HONEYMOON HUNTING

“Searching for the ideal honeymoon can be as useless as searching for meaning in a Pauly Shore movie.”

That was me, feeling confused, bewildered and misquoting Clueless, in the midst of our honeymoon search three months ago. What I had anticipated as a pleasurable task turned into an eternity spent browsing online, pricing-up options and tearing my hair out.

If you read my post last week, you’ll know that we rejected our first preference of the Caribbean because it was turning out to be thousands and thousands of pounds to go during the six week summer hols. One of the rewards of shaping the young minds of Great Britain is getting a lovely long break over the summer but the penalty is the horrific price-hike for flights out of the UK.

One travel agent suggested Mauritius as a good-value, tropical alternative. I had never even thought of Mauritius! Engrossed, I scrolled through pictures and pictures of that volcanic, green landscape and iconic white beaches. I could totally see us lying on a pair of those luxurious, squishy sun loungers and me having a riveting paperback in one hand and a piña colada in the other.

We were offered such a good deal and were on the verge of booking but then I got reading on TripAdvisor and realised that August is, distressingly, Mauritius’s wintertime. It never gets really cold there but it can get windy and overcast and you might even need a cardigan. Being residents of England, I think we get enough cool weather to want to avoid it on our honeymoon. Plus I didn’t want to have to travel ten thousand miles to summon up ‘shivering bus-duty’ vibes evocative of a chilly Tuesday afternoon in March. Mauritius was abandoned.

Next, we contemplated the Seychelles, favouring the Hilton Labriz and Hilton Northolme resorts reviewed here and here by Rebecca. Both resorts are completely lush and total honeymoon fantasy fodder. And the beaches… well, let’s just say that they make South Beach look like Skegness (our nearest beach, incidentally *weeps*). The beaches at Labriz and Northolme are an antidote to lowly Skeg with their dreamy, dreamy white sand and all those prehistoric-looking boulders casually scattered everywhere.

Both resorts are fabulously isolated but, being unashamed gluttons, we were concerned that we wouldn’t be able to potter out and find authentic food that we’d find in independent, local-run restaurants. I was also a bit worried about being chased by one of those giant crabs, having read a news-story about one stowing away in Myleene Klass’s suitcase. I do hope we’ll go one day, but we decided that the Seychelles didn’t quite fit the bill for the honeymoon. I shall just have to content myself with sniffing my favourite White Company candle until I overcome my crustacean phobia.

Back to the drawing board…and I was at a bit of a loss. I thought back to our amazing trip to Bali last Easter and remembered all the winning components: exotic landscape, idyllic beach, beautiful temples and mind-blowing food.

Clutching at straws, I googled ‘If you love Bali, you’ll love…’ and the destination that kept cropping up in search results was Thailand. I don’t know about you but when I think of Thailand I have associations of wonderful food and breath-taking beach but also primitive beach huts and dodgy druggy types. Maybe that Leonardo DiCaprio film The Beach just really resonated with me. Also, a work-pal had told me that August in Thailand is monsoon season.

But delving deeper into research I found that the gulf islands of Koh Samui and Koh Pha Ngan don’t get affected by the monsoons and while we might get the odd refreshing shower in the early mornings, we would most likely be safe from the full extent of the rains. I also found that there were reams of luxe hotels on the islands and some were, for want of a better phrase, architecturally magnificent. In particular, Santhiya on Koh Pha Ngan really wowed me.

At this point, we had mooted the NYC premoon, so the fact that a Thai honeymoon would save us big-bucks in comparison to somewhere like the Seychelles really swayed us. Plus Koh Pha Ngan boasts ornate temples, stunning landscapes and authentic restaurants galore and at Santhiya you can do nice things like take a Thai cooking class, do some yoga or go get a foot massage if you should get tired of the swimming and sunbathing regimen.

The thing with Koh Pha Ngan is that there is no airport; you have to fly into Koh Samui. We were interested in a flight from Manchester with Finnair (which goes via Helsinki and Hong Kong) but it doesn’t land until the evening – too late in the day to transfer to Koh Pha Ngan. So we decided to split our stay between Santhiya on Koh Pha Ngan and the beautiful Bo Phut Resort & Spa on Koh Samui.

We knew we were onto a winner and made our booking. And just like that – our luxe Thai island hopping honeymoon had been arranged!

Work’s been pretty intense for both of us recently and right now, I’m so looking forward to spending blissed-out quality time on those gorgeous islands with Steve.

In the mean time, I’ll be in the bath listening to The Beach soundtrack on Spotify.

-Sarah- x

(Photos by Santhiya Kho Pha Ngan and Bo Phut Resort & Spa Management)

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