Forget about the singing Elvises- we've searched the globe for the best spiritual honeymoon hotspots.
BY: Richard Baimbridge
Looking out over Niagara Falls, once synonymous in Americans' minds with "honeymoon," Oscar Wilde dubbed the spot "the second-greatest disappointment of American married life." A lot has changed since Wilde's days. The average couple no longer dreams of a week in Vegas or a trip to the Grand Canyon to celebrate their nuptials. Jet travel and better communications have made exotic destinations, once the exclusive playgrounds of the wealthy, more accessible to the rest of us.
Nor are the rest of us content to be mere "tourists." Today we are "travellers." More and more couples now view honeymooning as a rare opportunity for adventure, exploration, and true spiritual bonding.
When my own parents got married way back in 1955, their plan was to drive through Mexico. They made it as far as the border, spent a night at a roadside motel, got lost, turned around, and went home. That turned out to be a fitting first day of the rest of their married life, but it doesn't have to happen to you. The world's greatest spiritual and romantic destinations await you. Here are just a few to consider:
If you endured a "traditional" wedding for the sake of family but long for a more intimate, spiritual experience, Turtle Island is the ideal destination. Here you can experience an authentic Fijian marriage ceremony in an open air chapel on the beach. Brides, adorned in flowers and Fijian attire, arrive by billi billi wedding raft. The wedding is tailored to either Methodist or Catholic faiths, but with local touches like a Kava drink-sipping ritual. Honeymooners stay in a bure (a deluxe palm hut), with private beaches reserved for each couple (the resort accepts a maximum of 14 couples at any given time). Meals are held in a communal outdoor setting under a Banyan tree, complete with French champagne.
Rates: $2,000 fully inclusive wedding package; seaplane transfers $690
Machu Picchu, Peru
Perched high in the Andes, the ancient city of Machu Picchu is the New Age Mecca--one of the most beautiful and spiritual places in the world. Originally built as a monastery in 1592 on the site of Inca Amaru Qhala Palace, Hotel Monasterio in the town of Cusco (three hours by train to Machu Picchu) is an ideal spot for honeymooning. A stunning chapel is also available for weddings. But be warned: It's not a trip for the faint-hearted. The traditional trek by foot to the ruins is a four-day walk through altitudes that will test the healthiest lungs. But by all accounts, it's worth it.
Doubles $270-320; helicopter lifts $85
International House Hotel
New Orleans, Louisiana
You don’t have to leave the country for a unique spiritual experience. The International House, a breathtaking hotel in the heart of the French Quarter, serves up a ceremony that ranks among the best of them. Featuring an authentic staff voodoo priestess, the hotel offers love blessing rituals for newlyweds. First an altar is built in your room, then clippings of the couple's hair and fingernails are taken and combined with herbs and sealed in a silk gris-gris bag as the priestess draws icons called veves on the floor to summon the loa, or spirit (no animals are killed). The hotel also features flower baths and a "voodoo love kit" with massage oils and other sensuous, mystical treats. The hotel is almost back up to full occupancy after the city was devastated by Hurricane Katrina. You can help support the renewal of New Orleans and reinvigorate yourself in the process.
Rates: Suites $359-439; blessing ceremony $125