The origin of the word "honeymoon" has been clouded by the fog of passing time. One theory holds that centuries ago newlyweds customarily and lovingly drank mead, a powerful potion made from honey, for one month -- the cycle of the moon. A less romantic idea is that married love was considered as sweet as honey for about a month, then waned like the moon. In any event, couples who take exotic honeymoons should find that not only are the days sweet, but also their travels are more enjoyable than sitting around drinking mead. Here are some examples:
In Playa del Carmen, Mexico, the Hotel la Tortuga, located in the Riviera Maya, is featuring a six-night package for $329 a person. Included are accommodations in a junior suite with Jacuzzi, airport transfers, daily American breakfast, beach club access, beach towels, two simultaneous massages, use of the day spa for one hour, two entrance tickets for the Xel-Ha snorkel paradise, a discount card for Cozy Hotels & Villas properties (with savings up to 25 percent at selected shops and restaurants), candles, rose petals, and a bottle of wine upon arrival.
(The fine print: A 12 percent tax is not included. The package is valid from May 20 to June 30 and is subject to availability.)
Call 800-822-3274 or visit www.cozyhotelsandvillas.com.
Australia is a wonderful place to start a marriage, long flight and jet lag notwithstanding. Packages include round-trip air fare from Los Angeles and feature 10 nights in Sydney and Hamilton Island, starting at $3,199 per person; 11 nights including Sydney, the Blue Mountains, Hunter Valley, Cairns, the Daintree Rain Forest, and the Great Barrier Reef, beginning at $3,999; and Australia's Ultimate Honeymoon, a 13-night luxury package at the Hayman Island resort, the Daintree's Silky Oaks Lodge, and the W Hotel Sydney, with activities including sailing, wine tasting, and a bridge climb, starting at $6,499.
Go to www.australia.com/romance or call 800-350-8952. The website also has a sweepstakes for a free honeymoon.
An offering from the Blue Horizons Cottage Hotel in Grenada combines the popularity of Caribbean honeymoons with the appeal of adventure travel. The Discover Our Romance Honeymoon Package includes a deluxe one-bedroom suite, a welcome drink, daily American breakfast, one dinner for two at a top restaurant, a romance adventure tour along the southeast coast of the island, snorkeling, Hobie cat sailing, kayaking, and a honeymoon kit with Grenadian love tea, cinnamon body oil, honeymoon rum, a clove dream pillow, and nutmeg. Prices begin at $612 a person, with service charges and government tax included. The package is available through Dec. 15.
Call 800-223-9815 or visit www.grenadabluehorizons.com.
Also in the Caribbean, the Bolongo Bay Beach Club in St. Thomas has a seven-night offering bearing the unwieldy title of Club Everything Semi-Inclusive Romance Honeymoon Package, but featuring $300 in tours and attractions. The lovers get beachfront accommodations with a private balcony; a bottle of champagne; an all-day sail and outing to Honeymoon Beach on St. John aboard the resort's 53-foot catamaran, with lunch and open bar; an island tour of St. Thomas; admission to Coral World, an underwater observatory and aquarium; tickets for the Paradise Point Tramway cable car, for views of Charlotte Amalie and its harbor; a sunset cocktail cruise around Charlotte Amalie Harbor; one half-hour massage for each person; full breakfast daily; one candlelight, three-course dinner with wine; a $50 credit at the gift shop; one scuba lesson per person; complimentary use of sunfish sailboats, paddle boats, snorkel gear, swim mats, windsurfing equipment, and kayaks, with instruction; beach volleyball, tennis and basketball; and tax and service charges. The price is $1,895 per couple through Aug. 31; $1,734 per couple, Sept. 1-Oct. 31; $1,895 Nov. 1-Dec. 22; and $2,298 per couple, Dec. 23 -- April 10.
Call 800-524-4746 or visit www.bolongobay.com.
With same-sex marriage becoming a reality in Massachusetts tomorrow, Boston's Nine Zero Hotel is featuring a Freedom to Marry Honeymoon Package. Included are overnight accommodations in what the Nine Zero calls a Spectacular Room (for its views of downtown), rose petal and candle turndown service, and champagne and chocolate-covered strawberries.
The package is offered through May 31, starting at $349 per room per night, based on availability.
Call 617-772-5800 or visit www.ninezerohotel.com and use the code "freedom."
Then there's the lovely land of aloha. On the Big Island of Hawaii, romance will surely smolder when you stay near Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. The Chalet Kilauea Collection's romance package ranges from $139 to $399 a night and includes accommodations in the native ohia (a flowering tree) and hapu'u fern forest, a bottle of champagne, and a welcome basket.
Visit www.volcano-hawaii.com or call 800-937-7786.
Tahiti certainly says "honeymoon," no? A weeklong cruise aboard the yachtlike 148-passenger Windstar begins and ends in the capital of Papeete and visits destinations such as Raiatea, Huahine, Bora Bora, and Moorea, with extended overnight visits in Bora Bora and Moorea. Nine-night packages begin at $2,699 a person and include air fare from Los Angeles, the seven-night cruise plus a night in a Papeete hotel before and after the sailing, airport, hotel, and dock transfers, and hotel, government, and cruise taxes and port charges. Not included are airport departure taxes and surcharges of about $90.
Visit www.go-today.com or call 425-487-9632. You pay $20 more for trips booked over the phone.
The last thing honeymooners want is too much company, so if they have $6,000 or more, they can stay at the private island of Cayo Esperanto, Belize. The couples stay five nights in luxury accommodations and get a personal houseman, three meals a day, all snacks and drinks excluding champagne, wine, and cordials, use of nonmotorized water sports equipment, a complimentary bottle of champagne, one massage per person, and one snorkel or scuba trip. Prices are $5,995, including tax and service, for a bungalow; $8,500-$12,000 for a villa.
Call 888-666-4282 or visit www.aprivateisland.com.
Early booking bonus Cruise Lines International Association says cruisegoers begin planning trips earlier than other vacationers. Accordingly, Expedia.com has launched a Cruise Spectacular on fall sailings booked by June 7. Along with discounts, perks range from free tips to free massages, and Expedia will cut up to $200 more off for those who book an ocean view cabin or better on sailings departing Oct. 1-Dec. 31.
Visit www.expedia.com and click on Cruise Sale.
Nickel and dimed no more Hotel minibar prices have been outrageous at best, so it is refreshing to hear that the Wyndham chain has reduced them. Items that were, for example, $2 or $3 now cost about half that. Coke and other sodas are now $1.50 per can, and candy bars $1.25 -- still more than you would pay if you walked to a convenience store. The price cuts include free local and long distance telephone calls, high-speed Internet access, and copies and faxes for Wyndham by Request members.
To join Wyndham by Request, at no charge, visit www.wyndham.com.
Off to the drive-in The Fitch House, an 1836 Greek Revival mansion in Mansfield Center, Conn., has a package for $265 a couple, available June 1-Aug. 15, that includes a night's accommodations, a 1950s-style dinner (whatever that may be) at a nearby restaurant, two passes to the Mansfield Drive-in, a gourmet breakfast in the solarium, and all taxes and tips.
(The fine print: The weekends of Father's Day and July 4 are excluded.)
Call 860-456-0922 or, for more information, visit www.fitchhouse.com.