R5 Destination: Nirvana

Destination: NIRVANA



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The Victoria-Jungfrau spa in Switzerland wants its indoor and open-air pools to be reminiscent of the bathing culture of the ancient Romans.


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You’ve spent the past year or so planning your wedding; picking out your dress, trousseau, reception venue, flowers, cake, and menu; addressing envelopes; writing your vows; planning seating charts; and mediating family conflicts. Enough! Now is the time for the two of you to step back, take a deep break, and relax…on the spa honeymoon of your dreams.


Victoria-Jungfrau Grand Hotel & Spa

Interlaken, Switzerland




La Pastateca is one of six in-house restaurants at the Victoria-Jungfrau.


As you wait for the bellhop to pick up your belongings at the formidable Victoria Jungfrau Hotel, there’s a good chance you’ll see a paraglider swoop down from an adjacent hill, Batman-style, and land a few yards away on the front lawn. Flying is but one way to take in one of the most lyrical vistas in Europe—the crisp whites of Jungfrau Mountain’s snowy peaks, the blues of sky and lakes, and the lush greens of Interlaken (between the lakes). The Victoria Jungfrau, a grande dame of a hotel that apparently believes in the power of an artfully done facelift, continues to impress the well-heeled and well-informed traveler by constantly upgrading and refining itself. The latest addition—a 60,000-square-foot spa added in 1997. 


Best Time to Go: All seasons; skiing in winter, water sports in summer


Spa: In a country synonymous with skin pampering, the V-J Spa offers a vast array of treatments. But you and your spouse should go for the acclaimed Private Spa Ritual Diamond. Candles flicker, flower petals float in a warm, sensuous bath for two, and there’s a private changing area, three hours of treatments each, lunch, and other spa goodies, $1,200. There’s no need to see anyone all day but your own personal spa practitioners! 



The hotel’s Elegant Bel Air Junior Suites offer guests direct access to the spa.


Ask for: The Royal Package (approximately $1,540), which includes two nights in a double room, a bountiful breakfast daily, a five-course dinner at La Terrasse or à la carte at one of the other in-house restaurants, a horse-drawn carriage ride through Interlaken, Champagne, fruit, flowers, candles, and use of the spa. (Treatments and Spa Ritual are additional.)


Venturing Out:  Book a ride on the cog railway to the top of Jungfrau or, for those gutsy enough, sign up to take wing (tandem, with a paragliding expert) from a hill adjacent to the hotel. Either excursion will leave you as breathless as newlyweds who can’t get enough of each other.


The Beverly Hills Hotel

Beverly Hills, CA

(310) 276-2251





The Beverly Hills Hotel offers luxurious spa services poolside and in its guest rooms.


If you’re the type of couple who salivate at the latest Cartier watches or Harry Winston baubles (and the movie stars who buy them), honeymooning in Beverly Hills might be just the way to begin your married life together. After a day of window shopping and celebrity scouting, nothing lifts your newly entwined spirits more than being treated like celebrities yourselves. And the best place to do this is at the incomparable Art Deco-style Beverly Hills Hotel, where winsome staff members greet you by name from the minute you check in and Hollywood glamour oozes from every chandelier and gold-leaf-accented staircase. An extensive renovation completed in 1995 has reclaimed the BHH’s place in history, and now, as before, tastemakers are flocking to the Polo Lounge and the Cabana Club Café.


Best Time to Go: All seasons


Spa: Caviar and gold are featured on the extensive treatment list at the Beverly Hills Hotel Spa by La Prairie. The Pure Gold Radiance Facial (90 minutes/$280) and the Caviar Firming Facial (90 minutes/$280), along with the After Shopping Paradise Treatment for weary feet, are offered in lavish treatment rooms, though you can (and should!) opt for a stellar massage in a private cabana overlooking the palm-tree-ringed pool.



Ask for: One of the bungalow suites ($1,000 to $2,800 per night) where Monroe and Marlene Dietrich stayed and where Liz Taylor honeymooned with six of her eight husbands (she must have really liked it). With one-of-a-kind furnishings and separate entrances within the well-tended hotel landscaping, some suites have pianos, Jacuzzi tubs, and treadmills. 


Venturing Out: Fun-loving lovers should make a point of heading to Grauman’s Chinese Theater, where costumed ushers escort you to your seat and the massive single screen harks back to the golden days of cinema. You may be lucky enough to step your just-pampered toes on the red carpet—still the most sought-after location for a movie premiere.


COMO Shambhala Estate

at Begawan Giri





COMO Shambhala’s Glow restaurant specializes in healthy cuisine—and romantic touches.


If your body is your temple, it should head to this temple-like spa resort in the Balinese jungle, where balancing your life and energy is the staff’s primary concern. Once you book but before you arrive, you are asked to fill out a questionnaire, to help the staff fulfill your wishes and desires. The Estate at Begawan Giri suggests a Buddhist house of worship reconfigured to provide ultimate decadent pleasure:a sensuous collection of stone, wood, and ylang-ylang roofing punctuated with infinity pools, dense foliage, water gardens, and a natural spring (called the Source) on 23 acres. Shadows of palm trees dance on bare shoulders as message therapists work their pampering magic.


Best Time to Go: June to September, when it’s relatively cool and dry. (Note: it takes 21 hours to fly from New York City to Denpasar and one additional hour to get to the resort from the airport.)


Spa: This is the flagship COMO Shambhala—an award-winning holistic health company whose mission is to help people find inner peace through balance, special environments, and therapies that include Ayurveda, an Indian approach to healing with treatments I can’t even pronounce. Life coaches, “energy healers,” yoga masters, and Pilates instructors sometimes outnumber guests, and the retreat works closely with a selection of “visiting masters.” If you arrive with a body as knotted as a pretzel, you can be sure you’ll leave straightened out.



COMO Shambhala’s Wanakasa Master Suite features a private Jacuzzi.


Ask for: A Retreat Villa, a two-level structure that houses its own treatment rooms, king-size bedroom, outdoor shower, and lap pool. Honeymooners arrive to find a bloom-covered bed, a bath sprinkled liberally with colorful flower petals, and a special newlywed cake. The price includes daily breakfast, lunch, and dinner; airport transfers; use of the steam room, saunas, and lap pool; and biking, yoga, Pilates, and Tai Chi classes. Five nights range from $2,563 for the Garden Suite to $11,925 for the 2-bedroom Royal Suite. One-bedroom villas start at $5,100.


Venturing Out: Take a hike or complimentary mountain-bike ride through rice paddies and jungle gorges on ancient pathways overlooking volcanoes, rivers, and mountains with an experienced guide provided by the estate.


Anantara Resort Golden Triangle

Golden Triangle, Thailand




Colors and aromas blend in a spa bath at Anantara.


Pachyderms await at the luxurious Anantara Golden Triangle resort, set in 160 acres of jungle overlooking the hills of three countries—Thailand, Laos, and Myanmar. Local “mahouts” (elephant drivers) and their charges reside in an elephant sanctuary on resort land and welcome visitors to ride, drive (with gentle touches and commands), and bathe with these gentle giants. Nineteen large suites, decorated in creams, russets and rusts, combine the European elegance of rich silks and clean lines with Thai artwork and teakwood carvings. If you can rouse yourselves, take in the refreshing chill of a sunrise shrouded in mountain mists; later, toast the magnificent sunset from beneath whirling fans above your balcony daybed overlooking tropical gardens, an inviting infinity pool, and the Mekong River. 

Not too long ago, the Mekong Delta was notorious for the poppy fields that supplied much of the world’s opium, which explains the naming of the Opium Terrace where you can snack on canapés and tapas before enjoying a haute meal in either the Baen Dahlia Restaurant, which serves Italian cuisine, or the Sala Mae Nam dining room, which offers a Thai menu for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.


Best Time to Go: Between November and February to avoid the rainy season


Spa: Nothing balances your chakras like a Colour Therapy Steam Bath, in which three custom colors are added to your bath to harmonize body and spirit. Five treatment rooms open onto balconies featuring comfortable terrazzo soaking tubs and views of Thai gardens and sweeping panoramas. If the setting isn’t quite nirvana enough, a four-handed Thai massage will send you into a catatonic state. (Treatments are à la carte.)


Ask For: The Suite Essence Package ($295 per night), which includes a resort suite, room-service breakfast, personal laundry service, daily bottle of Champagne, custom soap selection, Internet access, afternoon drinks and canapés, and round-trip airport transfer.


Venturing Out: Where else can you sit atop an elephant while it bathes or speed over to neighboring Don Sao Island in Laos on a longboat? Between the Elephant Camp, a fitness center, squash court, cooking school, and the spa, there’s really no need to leave the resort except for one intriguing attraction; the new multi-million-dollar Hall of Opium Museum in the nearby village of Baan Sop Ruak, created to address the area’s history with the opiate and fight this illegal drug and its effects. The resort offers complimentary transportation and entry tickets.


Cocoa Island

The Maldive Islands




Accommodations on Cocoa Island in the Maldives come in the form of the beachside dhoni suites,which resemble Maldivian fishing boats.


If you’re looking for unparalleled seclusion with powder-soft, blazing-white sand, yoga classes, and knock-your-socks-off (so don’t bring them!) cuisine, consider Cocoa Island, part of the chain of Maldives in the Indian Ocean. For honeymooners who believe that Bora Bora has become as busy as Times Square, this island getaway will make you feel like a castaway—on Fantasy Island. (Imagine Lost with fawning butler service, and no “Others,”and you get the idea. Thirty-three private rooms overlooking a crystal-clear lagoon and accessed by boardwalks are modeled on the indigenous Dhoni boats. Each features high rafted, thatched roofs, glossy teak flooring, and private balconies from which you can ease yourself into the warm water dense with tropical fish. To do it right, pack a swimsuit and only one pair of shoes—flip-flops—and chances are you won’t even wear those.



While you’re there, make sure to take a dip in the hydrotherapy pool (above).


Best Time to Go: Between October and April to avoid monsoon season. Beware: it takes 24.5 hours from New York to fly to Male with at least a five-hour layover—and there’s a 30-minute boat ride to the resort.


Spa: This resort revolves around health and holistic (though luxurious) therapies. (You pay à la carte.) Group yoga sessions take place in a pavilion open to the ocean air. Spend some time in the couples treatment room, where your weary body will thank you for the Cocoa Island Bath, which incorporates a salt scrub, macadamia oils, and oat bran to give you back your baby-soft skin. Swim, laze, then eat in either of the spa’s two Ufaa (“happy”) restaurants, which serve Indian and Sri Lankan food sourced by local fishermen and farmers.



The more modern-looking two-bedroom villas.


Ask for: A Dohoni Loft Suite featuring a mezzanine-level bedroom from which you can gaze out at the endless ocean, a large living room, and a private sun deck ($800 to $1,000 per night includes breakfast). Or spring for the Sunset Villa—a two-bedroom hideaway with four sundecks and a private jetty ($2,400 to $2,600 per night). The summer package offers seven nights for the price of five.


Venturing out: Where? Why?


Il Pellicano

Porta Ercole, Italy



Constructing this dramatic resort required a feat of engineering ingenuity. Buildings and pools cling to a sheer cliff on the Tuscan Coast, and once you arrive, it’s tough to leave, literally. Yet the location is so stunning and the food and service so first-class, you really don’t want to go anywhere else. In the middle of nowhere, surrounded by rock and sea, Il Pellicano is a paradise unto itself. Most guest rooms, decorated in shades of white, offer dramatic water views, and some have spacious terracotta balconies from which the two of you can indulge in a post-shower, pre-dinner antipasto nibble.


Best Time to Go: April to October to take advantage of the warmer temperatures


Spa: If your life is in constant fast-forward, sometimes you just need a place that can help you press pause. Spa treatments here draw from the surroundings. Sea salts, Murano glass, sesame oils, and seaweed are used in a collection of body and facial treatments. But the best treatment of all is having uninterrupted time to be enraptured with your partner. Sit by the pool or on a stone terrace at the sea’s edge where waves splash on Mediterranean rocks.


Ask for: The Spa Relaxation Special ($570 to $730 per night, depending on the season), which includes a deluxe room, dinner for two, breakfast, and two spa treatments.


Venturing Out: The whole point of this property is to stay put; it’s self-contained perfection. Read a book, don shades and a hat, and sit side-by-side with faces to the sun and toes tickled by sea spray. Many couples tour the ruins of Rome or boost their artistic IQ in Florence before decompressing here for the rest of their honeymoon.





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