Top 10 Must Visit Destinations for Couples in 2016

14 Jan 2016

If honeymoon planning is giving you a headache, check out this list of top 10 must visit destinations for couples in 2016 for some luxurious ideas on when to go, what to do and where to stay, courtesy of The Ultimate Travel Company. 

The Ultimate Travel Company has teamed up with award-winning travel writer, Jane Anderson, to offer their must visit 2016 Top 10 destinations guide. Read on for advice on when to go, where to stay and what to do to make the most of your most romantic holiday.

1. South of France
Best time to go: Summer

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With average temperatures hitting around 24°C, couples should take advantage of the hot weather and scenery so close by. You can get flights from most major UK airports and won’t waste valuable holiday time on long haul flights.

Best for: Luxury, scenery
It’s such an obvious, glamorous choice, that takes next to no time at all to reach and the money saved on going half way round the world can be used to bump up your accommodation to something really special. The south coast of France has some beautiful coastlines and beaches as well as some beautiful traditional towns and villages to spend warm evenings.

Where to stay:Terre Blanche in Provence. Easily accessible from Nice or Aix-Marseille, Terre Blanche is set in a private estate close to the Cote d’Azur and Monaco. Couples can hide away in private suites and villas infused with Provencal style or when the mood takes them enjoy two championship golf courses, the superb spa where all products are based on the local region, explore local villages such as Tourettes and Callian.

Expert tip: Take a trip to Grasse where you can create your own perfume. A great holiday keepsake to remind you of the aromas of your trip.

2. St Barths, French Caribbean
Best time to go: Winter, spring

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Escape the cold with a winter trip away for a beach holiday to St. Barths. From December to April, the weather is less humid and a bit cooler.

Best for: Luxury, beaches, nature
This tiny, hilly French island is unlike any other in the Caribbean with its buzzy capital Gustavia full of designer shops, natty boutiques, private yachts and gourmet restaurants, its unspoilt landscapes, bijou beaches and its one-off, chichi hotels. Despite St Barth’s glitzy image, which comes to the fore around Christmas and New Year, the rest of the time, it’s simply a stunningly beautiful island with glorious walking trails and protected coves. A perfect destination for couples who want to combine pampering and glamour with privacy and nature.

Where to stay: My top three for couples are Eden Rock (now part of the prestigious Oetker collection) with its lavish private villas, Cheval Blanc Hotel Saint-Barth Isle De France with a serene Guerlain Spa and fabulous Le Cabane de l’Isle (just about the best boutique you’ll find in a hotel), and Le Guanahani, relaunching this winter with spruced up villas and plenty to keep couples occupied from paddle boarding to diving.

Expert tip:Head to Gustavia for some high end shopping. The French owned Island also offers some of the best food in the Caribbean.

 

3. Morocco
Best time to go: Spring, autumn

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Spring in Morocco comes late around April/May and is a great time to visit to catch summer weather in the south of the country. Autumn and winter can also have glorious weather during the day but it may be cold in the desert by night.

Best for: Culture, scenery
Morocco is a great choice for couples looking for a sensory overload of exotic culture and adventure. If you’ve never been to Marrakesh, it won’t disappoint. It's still a surprise that just a four-hour flight can transport you to a land of snake charmers and Whirling Dervishes. The city is often frenetic and the souks a crazy labyrinth. Depending on the type of couple you are, you might like to take a guide to lead you to the best artisans.

Where to stay: The trick of a great holiday here is to book into a hotel or riad that’s an oasis of calm as an antidote to city pace. La Mamounia is a legend with its vast gardens home to ancient olive trees and a stunning pool where breakfast is served. Moorish Arab architecture and interiors make this place feel more like a palace than a hotel.

Expert Tip: When you’ve had enough of city life, head out to the Atlas Mountains for a stay at Sir Richard Branson’s Kasbah Tamadot with its Berber tents and venture out for a trek and a night under the stars.

4. Maldives
Best time to go: Spring, autumn

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The best time of year to avoid the heavy rains is early on in the year, so January to April. Temperatures are high all year round though so keep your eye on weather forecasts for a romantic autumn holiday.

Best for: Luxury, beaches, nature
The Maldives is legendary romantic holiday territory. Over the last twenty years, private island resorts have been outdoing one another in a bid to be the most luxurious and innovatively romantic. Well-known for their lavish overwater villas, often with glass tables or floors to view the marine life below, there are now over and underwater gourmet restaurants and spas, resident DJs in castaway open-air lounges and private infinity pools galore. There has also been a concerted effort to involve guests in marine conservation from coral reef repairs to turtle watches. And of course, if you enjoy scuba diving, this is one of the best places on earth to come.

Where to stay: COMO is one of my favourite hotel groups and Maalifushi by COMO in the Thaa Atoll offers classic private island, barefoot chic.

Expert tip:As the Maldives are 90 per cent water, activities are naturally based around the sea. However, most of the top resorts have truly impressive wine cellars to indulge in.

 
5. Seychelles
Best time to go: Spring, summer, autumn

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The island nation is blessed with warm weather year round but high winds in spring mean it’s great for sailing and a calm sea in the autumn mean it’s a fantastic spot for diving and snorkeling.

Best for: Beaches, nature, luxury
When I first visited the Seyrs ago, I was completely bowled over by the remoteness and fragility of these islands where frigate birds wheel in the sky and rays swim in the shallows. Some islands like Denis rely on bikes and horse and carts to get around and are home to ancient tortoises and historic plantation houses, and some are wildlife refuges –  such as Bird Island, home to rare breeds including the Seychelles Magpie Robin.

Where to stay: Often considered the original site of Eden, the Seychelles excels in private island experiences. My favourite is Fregate Island Private which I was lucky enough to visit shortly after it opened and it’s still going strong as both a conservation stronghold and a luxury hideaway. The size of Monaco, it has just sixteen vast luxury villas and seven beaches. Couples can literally have a beach to themselves – with butler service included.

Expert tip:Everyone should make sure to visit the Vallée de Mai Nature Reserve, a beautiful UNESCO World Heritage site on the island of Praslin. Explore the ancient forest filled with endemic species such as the Seychelles Black Parrot, the tiger chameleon and the tiny Seychelles tree frog.

6. South America
Best time to go: Winter, spring

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Visit the Andes in January and February for mild temperatures that let you view the sights on both sides of the border of Argentina and Chile in all their glory.

Best for: Adventure, scenery
For well-travelled couples looking for an adventurous, memorable holiday, I would recommend South America and in particular the Atacama, known as the driest place on earth. This may seem a little extreme for a some, but that’s the point, to take yourselves somewhere completely out of the ordinary, to this vast desert that rises from the Pacific Ocean up into the Altiplano, the foothills of the Andes.

Where to stay:Explora Atacama has over forty different guided hikes, bike rides, high mountain ascents and stargazing sessions. The lodge has incredible views of desert and salt mountains.

Expert tip:Popular with locals but not with tourists the Elqui Valley is ideal for trekking and biking. With its dry desert like climate it’s also a perfect place for stargazing accompanied of course with a traditional Pisco Sour.

7. Bali
Best time to go: Summer

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The ‘dry season’ in Bali is between July and August so the summer is the best time to take advantage of warm, dry beaches. The beaches will be less full in May and September if you’re pining for a private getaway.

Best for: Relaxation, nature
The gentle island of Bali is another iconic holiday destination, as enchanting as ever with its strong Hindu culture and multi-faceted landscapes. Of course couples should experience Ubud at the heart of the island where its spirit is most accessible in temples, art and verdant rice fields.

Where to stay: Couples can go off the beaten track in the north and west in search of superb diving and surf, but one thing is for sure, Bali has some of the most breathtaking resorts in the world. Alila Villas Uluwatu, poised dramatically at the edge of a limestone cliff with installation like architecture, and The Muli with its serene private villas, are both high on my holiday list.

Expert Tip:For snorkellers or divers, Komodo is one of the best places on the planet. The islands are easily accessible by a one hour flight from Bali.

8. Sydney and the Gold Coast, Australia
Best time to go: Spring, autumn

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While its spring and summer in the UK, it’s autumn and winter in Australia, not that that means much. It’s still lovely warm weather in the spring and you might even get a cheaper deal.

Best for: Culture, relaxation
If there’s one special occasion that warrants a trip to the other side of the world, it’s a honeymoon, and if you venture to Australia, you will always be rewarded with richly romantic experiences. Sydney is one of those clever metropolises that effortlessly combines an urban pace with chilling out.

Where to stay: It’s just a hop, skip and a jump to the Gold Coast, to world-class resorts such as the recently reopened One&Only Hayman Island in the Whitsundays. This iconic 1950s resort has had a ‘natural’ make-under that chimes well with the trend for more experiential, caring travel. The emphasis is now on organic gardens with your private villa and home-grown natural ingredients in your couple’s spa treatment. Luxury with love for the planet thrown in.

Expert tip:Visit Sydney in March and the city comes to a standstill with the spectacular Mardi Gras festival. The streets throng with revellers as hundreds and thousands of people watch the passing parade of colourful floats.

9. African safari and sand
Best time to go: Spring, summer

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Head out on safari late Summer when wildebeest migration in full flow in both Tanzania and Kenya. There will also be fewer visitors than in the peak summer months.

Best for: Nature, adventure
One of the classic holiday combinations is an African safari with all the excitement of spotting the Big Five and the glamour of staying in a luxury tented camp, followed by a stunning beach resort on the Indian Ocean to rest and replenish after the buzz of a wedding followed by all those early game drives.

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Where to stay: Tanzania is high on my list for its extreme beauty and fabulous camps such as Sand Rivers Selous in the Selous Game Reserve, one of the largest protected wildlife areas in Africa. Couples stay in open-fronted stone and thatched cottages looking onto the beautiful Rufiji River. Azura Quilalea Private Island on Mozambique’s pristine coast is another fantastic holiday destination.

Expert tip: Tanzania is an all-year-round migration destination. Stay in a mobile tented camp and follow the vast herds around the Serengeti and witness this natural phenomena.

 
10. California
Best time to go: Spring, summer, autumn

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California is beautiful year round and there’s always plenty to do. In autumn (or fall) you can expect clear skies, clear roads and the golden leaves of the Sierra Nevada’s aspen forests.

Best for: Culture, adventure
I’m permanently in love with the notion of the American road trip (think Route 66, Kerouac’s On the Road and so on), and California plus a convertible equals holiday bliss in my book.

Where to stay: The Pacific Coast Highway from historic Monterey to Morro Bay couldn’t get much more dramatic if it were fictionalized and with American institutions such as Shutters on the Beach in Santa Monica to host you, this is a ultimate holiday no brainer!

Expert Tip:One of the most exciting ways to see the Grand Canyon is by helicopter. The aerial views allow you to get a perspective of the Canyon you wouldn’t get from the ground.

www.theultimatetravelcompany.co.uk

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