All loved up with some­where lux­u­ri­ous to go

The Sunday Telegraph - Travel - - Front Page -

There’s noth­ing like the thun­der­ing 21gun salute of a royal wed­ding to sig­nal the start of the sum­mer nup­tials sea­son. Prince Harry is set to marry Meghan Markle next Sat­ur­day in what is ex­pected to be a pe­onys­trewn pageant fea­tur­ing sil­ver­plated trum­pets and an el­der­flower wed­ding cake. But in a sur­prise move, Harry and Meghan will de­lay their hon­ey­moon un­til later in the year and re­turn to work within days of their wed­ding. They are in sync with a grow­ing trend: cou­ples are de­vot­ing a big­ger pro­por­tion of their wed­ding bud­get to their hon­ey­moon than ever be­fore. Af­ter the venue hire, the post-nup­tial hol­i­day now rep­re­sents the sec­ond-big­gest cost. De­lay­ing that blowout trip of a life­time by sev­eral months or even a year af­ter the wed­ding (and count­ing up those hon­ey­moon con­tri­bu­tion re­quests from wed­ding guests) makes sound fi­nan­cial sense. It also opens up a world of choice as cou­ples are then not tied to trav­el­ling in the sea­son in which they mar­ried.

Royal hon­ey­moons have be­come in­creas­ingly far-flung. The late Queen Mother hon­ey­mooned at her own home, Glamis Cas­tle in Scot­land, where she came down with whoop­ing cough. The Queen stalked deer at the Hamp­shire es­tate of Prince Philip’s un­cle, Lord Mount­bat­ten. Prince Charles and the late Diana, Princess of Wales, opted for a Mediter­ranean cruise on the Royal Yacht Bri­tan­nia.

But this was be­fore the age of the pri­vate is­land re­sort. Prince Wil­liam and Kate were the change-mak­ers, splurg­ing on a pri­vate atoll in the Sey­chelles where guests can watch tur­tles nest­ing on the beaches from their plunge pools. Pippa Mid­dle­ton fol­lowed suit, opt­ing for The Brando, a co­ral-neck­laced is­land cast adrift in the Pa­cific Ocean that once be­longed to Mar­lon Brando and of­fers every­thing from Poly­ne­sian dance classes to stand-up pad­dle­board­ing. And one won­ders where Princess Eu­ge­nie can hon­ey­moon af­ter stay­ing at Calala, the four-villa Nicaraguan cast­away is­land where she got en­gaged.

Will Meghan and Prince Harry do things dif­fer­ently? Their love for African sa­faris is well-known; they en­joyed their first of­fi­cial date in August 2016 at Meno a Kwena tented camp in Botswana, a hide­away in the Oka­vango Delta. Meghan’s en­gage­ment ring con­tains a di­a­mond sourced from the coun­try. The book­ies tip is Namibia, with its lonely desert land­scapes and abun­dant wildlife. But the guess­ing game is a lot more fun when you widen the net. From Africa’s most ex­clu­sive wilder­ness lodges to the world’s most lav­ish pri­vate is­lands, here’s our pick of the best hon­ey­moon ho­tels fit for roy­alty.

Sherelle Ja­cobs Warn­ing: cou­ples may be awo­ken in the mid­dle of the night by ele­phants slurp­ing from their plunge pool. Pay­ing at­ten­tion at din­ner is im­pos­si­ble, what with dis­trac­tions such as ze­bras graz­ing the flood­lit wa­ter­hole be­low. There are also no tele­vi­sions in the eight ex­clu­sive suites – in­stead full-length glass win­dows look out to the lodge’s round-the-clock wildlife chan­nel. If you can deal with such nui­sances (a big ask I know), you’ll be re­warded a stay at the most ex­clu­sive ad­dress in Chobe Na­tional Park, com­plete with four-poster beds and pri­vate pools.

Seven nights’ all-in­clu­sive from £4,389pp, through Africa Sky (01342 889469; afric­as­kysa­fari.com). Think flower-speck­led baths in tubs over­look­ing the ocean, sip­ping on baobab fruit smooth­ies by your villa’s pri­vate plunge pool or spot­ting tur­tles on the beaches. A pro­tected ma­rine re­serve splash­ing with dol­phins and sea man­a­tees sur­rounds this Robin­son Cru­soe-style is­land in north­ern Mozam­bique’s Quir­im­bas ar­chi­pel­ago. Guests can swim straight into the su­per-close house reef from the beach. The raised swim­ming pool looks out to sea and the spa treat­ments are in­dulged from the top of a cliff. Vil­las have show­ers with ocean views.

Seven nights’ all-in­clu­sive from £5,099pp, through Turqouise Hol­i­days (01494 678400; turquoise­hol­i­days.co.uk). The set­ting is a vast and des­o­late one: vast dunes and stark out­crops. The skies are so clear here that a res­i­dent as­tronomer of­fers nightly stargaz­ing ses­sions at an ob­ser­va­tory, and there are sky­lights over the beds. Cou­ples spend their days hav­ing can­dlelit pic­nics in the desert, dash­ing about on quad bikes or trac­ing an­cient rock paint­ings. Down time at the lodge typ­i­cally fol­lows – by the pool with wa­ter sourced from an un­der­ground spring, by the roar­ing in­door fire of one’s lodge, or on one’s pri­vate view­ing deck.

Four nights’ all-in­clu­sive from £2,850pp, through Mahla­tini Lux­ury Travel (028 9073 6050; mahla­tini.com).

Seven nights’ all-in­clu­sive from £16,263pp, through Kuoni (01306 747008; kuoni.co.uk). For those who pre­fer their hon­ey­moon suites with flak­ing, fres­coed Gothic arches and Ital­ian mar­ble bath tubs big enough for six. This me­dieval palazzo set on a rocky spur high above Ravello may have a com­mand­ing air, all mar­ble hall­ways and cathe­dralic ceil­ings, but it’s also fab­u­lously ro­man­tic, with its climb­ing rose gar­dens and in­fin­ity pool that ap­pears sus­pended in the clouds. Opt for one of the rooms with clifftop ter­races, per­fect for can­dlelit pri­vate din­ners, and don’t miss the cham­pagne and caviar break­fasts.

Seven nights’ B&B from £2,130pp, through Ci­talia (01293 831970; ci­talia.com).

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