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Top Honeymoon Destinations for 2014

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27/1/2014

Need some help narrowing down your honeymoon options? Discover seven luxury and irresistible destinations with the selection of best resorts that deserve a visit on your most memorable holiday in Thailand, Portugal, South Africa, Seychelles, Maldives, Cyprus and Mauritius.

Need some help narrowing down your honeymoon options? Discover seven luxury and irresistible destinations  with the selection of best resorts that deserve a visit on your most memorable holiday in Thailand, Portugal, South Africa, Seychelles, Maldives, Cyprus and Mauritius.

1. THAILAND
Six Senses Hideaway Yao Noi


Perching atop the island of Ko Yao Noi in the Phang Nga Bay, this is the kind of place where it's quite possible - especially at dawn or dusk - to have your breath taken away. All you need to do is gaze across the bay for spectacular views over the bizarrely beautiful sugar-loaf islands on the horizon.

The 56 pool villas and pool suites are all low-key, relaxed affairs with their own infinity pools, indoor and outdoor showers (lathering up under a rainforest canopy doesn't lose its novelty even if you stay for a couple of weeks), and all the subtle luxury that the Six Senses hotel group is known for.

Start your day with a yoga session after breakfast at the Living Room, take a traditional long-boat out to explore the islands and see the wary security guards who keep a constant vigil beneath swifts' nests. Drop in to the spa for a reviving massage, then watch the sun go down with a cocktail in the bar.

Italian cuisine may seem an odd choice for a Thai resort but it is masterfully executed by executive chef Marcel Huser, who is also a charming host at the Chef's Table. His infectious enthusiasm for Thai cuisine will readjust the way you think about curry.

Six Senses Hideaway Yao Noi: Phang Nga Bay, Thailand (00 66 76 418 500; www.sixsenses.com).

2. PORTUGAL
Tivoli Palácio de Seteais


In a land not so far away - in fact, a short flight to Lisbon and a 30-minute taxi transfer - one (but preferably two) can step into a fairy tale at the Palácio de Seteais. Built by the Dutch Council of Portugal in 1787 and an occasional residence for King João VI, this pin-drop peaceful 30-room hotel in the UNESCO World Heritage-protected costal region of Sintra is now an Arcadia for rest-seekers with a royal imagination.

A perfect white palace with trim, lemon tree dappled grounds, the Palácio de Seteais has a beautiful view over the heart-swelling 19th-century architecture of Sintra and the lush, green mountains that shroud it. Playful Rococo-style murals by the 18th-century painter Jean-Baptiste Pillement cover the walls of the hotel's several living rooms and restaurant, and any furniture that isn't surviving from that century has been styled to appear as though it is. The hotel closed for a year in 2009 to restore the murals to their former freshness and add tasteful mod-cons to the bedrooms - which are spacious with tall ceilings (if you stay on the ground floor), large sash windows to welcome the light, and beds so luxurious the tale of Rip Van Winkle would still be on-going had he stayed here.

Piano music swoons through the doors of all the rooms every evening. Most guests prefer to explore the buzzy surroundings of Sintra, with its lively restaurants and arty boutiques, but for those keen to stay in the quiet, the Palácio's restaurant does a steady line in traditional Portuguese and Mediterranean cuisine. Days can be spent exploring the town (a 10-minute walk away), lolling by the pool (Sintra has a glorious micro-climate which makes it seven or eight degrees cooler than Lisbon, a clement late-twenties in autumn), clopping a dusty ball around one of the clay tennis courts, or relaxing in the gardens or on the veranda.

Sintra is a delightful secret for the few British weekenders who have discovered it. It's a short and - with notice - cheap flight away, and the room rates are low for a hotel of such beauty, especially when compared to destinations of equal luxury in France and Italy. This may sound like a tall story, but it's true.

Palácio de Seteais: Rua Barbosa do Bocage 8, Sintra (00 351 21 923 32 00; www.tivolihotels.com).

3. SOUTH AFRICA
One&Only Cape Town


South African hotelier Sol Kerzner's first urban One&Only resort, echoing the size and scale of his other properties in exotic beachside locations, was an ambitious project. And he's pulled it off with aplomb - this exciting new hotel, occupying prime real estate in the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, has magnificent views of Table Mountain, and is already a culinary destination in its own right, bringing trendy Capetonians to dine at its Nobu and Maze outposts, but more about that later.

Kerzner doesn't do anything by halves - the hotel was rumoured to have cost £90 million to build, and the opening party in April 2009 saw Mariah Carey flown in to serenade guests, among them Nelson Mandela. The result of all this expense and careful planning is an uber-glamorous, exclusive resort, the centre-point of which is the staggering view of Table Mountain - arguably the city's most iconic landmark - glimpsed as you enter the lobby through a central, high window. The hotel is positioned over a series of canals on which there are two man-made islets - one, framed by a large infinity pool, is exclusively for resident guests, the other houses the spa. All 131 rooms are at least 60sq-m in size and either have views of Table Mountain or of the marina. Bathrooms are equally generously proportioned, with stand-alone baths and large walk-in showers. The style here is African-contemporary, the decor is in shades of burnt orange, brown and green and modern African sculptures are dotted throughout. Facilities are second to none, with Nespresso machines, complimentary Wi-Fi and a Bose sound system in every room, plus a 24-hour personal butler. Attention to detail is paramount - pillow choices are plenty, and an aromatherapy menu gives you the option of different essential oils to scent your bed-linen.

And then there are the high-profile restaurants - Kerzner scored two South African firsts with Nobu and Gordon Ramsay's Maze. Each is located on either side of the vast lobby area; Maze is entered via a magnificent tri-level wine loft (with over 5,000 bottles it is the biggest wine cellar in South Africa). Nobu, directly opposite, showcases Japanese-inspired South African seafood. Reuben's - a much-loved Franschhoek brasserie, opens in October 2010. The eagerly-anticipated spa, on its own landscaped island, also has a headlining act - a Pedi:Mani:Cure Studio by Bastien Gonzalez, as well as two vitality pools, sauna and steam rooms, and singles and couples treatment villas.

Staff are refreshingly friendly, enthusiastic and helpful without the formality and stuffiness found in many luxury hotels. They seem genuinely happy to be working here and part of such an exciting project.

One & Only Cape Town: Dock Road, Cape Town (00 27 21 431 5800; capetown.oneandonlyresorts.com ).

4. SEYCHELLES
Four Seasons Resort Seychelles


The Four Seasons Seychelles opened its doors in February 2009 and was one of the most hotly anticipated openings of that year. The hotel's dramatic position on a steep jungle hillside and a glamorous castaway-chic vibe doesn't disappoint: the 67 villas resemble private residences, spilling dramatically down a forested hill offering spectacular views of the beach and turquoise sea below, glimpsed through the lush greenery. Some are perched high up in the hillside, others nestle closer to the beach - all offer the utmost privacy, giving the impression that you are totally and blissfully alone.

The villas are huge - each have expansive inside and outdoor space, a wrap-around terrace, outdoor shower and daybeds, plus a private infinity-edged swimming pool that is really that - not a plunge pool or soaking tub. Light sleepers should opt for the rooms perched higher up the hillside as the sound of the waves on the beach at night could disturb your sleep. The resort has eschewed the standard minimalist style in favour of a colourful, Creole-inspired aesthetic, and rooms feature natural timber and brick, tropical rosewood and silk prints, soaking tubs and showers tiled in colourful mosaics.

The resort is designed in the style of a village and, if you find yourself staying in a villa far from the beach or restaurants, you will be reliant on a buggy to take you around. As befits a more intimate Four Seasons outpost, there are fewer restaurant options here than at larger resorts around the world. Zez offers a glorious breakfast spread and Mediterranean dishes in the evening and has a lovely position overlooking the ocean, while beachside Kannel serves local and Asian cuisine, including excellent fresh sushi. The main 517-square-metre pool can be found just a few steps away from the beach. And what a beach it is. It is a perfect arc of soft white sand framed by palms and smooth granite boulders, and one of the loveliest you are likely to see if you go island-hopping. The spa, located at the top of the hill with spectacular views of Petite Anse, is worth an early evening visit - if only to take in the sunset. Five individual spa pavilions offer treatments that are indigenous to the Seychelles, using local herbs and spices.

Four Seasons Resort Seychelles: Petite Anse, Mahé, Seychelles (00 248 393 000; www.fourseasons.com/seychelles).

5. MALDIVES
Baros Hotel


A luxurious resort located a 20-minute boat ride from Malé, Baros is a paradise island with elegant villa accommodation. The Deluxe and Baros Villas are spacious with outdoor bathrooms and giant bathtubs making up for the lack of private pools; the slightly larger Pool Villas have their own infinity plunge pools and large patios, while the Baros Residence is a luxurious two-room suite. All are spread along the white-sand tropical beach, apart from the Water Villas which are built on stilts in the water.

There are daily excursions to other islands on the resort's schedule, plus a PADI dive centre and a marine biology centre where guests can help plant corals and learn more about the house reef (don't be surprised if you spot both reef sharks and turtles when you snorkel). The hotel also organises sunset sailing on Nooma, its traditional dhoni, and can drop guests off at a sandbank in the middle of the Indian Ocean for an incredible gourmet meal under the stars. In fact, Baros prides itself on its food, and the restaurants and bars offer plenty of choice - from buffets at the Cayenne Grill to five-course degustation menus at The Lighthouse (the tuna carpaccio is a must). The Aquum Spa specialises in Asian treatments, and there are daily yoga classes on the deck to the water villas, as well as sunrise sessions on the sandbank, too.

Baros: North Malé Atoll, Maldives (00 960 664 26 72; www.baros.com).

6. CYPRUS
Anassa Hotel, Polis


Located on the stunning and windswept north-western coastline on Cyprus - an hour's scenic drive from Paphos - Anassa is a marvellous place for a honeymoon.

A serene collection of houses and villas, the hotel's many houses have been arranged like a traditional village and facing the sea. You'll find Anassa just between the small town of Polis and the ruggedly handsome and stunning Akamas peninsula, and there are plenty of options if you feel up for excursion - from walking treks to vineyards.

There are plenty of reasons to stay put, too, with an award-winning spa (ranked in the top 10 in Condé Nast Traveller's Readers Spa Awards 2010), lovely pools and great restaurants. Book a room on the eastern side of the development if you want peace and quiet; the pools and restaurants are located closely to the buildings on the western side, which means they might be more convenient, if also a little louder.

Anassa: Baths of Aphrodite Road, Polis (00 357 26 888 000; www.anassa.com.cy)

7. MAURITIUS
The Oberoi Mauritius hOTEL


Although there are 71 villas and pavilions here, you'll feel totally alone (expect for staff) at this 20-acre resort. Sub-tropical gardens surround each villa, with well-positioned foliage giving privacy, and open architectural features (think high ceilings and arches) give a dramatic feel to this otherwise natural setting.

Each villa has a four-poster bed and a private garden; you can upgrade to one with a pool. Interiors are simple and well-done. Wooden slatted ceilings fit with the natural theme and all look out on to gardens.

Typical of Oberoi hotels, the service here is outstanding, and so is the food: the lamb in sugar cane is an absolute must-try. The menu, prepared by Italian chef Igor Bocchia and his team, is a combination of European, Oriental and Creole fare. Choose to dine in the dramatic fire lit main restaurant or enjoy an intimate romantic dinner for two on the beach.

Treatments at the state-of-the-art spa are staggered so there won't be any awkward moments with other guests. Local natural oils and fruits are incorporated in traditional Mauritian therapies. The couples' massage is heavenly.

The Oberoi, Mauritius: Turtle Bay, Pointe aux Piments, Mauritius (00 230 204 3600; www.oberoihotels.com).

Research By cntraveller.com


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