To the ’moon: five honeymoons worth getting married for

To the ’moon: five honeymoons worth getting married for

The Metsi Suite deck at the Molori Safari Lodge in South Africa (Photograph courtesy of the Molori Safari Lodge) 

You survived the ceremony, and it’s time to get out of town. Here, five spectacular honeymoons worth getting married for:

South Africa
Buenos Aires
Vienna
Mayan Riviera
Eastern Townships

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Madikwe Game Reserve, South Africa

For a five-star safari

The Molelo Suite at the Molori Safari Lodge (All photographs courtesy of the Molori Safari Lodge) 
An alfresco dining site at the Molori Safari Lodge 
The main pool at the Molori Safari Lodge 

Where to Stay
If Out of Africa author Karen Blixen had collaborated with design god Philippe Starck, they might have conjured the Molori Safari Lodge. At this luxe resort in South Africa’s vast Madikwe Game Reserve, newlyweds are as likely to bump into a lioness as a Fendi lounger. Five outrageously glam villas feature floor-to-ceiling retractable glass walls, private decks, infinity pools, outdoor showers, Boffi furnishings and intimate alfresco dining areas, so couples can sup where the wild things are. From $2,800 per night. 27 14778 8000, molori.co.za/safari.

Where to Eat
Breakfast with the elephants on the Star Deck: adorned with Dedon daybeds, it overlooks the watering hole, a popular meeting place for local Babars. Dinner menus draw on Molori’s organic garden and South African wines; traditional South African braai (barbecues) might include curried springbok, oxtail potje, and lavender-lime frozen yogurt on grape-gooseberry salsa. If nothing on the menu entices, the chefs will custom-design meals.

What to Do
The 185,000-acre reserve is home to lions, elephants, cheetahs, leopards, hippos, and black and white rhinos, among other creatures. The staff offer game drives at dawn and dusk. Adventure­some couples can also learn how to bush-track on guided safari walks, getting closer to, say, leopards than one might think possi­ble (or prudent). At nightfall, before slipping between the zillion-thread-count sheets, guests can stargaze together under glittering skies at Molori’s observa­tory, which has an ultra-powerful telescope, one of the largest in South Africa.

Buenos Aires

For hopeless romantics

Left: the 152-year-old Café Tortoni is in the heart of Buenos Aires. Right: the lobby of the Alvear Palace Hotel, in the city’s posh Recoleta neighbourhood 

Where to Stay
In a caffeine-fuelled metropolis, the Alvear Palace Hotel is the most deca­dent place to do the unthinkable after the wedding day whirlwind: sleep. If Buenos Aires is the Paris of South America, the lavish beaux arts Alvear, opened in 1932, is its take on the Hôtel de Crillon. It cossets guests with spacious butler-attended suites, Limoges tableware, Hermès toiletries and Louis XV–style furniture. After an epic flight, recharge with a cortado in the hotel’s café, l’Orangerie, then explore the surrounding Recoleta neighbourhood, a splendour of grand boulevards and café-terrasses at your marbled doorstep. From $370 per night. 1891 Avenida Alvear, 54 11 4808 2100, alvearpalace.com.

Where to Eat
As petite as the perfect empanadas it serves, La Cupertina is a rustic restaurant on the edge of Palermo Viejo, beloved by locals and, happily, not yet mobbed by tourists. Order the carne: a lusty tango of cumin-scented stewed beef and green scallions. Cabrera 5296, 54 11 4777 3711.

What to Do
Behold the Argentine presidential palace, Casa Rosada, washed the colour of strawberry ice cream. This blushing behemoth dominates the Plaza de Mayo, and from its balconies, Juan and Evita Perón (and a verklempt Madonna) seduced the masses. Afterward, head to the 152-year-old Café Tortoni, with its cacophony of gurgling espresso makers and impassioned porteños. Trade the point-and-shoot monument tour for a promenade through B.A.’s diverse neighbourhoods. Palermo Viejo—made up of Palermo Soho and Palermo Hollywood (as aggressively trendy as it sounds)—will more than repay a leisurely wander, with its glut of designer emporia, jewel-box boutiques and look-at-me restaurants. San Telmo is one of the oldest of B.A.’s 48 barrios, and now stands as the city’s boho capital. It’s a scruffy jumble of cobbled calles, tiled courtyards and turret-topped mansions. Sunday, when the Plaza Dorrego morphs into a colourful antique bazaar, is the best day to visit.

Vienna

For culture on the Continent

Left: a suite at Hotel Sacher, in the historic city centre. Right: the interior of the Vienna State Opera. (Photograph of room courtesy of Hotel Sacher; opera house from iStockPhoto) 

Where to Stay
Baker Franz Sacher created the famous sachertorte in 1832, and Hotel Sacher, founded by his son, takes its cues from the chocolate confection: all is classic and sumptuous. Courtly rooms are adorned with silken wallpaper, oil paintings and antique furniture from baroque to Biedermeier. Book one of the hotel’s eight new suites, with terraces and exquisite views of the city and the Vienna Woods beyond. A must: try a slice of sachertorte paired with a bowl of whipped cream, which Austrians call “schlagobers.” Should you require more indulgence, book a “symphony in chocolate” treatment ($300) at the hotel spa; it’s an exfoliating cocoa bean massage and a chocolate body mask. Rooms from $490 per night. 4 Philharmonikerstrasse, 43 1 51 4560, sacher.com.

Where to Eat
Ein Wiener Salon, an intimate 24-seat restaurant, feels like an at-home dinner party. Owners (and couple) Sven Bader and Felix Strasser slave over the stove and wait tables as their rotund spaniel, Laura, reclines like a regal Hapsburg at diners’ feet. Baroque decor is a lavish backdrop for six-course seasonal feasts that could include lemon grass and pumpkin soup with octopus carpaccio or roasted zander fillet on a bed of chanterelles. Stubenbastei 10, 43 660 654 27 85, einwienersalon.com.

What to Do
Both Richard Strauss and Gustav Mahler, in their day, worked as directors at the Staatsoper, the Vienna State Opera. In a city seemingly set to music, the opera house—a neo-Renaissance beauty with soaring archways and swaths of crimson velvet—is a scene stealer. The company leads the world in staging roughly 50 shows per season. For a romantic post-wedding encore, catch the classic love story Eugene Onegin, playing until June 2010. Vienna also claims many heuriger taverns (serving young wines) and more than 1,700 acres of vineyards within city limits. Try the Nussberg Grande Reserve at Zahel vineyard; grapes hail from the nearby slopes of hilly Nussberg, where Beethoven is said to have sojourned and composed his Ninth Symphony.

Mayan Riviera

For eco-minded lovebirds

Left: a swim-up bar at the Banyan Tree Mayakoba. Right: boating on the lagoon at the Rosewood Mayakoba (Banyan Tree Mayakoba courtesy of Banyan Tree Mayakoba; boat courtesy of Rosewood Mayakoba) 

Where to Stay
Mayakoba (“village of water” in Mayan) is the newest haute-rustic eco-fantasy­land on the Mayan Riviera. It’s well secluded from the resort-crammed Playa del Carmen, and newlyweds will find more turtles than tourists; hotels (there are only three in the area) are connected by freshwater lagoons and surrounded by mangrove forests. Check in to a private spa pool villa at the new Banyan Tree Mayakoba: your own two-storey Asian-meets-Mayan casita comes with a personal pool, sun deck, day beds, wet bar, and an at-the-ready “romance manager”—an expert in petal-drizzling and code-blue margarita needs. Spa pool villa from $660 per night. 52 984 877 3688, banyantree.com/mayakoba.

Where to Eat
Book a table at Banyan Tree’s Saffron restaurant, afloat on pontoons, where diners can enjoy Thai dishes (crispy grouper, choo chee pla curry salmon) against a Jungle Book backdrop. Couples who would rather dine in his and hers terry bathrobes can call upon a team of in-house chefs (bearing outdoor grills) to prepare local fare: chile poblano salads, tangy ceviches, and prawns or lobster tails paired with spicy tamarind sauce and grilled corn.

What to Do
Take a guided lancha (wooden boat) through Mayakoba’s postcard-perfect canals and lagoons, bordered by limestone cliffs, with the lush jungle beyond. The palapa-roofed teak water chariots are prime settings for Clicquot sipping. Head to the spa at the Rosewood Mayakoba and try a temazcal, or ritual steam bath treatment. Chase your post-treatment buzz with a tequila from Rosewood’s Agave Azul Raw Bar and Tequila Library, which shelves more than 100 varieties of the spirit.

Eastern Townships

For quiet Québécois Canadiana

Left: a room at the Manoir Hovey. Right: the garden (Photographs courtesy of Manoir Hovey) 

Where to Stay
The Manoir Hovey is a happy marriage in itself, entwining patrician British hauteur with quilt-and-fireplace Quebec bucolica. Set on the shores of Lake Massa­wippi, the storybook turn-of-the-century manse pampers with quiet comfort and attentive service. Book the secluded Cartier Suite for a wood-panelled cottage, dock, canoe and kayak of one’s own. What’s most seductive about a sojourn
in the Townships? Affordability and convenience—it’s close enough to Toronto to be driveable, yet far enough to feel remote. From $270 per night ($550 for the Cartier). 575 chemin Hovey, North Hatley, Quebec, 1-800-661-2421, manoirhovey.com.

Where to Eat
The Manoir’s candlelit dining room cele­brates what the French do best: romance and fattening food. Nearly everything hails from area farms: sample the asparagus potage—brighter than a bowl of molten emeralds—and the epic artisanal cheese cart (there are more than 20 wedges).

What to Do
This mountainous countryside of rivulets, orchards and some 250 lakes is now a foodie destination. The picturesque Coaticook region—scattered with raw-milk fromageries, boulangeries, jam makers, cideries and ice-cream parlours—is well worth a day trip. Stop at Fromagerie la Station de Compton (fromagerielastation.com), then head to quaint country bistro Le Cinquième Élement (lecinquiemeelement.ca) for homemade sorbet.