Ten Honeymoon Destinations for 2013

ImageThere is no doubt that the rings, flowers, dress and reception are important parts of any wedding, however quite often it’s the honeymoon that packs the most memories for a newly married couple. Though honeymoons in Paris, Australia, and other exotic locations are fantastic options, there are many spectacular opportunities within North America. Here are ten honeymoon destinations that future brides and grooms may want to consider for their upcoming wedding.

 

  1. South Florida and the Keys– Whether it’s Miami’s South Beach, Sanibel Island, or the Florida Keys, the South Florida region is growing in popularity among newly marriedImage couples. Miami’s art deco feel, eclectic restaurants, and variety of clubs are perfect for those looking for 24/7 partying. Those couples looking for a little quieter week away may want to travel up the Gulf coast to Sanibel Island. Known for its sunsets, beaches, and shell collecting, Sanibel would be the answer for lazy days and romantic nights. And for those looking for a little bit of everything, maybe a honeymoon in Key West is in order. With its beaches along the Atlantic, bars next to bars next to bars along Duval Street, and a variety of water recreation and snorkeling, Key West is guaranteed to provide non-stop fun.
  2. Napa Valley– California’s wine country has started attracting honeymooners at an impressive pace over the past decade. Couples now have a large variety of accommodations to choose from. Hotels & spas offer guests luxury and pampering, while staying at a Bed & breakfast provide a simple, low key experience. Most stays offer wine tours through the Napa and Sonoma wine country, train rides through the valleys, and opportunities for hot air balloon rides over the miles of vineyards.
  3. Niagara Falls– Known as America’s first honeymoon destination, Niagara Falls still attracts newlyweds from all over the world. Though the U.S. side of Niagara Falls offers amazing views and impressive casinos, it’s a no-brainier to flash your passport at the  Imageborder and take in the fun and excitement of the Canadian side of the Falls. Clifton Hillhas a huge variety of attractions, restaurants and shopping. Several casinos line the parkway, with upscale restaurants and fun nightlife. And of course, don’t forget the falls.Rides on the Maid of the Mist will take visitors closer to the falls than they would ever thought you would be. Nightly light shows and weekly fireworks at the Falls also offer opportunities for spectacular memories.
  4. Hawaii– Choose an island, any island. Chances are wherever a couple chooses to stay when visiting the Hawaiian Islands they are in for a once in a lifetime experience. From the spectacular beaches to the wonderful nightlife, the choices of Hawaii are endless. One of the more popular experiences when visiting Hawaii is something called “Island Hopping”. Helicopter rides offer daily tours of the islands, while even an entire vacation can be designed to be spent a few days on each of the islands. Volcano tours, water sports, and snorkeling are just a few of the many things to do when visiting Hawaii.
  5. Cancun– Since the 1980s Cancun, Mexico’s popularity has seen a steady growth. With the creation of all-inclusive resorts, posh hotels and spas, and a variety of restaurants and entertainment, Cancun is quickly becoming a popular honeymoon destination. Temperatures throughout the year are warm in this tropical paradise, which makes it a popular destination any time of the year. Taking in the Mexican culture through guided tours is always recommended when visiting a location for the first time. Many local traditions would include visiting an actual bullfight held at Plaza deToros. Whether parasailing over the Gulf or lounging by the pools of your resort, sun and fun is in store when honeymooning in Cancun.
  6. Atlantis in the Bahamas– Located on Paradise Island, Nassau, Bahamas, the resort of Atlantis is truly remarkable. Quickly becoming one of the most popular locations forImage destination weddings and honeymoons, Atlantis has it all. With six different locations to choose from, eleven unique pools, a world-renown waterpark, brilliant beaches, spectacular restaurants, and a complimentary shuttle to all locations on the island, it’s no wonder that couples by the hundreds are selecting Atlantis as their honeymoon destination.
  7. Disney World– Since 1971 thousands of little girls have imagined getting married in the shadows of Cinderella’s Castle at Walt Disney World, Florida. Over the last twenty years Disney has made hundreds of those dreams come true. But not only has Disney made their destination wedding experience one of the most popular anywhere in the world, their honeymoon packages have seemingly grown exponentially. The resorts and spas found at Disney World are as unique as Goody and Mickey. The four amusement parks and two waterparks are full of fun and wonder, offering “Extended Magic Hours” to all Disney resort guests, which means getting into the parks earlier or staying later than those not staying on the grounds for better access to the rides and attractions. Not only do the parks and resorts have tremendous restaurants, the newly renovated Downtown Disney and Boardwalk areas also provide great dining, dancing, and shopping experiences.
  8. Cape Cod– For decades Cape Cod, Massachusetts has been a favorite summertime Imagechoice for honeymooners. Whether staying in the quaint eclectic town of Provincetown,the spectacular Ocean Edge Resort in Brewster, or venturing out to the islands of Martha’s Vineyard or Nantucket, the Cape Cod experience is filled with romance. Sightseeing from Hyannis to Edgartown, taking in the shops and eateries of the area, and enjoying the summer sun along the Atlantic will surely provide memories for years to come when visiting Cape Cod.
  9. New York City– What can be said about NYC, that hasn’t been said dozens of times before? From Broadway to Yankee Stadium, SoHo to the Upper East Side, or Times Square to Central Park, New York, New York has everything for a newlywed couple. Hotels, restaurants, and shopping are literally around every corner (and ‘on’ every corner for that matter). Getting around Gotham is easier than ever, with taxis, subways, and Multi-day “Hop On, Hop Off” tour passes. Whether a newly married couple is looking for a romantic carriage ride through Central Park, taking in a dinner cruise on the Hudson, or enjoying a stroll through  the Museum of Sex (appropriately referred to as the “MoSex”), the attractions of the Big Apple are endless. Shopping on Canal Street, having a draft at George Washington’s favorite hang out- Fraunces Tavern, or taking in a solemn moment at the 9/11 Memorial are just a few of the hundreds of things to do in the City That Never Sleeps.
  10. Cruises- If a couple wants to experience a variety of places, while indulging in endless food, drink, and entertainment, perhaps a cruise is what the Love Doctor has ordered.Image Departing from several ports along the Atlantic, Pacific, and Gulf coasts, cruises allow newlyweds to experience many different locations, for various lengths of stay, while sticking to their newlywed budget. Ports of call in the Atlantic include Bermuda, the Bahamas, and Caribbean. When cruising through the Gulf of Mexico, couples can enjoy stays in Key West, the Caribbean, and Cancun. Pacific cruises can head north to Alaska, or south to Acapulco and Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.

We would love to hear from you, or readers, and have you tell us what you think of our Top Ten, and locations that you would add to the list. Drop us a line from our website or follow us on Twitter: @EdFayette, and attach pictures from your honeymoon.

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5 things to do at Downtown Disney, Florida

Most visitors to Walt Disney World feel that they must take in the four theme parks when vacationing in Central Florida’s wonderland. However, for a change of pace and a wide variety of food and fun, Downtown Disney is a place that must be visited. Divided into three sections, DD has fun for every member of the family. The Marketplace, Pleasure Island, and West End are packed with dining, entertainment, and shopping galore.

To make your visit a little more organized, here are five things that you must do when visiting Downtown Disney.

1- Earl of Sandwich. Start your day with lunch at this gourmet sandwich and salad shop. From the Earl Club to the Hawaiian BBQ, their sandwiches are made to order on fantastic artisan breads. Eat in or enjoy the Florida warmth outside, Earl of Sandwich is perhaps the best meal you can get for the money. At $5.99 for a good-sized sandwich, lunch at Disney doesn’t get much better.

2- Characters in Flight. New to Downtown Disney in 2009-’10, this giant tethered balloon rises nearly 400-feet above  the DD area, giving visitors a panoramic view of the surroundings. Priced at $18 for adults and $12 for kids, this 10-minute balloon ride is sure to create Disney memories.

3- Ghirardelli Ice Cream & Chocolate Shop. Located in Downtown Disney’s Marketplace, Ghirardelli offers up tasty chocolate samples, gift bags of their confections, and out-of-this-world ice cream sundaes. C’mon, live a little! Let yourself splurge on a Ghirardelli hot fudge sundae that will make all other sundaes seem like just another bowl of ice cream.

4- LaNouba by Cirque de Soleil. This acrobatic, theatrical experience has been wowing crowds for over a decade at Downtown Disney’s West End. A mixture of strength and grace, LaNouba has performers from all over the world creating mesmerizing stunts and dance from hanging wires and trampolines. Nearly sold to capacity every night of the year, reservations are advised before you make your trip to Walt Disney World.

5- Paradiso 37. Having just opened in 2010 in the newly renovated Pleasure Island area of Downtown Disney, Paradiso 37 is a trendy restaurant/bar serving up some fantastic North and South American fare. Whether you decide to dine in or along DD’s waterfront, you will undoubtedly experience Paradiso 37’s cool vibe. A favorite beverage of many patrons (and me) to P37 is something the bartenders like to call a “Mangled Margarita”. Now I don’t know exactly what is contained in this magical drink, but after a couple you will be ready to take on Peter Pan, Captain Hook, and Tinkerbell all in one swoop.

Don’t think that the previously mentioned are the only places worth visiting at Downtown Disney. From its 24-theater AMC movieplex and Gloria Estefan’s Cuban-flare restaurant, Bongo’s, to Planet Hollywood and The World of Disney megastore, DD could easily be a daily stop during your Disney World vacation.

Saratoga of the South

Have you ever been to Saratoga in the winter? And while there, have you enjoyed 80 degree temperatures while swimming or walking around in shorts and sandals? Well no, not if you’re talking about Saratoga, NY. However, if you’ve been to the Disney Vacation Club’s Saratoga Resort & Spa at Walt Disney World, Florida you know what I’m talking about.

I love being a member of the Disney Vacation Club (http://dvc.disney.go.com/), with the Saratoga Resort & Spa as my home resort. Situated within a five-minute walk of Downtown Disney, this Victorian-style resort sprawls out over what used to be the Disney Institute, and meanders through the championship 18-hole Lake Buena Vista Golf Club. Complete with a 5-star spa and fitness center, four pools, two restaurants, and a general store, the Saratoga Resort & Spa takes visitors back to the bygone days of old Saratoga.

With its studio, one-, two-, and three-bedroom villas, the Saratoga Resort & Spa engulfs its guests in old-world elegance and charm, while pampering them all the modern amenities one expects when on vacation. Two years ago my family and I stayed in a two-bedroom villa for a week. During our stay we started each day with breakfast in our full-sized kitchen, complete with stainless steel appliances, cooking utensils, plates, silverware, and granite slab countertops. We cooked our breakfast with the food we pre-ordered prior to arriving at the Saratoga Resort & Spa. The eggs, muffins, orange juice, etc. were fairly priced and brand-name quality. The beauty was that our refrigerator and cupboards were stocked with what we had ordered when we arrived. This meant one less hassle to worry about, and more time to enjoy at the parks. The bedrooms came with a king-size bed in the master and two queen-size beds in the other, along with two full-size bathrooms. The master bath also had a Jacuzzi tub. Our greatroom area was spacious enough to comfortably have dining room table in one section, as well as a sofa and a couple of chairs in the remaining space. Off the greatroom was a large balcony with a couple chairs and a table that overlooked the well-manicured grounds of the Saratoga Resort & Spa.

And just recently my wife and I enjoyed five days at The Saratoga in a deluxe studio villa. Though it didn’t have a complete kitchen, it did have a microwave and refrigerator in the small kitchenette area. But for just the two of us, that worked out just fine.

Getting around the Disney World resort is always easy. From the time you land at the Orlando International airport until the day you depart to head home, Disney transportation is seemingly at your disposal. From the airport (MCO) we boarded the Disney Express that took us directly to the Saratoga Resort & Spa. Now check this out, by signing up for the Disney Express (free to all Disney resort guests), not only did I get free transportation to and from the airport, but they also got my bags from the airline and delivered them to my room! Let’s see, I don’t have to rent a car, I don’t have to wait for my bags, and I don’t have to shop for groceries… Yep, I’m on vacation!

Once settled in, the Disney transportation system would basically take me to wherever I wanted to go. My family and I simply walked our of our room to one of the many bus stops, and waited no more than 5-10 minutes for the bus we needed. The air conditioned buses are always clean and comfortable. Only at night are they crowded, as park-goers scramble back to their rooms after a long day at the various Disney parks.

The Saratoga Resort & Spa has one large pool in the common area, complete with water slide and pool-side bar. There are several other pools situated throughout the resort that may be closer to your actual room. Many also come with full-size outdoor hottubs too. The larger pool area is also home to the On The Rocks pool bar, to help quench any thirst you may have. Dining at the Saratoga Resort & Spa is fantastic. The Artist’s Palette and Turf Club Bar & Grill offer guests a wide variety of lunch and dinner options. The Turf Club has one of the most unique presentations of Chicken Caesar salad that you’ll ever see. Of course, only being minutes from the Downtown Disney area, offers up even more dining options. I highly recommend the newly opened Paradiso 37, and their mangled margaritas, while The Earl of Sandwich is always good and perhaps the best value found anywhere at Disney.

Guests to the Saratoga Resort & Spa, as well as all other Disney resorts, are always able to enjoy Extra Magic Hours at the four Disney World parks. Extra Magic Hours are times at selected parks that resort guests can ride the rides and visit the attractions between one and three hours before or after the parks are available to the general public. And it is worth it? Imagine no lines for the newly refurbished Space Mountain, and you can ride it three times in a row at 7AM! Or how about no lines for Expedition Everest at the Animal Kingdom, and ride the spectacular roller coaster to your heart’s content at midnight! It’s all possible with Disney’s Extra Magic Hours.

Guests to the Saratoga Resort & Spa will experience the luxuries of a world-class spa, arcade, fitness room, championship golf course, and general store. Add these bonuses to its serene setting, convenient location to Downtown Disney, and the A+ service to be expected from Disney, and you truly do have the ingredients for a magical vacation.

For more information on the Saratoga Resort & Spa or the Disney Vacation Club, contact Maribella Quinones at 866-240-3817.

Disney’s Best-Kept Secret

Imagine strolling along Main Street USA one day, followed the next day by a Kilimanjaro safari. On your third day you could be rocketing into space on the Space Shuttle in the morning, then soaring through the Napa Valley on a hang glider at sunset. To top everything off, picture yourself taking a 4-day cruise to a private Caribbean island. And doing all of this with Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck. Sounds like a wild dream, or the aftermath of one of your college weekends? Nope; it’s not. It’s a possible week using the power of the Disney Vacation Club.

The Disney Vacation Club offers its members the luxury of guaranteed, quality vacations each year, at the finest resorts on the planet. Quite often, depending on membership, vacationers can enjoy vacations and weekend getaways many times throughout a year. The DVC allows its members to visit the Disney resorts or choose from nearly six hundred other locations around the world when planning their next vacation.

The beauty of the DVC is that the one-time membership is good for fifty years, and can be passed on in a will, or even sold at a later date. When I became a Vacation Club member in 2004 I selected the 200 points a year membership. My membership coordinator, Maribella Quinones, guided me through the process with clear explanations and sample planning years. And though memberships start at 150 points per year, to fully take advantage of the membership I moved up to the 200 point level. Of course greater memberships are available, but I was comfortable where I was. My tour of the Saratoga Resort & Spa at Disney World grounds and facilities was breath-taking. Rooms range from studios to three-bedroom villas. The three-bedroom is actually a two-story home! Many of the rooms at Saratoga overlook Downtown Disney or the Lake Buena Vista championship golf course. Just a five minute walk to Downtown Disney, everything else that Disney World has to offer is within minutes of the Saratoga Resort using their incomparable transit system. However, while at the Saratoga you may never want to leave their grounds. With beautiful pools and hot tubs, a state-of-the-art fitness center, world-class spa, general store, and two restaurants everything that would make a memorable vacation is at your fingertips. Since joining DVC has added the new Animal Kingdom Villas and Bay Lake Villas at the Contemporary as Disney’s latest Vacation Club resorts.

An example of how I could use my membership might go something like this. In January I could choose a studio room at the Disney Wilderness Villas with my wife for a 4-day, 3-night weekend stay for around 50 points. Then in July I could take the family for a 7-day vacation at the Saratoga Resort for around 150 points. Having used up my allotment for the year, I could then “borrow” from next year’s points and enjoy a 3-night weekend getaway in September at the Disney Boardwalk for around 50 points. The following year I could plan to take a week-long cruise to the Bahamas on the Disney Cruise Line by using my points and borrowing from the next year’s allotment if necessary. Keep in mind that additional points can always be purchased and added to a membership. If a cruise isn’t for you, how about five days in the Bahamas, a weekend at Boston Harbor, or wine-tasting in Tuscany, Italy? You name it, the DVC can likely make your dreams come true….it’s a ‘Disney thing’. From California to Hilton Head, Disney World to Vero Beach, the Disney Vacation Club has the map covered with incredible places to stay. One of the nicest aspects of a Disney vacation is that when I arrive at Orlando International airport I am greeted by Disney Express employees who load me on a shuttle and take me directly to my resort. My baggage is collected for me and delivered to my room a couple hours later. To me, that’s a vacation! No baggage claims, no rental car, …no hassles. Once I’m checked in at the Saratoga Resort & Spa I can play 18-holes of golf at one of Disney’s five premiere golf courses, take in Happy Hour at the pool, enjoy a magnificent dining experience, and enjoy the nightlife of Pleasure Island, all within five minutes of my room!

The Disney Vacation Club may seem similar to time-shares that you have seen, but it is truly so much more. It is an opportunity to vacation throughout the world, while at the same time knowing that Disney quality is a guarantee everywhere you go. Known as ‘Disney’s Best Kept Secret’, the DVC is quickly becoming Disney’s ‘best vacation value’. For more information regarding the Disney Vacation Club, or to order your own informational DVD, call Maribella Quinones at  1-800-341-4074  and mention this AS I SEE IT column.