When agent Anne Morgan Scully of McCabe World Travel honeymooned in Hawaii almost 40 years ago, the height of luxury was a clamshell sink and a humble hot tub. Fast-forward a few decades and things are decidedly more extravagant for newlyweds in resort land. “The expectation of what a honeymoon suite should be has changed enormously,” says Scully, who regularly counsels couples on finding fabulous vacation destinations across the world. “It’s not only a matter of size but of having all the bells and whistles.”
Today’s top honeymoon suites, in her book, offer amenities such as private pools, sunken Jacuzzis, outdoor showers, and “major” terraces. “The terraces are getting bigger than the rooms,” she says.
Given the odds that this trip could be the most expensive and extravagant of a couple’s life together, Scully also stresses that being fussed over is high on the list of expectations for modern honeymooners: “Couples are very aware of whether the hotel staff ‘get them’ and are turned on to how much attention or privacy they need.”
So we went in search of the best honeymoon suites on the planet. Many of them come with round-the-clock butler service. Private plunge pools are increasingly a feature of high-end rooms, as are novelties such as walk-in “rain showers” and dedicated spa rooms within the suite, where couples can arrange for massages. Then there are the really decadent extras like screening rooms, top-shelf sports cars for guest use, and private workout areas.
Privacy, of course, tends to be a crucial concern for honeymooners, and resorts are increasingly catering to solitude seekers with stand-alone villas, suites separated from public areas of the hotel, and access to exclusive beaches or other natural features. (Certain villas at Parrot Cay, in Turks and Caicos, for instance, have direct access onto the beach from their terraces.) Over-water bungalows provide an even greater separation from other people. The presidential suite at the Palacio Duhau in Buenos Aires comes with its own separate entrance so that guests never have to mingle with the hoi polloi in the lobby.
Sometimes the luxury factor is a case of unique access, like at Eagle Island Camp in Botswana, where guests booking the Romance Suite have a personal game-watching drive with a dedicated guide. In other cases, it means getting the royal treatment: guests in the Crystal Penthouse Suite on Crystal Serenity cruises are ferried to and from the ship by limousine.
But no amount of champagne and limo service can make up for a hotel room lacking in romantic ambience. That’s why Dallas is abuzz about the honeymoon suite of the Stoneleigh, originally designed by legendary interior designer Dorothy Draper and recently revamped by her protégé Carleton Varney. “A honeymoon suite in gray and beige will never sell,” Varney declares. “People are desperate for color in this time of dreariness. They want a return to the glamour of yesterday.”