Getaways offer romantic touch

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 23 June, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 23 June, 2011, 12:00am


Honeymooning idealism dictates sumptuous surrounds where the happy couple will be left in peace to dote on each other, with occasional optional distractions such as dramatic sunsets over white sand-fringed bays. Despite recent economic booms in Asia, leaving fewer idyllic regional spots untouched by large-scale development, there are still a number left.

The Maldives' atolls have never really become too developed, as the resorts are set on some 1,200 tiny, sand-fringed, low-lying islets. Snorkelling, scuba diving, observation boats, fishing or simply swinging in a hammock, or lolling in the sea or swimming pools are all at hand.

There are direct weekly flights to the Maldives capital Male, about 750 kilometres southwest of Sri Lanka, and visas are a formality on arrival. The places to stay are all a further hop from here. A 20-minute speedboat ride whisks a starry-eyed couple to Soneva Gili Resort & Spa, for instance. This was the first to launch an all-villa resort in the Maldives which stretches out completely over pristine shallow water, attached to the private tropical island of Lankanfushi in the North Male Atoll region - one of 20 atolls that stretch more than 800 kilometres through the Indian Ocean.

For those who like their paradise with contemporary attitude, there is a W Retreat & Spa on Fesdu Island in the middle of the North Ari Atoll, to the west of Male. A 25-minute seaplane hop from the international airport is necessary - a great honeymoon sense of occasion in itself. These resorts, like many in the Maldives, offer tailor-made dining for two on their beaches or under special romantic canopy set-ups on wooden decking, or on your own verandah of villas.

Pangkor Laut, off the west coast of Malaysia, is a privately owned island, best reached by plane to Ipoh, from where limousine or taxi transfers can be arranged to the jetty for the isle's exclusive ferry service. Set out to be a 5-star getaway, your discreet neighbours here are likely to be other honeymooning couples, tycoons or celebrities shunning attention.

Villa accommodation throughout allows the choice of being on lush hillsides or over water on stilts. Two large infinity pools - where their edges meld with the sea horizon - and tennis courts offer a stretch for restless honeymooners. Its Spa Village contains specially built structures designed for treatments from China, Japan, India, Thailand, Bali and Malaysia; various pavilions on land; and 22 Spa Villas situated over the sea offer direct link up with the Spa Village for those who want to take their treatments in-room. The Romance treatment is aimed squarely at honeymooners, with its scattered rose petals and other treats. The connection between romance and stunning tranquil tropical seascapes continues around much of Southeast Asia. Consider the long white sands of Nha Trang in Vietnam, and across Bali, where lots of resorts offer wedding service and honeymoon packages.

Although a Thai beach honeymoon may not seem the most original idea, plenty of boutique options exist. Aleenta Resorts offers Honeymoon and Romance Experiences at small hideaway properties in Phuket and Hua Hin. Aleenta Phuket-Phang Nga is set amid Krabi's picturesque beachfront. A three-night and four-day package allows adjustment to the tranquil pace of life that is 20 minutes from Phuket International Airport.

Honeymoon and romance guests are greeted with a 'pleasure platter' that includes aphrodisiac snacks, such as oysters, ginger candies, strawberries with pepper and melted chocolate, served with a cheeky blindfold, and the suite's bathtub is drawn on request with sensual oil and floating flower petals. At Aleenta Hua Hin-Pranburi, Honeymoon Experience features a beachfront candlelit dinner with Champagne and an aromatherapy massage each. Hua Hin, one of Thailand's more laid-back resorts, due to its proximity to Bangkok and long patronage by the Thai royal family, has plenty of other small and large luxury resorts to choose from - including Sofitel Centara Hua Hin, where honeymooners can stay in one of the 42 villas with five outstanding restaurants just paces away.

Honeymooning need not always be about a sea-sky horizon and powdery sand. Still in Thailand, The Ultimate Escape Package from Four Seasons Tented Camp Golden Triangle and Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai is popular with adventurous newlyweds, and features a helicopter transfer between the two properties. First comes a three-night pool villa stay at the Chiang Mai property, including breakfast. Then, a helicopter flight takes in northern Thai towns, villages, farmland, mountains, rivers and jungles to reach the Golden Triangle - the meeting point of the three countries: Thailand, Burma and Laos. The landing point: the banks of the Mekong River, from where a long-tail boat speeds guests to Four Seasons Tented Camp, where accommodation is a luxurious tent. All meals and beverages, house wines and spirits, a 90-minute spa treatment per guest, per stay, and activities that include full-day elephant riding training, elephant trekking and Golden Triangle excursion are included - as are all airport transfers.