Mini honeymoons can stretch the bliss
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Tahiti sure is tempting, but after all the time, money and energy spent planning a wedding, many couples are simply too tapped out to think about a honeymoon - as unromantic as that sounds. But instead of a far-flung locale that requires a grueling 16-hour flight, consider sticking closer to home. A mini 'moon - an abridged three- to four-day honeymoon to relax and recharge after the wedding - is one of the most practical (and fun!) new trends.
Consider the possibilities: Couples on a budget can retreat into newlywed bliss with a mini-break that won't break the bank. Brides and grooms pressed for time can leave town for a long weekend, then plan a bigger trip later in the year. Or, try spreading a series of mini 'moons throughout your first year of married life - think of it as a dessert sampler of several indulgent treats.
"Mini 'moons are more affordable and more relaxing than longer, more elaborate honeymoons, as they typically require less travel time and planning," says Julie Waters, marketing manager of Tablet Hotels, an online booking service for boutique hotels (tablethotels.com). Plus, a budget spread over just a few days (rather than two weeks) means you can splurge a bit on a luxury hotel or on romantic dinners a deux. "Couples get the best of both worlds," Waters says.
We've rounded up the dreamiest destinations, from a romantic Florida beach retreat and an indulgent New England spa to an exciting city break across the pond - none of which take more than five hours to reach by car, plane or train. But the list doesn't end there. Much like traditional honeymoons, the sky's the limit when it comes to an unforgettable mini 'moon. Just remember to keep it short and sweet - and don't spend the entire time getting there.
LaPlaya Beach & Golf Resort, Naples, Fla.
Skip the crowds in South Beach and head to Florida's more serene Gulf Coast (don't fear vestiges of the oil spill - it's OK to swim and eat seafood). Book one of LaPlaya's well-appointed waterfront suites for great views, then settle into the Floridian groove of beach, pool and spa. Take in the whimsical monkey motif at a quiet table for two in the resort's signature BALEENnaples restaurant, then snuggle up in front of the sexy beach fire pit. And don't forget a jaunt to the pretty Spanish-inspired shopping plazas in downtown Naples to pick up a souvenir at Lilly Pulitzer and Tommy Bahama. Rooms start at $127, laplayaresort.com.
The James Chicago
The Second City is chock full of sightseeing for two - comedy at Second City, culture at the Art Institute, cocktails at The Signature Room - and The James is ideally situated in the heart of the city, just off Michigan Avenue's shopping mecca. While you probably won't spend much time in your room, take comfort in the contemporary wood palette and luxe Kiehl's toiletries. Some of downtown's best restaurants - including the popular Table Fifty-Two, run by Oprah Winfrey's chef, Art Smith - are steps away (ask the concierge to secure a reservation), or sample the hand-selected meats at David Burke's Primehouse inside the hotel. Rooms start at $249, jameshotels.com.
The Lodge at Woodloch, Hawley, Pa.
Find your mind, body, spirit connection at this destination spa in the Pocono Mountains - think of it as "Eat Pray Love" without the jet lag. Settle into rocking chairs on a covered porch and take in the lake views, hop into a steamy hot tub, explore the trails on mountain bikes or take advantage of the yoga, Pilates and kickboxing classes. But, of course, the main draw here is the spa. Before you even arrive, a dedicated spa concierge can help schedule
couples' massages, seaweed baths and green tea facials. Rooms start at $249, thelodgeatwoodloch.com.
Equinox Resort & Spa, Manchester, Vt.
New England-style adventure at a 13,000-square-foot resort awaits couples who can't sit still. The recently redesigned Equinox (the original property dates back to 1769) has just about any activity an outdoorsy couple could dream of, from falconry and fly fishing to Land Rover off-road driving, horseback riding and an 18-hole mountainside golf course. Think of it as a luxurious summer camp for adults - and don't be surprised if you need a vacation to recoup from this one. Rooms start at $249, equinoxresort.com.
The Westbury Mayfair, London
Sure, you'll need your passport for this one, but London is just a quick hop across the pond from JFK. The Westbury recently underwent a $50-million face-lift, which means the rooms are thoroughly modern with a splash of Euro chic. Unwind from the flight with a romantic cocktail at the hotel's Polo Bar, a local scene unto itself. London's fashionable Mayfair district is a great jumping-off point for shopping on Bond Street, strolling through Hyde Park and sightseeing in the frenetic Piccadilly Circus. Or hop on the tube at Bond Street and head toward London Bridge and cutting-edge art at Tate Modern, just a few stops away. After sightseeing, return home for dinner at Artisan, which may be on its way to achieving Michelin Star status. Rooms start at $260, westburymayfair.com.
Keswick Hall at Monticello, Keswick, Va.
Step back in time at this 600-acre expanse in scenic Thomas Jefferson country. Once a private mansion, the main house has been converted into a charming hotel with 48 guest rooms, each infused with Southern touches. The surrounding property boasts relaxing activities like golf, tennis and croquet. With Virginia's beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains as a backdrop, history buffs will get a kick out of nearby Charlottesville. Tour the homes of the Founding Fathers, unearth treasures at nearby antiques shops or sample the latest offerings at the area's vineyards. Rooms start at $255, keswick.com.