Choosing your wedding dress is hard, but in many ways choosing your honeymoon can be as challenging (if not more so). There is, after all, a whole world to choose from… To help you get on the right track (without getting overwhelmed) we've asked Banyan Tree's assistant director Angelika Gerhold for her expert advice…
Take time to be inspired: "This is a trip you will remember for the rest of your life, so naturally you'll have extra high expectations," begins Angelika, but you should be open-minded: "Unless you know exactly where you want to go, spend time researching various destinations as inspiration. Everyone has a different idea of what they want their honeymoon to be like and a different take of what 'romantic' is. For some it is a private island, for others it is a cosmopolitan city or trekking through the jungle. More often than not, it's a combination of many different things. Take time to get inspired, either online or by attending wedding shows and chatting to the travel companies there who can give you honest advice - that will save you time and money in the long run."
Think in general terms first: Your amount of time spent on your initial research will pay off the further down the line when you get with the honeymoon booking process. The next step will involve thinking loosely about the three W's (when, where and what). "Start by asking yourself when you want to go on your honeymoon; will you go straight after your wedding, a few weeks or months later? You will want to consider seasonality - whether it is the right time of year to go to a specific part of the world, whether it is high or low season there etc. Don't allow yourself to get too stressed out about weather forecasts, although it is easy to do and there is a lot of scaremongering. 'If you go to Thailand in the rainy season you'll have a miserable time,' people often say, but it isn't always the case. Think first in general terms and come to the specifics later."
Destination, destination, destination: "The biggest question is of course 'where?' You can go one of two ways here: return somewhere significant to you - my fiancé proposed while we were at Angsana Laguna Phuket, so it would be wonderful to return there as we have such fond memories of our trip - or go somewhere you've always wanted to experience. Both have the pros and cons, but it is up to you as a couple to decide.
Remember Your Budget: "Always keep your budget in mind, and make sure it is realistic; if you are going to blow your budget on reaching a specific destination and then have little or nothing to spend when you get there, what good will that be? Perhaps think of places where you can stay at on an all inclusive basis so you know that is covered. For example, Angsana Velavaru in the beautiful South Ari Atoll. You can choose between beachfront villas and over-water villas and you can book an all-inclusive package to enjoy your honeymoon without worrying about an extensive bill on check-out. Your research will come in handy here again."
Getting There: "Another important consideration that is often forgotten about is travel time. How long you want to travel? If it is going to take your three days to reach your destination and leave you needing five days to recover from it, then perhaps it's worth looking at ways of breaking up that journey with twin-center or a three-stop honeymoon. When travelling to the Far East or the Indian Ocean, stop-overs in the Middle East work well as the travel time is quite manageable. Travel to Dubai and explore the Arabian wildlife at Banyan Tree Al Wadi, then enjoy the city diversions of Banyan Tree Bangkok and finish off by relaxing on the white sand at Banyan Tree Phuket.
What kind of honeymooner are you?: Your destination will often dictate what 'style' of honeymoon you have, but there will be a number of options as to what 'experiences' you can enjoy. "Other times the kind of experience you want will dictate where you go, but either way you should think about whether you want a road trip or a cruise, an adventurous safari or something more relaxing."
When (to start)?: "You can spend two years planning your wedding, and if you wanted to you could start thinking about your honeymoon as far in advance as you want, but when it comes to actually booking it, the earliest you can book your flights is 11 months in advance. Hotels can be booked earlier, and they often will have early bird offers if you do, but you may want to book your flights and stay at the same time to ensure you've got the dates right."
Be Smart: "Book through a travel company with an ATOL license. They are the experts and work in the industry day in day out so, should you need it, they'll be able to help you. It is always worth speaking to someone who has been to the destination you are interested in too; firsthand knowledge is essential because you'll be able to get a real feel for the place."
"Personally, I think the Maldives is especially tricky to get your head around for someone who hasn't been there before. The Maldives consists of over around 1,200 coral islands and out of those around 100 have hotels on them (1 island = 1 hotel) so it really helps speaking to someone who has been. They can tell you about the size of the island (which is important if you are staying for two weeks!), facilities and that so-called 'vibe'. Is it an elegant, understated luxury kind of place like Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru with thatched-roof villas and a focus on privacy? Or more of a colourful, hip, adventurous place like Angsana Ihuru with their focus on diving and snorkeling? This will help make your decision much easier."
The Element Of Surprise: Your honeymoon will be romantic and it will be wonderful, but there is nothing to say you shouldn't make sure it is extra memorable: "Surprise your other half by planning something extra special - a skydiving adventure at Angsana Balaclava Mauritius, or a sunset dinner aboard a private ship at Bayna Tree Mayakoba, a star gazing stroll at Banyan Tree Al Wadi or a diving expedition to explore Angsana Ihuru's shipwreck Rannamaari. The hotel you are staying at will be able to help you plan something and help you keep it a surprise, too."