The Honeymoon Phase

By Adam Graham

Originally published on Advocate.com August 26 2008 11:00 PM ET

NAPA VALLEY -- EPICUREAN PARADISE Calistoga, Calif.’s Solage is Napa Valley’s latest
hot spot. With the largest champagne list in the area, the
hotel’s restaurant, Solbar, is an ideal place
for newlyweds to toast their nuptials. The simple but
stylish 89-room resort feels relaxed and sexy, with
young guests biking to the pool in bikinis, meandering to
the spa in robes, or nibbling on fruit and toast
poolside.

The free bike
rentals make exploring the town -- prized for its healing
spa waters -- a breeze. Don’t forget a visit to
Copia, the nearby educational center devoted to
winemaking and the culinary and visual arts
(www.copia.org), where you can check out a myriad of herb,
fruit, and vegetable gardens or the revolving cultural
exhibits on food lore and history.

MEXICO -- OLD-WORLD LUXURY The legendary Hacienda de Antonio is lost in
time. The verdant 19th-century coffee plantation, featuring
a casa grande built of volcanic stone, sits in the
shadow of an active volcano in Mexico’s hilly
state of Colima. Home to the pristine Parque Nacional
Volcán Nevado de Colima, the area remains the favorite
summer destination of many Mexicans. Honeymooners will
find no shortage of beauty or relaxation opportunities
on this 5,000-acre property, which features fountains,
pools, shaded orchard trails, tennis, horseback
riding, bountiful breakfasts, and warm, impeccable service. Two-hour
guided tours of the rambling grounds give a glimpse of
a working coffee plantation. For dinner, stick around the
Hacienda for chef David Ferre’s incredible
culinary creations derived from the estate’s El
Jabali highland ranch, which produces cheeses, yogurts,
meats, and organic vegetables using traditional methods. And
of course, no meal would be complete without a cup of
the estate’s organic shade-grown coffee.

PARIS -- THE URBAN EXPERIENCE In a city full of romantic hotels,
Paris’s enchanting L’Hotel truly stands out.
Located on the Left Bank -- less than a 20-minute walk from
the Louvre, the Musée d’Orsay, Saint-Sulpice,
and Notre Dame Cathedral -- the hotel features 20
unique rooms, each decorated in vivid textiles such as
crushed velvet and leopard print. Though there are no Eiffel
Tower views, the cellar hides a private two-person
pool and steam room, a cozy place to spend some
private time together after seeing the sights.
Paris’s Michelin-rated restaurants are certainly
worth a visit, but the unassuming romance of its
smaller cafés and bistros can’t be beat. Get
off the predictable path and head to La Butte aux Cailles, a
cobblestoned neighborhood in the 13th arrondissement.
The French Basque fare and heaping salads at charming
Chez Gladine make it a mainstay for area artists.

THE MALDIVES -- SWEET SECLUSIONThe
Conrad Maldives Rangali Island
is the kind of
remote beach getaway ideal for newlyweds. The resort spreads
out over two coral islands and is surrounded by
nothing but white sand and the cerulean Indian Ocean.
The sumptuous villa suites, all built over the water
on stilts in a traditional thatched-roof style, are
outfitted with iPod docks, Wi-Fi, and luxury bedding.
Treatments at the Over-Water Spa (one of two spas at
the resort) include the resort’s signature Siddhartha
rituals for couples, which use a variety of natural
aphrodisiacs to awaken your senses. For dinner,
descend 16 feet below sea level to the glass-encased
undersea restaurant, Ithaa, where diners savor freshly
caught reef fish with bittersweet orange essence and lobster
with Maldivian beach grass and lime.

BOTSWANA -- NATURE AND NURTURE The massive Okavango Delta can be seen from
outer space, and Conservation Corporation
Africa’s
newest properties, the Xudum Delta
Lodge and Xaranna Tented Camps, are right in the heart
of it. The luxed-out Xudum Lodge has private plunge pools
and rooftop sleep-outs that overlook a
hippopotamus-filled lagoon, while the elegant
air-conditioned tents are only slightly more rugged.

Couples also can
view the Moremi Game Preserve, the indigenous Bushmen
known as the San, and Chobe National Park, home to some of
the largest elephant herds in the world. Twice-daily
treks in four-wheel-drive safari vehicles, mekoro
(dugout canoes), or powerboats offer guests ample
opportunity to investigate the surroundings. After the
safari, personal butlers arrange lantern-lit, private
alfresco dinners before tucking you into comfy
mosquito-netted beds