After Lindsay and Jacob Schwartz were married March 20, an AJT wedding announcement noted how the couple after their small outdoor wedding reception in Young Harris, Ga., “mini-mooned” in a Blue Ridge cabin and expected to honeymoon in the near future. The Schwartzes and other metro Atlantans share how they chose to celebrate their honeymoons. The AJT also consulted with a travel agent for tips on honeymoon travel and Honeymoon Israel, which is based in Atlanta.
Primo Plans For Punta Cana
The Schwartzes decided that their honeymoon, now slated for August, would be in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. After sifting through numerous photos and online reviews, as well as finding added perks available for honeymooners, they booked directly through the hotel Excellence El Carmen, and scheduled their flights through Delta.
They originally planned a European trip, but Lindsay said, “As the pandemic went on, with most countries still not allowing Americans, we decided to stick closer to home.” They both wanted a “primo experience – all the bells and whistles. A swim-up suite or private pool was a must,” she said. The resort they chose is all-inclusive, yet they upgraded to the Excellence Club option for additional lounges, private beach and additional dining.
It wasn’t until early May, after they were both fully vaccinated, that the couple began discussing travel, when and where they would feel safe going away. Later that month, they planned for their first air trip since the pandemic started.
“The honeymoon seems like such a crucial part of the ‘getting married’ process and the official ‘closing’ of that chapter. It’s time, and we’re really excited to officially feel like ‘the newlyweds’!”
Honeymoon a Year to the Date
The pandemic not only affected Valerie Kulbersh’s small wedding July 1 in the backyard of her husband’s grandmother. But COVID also impacted Kulbersh and husband Benjamin Myers ending up with a non-traditional honeymoon at his parents’ house in Savannah right after their wedding. Situated on the water, Kulbersh said that home transformed to become a cruise ship. Her in-laws took orders for breakfast. The newly marrieds had private, romantic dinners on the dock, were served drinks and even played Bingo. Plus they had custom-made towel animals awaiting them on their bed each night. At the time, the couple contemplated taking an exotic honeymoon in the near future.
Initially the couple was thinking of Iceland or the Greek Islands for their honeymoon but wanted to hold off until COVID was behind them, so they could “experience the destinations in their full glory,” Kulbersh said.
Puerto Rico became a “no-brainer” to be their honeymoon trip, planned for next month, on their first anniversary, Kulbersh said. The location fit their wish list to experience culture and history, have outdoor adventure and also just relax.
After San Juan, they’re heading to El Yunque National Forest for a day of hiking, then to the island Vieques for some beach time and to visit Mosquito Bay, which Kulbersh claims is the “brightest bioluminescent bay in the world.” The couple also wanted to stay in the U.S. because of COVID travel restrictions.
Not having a traditional honeymoon after their wedding, celebrating a year later seemed a logical conclusion. “This past year seems like it has both lasted a decade and flown by in five minutes, so our first anniversary snuck up on us. We went full speed ahead with honeymoon plans.” That is, with help from Amy Rosen, a vacation consultant with Expedia Cruises in Alpharetta.
Honeymoon in Israel
Based in Atlanta, Honeymoon Israel takes couples with at least one Jewish partner to the holy land. Before the pandemic, three trips set out from Atlanta to Israel each year, including couples from 20 American cities. The last Atlanta trip was in January 2020 and the last HMI trip, a month later. HMI hopes to resume its trips in the fall.
Couples spend nine days exploring Israel with 19 other couples from their city. The trip includes visits to the Western Wall, Jerusalem’s Old City and the beaches of Tel Aviv, along with meals with local families and meetings with high-level public officials and business leaders.
Hilary and Corey Sloane were part of the last HMI Atlanta trip to Israel before the pandemic, in January 2020. Hilary said, “While this trip would have been life-changing at any time, we are unbelievably grateful that we had the chance to go on HMI Atlanta in January of 2020 before the world shut down because of COVID. We had the last year at home to reflect on our experience and begin to bring new Jewish traditions into our family.
“We also had outdoor, socially-distanced get-togethers with our HMI cohort that kept us from going stir crazy during quarantine! I’d say the highlight of the trip was having the HMI community to come home to so we could all be there for each other during a rough year. Additionally, through past trips to Israel, I have created my own connection to the country, but this was my husband’s first time. Watching him experience a country I love for the first time was so special and brought us even closer than we were before we left,” said Hilary, who recently began working with HMI. “The romantic views, delicious restaurants, and beautiful hotels made this a honeymoon experience we will never forget!”
Alli Allen, an adviser with Travel Edge in Atlanta, specializes in planning luxury travel.
She said travel advisers are especially valuable lately because travel now involves carefully navigating COVID testing requirements and protocols, which differ depending on the destination and change often. Travel advisers stay current on the news, trends and policies that affect travel around the globe, “ensuring that one’s honeymoon will be seamless and worry-free,” she said.
Honeymooners can benefit from the flexible cancellation/refund policies currently in place due to COVID’s influence on the travel industry, Allen said. However, Allen always recommends purchasing travel insurance because it covers travelers both before and during your trip. “No one wants to deal with getting sick or injured in a foreign country, losing your luggage, or having to cancel last minute, forfeiting your travel investment – especially while on your honeymoon.”
To research honeymoon adventures and travel in exotic places, Allen visits destinations and vets hotels and itineraries in places such as Australia, Europe and Namibia, an emerging travel destination in southern Africa.
Allen said splurges especially popular with newlyweds include “treating yourselves to a private plunge pool, staying in an over-water bungalow, enjoying a yacht transfer, or booking a private cooking class.”
Lindsay Schwartz summed up how making honeymoon plans with her husband felt. “I hope this will be the first of many of our post-pandemic adventures together.”
Other newlyweds arranging honeymoon travel in the coming year might also agree.