You may think I am overstating things with the title of this piece, but it has genuinely felt like a bit of a slog overcoming our biggest challenge – the honeymoon.
Having the world at our feet it has taken us nearly a year to get something nailed down. It started with a casual look to see what type of things are around before we got serious, then once we did it seemed to be an endless cycle of options not living up to our expectations or being too expensive.
Where in the World
This was probably one of the easiest to answer. The concept was simple – both create a list of locations around the world we would want to go for a honeymoon and compare. Our lists didn’t really differ dramatically and between us quickly narrowed it down to:
- The Caribbean (or part US, part Caribbean)
- Canada (either some east to west tour or just a west coast exploration)
- South East Asia
General Honeymoonish Needs
As it’s our honeymoon and the start of the rest our lives together we wanted to make it special. It wasn’t enough to just go to a posh hotel and have a slightly more luxurious package holiday. We wanted special access, like ‘club’ level rooms, Butler service, Private Pool Villas, swim-up suites and if we could afford it a bump in flight class.
It was really just a list of those little touches that make the experience more magical. That’s what we wanted. But as we found out, the extra touches come at a cost.
What to Do
What did we want to get up to on our honeymoon? Other than that!
Both myself and the Mrs to-be enjoy the cultural aspect. Probably her more than me, but we both like to feel as though we are experiencing a slice of life wherever we are. So it was important to us that wherever we chose to go we had the opportunity to do something, anything ‘local’.
The next thing that became apparent was to include some form of aquatic experience. Swim with rays, dolphins, turtles or anything else, it didn’t really matter what we just wanted to enjoy an underwater experience.
I also personally requested that we spent some time being lazy. Chilling out on the beach for a few days: supping beers, topping up the vitamin D, moving only to cool down in a pool or go and eat.
It’s not a hugely comprehensive list of things, but it helped to give us an idea of what to do and where to go.
The budget was fairly set in stone, including spending money we had to tap out at £6,500. Using our wedding budget planner, we could work out how much we would have available to spend and there was no way of going over, even a little.
Putting it All Together
And here started our headache.
We started out sold on the whole Caribbean thing. I became particularly enamoured with the Bahamas and in particular going somewhere like Sandals. Luxury all-inclusive sounded amazing, but it wasn’t until we started upgrading here and there where things became difficult. We both had different things we wanted from our experience and we found we either really couldn’t afford what we wanted or both had to compromise so heavily we weren’t looking at a honeymoon anymore, just an expensive package holiday. Shame, but we moved on.
We then starting venturing out of the Bahama’s and into the rest of Caribbean and even started looking as far afield as Mexico and Belize. But not only did we encounter the same problems we also found places just lacked that spark that would make it seem like a honeymoon.
Searches then went north to Canada. But the expense of visiting a modern 1st world country was too rich for our budgets and it would have been spending money on top of any booked experience would make a honeymoon in Canada prohibitive.
The hunt then took a turn to eastern promise. South East Asia is a huge pin to put in a map, so we had to narrow it down. Thailand was a no from me, just saying we’re off to Thailand makes me think of a teenager looking to live it large on a gap year and that is NOT me! I also felt places like Myanmar, Cambodia and Vietnam couldn’t really live up to all our requirements.
We both loved the sound of Singapore, just spending time there, taking it in. SOLD! After a quick think about Kuala Lumpur we decided to go to Singapore. Stage one picked. All we had to do was to pick the rest of the trip. We toyed with a huge number of places, but always kept coming back to Bali. So we had the premise – Singapore and Bali.
But that was only the start of the problems. Singapore wasn’t an issue, there are a huge number of hotels within the downtown vicinity suitable for our needs, so picking one wasn’t a problem. We also knew we wanted to do part of a Bali trip in Ubud, and again it didn’t really appear tricky getting what we wanted (private pool villa) in Ubud, there are a large number of suitable hotels, resorts and spas. It was what we wanted to do after. After spending ages looking at the Gili Islands and Lombok, for a variety of reasons we have decided to go for a beach resort in Nusa Dua.
The main aggravation has been trying to find a provider in budget. I know, because I’ve costed it that I could book all elements of the trip separately for about £4,300, but providers we asking for over £6k for the same itinerary. There was one provider who came in on budget, but required 90% of the cost upfront as the early hotel offers and flights had to be paid in full. It was becoming impossible and exhausting trying to find a way of getting our honeymoon booked, in budget and only requiring a reasonable deposit.
The better half had decided to go into town last Saturday for a spot of Christmas shopping, with a very specific list. Now, with my arthritis mooching round shops is no longer a pastime I can really participate in, but I said “fancy popping into Kuoni?” and with a reluctant yes from my fiancé we agreed to go and get a quote. The yes was reluctant because we had already got a quote from Kuoni for previous iterations of our honeymoon in the Bahama’s and Mexico, both times coming out way over budget.
Come Saturday afternoon (international weekend, so no football was missed) we were dodging the constant human traffic of Saturday afternoon shoppers and notice a Virgin Holidays store open.
“Shall we?” I say.
“Yeah, lets give it go” was the reply.
We walk in, get a welcome glass of fizz and sit down and discuss our requirements. We were shocked to discover they came out on budget and did a wedding gift service. Perfect!
I asked whether we needed to go to Kuoni in a state of shock we had what we wanted in budget. We left the store with an expectation of an emailed itinerary to review over lunch and made our way to Kuoni.
Same itinerary, and for all intent and purpose the same cost! We went from having no holidays in budget with a reasonable deposit to two. All catering for what we wanted. We went away for lunch to review both and pick.
We sat down for lunch, got out my phone to only one itinerary. Kuoni. It was a hammer blow to Virgin Holidays. There was little to nothing to choose between them and it effectively came down to who emailed us and who didn’t.
In an absolute daze about what was unfolding and with time running out on our free parking space we went back to Kuoni and booked our deposit.
We arrived home in the knowledge we set out to buy Christmas presents and an overpriced quote for a honeymoon and came back with no presents and our bets idea of a honeymoon booked within budget.