hundreds of bottles of rare wines,” says Guenter Richter, the property’s v.p. and managing director.

Accommodations, too, offer nothing but the very best: Think black granite soaking tubs tucked ever so elegantly at the foot of the sumptuous Dexiana beds—ideal for a personal spa treatment—teak floors, authentic jade pieces discovered in the antique markets of China, rain showers…the works, all down to the last detail. There are a variety of guestrooms to choose from in two separate buildings—the 40-suite Tower building and the Art Deco building with 85 studio and 1-bedroom suites—but this being an oceanfront property and all, you couldn’t possibly go wrong if you point your happy couple to a room with a view of the famed Atlantic Ocean coastline.

The 2-night minimum Setai Romance package, available until Dec. 26 and with rates starting at $670 per night, includes accommodations, daily grand buffet breakfast for two en-suite, bottle of champagne and chocolate-covered strawberries upon arrival, Setai Love Bath ceremony in the spa, complimentary use of beach lounges and umbrellas on The Setai’s private beach, and late check-out guaranteed for 2 p.m.

(305) 520-6000 or thesetaihotel.com

Park View Premier Suite at NYC's Gramercy Park Hotel

gramercy park hotel, new york city

Have newlyweds who expect nothing but the best? Book them into a property in one of “Manhattan’s most highly coveted neighborhoods,” as Jakob Hansen, the general manager of Gramercy Park Hotel, describes the area surrounding this luscious property that neighbors one of the city’s most famous private parks. As minimalist as The Setai is, this NYC boutique hotel with 185 guestrooms is bathed in an eye-popping renaissance-revival design that incorporates sumptuous handmade furnishings, bold colors and decor—think chandeliers made of Venetian glass—and vivid art work by the likes of Andy Warhol—only someone like celebrated artist and filmmaker Julian Schnabel could pull this design style off with refined taste.

For couples, there are lots of nooks and crannies, as well as a stunning rooftop garden that feels plucked right out of a fairy tale—it’s a green leafy oasis in the midst of buzzing NYC. Your clients will find another hideaway when they enter their accommodations, which offer unadulterated indulgences in the form of Italian linens, original red oak floors, large bathrooms and for toasting to the new life together, a bar cabinet made of mahogany wood with crystal glasses.

The hotel, says Hansen, “truly offers a one-of-a-kind experience for an intimate, romantic New York honeymoon.”

Go exploring? Well, this is NYC after all, no instructions needed, but do tell clients to take advantage of the fact that the hotel has a key to the very private Gramercy Park.

The Penthouse Suite Life package, available until Dec. 30 and with rates from $3,150, includes accommodations in the Penthouse Suite, champagne upon arrival, daily continental breakfast for two at Gramercy Terrace and exclusive access to the very chic and very fashionable Rose Bar for two people.

For those honeymooners not seeking such lofty heights, rates for a less-extravagant suite start at $975 per night.

(212) 995-1330 or gramercyparkhotel.com

Accommodations at Shangri-La Hotel, Toronto

amangiri, utah

One look at Amangiri in Utah—yes, it’s part of that tantalizing Aman Resorts collection with properties in Bhutan, Cambodia, Sri Lanka and Montenegro, among other far-flung destinations—and your newlyweds will fall in love all over again. Amangiri, which translates to “peaceful mountain,” is located in Canyon Point in southern Utah, near the border with Arizona, and offers sweeping views over colorful, stratified rock toward the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. There are towering bluffs and mesas for as far as the eye can see—this is the Four Corners, after all—and getting there along a winding road that descends into an unspoiled valley sets the mood for the adventure to come.

Here, couples can get cozy in one of 34 suites—such intimacy—although we can’t think of a better choice for an idyllic honeymoon than The Amangiri Suite. It invites the stark beauty of the surroundings in—with its muted tones and clear blue skies—and offers cozy spaces such as a private swimming pool in a private walled courtyard, and a private sky terrace atop the suite with a large day bed for lounging during the day or stargazing by night. Of course, even newlyweds shouldn’t spend all day in their suites and for that this Aman property offers a trove of activities, such as on-property hiking on trails that lead to picturesque viewpoints, including via ferrate (iron road) climbing routes that incorporate a series of fixed cables and ladder rungs. Okay, maybe that’s a little too much of an adrenaline rush, so for those seeking more sedate excursions there is horseback riding, balloon flights, fly-fishing, off-road slot canyon tours, scenic aerial flights and a host of tours to nearby national parks, including the granddaddy of them all, the Grand Canyon.

And one can’t possibly write up an Aman piece without mentioning the renowned Aman Spa, which in this particular destination reflects the healing traditions of the Navajo people. Indulging in one of the four 2.5-hour Spa Journeys is a no brainer for us, because really, what newlywed doesn’t want to get the ultimate in pampering.

Rates for The Amangiri Suite are $7,500 per night dbl from June 15, 2013 to June 14, 2014 and include complimentary airport transfers from Page Municipal Airport, daily guided group hikes, daily morning group yoga classes, daily afternoon group mat-based strength and stretch classes, and access to facilities at the fitness and water pavilions.

Okay, not all your honeymooning clients will say “I do” to a top-end suite. For those couples, the Desert View Suite starts at $1,100 per night dbl.

(877) 695-3999 or amanresorts.com

Intimate hot tub moment at Calistoga Ranch

shangri-la hotel, toronto

Subtlety is key at the newly opened (September 2012) Shangri-La Hotel, Toronto. Here, polished woods, Asian decor and exquisite architectural touches mingle with the city’s natural light that not simply seeps in through the floor-to-ceiling windows, but is wholly welcomed in to tap dance over the airy spaces. Occupying the first 17 floors of a 66-story glass structure, the hotel offers 202 guestrooms and suites, averaging about 525 sq. ft., and top-of-the-line onsite amenities such as its signature restaurant, Bosk, which offers one of Toronto’s most extensive wine lists, including rare vintages. Tell couples to take a moment from the whirlwind honeymoon getaway to indulge in the Miraj Hamman Spa by Caudalie Paris with nine treatment rooms and where French vinotherapy is the order of the day.

“We are a quiet (calm, secluded…) respite from the outside world. And outside our doors, the intrepid couple will find a
modern, vibrant, culturally rich city,” says Alex Filiatrault, the hotel’s director of sales and marketing.

Speaking of respite, the married couple will find plenty of it in their guestrooms that offer a residential feel and spectacular views of Canada’s largest metropolis. Do recommend clients book one of the nine guestrooms that feature private outdoor terraces, although the hotel’s specialty and signature suites (Owner’s Suite and the Shangri-La Suite)—think masterpieces in interior design—are the way to go for couples looking for a true “Shangri-la” getaway.

Couples want to play outside these Asian-influenced walls? Well, nearby is the city’s lively theater district, the Art Gallery of Ontario, and a vibrant waterfront neighborhood dotted with boutiques and cafes. Best part? The concierge desk offers the option of hotel cars that can whisk enamored couples away to a day or night on the town.

The hotel’s Honeymoon package includes 1-night accommodation in a Deluxe room; upgrade to a suite upon availability at time of reservation; daily chef’s signature breakfast for up to two guests, served in room or at Bosk; personalized VIP welcome with flowers and fruit basket; bottle of champagne upon arrival, strawberries, and a box of macaroons; car service from/to airport or free valet parking. Valid through Dec. 22. Rates start at $751 Canadian dollars (approximately US$743).

(866) 565-5050 or shangri-la.com

Poolside at Amangiri in Utah

calistoga ranch, an auberge resort, california

Is seclusion a must in your honeymoon couple’s bucket list? Send them to California’s Upper Napa Valley, where there’s a ranch-style property located in a secluded valley and far removed from the bustle of Napa (about a 1.5-hour drive from San Francisco). It’s the Calistoga Ranch, An Auberge Resort, laid out over 157 acres and designed with the feel of a vintner’s sprawling estate.

“Calistoga Ranch is the perfect spot for an intimate and private honeymoon escape due to the resort’s secluded location,” says Mike Moran, director of sales and marketing. “Each lodge is thoughtfully positioned around the existing natural landscape with private views and sexy outdoor showers. From dinner at The Lakehouse and spa treatments at The Bathhouse (for guests only), to wine blending experiences in our cozy Wine Cave and nature hikes on the resort’s private trails, every couple leaves here feeling reconnected to both each other and nature.”

In fact, couples will luxuriate in whichever lodge they choose, as each of the 48 cedar-shingled guest lodges are comprised of a series of free-standing rooms connected by decks, trellised walkways and expansive outdoor living areas—all completely embraced by the tree canopy. Each accommodation is breathtaking, but if we had to take our pick for the ultimate honeymoon escape, we’d go for either the Bay Forest Lodge with Spa or the Oak Creek Lodge with Spa, each with its own private hot tub.

And The Bathhouse spa that Moran mentions is heavenly even if just for its location along the banks of the spring-fed Lake Lommel. Do book the creek-side spa pavilions, which were unveiled earlier this year. As for that Wine Cave, well newlyweds can participate in wine tastings in this cave that’s carved deep into the hillside and features stone walls and iron chandeliers.

But it’s best to actually get outside during the daylight hours and explore the surroundings. There are scenic tours in glider planes, ziplining, driving a formula 3 car or race kart, bicycle tours, and hunting or fishing excursions. It’s the great outdoors, and Calistoga has it in spades.

Rates for the Bay Forest Lodge with Spa and the Oak Creek Lodge with Spa start at $1,375 from Sept. 1 to Nov. 15, 2013. Couples don’t need a jacuzzi to close the deal? Opt for the less-pricey Deluxe Lodge with rates starting at $875.

(855) 942-4220 or calistogaranch.com

Press Lounge at Ink48 in New York City

spice it up at NY’s Ink48

The 222-room, very LGBT-friendly Ink48, a Kimpton Hotel, located in Hell’s Kitchen in New York City, pays homage to its printing house past—it was originally built around 1930 as a printing house—with the Press Lounge, the Print Restaurant, and three meeting rooms called Garamond, Courier and Helvetica. Adding to that fun vibe the hotel has launched a Heat Meter Amenities program that is divided into three options: Low Heat; Medium Heat; and High Heat. If couples want to spice it up just a little bit, they can opt for the Low Heat and take a trip to the Museum of Sex complemented by an en-suite aphrodisiac-filled basket (2-night accommodations for $399 per night), or if they want to turn the heat up real high, they can opt for the High Heat package for $899 per night that includes a sultry photo shoot in a nearby photo studio, as well as steamy welcome amenities including red wine, chocolates and two disposable cameras, and even the option of an en-suite photo shoot.

All Kimpton hotels, incidentally, go the extra mile in assisting the LGBT community with celebrating marriages, commitment ceremonies and anniversaries (kimptonhotels.com/services/lgbt-meetings-events.aspx).

(877) 843-8869 or ink48.com

WHAT TRAVEL AGENTS ARE SAYING…

We spoke with Lynn Ciccarelli of Bella Vacations, a Virtuoso agent voted as “25 Best Travel Agents 2010,” who says the top three reasons people are staying in the United States for a honeymoon is because: the cost of air to Europe is out of a lot of people’s reach; there is no passport involved; and couples are getting married later in life, so they are spending money on a house and spending less on the honeymoon.

She insists that although most couples want to go abroad for their honeymoon, “there are some great values here in the United States; some great destinations and some great hotel choices.”

Take for instance the Amangiri in Utah, which, Ciccarelli says, is ideal for active couples, “which many of the honeymooners marrying in their 20s and 30s tend to be, and then again, they want a great spa, so I think this is a great honeymoon spot. And they also, which really touches on the spirituality of the place, do Pilates and yoga, so to me this is a great off-the-wall idea.”

However, before even selecting the ideal place for a couple’s honeymoon, Ciccarelli has a strategy that she does not falter from. “For any destination I select with a couple, I insist that both the bride and the groom make their own separate list of what they are looking for in their honeymoon. I say separately because I find that the groom has a tendency to say to me, ‘Whatever she wants to do is fine,’ so I insist that each do it independently. They come back to me with their list and it’s always based on the likes and dislikes of both, and once you get the combination, then you can put together and create something for them that they’ll both enjoy.” Point is, she says, you want to make them both happy, not just accommodate the bride.

Archived related articles (available on recommend.com/magazine/issue-archive):
Honeymoons that Stir the Soul (June 2012)