A LEGEND ON LAKE COMO, AND AN OPPORTUNITY TO INDULGE IN THE DOLCE VITA LIFESTYLE.

After spending 3 days in Lake Como, situated in the foothills of the Italian Alps, I quickly learned why JFK said “It is the most beautiful lake of the world.”

Forming an upside-down Y, Lake Como is an hour’s drive north of Milan.

I had the privilege to stay at the elegant Villa D’Este in Cernobbio, designated one of the best hotels in the world by Travel & Leisure, Condé Nast Traveler and Forbes Traveler.

It is truly challenging to describe how beautiful this resort is.  Upon checking in at the Cardinal Building, I was told I would be staying in the Queen’s Pavilion, both together offering a total 152 rooms and suites.

The villa was originally built in 1568 as the summer residence for Cardinal Tolomeo Gallio and was the playground of an Empress, an English Queen and aristocrats. In 1873, it was transformed into a luxury hotel and all rooms were individually decorated and furnished with antiques, silk brocade drapes, oil paintings and Como silk furnishings.

 

While being escorted to my room, I quickly became in awe of my surroundings.  To the left, 25 acres of luxuriously landscaped gardens complete with 16th-century mosaic monuments with the lower part of the gardens from the Renaissance period. To the right, the lakeside terrace and unique floating swimming pool facing the picturesque mountains.

My room overlooking the lake was classic elegance.  No two rooms in either building are alike in size or décor and are furnished with every comfort.

This hotel is the definition of sophistication; no wonder why the romances of Frank Sinatra and Ava Gardner, The Duke and Duchess of Windsor, and Rita Hayworth and Orson Welles began here.

This hotel is more than just a villa, it is a destination.  Upon reaching your room, you might not want to leave.  However, there are an abundance of water sports to choose from as well as the Sporting Club.  Located in the Cardinal Building this club is connected by a secret passageway offering a fitness center, sauna, squash court and much more.  Outdoors, there are hiking trails, a tennis center and trademark floating pool to choose from.  One can also enjoy playing a round of golf at the beautiful Golf Club Villa Deste, considered to be one of the most challenging par 69’s in Europe.

 

 

Have a Bellini lakeside as the sun sets before moving to the Veranda for world-class dining.

I am still dreaming of my early morning wake up calls.   Doorbell rings, and the waiter rolls in a gorgeous white linen table bearing silver pot of coffee and fresh flowers, as I glance at the morning newspaper, the windows open, in a room with the ultimate view.

For more information on weddings and honeymoons at Villa D’Este please contact Nancy Barkley, Honeymoons and Get-A-Ways.  215-793-4808.
All images courtesy of Villa D’Este.

 

 

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EXCEPTIONAL, EXCLUSIVE, AND TRANQUILITY WRAPPED IN BLUE. – ANQUILLA, BWI.

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Something Borrowed, Something Blue?  Your luxury destination wedding can be wrapped in blue, gorgeous Caribbean blue.

I love Anguilla, a secret gem in the Caribbean. This British Caribbean Island is only 35 square miles in size but offers 33 of the most beautiful beaches in the world. All of these picture perfect beaches are public, unspoiled and uncrowded.  The white sand is like walking on powder and the tranquil waters vary in their different shades of vibrant blue.  It is no wonder why Travel Channel ranks Anguilla’s beaches among the best around the world.  These beaches are wonderful options for a destination wedding as Anguilla’s dramatic sunsets will provide the most impeccable backdrop and flawless photographs.

This eastern Caribbean island is ideal for couples looking for a high style, low- key  wedding, desiring privacy and exclusivity.  While Anguilla is a chic luxury destination that is frequented by celebrities, pretentious it is not.  Luxury villas and resorts, culinary paradise, live music scene, are a few of the reasons A-listers visit here and hide in plain sight.

Arrive Anguilla via a 20 minute Ferry ride from Margot, St. Martin, where Ferries operate daily.  Ferries are also available directly from the St. Martin airport.  Flying is an option into Anguilla, however there are no direct flights as this charming Caribbean Island airport runway is not long enough to accommodate larger aircrafts.  Most connections are via San Juan, St. Martin, St. Thomas, helicopter, or private jet.  Of course you can charter your own yacht or (byob) bring your own boat.

Your wedding in Anguilla will be captivating and one that guests will be talking about for years to come.

Villa or Resort?

The Zemi Beach House Resort & Spa,  is located on one of the world’s most beautiful beaches?  Shoal Bay.

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The Zemi Thai House Spa is exceptional, boasting the only Hamman on the island housed in a 300 year old Thai House.  This luxurious retreat offers private spa suites, yoga, and a meditation garden along with ancient rituals to heal you.  Spa day here is a must for your guests.

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After a day of pampering and relaxation, return to your exquisite Caribbean Style ocean view room with soft woods and premium European linens.  If 24 hour room service is not your desire, you can dine casually at 20 Knots, or formally at Stone enjoying seasonal cuisine and freshly caught seafood.

There are many activities your guests can partake in before the big day.  Rum tasting at the luxurious rum bar, stand up paddle boarding, snorkeling, tennis, or kayaking is worth the experience.

The Zemi Beach Resort is for the couple wanting to marry on one of the most beautiful, intimate beaches in the world.  You can choose from an elegant poolside reception or formal dining, overlooking the ocean, in 20Knots before dancing the night away.

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If modern ultra-luxury villa is more your style, I present The Beach House to you.  The Beach House sits on 1.5 acres of unspoiled beach, Meads Bay.

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Serviced with a full complement of staff, including private chefs, butler services, personal concierge, housekeeping and more, The Beach House offers the best of the good life. With its combination of world-class accommodation, breathtaking location, and impeccable bespoke service, all who stay at The Beach House agree that it has earned its reputation for being the Caribbean’s finest private luxury beach villa. For the beach lover, this is paradise found.

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The Beach House offers luxurious Caribbean living and every imaginable amenity. Indoor and outdoor rain showers, 12-seat cinema room, tennis courts, and extra master suite apartment, fully equipped gym, bar, lounge, library, and   infinity pool and office.

The Beach Houses stunning architecture was designed for indoor/outdoor living offering spectacular views of the ocean and sunsets.  This is the perfect venue for the distinctive wedding where a bride can make a splendid entrance arriving by boat.

Anguilla exudes delightful old charm. The unspoiled beaches and pristine waters of this dream island make it a hot-spot for celebrities and those seeking an ultra-chic, wedding.

To plan your dream honeymoon, destination wedding, or romantic getaway to Anquilla, contact Nancy Barkley at Honeymoons and Get-A-Ways

Photo Credits:  Zemi Beach House and The Beach House.

MAGICAL PLACES TO VISIT IN PRAGUE.

 

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Prague is one of the most beautiful, enchanting, and romantic cities in Central Europe.  This capital city of Czech Republic seems straight out of a children’s storybook, like the setting of a fairy tale.  Legend has it that the turrets and spires of  Tyn Church Towers in Old Town gave Walt Disney the inspiration for the Sleeping Beauty Castle. It is one of the wonderful magical places in the Europe.

This is the perfect place to simply stroll and explore. You may stumble across a hidden alley, courtyard, or a lovely garden tucked away behind an apartment block.  Even locals get lost wandering the cobblestone streets discovering this architectural jewel.

You should begin your enchanted walking adventure at the Powder Tower, the first point of the Coronation or Royal Route, and follow in the steps of Czech kings.  This will lead you on a historical path which medieval Bohemian monarchs paraded on their way to being crowned in St. Vitus Cathedral.

This will put you at Prague Castle, which takes center stage in Czech history. It sits majestically on a hill high above Prague. Rising above the castle is the 600-year-old St. Vitus Cathedral.

Arch your back and you will see the beautiful spires on top of the cathedral. It is the largest and most important church in the Czech Republic. The cathedral is one of the best examples of Gothic architecture where saints, kings, and emperors of Bohemia are buried.  The coronations of kings were held here until 1836.

Duck your head to visit the nearby houses of Golden Lane, originally the laneway of goldsmiths that served Prague Castle, dating back to the 15th century. It is one of the finest collections of traditional medieval buildings.

Climb the 287 steps of the South Tower for breathtaking views.

Here, you will also see Zikmund, the largest bell in the country, weighing in at approximately 15 tons.  Six bell ringers are required to swing the bell into motion, 4 to swing and 2 to manipulate the clapper.

Presidential guards secure the main entrances to the castle.  They are members of a special army division and services directly to the president.  The exchanging of the guards occurs every hour, with a ceremonious changing at noon that features a parade and music.  They also walk the grounds of the Castle looking over the security of visitors and reluctantly giving directions to lost travelers.

The iconic Charles Bridge, that crosses the Vltava River, is a destination in its own right. Construction started in 1357 under King Charles IV and finished in 1402.  This land connection made Prague significant as the trade route between Eastern and Western Europe. Crossing this bridge with 16th arches and 30 baroque statues, you will be treated to very talented street musicians, souvenir shopping, custom portraits drawn by local artists and Instagram-worthy photo opportunities.

Prague’s Old Town, dating back to 1328, is a plaza surrounded by former palaces.  Here you can wander in any direction and discover picturesque buildings, winding alleyways as well as galleries showcasing Prague’s Modern Artists.

The Medieval Astronomical Clock, dating to 1410, is the 3rd oldest astronomical clock in the world.  Sometime in 1490, a calendar dial was added and the entire structure was decorated with Gothic sculptures. The figures at the top and bottom had significant meaning in medieval times, while the skeleton pulling the bell cord is Death and the fourth represents lust and earthly possessions.

Join the crowds from around the world lining up on the hour to watch the procession of the Twelve Apostles appear from a small trap door.

After experiencing first hand, it’s easy to see why travelers say Prague is one of the most magical and beautiful historical cities in the world.

For more information contact Nancy @ Honeymoons and Get-A-Ways 

Header image courtesy Nancy Barkley.  All other images courtesy The Official Tourist Website for Prague.

YOUR DREAM DESTINATION WEDDING STARTS HERE.

Your tropical fairy-tale wedding awaits at Belmond Maroma Resort and Spa

MAR-WED-09A luxurious seaside hideaway located along the Riviera Maya. Belmond believes there is nothing more important than location when it comes to planning the best day of your life, and Maroma delivers.  The magic begins as you enter this romantic hideaway, winding your way through the jungle and being greeted with genuine warm Mexican hospitably.    Understated elegance is the style at this enchanted estate, hidden by lush foliage and coconut trees.  The resort is located on a white sandy beach, recognized as the “World’s Best” by the Travel Channel.  While discretion and privacy are dominant, this intimate 63-room resort makes it perfect for buyouts, affording exclusivity for your entire stay.

Your guests will stay in luxurious authentic Mexican style handcrafted rooms, feeling more like a home than resort, all within close proximity to the exclusive beach, truly a little piece of paradise.

 

Activities to choose from are onsite jungle bike tours, tennis, cooking and tequila classes and yoga.  The world’s second largest barrier reef just offshore, provides world-class snorkeling and diving.   Private tours of the rich Mayan culture as well as golfing at nearby premier golf courses. Golf classes can be arranged by the concierge.

Spend an entire day at KINAN Spa, voted # 1 best spa in Mexico and Latin America by Conde Nast Traveler.   Pronounced keynan, is Mayan for “the source of life”, this spa offers a full range of spa services in unique environment combining Zen and Maya concepts.  In addition to steam bath and saunas, the traditional Temazcal (spiritual Maya sweat lodge) is offered.  Beautiful caftans are worn in spa.

Savor sensational genuine Mexican cuisines at El Restaurante or El Sol where Mexican taste sensations await.

This resort exudes romance, and with the Caribbean Sea as your backdrop, make for the perfect destination wedding.  The hardest decision you will make is which magnificent location to choose from. Beach, main pool, courtyard, garden, terrace?

Rest assured from the moment we are involved, we will start working tirelessly and behind the scenes sprinkling metaphorical stardust to ensure your day is pure magic!   “And they lived Happily Ever After”

Please contact Nancy Barkley at Honeymoons and Get-A-Ways for your Happily Ever After at Belmond Maramo.

All pictures are courtesy of Belmond.

SOPHISTICATION AND LUXURY GEM IN THE CARIBBEAN

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Paradisus Palma Real  is where you want to get away if you desire the crystal blue sea, pristine white sandy beaches, stylish accommodations and exceptional dining.

This luxury all-inclusive resort is located on one of the most legendary beaches in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, the remarkable Bavaro Beach.

First impressions are everything, and this resort does not disappoint.  It is love at first sight upon arrival where you are met with a jaw dropping dramatic lobby offering stunning views of the Caribbean.

This exclusive paradise offers extravagant options and experiences for everyone, the possibilities are truly endless.  You will be treated like Royalty while staying in the adult only Royal Service, the personification of elegance offering discreet butler service during your entire stay.  You can roll out of your bed and onto the beach Bali bed reserved and waiting for you.  While you are sipping cocktails you can contemplate which fine dining restaurant you want reservations for that evening.  Private check in/check out, regal amenities, and pillow, yes pillow menus are a glimpse into your pampering.

Families can also experience this VIP treatment in Family Concierge. Children can wear their child size robes and slippers while enjoying such amenities as a Play Station before starting the multitude of children’s activities available to them.  Or you may want to stay in “The Reserve” a hotel within a hotel offering residential concierge suites.

Paradisus Palma Real is where you go to be gastronomically content.   Gourmet restaurants offer contemporary world class cuisine including Passion, by Martin Berasateui, winner of 8 Michelin stars, and well know Spanish chef.

Guests are provided endless options to relax and reduce stress. Yhi Spa specializes in Asian treatments and is a sanctuary of positive energy.  Therapists hailing from the Philippines and Indonesia specialize in treatments based on the arts of Thai Chi and Muay Thai.

Those who choose to stay active can choose from beach volleyball, tennis kayak and numerous water sports.  The Yhi Moves Fitness Center offers state of the art equipment as well as an on-site personal trainer.  However runners might want to strap on their running shoes, relish the natural backdrop of the Caribbean, and run on the miles of white sandy beaches.

Golfers will delight in the unlimited green fees included at the World Class 27 hole champion golf course designed by Jose Pepe Gancedo.

For those desiring different activities, the resort offers life enriching experiences which include sushi making, wine tasting, painting and salsa classes and more.

You will rediscover the romance of travel at this romantic haven.  This is the perfect destination to say I do or celebrate each other.

Honeymooners and anniversary couples celebrate romance “Under the Star” private dinner, rose petals bed and bath couples massages creating memories to last a lifetime.

Brides and Grooms who choose to have their wedding at this paradise are assured a postcard perfect ceremony and can choose from many glamorous locations.

This is where you want to go if you want a dreamlike location, superior service, extraordinary food, luxurious accommodations and countless activities. So what are you waiting for?  Contact Nancy Barkley at Honeymoons and Get-A-Ways to plan your once in a lifetime memory.

All pictures courtesy of Paradisus Palma Real.

I INVITE YOU TO INDULGE IN THE DOLCE VITA LIFESTYLE.

After spending 3 days in Lake Como, located in the foothills of the Italian Alps, I quickly learned why JFK said “It is the most beautiful lake of the world” Forming an upside-down Y, Lake Como is an hour’s drive … Continue reading

Yachting about Italy and Croatia!

Lying back in a wooden rowboat together and entering the magical Blue Grotto in Capri Italy.

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Romantic sunset gondola ride on the Grand Canal in Venice, Italy.

 

Wine pairing at a family run winery in Sicily.

 

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Exploring Montenegro with its twisting byways, Byzantine architecture, and pitched mountains plummeting straight into the Adriatic Sea.

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Walking the medieval walls that surround Dubrovnik and then exploring what lies within the white old city.

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Visiting Split Croatia with its bustling harbor lined with cafes and Diocletians’ Palace in the center of town.

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Strolling through the streets of Rovinj, Croatia where hints of Italy are everywhere, in the signs, in the language, in the cuisine, thanks to having spent more than 500 years under Venetian rule. Romantic, quaint, and captivating, it’s Istria’s most beloved town.

 

Trip of a lifetime, you bet!  Memories that will last forever, indeed!  Can you experience this?  Absolutely, call Honeymoons and Get-A-Ways today!  215-793-4808

www.honeymoonsandgetaways.com

 

How to set your own trend for your Destination Wedding!

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Tell your own story:

Customize everything you can. You’ll be able to set your own trend for your destination wedding and reflect your unique personality. Continue reading

Love, Italian Style!

  1. Learn from the celebrities. Many engaged couples want to emulate the lavish celebrity weddings held overseas in some of the world’s most romantic locales. These types of celebrations are not necessarily out-of-reach of the average couple—ask local tourism boards or suppliers to recommend wedding and reception venues. You might be surprised what’s available.

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  1. Italy reigns. No surprise, Italy continues to be at the top of the list of wedding locales, with its culture, stunning landscapes and rich history—not to mention the excellent cuisine and wines. Venues range from luxury villas to medieval castles, renaissance palaces to ancient monasteries. One of the most desired locations is Chianti, in the Tuscany region, known for its stunning rolling countryside, vineyards, medieval villages and Renaissance churches.
  2. Take over an entire property. More couples are choosing to buy out an intimate venue for a weekend for the exclusive use of the wedding party and guests. During a buyout, all hotel amenities (including restaurants, lounges, spa, etc.) are open only to the wedding party and guests, assuring an exceptional, unique, unforgettable and private celebration.

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  1. Eloping is still an option. Perhaps surprisingly, more brides and grooms are choosing to run away secretly to get married. But make no mistake, this is no hurried affair, it is a sophisticated event — just one without invitations and guest lists. Today’s elegant elopements often include elaborate photo shoots in gorgeous locations and stunning wedding gowns.
  2. Fuse cultures and religions. The trend toward interfaith or multi-cultural weddings shows no signs of slowing down. You can help your clients combine and personalize the ceremony with different traditions, foods, dance, music and attire. They can recite vows in multiple languages, before officiants of differing religions. Such joint ceremonies can honor both religious and ethnic traditions.

Nancy Barkley/Honeymoons and Get-A-Ways/215-793-4808

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La Corte dei Papi, the perfect venue for your intimate and authentic wedding in Tuscany

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Cortona in Tuscany, Italy is perhaps best known as the setting for the book and movie “Under the Tuscan Sun” Cortona is among Tuscany’s loveliest destinations offering astonishing landscapes and romantic backdrops.

Couples seeking to get married at an intimate and elegant country house rich of flowers and perfumes, La Corte dei Papi is the perfect choice. If looking for exclusivity you may reserve the entire estate for your guests.
And because your wedding will last more than one day, the hardest choice you will have to make is choosing from all the amazing activities available to your guests. On site cooking classes? Walking or cycling the countryside? Or personalized private tours to Pienza, famous for its cheese, Montepulciano and Montalcino, known all over the world for its wines Nobile and Brunello.
You can visit Siena and San Gimignano, true historic and landscape treasures on the foot of Chianti.

Or perhaps your guests will just want to stay in their rooms? Why? This XVIII century country house was completely restored with luxury and wellness in mind. The spa suites offer a private spa for 2 people with a Turkish bath provided with 4 multi-sensory showers.

Couples choosing to marry at La Corte dei Papi will receive attention to every detail, superior professionalism and discretion from the staff. You will have a chef preparing each recipe with quality and elegant presentation for an ultimate dining experience. La Corte dei Papi is the absolute perfect location for your destination wedding which guests will be talking about for years to come.

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Nancy Barkley, Honeymoons and Get-A-Ways, 215-793-4808

Photos courtesy of La Corte dei Papi