Honeymoon Paradise for Less (You MUST See the Perks!)
Real talk from a bride-to-be: Never did I fully comprehend the huge buildup and subsequent letdown of sketching out a honeymoon plan until I got engaged. Years ago, before even I met my fiancé, I naturally assumed that the grown-up me would go on a romantic, Ulysses-esque epic honeymoon journey. Maybe we'd see the Acropolis in Athens, swing through the Piedmont region of Italy to sample Barolos, stop in French Polynesia to admire exotic birds from an overwater bungalow, take the train to the South of France for aromatherapy in fields of lavender, taste street food in Thailand, and then spend a night or two in L.A. in a hotel with a full view of the Hollywood sign en route home to New York... I'm exaggerating, but you get the idea. I was gonna go big.
Now close your eyes and imagine the sound of a record needle screeching and young dreams shattering, because that's what happened when I entered the preliminary figures for my wedding budget into an Excel spreadsheet. That initial lump sum of money that would have been perfect for embarking on a mini 'round-the-world excursion quickly got chopped in half, and then in half again, and then in half again due to the cost of having to actually get married and hold a reception. Whatever amount is left over is fair game, but waving buh-bye to all of that cash is, ironically, heartbreaking. To all the brave couples who eloped; created a honeymoon registry on a site like Honeyfund, Zola, or Blueprint Registry; or threw a modest wedding in order to spend on a massive trip later, you have my utmost respect...and envy.
Like many of you who are mapping out a post-wedding escape, I'm going to have to cut honeymoon costs where I can once we nail down a destination. But if there's one thing I believe, it's that Budget Travelers shouldn't have to sacrifice the perks they fantasize about in order to vacation within their means. In that spirit, we found six affordable honeymoon resorts and hot spots that not only welcome newly married couples, but offer a slew of free extras—we're talking complimentary bubbly, on-the-house farm-to-table meals, and free activities like nighttime concerts. Because when you're looking to take a breather from wedding madness and get to know your partner better, those little add-ons are priceless...or so I've heard.
Negril, Jamaica: Sunset at the Palms
Prepare for Romance with a capital "R" at the all-inclusive, adults-only Sunset at the Palms resort, which consistently gets high marks from travelers for its romance quotient and intimate, tropical atmosphere (think 10 acres of lush gardens and rustic, elevated treehouse-style bungalows with Asian-inspired decor).
Cost: From $226 per couple, per night, all-inclusive
Perks for lovers: Stay five nights or more and get a free bottle of champagne and 15 percent off spa services. (Mention the Free Honeymoon Package.) An upgrade to the Romance at Sunset package that includes a massage and four-course dinner is available at an extra cost, but if you're trying to work within your budget (and who isn't), the Sunset chain offers a honeymoon registry through Honeymoon Wishes so your guests can gift you everything from safaris to indulgent spa services like milk-and-honey body wraps. There is, however, a service and handling fee of up to 9.65 percent that you and the gift purchaser are responsible for, so if that bugs you, you might be better off asking for cash-stuffed envelopes instead.
Walla Walla, Washington: Marcus Whitman Hotel
How does a no-cost glass of wine or two sound after all that anticipated wedding hooplah? If your answer is "oustanding," consider Washington's wine country, says Dr. Pepper Schwartz, author of Places for Passion. The Marcus Whitman Hotel downtown can serve as home base. "There are numerous wine tasting places within a few blocks, many of which will not charge for the chance to sample their wines," she says.
Cost: From $125 per couple, per night
Perks for lovers: The Marcus Whitman has a free hot breakfast, and complimentary wine from surrounding tasting rooms is plentiful, even on non-"barrel" weekends, when winemakers show off their new vintages and dole out samples. Check out the Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance's website for more information.
Nassau, Bahamas: Breezes Resort & Spa
Who wants a free wedding? "Super-inclusive," no-tipping-allowed Breezes Resort & Spa on Nassau's Cable Beach offers a complimentary Endless Love package that provides a wedding planner, cake, officiant, marriage license, bouquet/boutonniere, champagne, music and festive decor, and four guest passes. Also available gratis upon request: a sand ceremony, jumping the broom, and a unity candle lighting. Aside from weddings, the 391-room resort has a restaurant equipped with loveseat-style tables for two in their Garden of Eden restaurant and a rule that all resort guests must be 14 years or older.
Cost: $200 per person, per night, all-inclusive (check the resort's deals page for discounts)
Perks for lovers: Did we mention the free wedding? Even if you're getting hitched somewhere else, all honeymooners get in-room fresh fruit and sparkling wine.
Marfa, Texas: El Cosmico hotel and campground
Earthy couples, if all you want after you tie the knot is calm and reconnection in a hip, artsy, pared-down atmosphere, El Cosmico "nomadic hotel and campground" in the Texas desert is for you. Pick a tepee, yurt, trailer, or tent to sleep in—but know that this isn't your grandpa's campsite. You're welcome to go spartan with an $85-per-night tent and use the communal kitchen and bathhouse, but even the top-end restored vintage Imperial Mansion trailer is affordable at $170 a night, and it comes with its own full kitchen, bath, heat/AC, and private cedar deck, with two Acapulco chairs for gazing out on the West Texas evening together.
Cost: From $85 per couple, per night
Perks for lovers: Quiet hours start at 11 p.m. every night. Free outdoor concerts called Sunset Soundtracks occur under the stars at regular intervals, as do reasonably priced classes like craft-spirit-making sessions. When evening rolls around, rent a wood-fired hot tub for four hours for $85—the hotel will stoke the fires for you (don't worry, that's not a euphemism).
Punta Cana, Dominican Republic: Barceló Bávaro Beach
If a veritable king and queen's banquet of honeymoon perks at a value rate appeals to you and your new spouse, Punta Cana, in the Dominican Republic, offers nice extras for cheap, says Susan Breslow, honeymoons expert at About.com. One example: the adults-only, all-inclusive resort Barceló Bávaro Beach, a 589-room behemoth with nine à la carte restaurants perfect for having romantic dinners sans the buffet-table lines.
Cost: From $168 per person, per night, all-inclusive
Perks for lovers: Barceló's In Love package is completely free. Here's what you get: a room upgrade, late check-out, a bottle of sparkling wine delivered to the room, honeymooners' T-shirts (because why not?), a 15 percent discount on spa services, a 10 percent discount on tours with Vacaciones Barceló, and a printed picture from the photo shop.
Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania: Glasbern Inn
R&R is inescapable at the Glasbern Inn, a country retreat that offers elopement packages (larger, full wedding packages are available too). As honeymoon accommodations go, relationships expert Schwartz says the half-timbered rooms, fireplaces, and beautiful grounds are darn near unbeatable, especially in the wintertime.
Cost: From $150 per couple, per night
Perks for lovers: A full country breakfast for two is included, as are free farm walking trails for private strolls. Even one of the least expensive Main Barn rooms has a whirlpool and a separate private sun room.
Do you have any honeymoon-planning advice for me? I need all the help I can get! Tell me your best advice in the comments.
10 Great Movies Set in Miami
This article was written by Mike Richard on behalf of Viator.com. The warm weather, beautiful beaches, and over-the-top luxury of Miami have made it the ideal location for a number of Hollywood films. From the gritty, gangster drama of Scarface, to the hilarious humor of The Birdcage, to the non-stop action of Miami Vice, here are ten of the greatest movies ever set in Miami, Florida. #1: Ace Ventura Pet Detective (1994) To call Ace Ventura a “great” movie is more than a stretch. But what other movie starred Dan Marino, a stolen dolphin, and Jim Carrey in his film debut? By those standards, it’s certainly unforgettable. The film included an array of key Miami locations, including Miami Beach, Virginia Key, Joe Robbie Stadium (now Sun Life Stadium), and the Orange Bowl. #2: Caddyshack (1980) After more than thirty years, Caddyshack is still the yardstick by which all male-centric comedies are measured. With heavy-hitting comic all-stars Rodney Dangerfield, Chevy Chase, and Bill Murray, all directed by the legendary Harold Ramis, it’s no doubt the greatest golf comedy of all time. Most of the film was shot just outside Miami at the Rolling Hills Golf & Tennis Club in Davie and the Boca Raton Hotel & Country Club. But the climax scene where Dangerfield ravages a marina with his yacht was filmed on Biscayne Bay. #3: Marley and Me (2008) This film is arguably the saddest pet movie in recent memory. Starring Jennifer Aniston and Owen Wilson, Marley and Me follows their trials and tribulations as new pet owners. The not-at-all surprise ending stays true to John Grogan’s book, ultimately forcing viewers to question why they subjected themselves to such heartbreak. The film uses a variety of Florida locations, including West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Hollywood, Miami, and Dolphin Stadium. #4: The Birdcage (1996) In one of Robin Williams’ and Nathan Lane’s funniest films ever, they play a gay night club owner and drag queen, respectively. When their son’s new and very conservative in-laws plan to come to town, they’re forced to act the part of a heterosexual couple and hilarity ensues. The film was shot almost entirely in key locations around Miami, including the historic Art Deco District, Miami Beach, and The Carlyle Hotel. #5: There’s Something About Mary (1998) The Farrelly brothers brought their trademark, low-brow grossness to Miami in There’s Something About Mary. Ben Stiller stars as a lovable geek who fails to take his dream girl, played by Cameron Diaz, to the high school prom. With the help of a moronic private investigator, he attempts to track her down years later and things go horribly awry. While some of the movie was filmed in the Farrelly’s hometown of Rhode Island, the majority of it was shot in and around Miami. #6: Scarface (1983) In one of his best roles—if you can overlook the horrible accent and over-the-top Cuban stereotyping—Al Pacino stars as a Cuban-American who comes to America in search of opportunity. Scarface chronicles his sharp rise and dramatic fall in one of the greatest classic gangster movies of all time. Few films have so deftly captured the drug-fueled excesses of 1980s Florida. Large portions of the film were shot in Miami Beach, at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach Hotel, and around South Beach. #7: Any Given Sunday (1999) In yet another pivotal role for Pacino, he stars as Coach D’Amato of the Miami Sharks football team. The film chronicles his reaction to several years of slumping attendance, a losing streak, and pressure from the team’s new owner (played by Cameron Diaz). It’s one of Oliver Stone’s most inspiring films, even for non-football fans. #8: Porky’s (1982) Perhaps no film was as crucial to the evolution of low-brow, misogynistic, on-screen toilet humor as Porky’s. It set the stage for every similar movie to follow, including Dazed and Confused and the American Pie series. The entire movie was shot at Miami area schools, with the infamous “shower scene” reported to have been taped at Miami High School. #9: Analyze This (1999) Robert De Niro cut his comedic teeth in this 1999 classic, alongside comedy icon Billy Crystal. When the two get into a car crash, they develop a strange and strained friendship that requires Crystal’s psychiatrist character to work out the demons of De Niro’s Mafioso character. Several scenes were shot in Miami, with the wedding in particular taking place at the uber-luxurious St Regis Bal Harbour Resort. #10: Miami Vice (2006) It’s no surprise the big screen adaptation of the Miami Vice hit television series had to take place in Miami. It stars Colin Farrell and Jamie Foxx as Crockett and Tubbs respectively—two Miami police detectives who find themselves deeply embroiled in a case involving murder and ruthless South Florida drug lords. Film buffs looking to tour Miami’s most popular filming locations should check out the Miami Movie and TV Sites Tour, a 2.5-hour guided coach tour takes visitors on a narrated drive to see many of the locations used in Dexter, Miami Vice, 2 Fast 2 Furious, Scarface, and more. See all that Miami has to offer with these tours from Viator.
Ice Trekking on the Viedma Glacier
This article was written by Will Collier on behalf of Say Hueque, a company specializing in tours to Argentina and Chile. You may have heard of Argentina's famous Perito Moreno Glacier, but did you know that it's not the biggest glacier in the country? While Perito Moreno may be the most popular among tourists, the largest in Argentina is actually the Viedma glacier. Located in the Los Glaciares National Park, the Viedma glacier has a total area of 380 square miles and flows directly from the South Patagonic Ice Field, eventually feeding the Viedma Lake with its runoff. Much like Perito Moreno, there are a number of ways to view the enormous ice formation, the most interactive: trekking on the glacier itself. Just outside the town of El Chaltén, known throughout the country as the trekking capital of Argentina, the Viedma glacier is largely unknown in comparison to Perito Moreno. Despite being the largest glacier in the country, Viedma remained relatively hidden until recent years when the town of El Chaltén was established. With the creation of El Chaltén came wider access to Viedma, although the more established town of El Calafate, with its close proximity to Perito Moreno, still remains much more popular among visitors to Patagonia. For this reason, those interested in glacier trekking have a unique opportunity to get up close and experience Viedma with smaller crowds. There are three different excursions visitors can choose from, depending on the desired level of difficulty and length of time you're spending in the area. The shortest and least difficult is the six-hour Ice Trek Excursion, which is recommended for people in generally good physical condition. Also available is the Viedma Pro Excursion, which has lasts nine hours and is a popular option for beginners. The longest one is the Full Day Excursion, which lasts 12 hours and is recommended for people who are physically fit and agile. All three excursions include your trekking gear and are known for offering an extremely unique and intimate experience to their guests. If you're interested in glacier trekking and looking for a more intimate experience than what is currently available at the Perito Moreno glacier, trekking the Viedma glacier is a perfect alternative.
How to Eat Your Way Through Nova Scotia's Chowder Trail—Recipe Included!
Mmmmm...Chowder Trail. Pardon us as we go all Homer Simpson just thinking about Nova Scotia's 60-plus destinations where you can try fresh, hot Atlantic seafood chowder. Throw the kids in the backseat and drive along the 4,700 miles of the Atlantic Canada province's coastline, sampling soups as you go. Before you set out on the road, download a 2015 "chowder passport" from Nova Scotia's website (it's valid from May to October of this year), peruse the official Chowder Trail Map, then collect "stamps" as you try each chowder. That's fun all by itself, but you'll also have a chance to win swag like restaurant gift certificates and a seafood knife set. Here are some unique flavors we came across—each clocking in at about $5 to $10 a bowl—and where in Nova Scotia to get them, plus a sweet deal on a budget-friendly Nova Scotia inn where you'll want to rest up between bellyfuls: Hearty, inventive local chowders to taste-test in Nova Scotia: 1. Smoked seafood chowder, made with scallops, mussels, shrimp, and smoked haddock: Salt Shaker Deli, Lunenburg2. Bacon, corn, and prawn chowder: The Biscuit Eater Café & Books, Mahone Bay3. Chipotle mussel chowder: Old Orchard Inn, Wolfville4. Curry lobster chowder: Seasons by Atlantica, Halifax5. Haddock chowder: Trout Point Lodge, East Kemptville6. Cape Breton seafood chowder, made with haddock, scallops, lobster, bacon, and potatoes: Panorama at Cabot Links, Inverness Where to stay: From June 15–Sept. 15, Ye Old Argyler Lodge, an oceanfront B&B in Lower Argyle, will offer a Lobster Culinary Adventure for foodies who like to know exactly where their dinner (and breakfast) comes from. Chef Jonathan Joseph escorts guests to a nearby wharf to select their lobsters, prepared for a lobster supper for two (rooms from $145, lobster package $100, argyler.com). Hungry yet? Even if you weren't planning to visit the northeast (this year, anyway), you can have a taste of Nova Scotia by following this recipe from Rhubarb Restaurant in Indian Harbour: Root Vegetable Seafood Chowder Recipe Rhubarb Restaurant chef Jon Geneau buys his lobster at Ryer Lobsters, just down the road from Rhubarb. And the root vegetables aren't far away either. Ingredients: 6 quarts water2 tbsp salt1 lobster (about 1.5 lb)1 lb mussels1/3 cup butter1 cup diced Spanish onion1 carrot, cubed½ stalk celery, sliced1 cup cubed potato¼ cup cubed turnip¼ cup cubed parsnip4–6 oz smoked Atlantic salmon, thinly sliced½ lb haddock, cubed1 cup heavy cream (35 percent MF)2 tbsp lemon juiceSalt and pepper to taste½ cup chopped parsley Directions: 1. In a large pot, combine water and salt and bring to a boil. Cook lobster for 12 minutes. With tongs, remove the lobster and let cool enough to handle. Strain cooking liquid into bowl, setting aside 3 cups. Discarding the shells, remove lobster meat and break into bite-sized pieces. Set aside. 2. Under cold running water, scrub (and debeard if necessary) mussels, discarding any that are damaged or do not close when lightly tapped. Set aside. 3. In large saucepan over medium heat, melt butter; sauté onion until translucent, about 5 minutes. Do not let brown. Stir in carrot and celery; cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes. Stir in potato, turnip, and parsnip and reserved cooking liquid. Simmer until vegetables are tender. 4. Gently stir in salmon, haddock, lobster, and mussels. Cover and simmer until mussels have opened and fish flakes easily with a fork, about 5–6 minutes. Remove and discard any unopened mussels. Gently stir in cream and lemon juice. Cook until heated. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Sprinkle each serving with parsley. Serves: 4–6
Book These Romantic Getaways for Valentine's Day!
Boy, it's COLD here in New York! With Valentine's Day just around the corner, our minds are wandering to some of the coziest, quietest corners of the world, and our friends in the travel biz are not about to let us down. Here, some amazing deals to some of the most luxurious, romantic spots out there! Get All-Inclusive in Antigua!Elite Islands Resorts, AntiguaRelax on a perfect white-sand beach at one of the Elite Islands family of resorts in Antigua and you won't have to touch your wallet the entire stay! Food, booze, and watersports are included in one price. Now that's romantic! Rooms at the affordable Verandah hotel are going fast for Valentine's Day, but the $199 price tag is good through December if you book by February 28! Yes, You CAN Afford the Bahamas!North BiminiYou can have a Caribbean island experience without even taking an international flight! North Bimini is just three hours from Miami on a "SuperFast" boat, and was one of Ernest Hemingway's favorite getaways with his wife Pauline. Find the island's Love Tree-legend says it brings good luck to those who kiss beneath it. Bimini Big Game Club's rooms start at $185 per night-the resort is popular for beach weddings right on the sea. Snuggle by the Sea!Sea Crest Beach Hotel, Falmouth, MassachusettsIf you think Cape Cod is just for summer, well, you're in for a romantic surprise! A gorgeous oceanfront view from the window of your cozy room, private Old Silver Beach waiting for a quiet hand-in-hand stroll, and a candlelit dinner from one of New England's top chefs! The Sea Crest is offering a Valentine's Day package that includes a luxurious setting, fireplace rooms, unforgettable views, and the pleasure of each other's company in an unforgettable setting, from $199 per night. Fall Into a Bed of Rose Petals!Myrtle Beach, South CarolinaNothing is as romantic as an ocean view right from your room. This February, starting at $141 per night, five Myrtle Beach Seaside Resorts locations are offering a "Be Mine" two-night getaway package featuring oceanfront accommodations, champagne, chocolates, a Valentine's Day balloon bouquet, a romantic dinner, and rose-petal turndown service. If you choose the Avista Resort, you also get breakfast in bed. Say Ahhh... at a Spa!Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs Resort & Spa, New MexicoSpa treatments start at only $12 at Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs Resort & Spa, and rustic rooms with New Mexican furnishings start at $139 per night. Or camp under the stars for only $20 per day. Plus: The entire Springs and Spa area is a strictly enforced "Whisper Zone" so no one interrupts your relaxation time. You can also book a private outdoor pool with a fireplace for only $50 for the whole evening.