Do you like luxury? Honeymoon edition.
August 2, 2017 8:12 PM   Subscribe

My husband and I are taking a belated honeymoon in the first week of January 2018, very generously financed by his parents. How and where can we have the most luxurious, relaxing experience possible in five days with a generous budget?

With only five days at our disposal, we don't want to devote too much time getting to our destination, so North America is preferred. My in-laws have encouraged us to splurge in a way we wouldn't usually, so spas, fancy schmancy restaurants, and first class accommodation are on the table! We want to maximize relaxation and enjoy each other's company.

Some things we like doing: eating nice things, drinking nice things, lounging in comfy attire, watching shows/concerts/theatre, sightseeing in interesting cities

Some things we don't much like doing: skiing, snowshoeing, hiking, camping, otherwise adventuresome/outdoorsy stuff

Unfortunately, the five day limit (including travel) and the first week of January are non-negotiable, so delightful summer activities are not on the list.

What would you do if someone gave you money and a few days in January and told you to go nuts? Thanks in advance, friends!
posted by rodneyaug to Travel & Transportation (36 answers total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
Cruise somewhere out of Florida in a balcony suite.
posted by notjustthefish at 8:19 PM on August 2, 2017

Does it include Hawaii? It's the classic honeymoon cliche for a reason.

Unfortunately many interesting cities are not so good in January... where are you traveling from? Hawaii is accessible from the western US; Caribbean from the eastern.

But, if you are more into city stuff than outdoor, maybe Los Angeles? Even in January the weather is likely to be mild, and money can buy awesome experiences in LA.
posted by fingersandtoes at 8:20 PM on August 2, 2017 [2 favorites]

The Monteleone Hotel in New Orleans is a wonderful place, and you can get plenty of pampering. Dress nice and make reservations at the local 5-star restaurants (like Galatoire's or Commander's Palace) and eat the best food the the world.
posted by Pacrand at 8:21 PM on August 2, 2017 [8 favorites]

If money was no concern, I'd go to Amangiri in Utah. It looks like it's amazing.
posted by jennstra at 8:44 PM on August 2, 2017 [1 favorite]

New Orleans can be very cold in January (ask me how I know) but Miami could be toasty. Great beaches and plenty of luxury there.
posted by Toddles at 8:45 PM on August 2, 2017 [1 favorite]

posted by Wretch729 at 8:53 PM on August 2, 2017

Gaansvort in Turks & Caicos.

Easy flight from East Coast of US, good weather, luxury. Went there once as someone's guest. Spas, massages, yoga classes, drinks, great food, great beach, really nice pool, huge rooms, attentive staff.
posted by AugustWest at 8:58 PM on August 2, 2017 [4 favorites]

San Ysidro Ranch in Santa Barbara was where all my fancy-schmancy bosses went.
posted by Room 641-A at 9:01 PM on August 2, 2017

It's unclear about where in North America you're located, but if you're on the West Coast, Hawaii is not much further than Florida. So:

Hawaiian Option: fly to Honolulu, stay in the Halekulani in Honolulu (if you want to be close to a city), or stay in the Four Seasons Maui (if you want a more secluded location). Have afternoon tea or cocktails at the Surfrider and watch the sunset over Diamond Head. You'll have some of the best Asian food in the US, though the show/concert/theater scene does leave a bit to be desired.

LA Option: stay at the Bel Air, take an evening to go out to Santa Monica and eat at Melisse and grab a nightcap at Copa D'Oro. Check Songkick for concerts in the area.

Roadtrip Option: fly into San Francisco but drive up to Napa. Stay at the Auberge Du Soleil or Calistoga Ranch. Eat at the French Laundry. Drink a lot of wine. Hope the weather doesn't get too rainy. Spend at least a day or two in San Francisco. Eat at Quince. Drink at Whitehall if you like gin, Smugglers Den if you like rum. Indulge in the Ferry Building market. Watch some opera at the War Memorial building.

I have East Coast ideas too but it depends highly on your tolerance for cold weather. Like Philly and DC are both cities with good cultural, dining, and food options, and their winters are pretty manageable but some people don't want to honeymoon somewhere with a whiff of snow.
posted by bl1nk at 9:03 PM on August 2, 2017 [3 favorites]

When I'm booking this kind of vacation, I tend to look more at resorts than destinations (I know what kind of resorts I like, and they always end up being in great destinations). I concur with Jennstra, any of the Aman resorts are a good bet (in North America, that's limited to Amangani and Amangiri). Also check out Auberge and Montage resorts. Auberge du Soleil in Napa and Esperanza in Cabo are both fabulous. Montage in Maui is fantastic too. Blackberry Farm in Tennesee or Twin Farms in Vermont are really amazing if you want that kind of experience. If those are too much or don't cover the areas you'd like to go to, I'd probably take a look at the Four Seasons locations (resorts, not FS city hotels).
posted by primethyme at 9:05 PM on August 2, 2017 [8 favorites]

What's your nearest hub airport? It matters, because y'all can go to Atlantis in the same time you could get to Cabo if you're on the east coast, but on the West coast you have options that would be impractical from New York.
posted by Lyn Never at 9:07 PM on August 2, 2017 [2 favorites]

Napa or Sonoma. There are clusters of fine restaurants in that area (especially Yountville). One of my most memorably relaxing meals was on the deck of the Auberge du Soleil--lovely view, wonderful food.

If it gets too quiet, hop over to SF/ Bay Area.
posted by Sockin'inthefreeworld at 9:07 PM on August 2, 2017 [1 favorite]

BTW, Maui is great in January as is Cabo. If you do go to Maui and budget is not an issue, I IMPLORE you to stay at the Montage rather than the Four Seasons. Montage is much more private, quiet, and relaxing, and the rooms are much bigger and nicer (not surprising because it's newer). Four Seasons is of course extremely nice, but it's much more of a "scene" and you end up with situations where you can't find a chair by the pool, etc. That has never happened to me at the Montage.
posted by primethyme at 9:07 PM on August 2, 2017 [3 favorites]

Where in the US are you? If you're on the East Coast, it makes no sense to go to Hawaii. If you're on the West Coast, it makes no sense to go to the Caribbean. I'd also vote Miami or the Florida Keys if you're on the East Coast. I've never been there, but maybe Little Palm Island in the Keys?

bl1nk's ideas are great for the West Coast. I'd add the Post Ranch Inn in Big Sur to your list, assuming the road will be open by then. Be aware that it may be cool and/or rainy in Northern California in January, and there isn't much in the way of city down there. Lots of relaxation possible though.
posted by cnc at 9:09 PM on August 2, 2017 [2 favorites]

Are you close enough to the Caribbean to have a short(ish) flight to some place to Saint Lucia? It's lovely and there's some fancy resorts and fine dining there and it would get you away from the cold, which you don't seem to be a big fan of.

Some things we like doing: eating nice things, drinking nice things, lounging in comfy attire, watching shows/concerts/theatre

How do you feel about Vegas? It offers many of those things, albeit at a somewhat stiff price, but it sounds like that's on offer. It's less slimy on the strip than it used to be, though there's still an ersatz feel many places. But other than NYC, it's got some of the densest mix of shows and fine dining in the country, and NYC in Jan. might not have great weather.
posted by Candleman at 9:16 PM on August 2, 2017 [1 favorite]

yeah, I was going to throw in Post Ranch and Big Sur, too, but access is still kind of TBD. You're also kind of committing to being in Big Sur/Carmel/Monterey area, as it's a bit of a hike to drive back to the Bay Area if you find that area to be too sleepy/outdoorsy for your tastes. And five days feels like an excess of time to spend there if you aren't into nature activities. Though, of course, you're on your honeymoon, so you may wind up not needing a lot of city to entertain you anyway.

With that said, my wife and I went on a Pacific Coast road trip honeymoon that included dinner at Post Ranch (though staying there was way out of our budget and we wound up staying at the Glen Oaks Lodge down the way) and it is indeed splendid and worth checking out if you're in the area.
posted by bl1nk at 9:19 PM on August 2, 2017 [2 favorites]

Given the time frame, I would start by seeing what nonstop flight options you have at Kayak Explore. If you pick somewhere that you can be in a 2-hour flight, you'll get basically a whole extra day out of your honeymoon. Short cruises tend to have stops at maybe two ports, neither of which is going to be a big city, and you don't say that you want beaches, but that could be an option, as it would interleave relaxation with active time. However, I would skip if you're on the West Coast.

Maybe New York City? The restaurants and shows are a given, and it's cold but you wouldn't have to drive through the snow or shovel it. And you can almost certainly get a convenient flight. Or D.C.? Great old-school luxury accommodations. The weather's not great anywhere in the lower 48 in January, even the places that have notably great weather, so New Orleans, San Francisco, LA, these would all be great choices as well.
posted by wnissen at 9:24 PM on August 2, 2017

One of my friends heads to the Madarin Oriental in Las Vegas for it's apparently amazing spa when he's looking for a maximally relaxing, splurgey vacation.
posted by asphericalcow at 10:17 PM on August 2, 2017 [1 favorite]

You can do anything you want in Vegas for the right money.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 11:02 PM on August 2, 2017

New York City, if you've never spent time there. It can be pretty magical in the winter, especially if it snows and that should be a good time to see shows. The upscale hotels are very nice in NYC. If the cozy winter theme suits I'd also look into Montreal which is very cozy in the winter and very interesting in terms of feeling you went somewhere that's not just another big US city. It's romantic too.

People have beach destinations covered, for a warm non beach destination consider Santa Fe- very interesting city, amazing food, good arts scene, lots of spas and such. Palm Springs is also fun in the winter, and it's been warm as heck in San Diego in the winter lately too.

I'd skip Napa/ Sonoma in Jan. It might be awesome but it might rain night and day and flood everywhere and be gray and miserable non stop.
posted by fshgrl at 11:13 PM on August 2, 2017 [1 favorite]

For two lesser-travelled options that should be comfortable in January, consider Austin or Charleston. Austin has a number of higher end resort/hotel properties. They will play up the outdoorsy stuff, but most will also have beautiful spas and chef-prepared organic dining. Austin's "so far off broadway" arts world is hot right now, and you can see some unbelievably good indy shows. The culinary scene is just as spicy.

On the other end of the world, Charleston was one of the first cities in the US to do lux well. I am not familiar with the arts there, sorry. There are several grand, spendy properties on islands 30-45 miles out from the city. I might do two nights there and the remainder in the city center. The island properties have relaxing spas, ocean views, and some of the best bartenders in the country. But...the food is not as amazing as the surroundings, and foodies usually can't wait to get into the heart of Charleston for some of the nuevo southern cuisine. Charleston is conservative and a little more buttoned up than many are accustomed to. If you want to roll from beach to fine dining in a your swimmies and a towel, skip Charleston. If you can't imagine that, Charleston will be your home away from home.

Congrats on your marriage. Wishing you a magical honeymoon wherever your hearts lead!
posted by Kalatraz at 12:31 AM on August 3, 2017

Ooooh oooh experiences will stretch this out longer, too. If you're not into the camping/showshoeing sort of experiences, what about hot air balloons at dawn in Napa? Or something involving a couple days on a very luxurious yacht? Snorkeling, or a beginner scuba course? Or something else that takes you outside of your ordinary world bubble for a little while, somewhere in the middle of those few days, bookended by spa relaxation and massages.
posted by tapir-whorf at 4:19 AM on August 3, 2017

One nice thing about our honeymoon was the almost total lack of internet. You'd be amazed how relaxing that is. I'd lean towards a luxury cruise line with a nice balcony cabin.
posted by LoveHam at 4:21 AM on August 3, 2017 [2 favorites]

I love the idea of the Halekulani in Honolulu. Flying straight to Honolulu (from the West Coast) wouldn't eat up too much of your five days. Hawaii is rainy in January but it's actually my favorite time; it's so nice to sit on a porch and listen to the rain come down and run out onto the beach when the sun comes out. And Honolulu is just an awesome city.

I enjoyed the Carambola Beach Resort on St. Croix very much. Having someone else treat you to this is awesome because all the costs of travel and stuff add up. And having a nice, private, ocean view suite really makes a difference. You're in your own little structure near the beach. The wifi sucked when I was there, but I agree with the idea of going as screenless as possible on a trip like that.

Also from the east coast, maybe look for recommendations in Puerto Rico. I have not stayed in fancy places there but it so beautiful and romantic.
posted by BibiRose at 5:09 AM on August 3, 2017

I'd avoid New York - you run a pretty substantial risk of having some weather interfere with your flight that time of year. Obviously this is not the end of the world, but who wants to worry about that on your honeymoon? And particularly in New York you'll end up spending time outside even if you're just going from inside thing to inside thing, it's just how the city is built.

Where are you traveling from?
posted by madcaptenor at 6:50 AM on August 3, 2017

If you want a different Hawaiian island recommendation, I can say that the St. Regis Princeville on Kauai is fantastic.
posted by mmascolino at 6:53 AM on August 3, 2017

I was just checking in on this again because I love fancy vacations and I wanted to see what other ideas people had.

I will make one comment on cruises. We've been on a few cruises and really enjoy them (they do seem to be a polarizing thing). But if you have budget and really want luxury, I strongly recommend going for a suite rather than a cabin (even a balcony cabin). I can only speak for the cruise lines we've been on, but our experience was that the suite transforms the experience from "ok" to "wow." It's not just that the room is bigger and nicer (which of course it is). But on the cruise lines we've traveled, being in a suite also gives you stuff like priority checkin (skip the huge checkin line), reserved seating at the entertainment (skip the huge show line), access to a private pool that only a few people (other suite guests) can use (skip the chaos at the big main pools), etc. This stuff removes so much hassle and waiting from the trip that I truly would not cruise any other way at this point, assuming I was going to do one of the major big cruise lines. There are much smaller luxury cruise lines with smaller boats, which I hear provide an even better experience, but we haven't had the chance to try one of those yet.
posted by primethyme at 7:07 AM on August 3, 2017 [1 favorite]

Las Vegas specializes in great shows and luxury. Once you pick a luxury hotel, they will assist you with getting tickets to shows. Orlando, Florida, as well.
posted by theora55 at 7:12 AM on August 3, 2017 [2 favorites]

You are all incredible! Thank you so much for the thoughtful responses so far. You're all invited on the honeymoon!

We're on the west coast, with a high tolerance for cold. A cruise sounds lovely but I get terribly motion sick and boats don't tend to agree with me. Non-beach destinations (Charleston, New Orleans, or Austin! What wonderful suggestions!) are particularly appealing, though a resort might give us the opportunity to be totally pampered and spoiled which also sounds wonderful.

Keep 'em coming, friends!
posted by rodneyaug at 7:44 AM on August 3, 2017

primethyme -- I'm not a big cruise fan, mostly because the cruises that I did take were crowded, large boats, with shore excursions that felt very rushed and scripted. It's just not my particular cup of tea.

However, what was my cup of tea was pooling money with friends to do a group charter of a private yacht, and just hiring a captain to take us where we wanted to go. It's not a "luxury" in the sense of having a plush bed to sleep in and a spa that can you relax in whenever the mood strikes. But, sleeping on deck under the Milky Way while a fresh breeze blows across the ocean waves is dreamy in its own way. And if you want the feeling of exclusivity, that your captain can take you to places that are hard to get to for most travelers who don't have their own boat, the freedom to just say, "maybe we'll spend most of the morning swimming in this bay and then lunch in this village and hang out for an afternoon visiting some ruins, then take us to this island for an all night dance party, or maybe if we're feeling tired, we can skip the dance party and just grill some fish under the stars." Then all of that builds into a different flavor of luxury all its own

It's an expensive proposition for a couple, and it really depends on how much money is no object for you, and it's also probably not the best idea for January, but any time or place of the year where snorkeling or diving in the ocean is a Thing To Do, it's an absolutely lovely experience.
posted by bl1nk at 7:55 AM on August 3, 2017

oh, and last bit on this thread: adding on to part of madcaptenor's advice, wherever you do choose to go, prioritize a destination with a direct flight. Connections in some major hub airports, esp. NY, Atlanta, Chicago, Denver have a good chance of experiencing weather delays in January. Our honeymoon got handicapped on its early start with a four hour storm delay in Newark. We were able to absorb it as we were taking two weeks for the trip, but I could imagine that a longer delay (or a flight cancellation) on a shorter trip would be unfortunate.
posted by bl1nk at 8:11 AM on August 3, 2017 [1 favorite]

Being able to tell people afterwards that we went to Atlantis for a honeymoon is almost as cool as the variety of things offered there.
posted by dreamling at 8:35 AM on August 3, 2017

If you're thinking about Charleston (which you should be, it's wonderful and has a white-hot food scene), I might split your trip and do a couple days at the Sanctuary on Kiawah Island, which is about a 45-minute drive out of Charleston.
posted by lalex at 4:49 PM on August 3, 2017

How do you feel about the desert? Miraval is a fancy-pants wellness resort outside of Tuscan that's gotten rave reviews.
posted by snickerdoodle at 7:07 PM on August 3, 2017

The Body Holiday Spa resort on St Lucia is divine.
posted by antiquated at 8:06 PM on August 3, 2017

If you're on the West coast, go to Hawaii.
posted by barnone at 11:15 AM on August 4, 2017

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