Easter is fast-approaching, and leading up to the springtime holiday is Holy Week, which, in Roman Catholic tradition, is the last week of Lent, taking place right before Easter (which falls on Sunday, April 20th this year). Parades, processions, traditional celebrations, lively festivities, marching bands, festive foods: These are the sights, sounds, and flavors of Holy Week around the globe, and for travelers who sample a country’s culture as much as its fine cuisine and beautiful scenery, visiting a celebratory country during Holy Week is the holy grail — no pun intended — of cultural travel. Here are our six top picks for the most festive spots in the world to visit during Holy Week.
Guatemala is one of the world’s most renowned destinations for celebrating Holy Week, thanks to the nation’s vibrant and ornate religious festivities. To kick off the week, Guatemalans decorate their streets and homes with palm fronds on Palm Sunday, and the celebration continues through Good Friday. In Antigua, residents scatter the country’s famed alfombras – dyed sand and sawdust, with pine needles, flowers and plants — on the cobblestone streets to create spectacularly colored “carpets” that lead the way for religious processions.
Where to Stay: Just 30 minutes from colonial Antigua, La Reunion Golf Resort & Residences gets you close to the Holy Week action but not too close: visit during the day and escape at night to avoid the pulsating — and often overwhelming — crowds.
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This luxury pick in Guatemala lies in the shadow of four volcanoes (two of them active -- for a truly hot honeymoon).
For this edition of Honeymoon Hotel of the Week, we’re heading to La Reunion Antigua Golf Resort in Guatemala. An outstanding luxury boutique located in the shadow of four volcanoes (two of them active — for a truly hot honeymoon), La Reunion is about 30 minutes from the colonial city of Antigua. Luxurious facilities and incredible volcano views are highlights here that the bride and groom are sure bask in during their stay. There’s also a fabulous infinity-edge pool and a Pete Dye-designed golf course, if couples feel like stretching their legs. Plus, the upscale restaurant and rooftop bar both have volcano views. The 26 rooms mix elegant decor with hand-woven textiles from local artisans to create comfortable, romantic spaces. Featuring private patios with infinity-edge swimming pools and fantastic bathrooms with soaking tubs and private outdoor showers, they are perfect for couples.
Honeymooners should consider booking the Romantic Package, which includes a bottle of sparkling wine and either a relaxing couples massage in your private suite or a piece of jewelry designed exclusively for La Reunion by Silvia Asturias. See more honeymoon-inspired photos of La Reunion after the jump »
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The Geejam in Port Antonio, Jamaica
Going to the beach is nice and all, but there’s something about hiding away in the jungle that really gets our travel juices flowing. The lush scenery, the wildlife spottings, the chorus of birds and insects, and the gorgeous rustic-luxe retreats all help rejuvenate us like nothing else. For those still craving a little sun and sand, plenty of our rainforest and jungle picks are on or near the beach. So go ahead — take a walk on the wild side.
The pool may be tiny, but the gorgeous view is expansive.
La Lancha is one of a handful of exclusive Central American hideaways owned by Francis Ford Coppola. This small 10-room rainforest retreat has a lakeside location 40 minutes away from the famous Mayan ruins at Tikal National Park. Rooms are rustic and comfortable with fantastic balconies and hammocks for admiring the views. Hotel highlights include a split-level pool, the beautiful Lake Peten Itza with canoes, and an on-site restaurant and bar serving Guatemalan cuisine and Coppola wines. Some guests have complained about the lack of a hot tub and the thin walls between casitas. But many guests return year after year for the hotel’s tranquil vibe; rooms do not have TVs and the somewhat remote location makes it a peaceful spot. So as we say every week, sit back, relax and soak in the goodness that is La Lancha.
The Marriott Wailea Resort is a romantic honeymoon locale on Maui.
Honeymoons must be two things: romantic and memorable. Any old trip to the beach is just not going to suffice for a couple’s post-nuptial getaway. But thankfully, there are plenty of unique and luxurious properties out there for newlyweds. Remote jungle hideaways, cozy mountain lodges, luxe European grand dames, and gorgeous beachfront properties are waiting with a bottle of champagne at the ready to toast your “I dos.” These romantic hotels around the world are perfect honeymoon locales; go ahead and swoon over them in this slideshow.
As we’ve said before, a vacation just isn’t a vacation without delicious food and delicious views. And when you can have both together, well, that’s a match made in culinary heaven. Back in August, we gave you a peak at five hotel restaurants with scrumptious food set against amazing backdrops — and now we add eight more restaurants to that list. Dig in!
Lounge at the La Reunion Golf Resort & Residences
It doesn’t have to be fancy to have great views – and delicious food. This luxury golf resort in Guatemala is surrounded by four volcanoes, two of them being active. While the Sky Bar and the upscale restaurant also have views of the volcanoes, we love the laid-back, al fresco lounge, where diners can grab a burger and sip on a smoothie (the lounge’s specialty). During the weekends, the lounge often hosts Guatemalan buffets and barbecues.
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Most of us forget our New Year’s Resolutions as soon as we’ve written them down, but we’re sure a lot of you out there at least aim to unplug a little this year by talking more face-to-face and less via social networks; planning at least a short getaway to the countryside; and hitting the road to get back in touch with nature: No TV, no Internet access, no cell phone service. It’s easy to fall into the office-gym-home routine and find that it’s the end of the year again and you haven’t quite done all you’ve set out to do (although if you keep up with the “gym” part, maybe you will have lost those 15 pounds!). Well, we’re determined to help you stay on the “back to nature” bandwagon this year. Check out our favorite unplugged havens and pick the best one for you. Then it’s time to lose the cell — at least for a weekend.
Rooms are housed in open palapas with no window panes or screens.
Haramara, a luxurious yoga retreat located on 12 seaside acres of wild vegetation, is arguably one of the most special hotels in Mexico. All hotel structures have been built using traditional construction techniques to minimize the environmental impact, and there is no electricity besides in the restaurant and the yoga studio. Each room is housed in a private, standalone thatched hut with no window panes or screens separating the indoors from the jungle, and only gauze curtains and mosquito nets protect guests from bugs and critters. Even the bathrooms are open. The peaceful retreat is geared towards those in need of some detoxification and relaxation, with yoga and meditation classes, an open-air spa, a vegetarian and seafood restaurant, unpaved trails, and limited cell phone service.
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It may not be easy to let your kids fly the coup, but being an Empty Nester has its advantages — especially when it comes to travel. Forget breaking up sibling rivalries in the backseat or searching for one affordable restaurant that pleases everyone’s palate. Empty Nesters not only have a renewed sense of freedom, but also extra time and money that can afford them unique vacation opportunities. For mature travelers who are still young at heart and looking for adventure, we’ve found some of the best international destinations that get you back to the outdoors while offering a little something extra for your mature sensibilities.
The nautical-themed Hotel J offers 1-,2-, or 3-day excursions on their private sailboat.
As one of the most lush (and underrated) places in the world, Sweden’s capital city boasts its eco-friendly atmosphere throughout its 14 interconnected waterways. And because of its far north locale in Scandinavia, daytime can last more than 19 hours during the summer season. With a strong focus on the outdoors, Stockholm makes for a great active getaway. The nautical-themed waterfront J Hotel is a secluded boutique property, perfect for couples looking for tranquility and activity. Guests of the J can rent bikes, hop aboard the hotel’s private sailboat, or get a tai-chi lesson. The hotel also offers wine tastings and culinary classes for travelers to indulge in when (and if) the sun goes down. Read More »
Sure, a week holed up in a beach bungalow or a romantic jaunt to the City of Lights is a nice way to spend one’s honeymoon. But we’d argue it can be a bit cliché, and you’re not just any other couple, right? If you and your significant other identify more with the less-than-traditional set of newlyweds, why not jet off to some exotic, unexpected locale instead? Taking the road less traveled for a honeymoon can be all the more romantic, now that you have someone else to protect you, natch. So before you book that all-inclusive in the Caribbean, give our five alternative honeymoon destinations a look — you never know where they will take you!
1. Go on an African Safari in Botswana
&Beyond Xaranna Okavango Delta Camp
The &Beyond Xaranna Okavanga Delta Camp is an all-inclusive resort in Botswana– but not like one you’ve ever been to before. (Read: you’re not going to be carrying around that same old plastic cup all week.) Set on an island that’s home to a 62,000-acre nature preserve, this unique getaway combines natural beauty and a far-away feel that’ll be sure to create a sexy atmosphere — for an adrenaline-junkie couples happy. Couples can go on game drives, bush walks, and river cruises, or simply enjoy cocktails on the hotel grounds, waiting for lions, hippos, or monkeys to mosey by. The tented suites are a study in glamping (that’s glamorous camping for the uninformed), complete with soaking tubs, indoor and outdoor showers, and four poster beds. A holiday on safari is the perfect way to begin the adventure that is marriage, don’t you think?
Lake Tahoe, California
It’s true that the ocean is awesome — but reaching it can be a trek for many travelers. And even for those who live close to the beach, there comes a point in the summer when you get sick of sand getting stuck between your toes. That’s why we’ve compiled some of our favorite spots for freshwater fun; these beautiful lakes and rivers are an active traveler’s dream, offering activities such as canoeing, kayaking, fishing, nearby hiking, and more. Check out our trip options suited to a range of tastes — whether you prefer picnicking on Tahoe’s shores or cave tubing along the Macal River in Belize.