Cheap Tickets to Paradise
The dollar may be weak elsewhere, but you’ll get plenty of bang for your U.S. buck in the D.R.—and have more fun money left over to drop on umbrella drinks and scuba excursions than you would on pricier (and farther-flung) islands like Tahiti. Soak up rays poolside at Sivory Punta Cana; an anomaly in a region known for all-inclusive megaresorts, this boutique hotel’s quiet oceanfront suites come with personal plunge pools (doubles from $320, 809-333-0500, sivorypuntacana.com). Just as intimate is the seaside Casa Colonial Beach & Spa Resort, with a rooftop infinity pool, luxe Bagua spa, and the Asian-fusion restaurant Lucia (doubles from $286, 809-320-3232, casacolonialhotel.com). Or hole up at one of the island’s newest hotels, the Peninsula House in Las Terrenas (doubles from $520, 809-307-1827, thepeninsulahouse.com). Its Victorian architecture and antique furnishings—think crystal chandeliers, four-poster beds, and daily breakfasts on fine china—recall a 19th-century Caribbean plantation; the amenities, like WiFi, Frette linens, and rainforest showers, though, are all modern. -Donna Garlough
Tourism in Mexico took a one-two punch this year, thanks to health scares and a growing crime rate. Now, with most travel advisories lifted, it’s time to safely jump on air and hotel deals. On the country’s east coast, the Riviera Maya has honeymoon destinations galore. For upscale pampering, the 128-suite Rosewood Mayakobá complex, set on a mile-long stretch of white sand, is dotted with pools and lagoons (doubles from $590, 984-875-8000, rosewoodmayakoba.com). Couples’ massages at the serene Sense spa—perched on its own island within the resort—are a must. If you’re all about excess, consider the brand-new Grand Velas Riviera Maya, a colossal property that feels more like a sprawling Caribbean nightclub than a 493-room hotel (doubles from $380, 866-230-7221, rivieramaya.grandvelas.com). Seven restaurants, a rooftop pool, a 40-suite spa, and a karaoke bar will keep you entertained all day and night. -D.G.
You could fly (on many connecting flights) to Vanuatu for $3,000. Or you could take in the tropics—via a direct flight from Logan—for less than $400, thanks to the easy-to-get-to island of Jamaica. We know what you’re thinking: Underdressed and, well, slightly cheesy, it’s a honeymoon nightmare. Yes, it has Sandals and Couples, but it also plays host to plenty of upscale, hidden escapes like the old-school Round Hill Hotel and Villas, where most of the 27 cottages come with private pools and ocean views (doubles from $410, 876-956-7050, roundhill.com). The former sugar plantation was once a favorite of the Fred Astaire set; now it welcomes cultured couples with its tennis courts, private beach, and open-air spa. Lovebirds are feted with a glass of bubbly when arriving at Strawberry Hill Hotel & Spa, a 12-villa property in Jamaica’s Blue Mountains (villas from $195, 876-944-8400, strawberryhill resort.com). Smart duos request the Birdshill cottage for its private terrace and in-room spa treatments. And then there are the Bluefields Bay Villas (pictured above)—five well-designed homes that each get their own waiter, gardener, and maid (villas from $4,200 per week, 202-232-4010, bluefieldsvillas.com). -Sascha de Gersdorff
Europe has always been a honeymooner’s playground, but basic trips to Italy or France can cost upward of five grand. Enter Lisbon, where romance can be had for half that price. The ancient seaside metropolis, surrounded by beachy coastal towns and idyllic wine country, is one of Europe’s best-kept (and least expensive) secrets.
Portugal’s capital city has recently experienced a cultural renaissance, as evidenced by new spots like the ultrachic Altis Belém, a 50-room white-and-glass-themed boutique hotel (doubles from $370, 351-213-106-019, altishotels.com). Opened in November 2008, the Tagus River lodging is steps away from the 16th-century Tower of Belém fort. The trendy new Internacional Design Hotel gives travelers atypical money-saving options with priced-by-size rooms (doubles from $135, 351-213-240-990, internacionaldesignhotel.com). More traditional couples can check into the just-renovated Tivoli Palácio de Seteais, a neoclassical-castle-turned-hotel in nearby Sintra (doubles from $376, 351-219-233-200, tivolihotels.com). And those who just want 24/7 care should drive 30 minutes south of Lisbon to Troia, a sprawling new luxury resort where honeymooners can play golf, lounge poolside, go horseback riding, sail, or take hiking trips to Roman ruins (troiaresort.pt). -S. de G.