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Thursday, April 4, 2019

Romantic Spa Honeymoon Ideas

Words by Susan Moynihan

Few things in life are more stressful than wedding planning. As a result, I’m finding more couples are making room for some spa time, either as a romantic getaway before the wedding or for a few days incorporated into a longer honeymoon. These four wellness retreats each offer a unique sense of place, gorgeous surroundings and major romance factor. Read on for my romantic spa honeymoon ideas!

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Portugal - Six Senses Douro Valley

The Douro Valley is one of the hottest spots in Europe for food and wine lovers. One of the oldest demarcated wine regions in the world, this UNESCO World Heritage region is famed for port, but has plenty of other varietals to explore. Six Senses Douro Valley is a 57-room hillside retreat set in a restored 19th century manor house, with gorgeous views of the river valley. Rooms come with zen touches by well-known spa designer Clodagh, while the spa features indoor and outdoor pools and 10 treatment rooms overlooking the gardens. Enjoy nightly wine tastings and meals from the on-site organic garden.

I especially love…the Alchemy Bar, where you mix up your own unique, locally-sourced scrubs and balms to use in treatments.

When not spa-ing: Take a helicopter tour over the scenic valley to Quinta da Ervamoira for a tour and wine-paired lunch. On the way back, stop to see prehistoric rock paintings at Côa Valley Archaeologocal Park.

Mexico - Chablé Resort & Spa

Honeymooners flock to Mexico for its beaches, but this new spa makes you forget about the sea. Located on the Yucatán Peninsula outside the colonial city of Mérida, the hacienda-style Chablé Resort & Spa features 38 stand-alone villas, each with a free-standing stone soaking tub, floor-to-ceiling windows and private plunge pool with a hammock strung handily overhead. The spa, designed around a cenote, features Mayan traditions alongside more expected body and beauty treatments. Rates include two daily activities, ranging from fitness classes to an indigenous temazcal (steam bath) ritual. After a day of relaxation, take advantage of three restaurants offering everything from fresh seafood ceviches to hearty moles, and sample from the largest private tequila collection in the world. 

I especially love…the amazing hydrotherapy circuit with three plunge pools, a salt-water flotarium and a steam room set in a gold-tiled cave.

When you’re not spa-ing: Take an excursion to the home of Doña Eneida, a local woman with serious culinary skills. She’ll teach you how to make a traditional dish of tortillas and pork over a wood fire in her humble kitchen.

Pennsylvania - The Lodge at Woodloch

Anyone who equates “spa” with sacrifice will learn the opposite at this natural reserve in the Pennsylvania Pocono Mountains. The Lodge at Woodloch has easy access from major cities like N.Y.C., Philly and Boston, but disconnection is the goal. Cell phone use is restricted to the 58 plush guest rooms and the 400 acres beg you to get outside, with hiking trails and a small lake for kayaking and paddleboarding. For additional activities, experience the Japanese art of forest bathing with a meditative nature walk, try a fitness class (“Barry White Yoga” is so fun you forget that you’re sweating!), learn to draw, or soak in two waterfall-style hot tubs, one indoors and one outside overlooking the pines. The spa treatment menu spans massages, facials and deeper modalities like reiki and craniosacral therapy, all delivered by top-notch therapists.

I especially love…TREE Restaurant and Bar, which rivals any big-city spot with decadent, multi-course menus featuring organic produce, specials ranging from lobster pappardelle to cheesesteak dumplings, and a Wine Spectator-ranked wine list. 

When not spa-ing: The mountains beckon with everything from fly fishing and golf in the summer to snow-tubing, ice skating and skiing come winter. Much of it is offered at the sister property Woodloch Resort located just down the road.

Bali - COMO Shambhala Estate

Get a break from the beach at this sexy retreat, located outside the creative center of Ubud. The thirty guest suites at COMO Shambhala Estate are spread throughout airy, villa-style residences, each with infinity edge pools overlooking the jungle. All rooms are unique but have similar touches like canopy beds, a yoga mat, COMO Shambhala bath amenities and access to the residences’ shared infinity pool, lounge and dining area. (They also have one-to three-bedroom villas if you want more space.) A resident nutritionist, yoga teacher and Ayurvedic consultant means you can get as intense as you like. A third of the spa treatment rooms are reserved for couples, while activities include yoga and Pilates, but also tennis, biking and serious fitness training.

I especially love…the on-site cooking class, where you’ll get hands-on with a bevy of fresh ingredients and learn how to create a three-course lunch of healthy Indonesian-fusion dishes.

When not spa-ing: Visit nearby water temple Tirta Empul, where your guided tour includes stops for cleansings at 30 different water sources followed by a blessing from the resident priests.

Learn more about The Honeymoonist, Susan Moynihan (a.k.a. Traveler-in-Chief), at thehoneymoonist.com.

Photos courtesy of (in order of appearance): Six Senses Douro Valley (1st-5th), Chablé Resort & Spa (6th-10th), The Lodge at Woodloch (11th-15th) & COMO Hotels & Resorts (16th-20th).

This article first appeared in Destination I Do's Fall/Winter 2018 issue. You can order a copy here.

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