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

How to set your own trend for your Destination Wedding!

This gallery contains 3 photos.

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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Asoni Haus & Honeymoons and Get-a-Ways Partnership

Philadelphia, PA — (SBWIRE) — 11/18/2013 — Leading luxury Lifestyle Management, Event production and PR agency Asoni Haus have strategically partnered with Honeymoons and Get-A-Ways; a comprehensive travel firm with over 10 years experience, focusing on the luxury travel, honeymoon and destination wedding markets. With the aim of working together to provide curated travel experiences to the elite lifestyle members managed by the Asoni Haus team. This service partnership will see a more targeted luxury focus for Asoni Haus members who are demanding more than ever, romantic getaways, bespoke honeymoon experiences and opportunities to access the inaccessible, especially when it comes to creating that special moment with, or for their loved one. Asoni Haus spend their days working with the world’s elite, providing Lifestyle support to their members, comprising of Celebrities, Sporting personalities, UHNWI, Leading Business men and women, Diplomats and Dignitaries. Asoni Haus are the curators of Luxury, utilizing their global contacts and partners to provide their members access to the inaccessible. Call them the “Fixers” as they truly understand what it is to provide Luxury, effortlessly.

Honeymoons and Get-A-Ways founder Nancy Barkley says “Our mission is to plan your most memorable travel experience ever, anywhere the client heart desires. We are able to achieve this goal by years of traveling the world and finding the perfect locations for clients. We are able to offer our customers exclusive VIP treatment due to our strategic associations worldwide”. While Asoni Haus Founder & CEO Ingrid Asoni feels that “this partnership is long overdue, bringing together two companies that truly understand the needs of the elite, are driven by service quality, have vast experience within the luxury market and have the need to exceed client expectations, especially when it comes to requests of the heart”. Bringing these two forces together, will only ensure that romantic moments become even more unimaginably unforgettable.

http://www.asonihaus.com
@asonihaus
http://www.honeymoonsandgetaways.com

Turkey in Style

“If one had but a single glance to give the world, one should gaze on Constantinople,” marveled Alphonse de Lamartine, the 19th-century French writer and politician.

Perhaps I should have paid more attention in school while learning about the Byzantine, Roman, and Ottoman Empires, but my extraordinary tour guides on my recent visit to Turkey had my undivided attention.   Istanbul was known as Byzantium around 660BC than as Constantinople after Constantine moved the capital of the Roman there in A.D. 330 and then Istanbul by 1453 when Turkish Conqueror made it the seat of the Ottoman Empire.  I would like to share my extraordinary journey with you and hope you will  have the opportunity to travel to this beautiful country full of beauty, culture and legend.

Galati Tower – “The treasures of Galati are dangerously charming.” This is an old Turkish saying, probably devised by desperate house wives of old Istanbul, because Galati has been the most seductive of Istanbul’s treasures over the centuries.  Once this place was a Genovese trade colony, and it kept its autonomy even after the conquest of the city by the Turks. The Genovese had a huge tower, called the Tower of Galati, of which the keys were handled to Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror as a sign acceptance of his authority.

Today, the Galati Tower still stands, and it has become a major attraction, with a great spectacle and great food; keeping the tradition alive

Karrie (Chore) Museum – Famous with its incredible mosaics and frescoes, dating from the later period of Byzantine Pictorial art. Between the years of 1948 and 1958, they were fully restored through the efforts of the American Byzantine Institute.

Sultan Ahmet Mosque – It was the dying wish of Sultan Ahmet, who perished at a young age at the 17th century, due to a disease, to finish the mosque so that his name would live forever. It is called Blue Mosque by visitors who fell in the awe of the delicate designs of Ottoman tiles that decorate the walls of the shrine. The floral patterns of the tiles, as well as well-lighted, capacious internal spaces are a testimonial of the eternity of the soul.

Basilica Cistern – The Underground Cistern was constructed at the time of Byzantine Empire in order to meet the water needs of the city. Its illuminated columns and mystical atmosphere will undoubtedly enchant you.

Hamam(Turkish Bath)  Hürrem Sultan Hamamı. This historical Turkish bath was the present of Magnificent Suleyman to his beloved wife Hurrem. Experience Turkish bath like sultan’s had in the past, with scrubbing, foam massage and tea.

Topkapi Palace –The Topkapi Palace has been the Imperial residence of the Ottoman Sultans from the 15th to the 19th century. Its design, initially devised by Sultan Mehmed himself and then enhanced by Sinan, hides clues of the rituals of the structure of Ottoman hierarchy and the running of state affairs.

Home to the imperial treasury and the cabinet, as well as being the site of the barracks for the Janissaries, the elite of the army, every corner of the palace tells about the splendor of the Ottomans. Apart from the priceless treasury, a distinguished collection of Chinese porcelains, holy relics, sultan’s costumes and imperial weaponry are exhibited in different sections of the palace.

Museum of Islamic Arts – Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts – Originally, this palace, which dates from the sixteenth century, was offered as a gift to the Grand Vizier Ibrahim Pasha by the Sultan Süleyman the Lawgiver. The building was converted in to a museum in 1983, housing handwritten Qurans, epigraphs, hand-woven carpets, wooden and stone artifacts dating back to the ages between 9th to 17th centuries.

Suleymaniye Mosque – It is said that the master architect Sinan has built his mosques that decorate Istanbul for over 450 years, in the image of their donators. Sinan’s masterpiece in Istanbul, the city’s largest mosque, clearly verifies that, as one can feel the dignity and the power of the greatest of Ottoman sultans: Suleiman the Magnificent.

Apart from the mosque, you may also see the resting places of the two heroes of a love story that has changed the fate of an empire: Sultan Suleiman, the man called the Magnificent in Europe and “The Lawmaker” by his subjects; and his beloved wife, Roxelana.

Egyptian (Spice) Bazaar– Oriental shopping area located in the heart of old city , where you may experience the vibrant pulse of Istanbul at its best, rare spices, herbs, vegetables, fruits, live animals, flowers are sold.

Bosphorus Cruise – A poet once described the Bosporus as “God’s beautiful calligraphy written by an ink made of sapphires”. This straight, separating (and connecting) to two continents that form the two faces of a city, take its name from a mythological legend. Ever since those ancient times, it had marveled people with its beauty.

While cruising along the Asian and European shores(app. 21 miles long), you will be surprised to see the harmony of Ottoman and modern architecture; as well as having an opportunity to see the major highlights of the city’s fairy tale-like skyline from the sea.

The İstanbul Museum of Modern Art, Turkey’s first private museum to organize modern and contemporary art exhibitions, was founded in 2004 and occupies an 8,000 square meter site on the shores of the Bosphorus.

İstanbul Modern embraces a global vision to collect, preserve, exhibit and document works of modern and contemporary art and make them accessible to art lovers.

As part of its commitment to sharing Turkey’s artistic creativity with wide audiences and promoting its cultural identity in the international art world, İstanbul Modern hosts a broad array of interdisciplinary activities.

Hippodrome – The Hippodrome had been a center for sports and entertainment in the old Constantinople, the Eastern Roman Capital; as well as very important center for politics, as sports and politics were closely knitted up at these times. No wonder that Hippodrome had been a starting point for revolts and political movements throughout the history.

Echoes of cries by slaves riding chariots in ferocious races; and the passionate words of intellectuals and poets that lit the flame of public movements have still been reminiscent, to those with a powerful imagination.

Hagia Sophia The “Shrine of Holy Wisdom”, the marvelous Byzantine basilica built in the 6th century marks the true beginning of the golden age of Justinianus, the conqueror of Africa and Italy, who achieved lasting fame through the complete revision of all Roman law, resulting in what is known today as the Corpus Juris Civilis.

The domed construction of the sanctuary is an architectural innovation; and was so richly and artistically decorated that Justinian proclaimed, “Solomon, I have outdone thee!  Mankind would have to wait for over millennia before being able to build a cathedral that would surpass the gigantic size of Hagia Sophia. Converted to a Mosque following the Ottoman conquest of the city, by the order of Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror in 1453; as the young Sultan fulfilled a divine premonition by the Holy Prophet Mohammad himself. In 1935 the building was converted to a museum, by the executive order of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of modern Turkey.

Culinary Lecture at Nar Restaurant ( Learn and experience how to make a rock candy  from one of the famous chefs of Turkey)  Rock Candy (Akide) – Rock candy (also called rock sugar) is a type of confectionery mineral composed of relatively large sugar crystals. This candy is formed by allowing a supersaturated solution of sugar and water to crystallize onto a surface suitable for crystal nucleation, such as a string or stick.

Grand Bazaar – The largest and the most attractive covered bazaar in the world; where people have been trading diamonds, carpets, food, perfumes, and, even gossip for centuries!

Fun Facts : Turks introduce Tulips to the World and the first shipment from Turkey arrived in Belgium in 1562 and is the only city in the world that sits on two continents, Asia and Europe.

One hour flight to Bodrum, pearl of Aegean coast the Turkish have dubbed ‘St. Tropez’ of Turkey and justly so.   The Greek-style whitewashed houses that dot the hillside and overlook the bays are poster card perfect.

A quick stop at the crumbled yet lasting remains of the Mausoleum, one of the Seven Ancient Wonders and then on to

St. Peter (Crusaders’) Castle- The Crusader castle was built by the Knights of St. John between 1402 and 1409. The fortifications of the castle consisted of walls to which ramparts and central towers were added. Today the castle’s rooms are used as a museum where findings from the Bronze Age, Mycenaean, Archaic, Classical, and Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine periods are exhibited. The castle also houses the largest underwater archaeological museum in Turkey. It is one of the few of its kind in the world. Reconstruction of shipwreck is in display in the museum.

The following day was spent sailing the beautiful bays of Bodrum aboard the the Luxury Private Yacht “DIVA” , sailing by Orak Island, Kisebuku Bay ,Mazı Bay,Cokertme Bay while enjoying a gourmet meal prepared by our personal chef.

The next day we made a journey to visit The House of Virgin Mary.  This Christian and Muslim shrine is located in the vicinity of Ephesus; and it is believed by many that Mother Mary was taken to this stone house by Saint John and lived her last days there.

The day continued with adventure as we then explored Ephesus- The Ancient City of Ephesus is one of the crown jewels of mankind’s greatest cultural and historical heritage   We visited the ancient city of Ephesus, the Roman capital of Asia Minor including  the Odeon, the Marble Street, the Hadrian Temple, the Celcius Library and the Great Theatre.

We also discovered Artemission (Diana) Temple -Ephesus is home to one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the Temple of Artemis (completed around 550 BCE and destroyed in 401 CE by a mob led by St. John Chrysostom). You  still see the remnants of the huge temple.

Seljuk Castle/ Basilica of St. John-The Basilica of St. John was a basilica in Ephesus that was constructed by Justinian I in the 6th century , standing over the believed burial site of John the Apostle. The basilica is on the slopes of Ayasuluk Hill just below the fortress near the center of Seljuk, It is believed that the Apostle John traveled from Jerusalem to the city of Ephesus where he remained for the rest of his life. It was during his time there that Emperor Domitian exiled him to the Isle of Patmos, when Nerva became emperor John was pardoned and returned to Ephesus, where he lived the remainder of his days and completed  Gospel of St. John.

Our afternoon was made unspoiled by stopping and having lunch at an old Greek village in the top of Selcuk mountains well known for typical cherry wine.

As all good things must come to an end our conclusion was a walk through Dario Moreno Street ( Jewish Singer who lived and died in Izmir) to Asansor for watching  the colorful nightlife  of  Izmir.

Asansor-Turkish for “elevator”, derived from the French word ascenseur is a historical building in İzmir, Konak. It was built in 1907 as a work of public service by a wealthy Jewish banker and trader of that period in order to ease passage from the narrow coastline of Karataş to the hillside, the elevator within the building serving to carry people and goods through the steep cliff between the two parts of the quarter.

In time, the small street that led to the building also came to be known under the same name, Asansör Street (Asansör Sokağı). In the 1940s, one of the residents of the street was the singer Dario Moreno, who was to attain fame later.

It was recently restored and since then, became one of the landmarks of İzmir. The street was renamed Dario Moreno Street in memory of the singer.

My only wish is I had more time there to explore the beauty, culture, and legend of Turkey.  All the more reason to go back!.   All of our exceptional accommodations, tours, guides, transportation, and services were provided by Premium Destinations, a leading provider of travel services.  Together with Honeymoons and Get-A-Ways, we will customize a truly one of a kind trip for you or you can enjoy one of their suggested itineraries which you may find at  http://www.honeymoonsandgetaways.com/getaways/turkey

Nancy Barkley- Owner, Honeymoons and Get-A-Ways-877-793-4808

www.honeymoonsandgetaways.com

https://www.facebook.com/honeymoonsandgetaways

 

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Planning your Destination Wedding

So, you want to have a Destination Wedding? Something different, unique, nontraditional, that is great. However, do your guests want to be part of a Destination Wedding? This is the first dilemma when you decide on having your wedding in a different country or state.  Aunt Sue, who does not have a passport or has never been on a plane, does not want to fly anywhere, yet alone to a country where she does not speak the language.    Brides and Grooms, my first piece of advice is to make a list of absolutely “must be there” guests and make sure they can attend. The last thing you want to do is get six months into the planning and then have somebody back out.   Of course, I have planned Destination Weddings, with the above being the very reason for the couple chose to have a Destination Wedding, knowing Aunt Sue will not go- if that is the case, then carry on and have your Destination Wedding, you know your family and friends best.

Location, Location, Location- where to have your Destination Wedding?   A lot of this depends on where you and your guests are physically located and how far you would like your guests to travel.   If you are traveling to another county, researching air lift helps prevent many troubles before they begin.  Also, looking at a map helps the geographically challenged, trust me, one cannot drive to Hawaii.

When to have your Destination Wedding?  Mother Nature is an important part of the wedding party.  The Caribbean is a popular choice for many couples, with summer being popular because children are out of school and summer usually provides more vacation time for guests.  However, summer starts Hurricane Season in the Caribbean, so it is advisable to plan on a different time.   In this situation, advance planning is key to allow guests enough time to request off. You can perhaps take advantage of long holiday weekends that will not be during hurricane season, or typhoon season or  weather events at your destination.  While on the topic of children, if you would like an adult only event, the same rules apply to a Destination Wedding as a local wedding.  Save the Dates and invitations should be address only to those who are invited, meaning if the children names are left off, they are not invited.

So you have the date, you have the location, what type of wedding are you going to have?  Legal, religious? Symbolic.    For legal weddings, many countries require you to be in their country a certain amount of time before wedding and have blood tests taken locally as well as papers translated.  For religious, it is not always easy to find say a priest or rabbi in certain areas.  For many the religious ceremonies, it is less complicated to fly, your rabbi with you to perform ceremony.  All of this can be done when planned ahead of time.  Also, just because you have chosen an exotic destination, you can still walk down a literal church aisle.  Many venues provide a traditional chapel at their location.   If choosing a legal ceremony, I find more and more brides getting married legally ahead of time and doing symbolic ceremony at location (which can look exactly like a legal ceremony) if you do not wish your guests to know, they will be none to the wiser.

Regardless of when you have to arrive at your destination for residency requirements, please allow yourself an extra day, especially if you are flying.  Weather and flight cancellations can delay travel and giving yourself extra time can avoid a problem before it happens.  Also, I do not suggest shipping your wedding dress, EVER, I cannot tell you the horror stories of dresses being caught up in customs.  Same goes for gifts you bring on the flight for guests.  Ideally, purchase locally or bring with you unwrapped.

Being a bit of control freak myself and having planned my own Destination Wedding, I quickly learned you need to let go of some of the control.  So, if you are a hand-on bride, be forewarned, to avoid a lot of unnecessary stress, give up of some of the power.  If at all possible, I always suggest visiting the destination you have chosen and meeting all the players that will be involved in your wedding.  If this is not possible, make sure you work with reputable travel and wedding professionals who provide references and then call the references that are most recent.  Once you are comfortable that your Destination Wedding Team is prepared to handle everything, introduce them to your Decision Making Team.  Establish an initial conference call. Discuss the entire wedding process and establish a realistic time line for everything involved for your wedding and who will be doing what.    From there, you can send pictures and detailed description of exactly what you are envisioning for flowers, table settings etc.  Just like communication is vital for your marriage, it is very important with your wedding planner.

Have your Destination Team recommend a local photographer at your destination that has knowledge of the local area, for some great unique photos you will always cherish.    Always have a Plan B for wedding location.  You do not want to think of inclement weather for your wedding day but it happens, and having an alternative location selected ahead of time will help you avoid undue stress.

This is your day, decide on exactly how both of you envision it, communicate it with your Destination Wedding Team and let them take it from there.  When planning a Destination Wedding, try not to get caught up in making everything perfect, role with whatever comes your way and it is your wedding day and it will amazing!

Honeymoons and Get-A-Ways,  Destination Wedding Specialits have been planning unique, one of a kind weddings for over 20 years.  Visit their website at www.honeymoonsandgetaways.com  Facebook at www.facebook.com/honeymoonsandgetaways  or call them today at 877 – 793 – 4808.

Marry in a Castle!

I just returned from Ireland with the magnificent Sceptre Tours.  Magical, Medevial and yes marry in a castle!   

Castle Visits and Stays

Who has not been captivated by tales of knights and dragons, of medieval feuds, battles and betrayals? Serving as the backdrop for each of these stories is a castle. Visiting a castle can provide a playground for the imagination, allowing the mind to revel in legend and lore. Walking through grand halls past suits of armor, torches and tapestries, one cannot fathom so many stories embedded in stone. More than a getaway from the stresses of everyday life, castles have the ability to transport visitors to another time.

Castles come in all states of repair. Many are still occupied and many more hang on in some state of ruin. Each has its own personality, calling out to some hidden part of our curiosity about times shrouded in mist. Whether you believe in ghosts or not, the spirits of those who occupied the halls of Europe’s castles beckon to us, calling us by name.

The United Kingdom and Ireland are the traditional areas for castle stays and tours. Britain alone has several thousand castles, most constructed in the 11th through 15th centuries. Austria, Spain,  Portugal, Germany and France likewise have many amazing properties scattered throughout their many provinces and districts offering both tours and hotel like accommodations.

Central Europe is a quickly growing castle market with highly competitive pricing. In particular, Hungary offers several properties constructed during the Baroque and Rococo periods, as does the Czech Republic and its sister state of Slovenia. If you have a particular destination in mind, ask us to investigate the possibility of castle tours and vacations as an alternative to more traditional lodging options!

Castle vacations offer visitors the opportunity to indulge in a tranquil and intriguing escape, not to mention unforgettable scenery. In general, castle vacations fall into two categories: tours and stays. Both types are recommended for travelers of all ages who have an appreciation for history, culture and beauty. But, a bit of planning is in order to make your castle experience the adventure it should be.

Honeymoons and Get-A-Ways will help you navigate the maze of castles. There are a number of important considerations, including the types of castle, the choice of rooms inside of the castles, the general condition of the properties and the number of guests permitted. Honeymoons and Get-A-Ways will inquire with regard to the standards of the tour company and how the company chooses the castles with which it works. For example, far too many tour companies include manor houses in their definition of “castles”, risking the disappointment of their guests. We will make sure that you obtain a match much closer to your preferences and will provide you with pictures of various properties along with a history to ensure that you will be in a castle of the period and age of your preference.

To better ensure an enjoyable stay and a high standard of quality, Honeymoons and Get-A-Ways will choose a tour operator that that specializes in castle stays or at least visits its featured castles regularly. Some tour operators specialize geographically, while others offer castles in a variety of countries. Tour operators can give you the price of a stay, the size of the castle and its grounds, and the number of guests it can accommodate. They can be particularly helpful in arranging a stay if the castle booking system is not computerized, and most are not.

Tours of castles are rewarding trips into the past. Most tours will stay at each castle for at least a few hours, exploring the halls, stairways and grounds. Of course, the time allotted depends on the number of castles visited that day, the traveling time between them, and the castle’s visitation hours. To allow a longer visit your tour operator may try to arrange hotel accommodation nearby, but this is not always feasible in rural areas. Because of the large scale of many properties and their grounds, it is best not to try to squeeze too much viewing into too short a time period. If you time constraints are limited, choose quality over quantity and limit your tours to a few, select properties.

In terms of transportation, remember to be flexible. Though the tour will likely have a timetable, travel delays are common in the countryside. As a passenger, it is best to relax and savor the majestic views.

Remember that the better physical shape you are in for castle exploration, the more enjoyable your experience will be, especially when climbing to the top of a tower or getting lost in a garden labyrinth. Because of their age, castles generally cannot offer superior accommodation to disabled guests. Uneven floors, narrow passages and winding staircases can present particular hindrances. For these reasons, a castle tour that explores castle interiors may not be realistic for persons with certain disabilities. If you or a companion has a disability that might hinder full enjoyment of a property, let us know well in advance. There are some destinations that boast ground floor bedrooms and restaurants, disabled parking and wheelchairs for hire. Some castles have been converted to offer ramps (permanent and removable) and bathrooms with handrails.

Fortunately for we commoners, the high cost of maintaining these vast and elaborate residences has driven many castle owners to extend accommodations to the public. Many castles have been restored, leaving the medieval décor in tact while adding modern amenities. Many castles and so-called “castle hotels” offer high-end and even luxurious stays for one night or for weeks on end.

It is possible to obtain exclusive use of a castle property with enough advance notices. “Exclusive use” of a property indicates that you and your party will be the only guests in the castle during your visit, essentially a charter of the entire property. There likely will be minimum stay requirements and charges for such usage, as well as some possible minimal usage of dining and banquet facilities.

So called “self catering” castle stays are those where the property is hired on an “accommodation only” basis. Meals and other services are not a part of the package price, although guests are sometimes provided use of kitchen facilities.

Room sizes for sleeping within castles vary, but in general are characterized by the familiar “double/twin/single/suite” nomenclature. Generally speaking, the better grades of rooms are typically larger with better furnishings and views. Likewise the styling of the bedrooms and beds will vary not only from castle to castle but from room to room. Not every room will have four poster beds and lush tapestries. If you have particular tastes and preferences, make sure to make them clear to Honeymoons and Get-A-Ways as well in advance of booking!

Dining is often a highlight of a castle stay. In some instances, not only will you have the opportunity to dine as the royals do, but you may be sitting next to one. Dinner can be an occasion for all guests to dine with the residing duke or lord. If this is the case, be sure to ask your tour operator about dress code. Some tours and stays include all meals while others include only one meal. Others may offer food on an a-la-carte basis. Determine the meal plans offered by the properties in which you are interested and make sure to include the cost of the meals in your final budget calculations.

Many castles have a variety of on site activities which may include horseback riding, fishing, falconry, trekking, cycling and croquet. Some castles even have tennis courts and putting courses. Check to see if advance reservations for these activities are needed. For visiting nearby towns, the castle’s staff may provide car hire. A great many guests hold their weddings at castles. Because this is an area of frequent inquiry, many tour operators have special packages available for wedding parties and ceremonies.

In some instances, castle property management has developed very elaborate tours and even role-playing games or contests. Many castles have wonderful gardens, some of historical significance. Castle properties sometimes include garden mazes on their grounds. The mazes typically consist of high hedges formed into a walking path that turns in upon itself with many puzzle-like paths and circuits. Most mazes are constructed of hedges, but others are constructed of bricks, logs, concrete and other materials.

Many castles have dress codes for various times of the day or particular activities, while others do not. The dress code varies from castle to castle, but most have relaxed standards for daytime wear with slightly more formal requirements at dinner. Be sure to check in advance to ensure your comfort and conformity with any requirements.

Often situated in the lush countryside, castles are not always easily accessible by public transportation. Consequently, hiring a car is often a good option, and can be arranged by Honeymoons and Get-A-Ways. Car access also enables you to visit nearby towns and attractions. Remember to map out your journey beforehand and be prepared for slow and bumpy country roads.

As many castles have narrow staircases and elevators are few, smaller luggage is advisable. If you are going on a castle tour, there may be an extra charge for bringing additional luggage. You will also want to find out if your destination offers log fires or central heating, and pack according to your destination and season. As usual, pack only what you need. You do not really want to carry more that you must, and there will almost always be more than ample opportunity for shopping along the way!

What child wouldn’t jump at the chance to live like a prince or princess, to slay imaginary dragons on the castle grounds, or let down fantastical hair from an actual tower? Castles indulge children’s fantasies as well as those of adults. Though not all castles are child-friendly, many will accommodate young ones. Your tour operator should be able to tell you which sites have designated family rooms, interconnecting rooms and/or rollaway beds. Certain castles also provide play areas, children’s menus and early dining hours. Those properties that are child friendly vary with the minimal acceptable age, so be sure to check if your party includes persons less than 18 years of age. As previously noted, make sure that the properties you visit will accommodate any physical limitations of members of your party.

The cost of a tour or a castle stay varies widely with the country in which the property in located and the special amenities each property offers. As we develop your itinerary, make sure to provide your optimal budget to ensure the final costs are in line with your expectations. Accommodations and castle entry fees are usually included in the price of the tour; airline tickets are not.  Honeymoons and Get-A-Ways can find the best possible air values given your destination and season of travel. Many tour packages include breakfast and dinner in the itinerary. In general, you will need money to pay for lunches, snacks, drinks and of course, shopping.

When pricing your stay, remember to take into consideration any Value Added Tax (VAT) levied by many countries in Europe and elsewhere. Because VAT is often as high as 20% of the cost of an accommodation or good purchased, the amount is often not insignificant! Many travelers assume that VAT is refundable. However, this is typically not the case for services such as transportation, accommodation, food, gas or any other goods or services consumed within the country itself. Ensure that the price you are quoted includes all taxes and other fees.

Castles are the stuff of dreams. Contact Honeymoons Get-A-Ways and fulfill yours today!

Castle Visits and Stays

Who has not been captivated by tales of knights and dragons, of medieval feuds, battles and betrayals? Serving as the backdrop for each of these stories is a castle. Visiting a castle can provide a playground for the imagination, allowing the mind to revel in legend and lore. Walking through grand halls past suits of armor, torches and tapestries, one cannot fathom so many stories embedded in stone. More than a getaway from the stresses of everyday life, castles have the ability to transport visitors to another time.

Castles come in all states of repair. Many are still occupied and many more hang on in some state of ruin. Each has its own personality, calling out to some hidden part of our curiosity about times shrouded in mist. Whether you believe in ghosts or not, the spirits of those who occupied the halls of Europe’s castles beckon to us, calling us by name.

The United Kingdom and Ireland are the traditional areas for castle stays and tours. Britain alone has several thousand castles, most constructed in the 11th through 15th centuries. Austria, Spain, Portugal, Germany and France likewise have many amazing properties scattered throughout their many provinces and districts offering both tours and hotel like accommodations.

Central Europe is a quickly growing castle market with highly competitive pricing. In particular, Hungary offers several properties constructed during the Baroque and Rococo periods, as does the Czech Republic and its sister state of Slovenia. If you have a particular destination in mind, ask us to investigate the possibility of castle tours and vacations as an alternative to more traditional lodging options!

Castle vacations offer visitors the opportunity to indulge in a tranquil and intriguing escape, not to mention unforgettable scenery. In general, castle vacations fall into two categories: tours and stays. Both types are recommended for travelers of all ages who have an appreciation for history, culture and beauty. But, a bit of planning is in order to make your castle experience the adventure it should be.

Honeymoons and Get-A-Ways will help you navigate the maze of castles. There are a number of important considerations, including the types of castle, the choice of rooms inside of the castles, the general condition of the properties and the number of guests permitted. Honeymoons and Get-A-Ways will inquire with regard to the standards of the tour company and how the company chooses the castles with which it works. For example, far too many tour companies include manor houses in their definition of “castles”, risking the disappointment of their guests. We will make sure that you obtain a match much closer to your preferences and will provide you with pictures of various properties along with a history to ensure that you will be in a castle of the period and age of your preference.

To better ensure an enjoyable stay and a high standard of quality, Honeymoons and Get-A-Ways will choose a tour operator that that specializes in castle stays or at least visits its featured castles regularly. Some tour operators specialize geographically, while others offer castles in a variety of countries. Tour operators can give you the price of a stay, the size of the castle and its grounds, and the number of guests it can accommodate. They can be particularly helpful in arranging a stay if the castle booking system is not computerized, and most are not.

Tours of castles are rewarding trips into the past. Most tours will stay at each castle for at least a few hours, exploring the halls, stairways and grounds. Of course, the time allotted depends on the number of castles visited that day, the traveling time between them, and the castle’s visitation hours. To allow a longer visit your tour operator may try to arrange hotel accommodation nearby, but this is not always feasible in rural areas. Because of the large scale of many properties and their grounds, it is best not to try to squeeze too much viewing into too short a time period. If you time constraints are limited, choose quality over quantity and limit your tours to a few, select properties.

In terms of transportation, remember to be flexible. Though the tour will likely have a timetable, travel delays are common in the countryside. As a passenger, it is best to relax and savor the majestic views.

Remember that the better physical shape you are in for castle exploration, the more enjoyable your experience will be, especially when climbing to the top of a tower or getting lost in a garden labyrinth. Because of their age, castles generally cannot offer superior accommodation to disabled guests. Uneven floors, narrow passages and winding staircases can present particular hindrances. For these reasons, a castle tour that explores castle interiors may not be realistic for persons with certain disabilities. If you or a companion has a disability that might hinder full enjoyment of a property, let us know well in advance. There are some destinations that boast ground floor bedrooms and restaurants, disabled parking and wheelchairs for hire. Some castles have been converted to offer ramps (permanent and removable) and bathrooms with handrails.

Fortunately for we commoners, the high cost of maintaining these vast and elaborate residences has driven many castle owners to extend accommodations to the public. Many castles have been restored, leaving the medieval décor in tact while adding modern amenities. Many castles and so-called “castle hotels” offer high-end and even luxurious stays for one night or for weeks on end.

It is possible to obtain exclusive use of a castle property with enough advance notices. “Exclusive use” of a property indicates that you and your party will be the only guests in the castle during your visit, essentially a charter of the entire property. There likely will be minimum stay requirements and charges for such usage, as well as some possible minimal usage of dining and banquet facilities.

So called “self catering” castle stays are those where the property is hired on an “accommodation only” basis. Meals and other services are not a part of the package price, although guests are sometimes provided use of kitchen facilities.

Room sizes for sleeping within castles vary, but in general are characterized by the familiar “double/twin/single/suite” nomenclature. Generally speaking, the better grades of rooms are typically larger with better furnishings and views. Likewise the styling of the bedrooms and beds will vary not only from castle to castle but from room to room. Not every room will have four poster beds and lush tapestries. If you have particular tastes and preferences, make sure to make them clear to Honeymoons and Get-A-Ways as well in advance of booking!

Dining is often a highlight of a castle stay. In some instances, not only will you have the opportunity to dine as the royals do, but you may be sitting next to one. Dinner can be an occasion for all guests to dine with the residing duke or lord. If this is the case, be sure to ask your tour operator about dress code. Some tours and stays include all meals while others include only one meal. Others may offer food on an a-la-carte basis. Determine the meal plans offered by the properties in which you are interested and make sure to include the cost of the meals in your final budget calculations.

Many castles have a variety of on site activities which may include horseback riding, fishing, falconry, trekking, cycling and croquet. Some castles even have tennis courts and putting courses. Check to see if advance reservations for these activities are needed. For visiting nearby towns, the castle’s staff may provide car hire. A great many guests hold their weddings at castles. Because this is an area of frequent inquiry, many tour operators have special packages available for wedding parties and ceremonies.

In some instances, castle property management has developed very elaborate tours and even role-playing games or contests. Many castles have wonderful gardens, some of historical significance. Castle properties sometimes include garden mazes on their grounds. The mazes typically consist of high hedges formed into a walking path that turns in upon itself with many puzzle-like paths and circuits. Most mazes are constructed of hedges, but others are constructed of bricks, logs, concrete and other materials.

Many castles have dress codes for various times of the day or particular activities, while others do not. The dress code varies from castle to castle, but most have relaxed standards for daytime wear with slightly more formal requirements at dinner. Be sure to check in advance to ensure your comfort and conformity with any requirements.

Often situated in the lush countryside, castles are not always easily accessible by public transportation. Consequently, hiring a car is often a good option, and can be arranged by Honeymoons and Get-A-Ways. Car access also enables you to visit nearby towns and attractions. Remember to map out your journey beforehand and be prepared for slow and bumpy country roads.

As many castles have narrow staircases and elevators are few, smaller luggage is advisable. If you are going on a castle tour, there may be an extra charge for bringing additional luggage. You will also want to find out if your destination offers log fires or central heating, and pack according to your destination and season. As usual, pack only what you need. You do not really want to carry more that you must, and there will almost always be more than ample opportunity for shopping along the way!

What child wouldn’t jump at the chance to live like a prince or princess, to slay imaginary dragons on the castle grounds, or let down fantastical hair from an actual tower? Castles indulge children’s fantasies as well as those of adults. Though not all castles are child-friendly, many will accommodate young ones. Your tour operator should be able to tell you which sites have designated family rooms, interconnecting rooms and/or rollaway beds. Certain castles also provide play areas, children’s menus and early dining hours. Those properties that are child friendly vary with the minimal acceptable age, so be sure to check if your party includes persons less than 18 years of age. As previously noted, make sure that the properties you visit will accommodate any physical limitations of members of your party.

The cost of a tour or a castle stay varies widely with the country in which the property in located and the special amenities each property offers. As we develop your itinerary, make sure to provide your optimal budget to ensure the final costs are in line with your expectations. Accommodations and castle entry fees are usually included in the price of the tour; airline tickets are not.  Honeymoons and Get-A-Ways can find the best possible air values given your destination and season of travel. Many tour packages include breakfast and dinner in the itinerary. In general, you will need money to pay for lunches, snacks, drinks and of course, shopping.

When pricing your stay, remember to take into consideration any Value Added Tax (VAT) levied by many countries in Europe and elsewhere. Because VAT is often as high as 20% of the cost of an accommodation or good purchased, the amount is often not insignificant! Many travelers assume that VAT is refundable. However, this is typically not the case for services such as transportation, accommodation, food, gas or any other goods or services consumed within the country itself. Ensure that the price you are quoted includes all taxes and other fees.

Castles are the stuff of dreams. Contact Honeymoons Get-A-Ways and fulfill yours today!