By Susan Breslow Sardone
If you are researching honeymoon packages, enticing offers of dream vacations await you. (See "What is a Romance Package").
Some of these packages will resemble wedding gifts: tied up neatly in in pretty boxes that say "honeymoon." But you may find, as with wedding gifts, you prefer to do your own shopping and evaluate packages as an aware consumer.
Read on, and you'll learn how to identify different types of honeymoon packages. This knowledge can empower you to choose wisely.
Most honeymoon gift registries operate by enabling couples to choose the elements that combine to provide the honeymoon they want.
After settling on a destination, a couple can list the flight they want, hotel nights, dining, cash, all the way down to small pleasures like tickets to an attraction or flowers in the room.
Good: Guests who use your honeymoon gift registry will end up giving you gifts of travel that you really want.
Not So Good: Most registries charge a service fee, which means you'd be better off with cash.
Be Aware: You can't count on getting every item on your honeymoon gift registry bought or driving all your guests to use it -- which can mean you end up with a half-paid for honeymoon that you either have to scale back or pay the balance yourselves.
When it comes to choosing an all-inclusive honeymoon vacation, it's a no-brainer. Just about everything at the resort — lodging, food, drinks, snacks, activities — is included in one price. (Although things like spa and butler services are extra).
In the days before Web travel, it was difficult to buy all-inclusive vacation packages like this directly. Now you can go directly to a site like Sandals Resorts and book a honeymoon yourselves.
Good: No middleman.
Not So Good: You'll still have to make your own flight arrangements. And a travel agent can be your advocate.
Be Aware: Many all-inclusive resorts have different tiers and prices for rooms, and a good travel agent can help to make sense of them for you.
Honeymoon Packages that Include Special Touches
You want your honeymoon to feel special, of course. Hoteliers in fine resorts are aware of that, which is why they create romance packages to entice couples. To find out if your destination resort offers any, search on its site for a link that says special offers or deals.
Some of the popular add-ons offered in romantic honeymoon packages include:
- Rose petals on your bed
- Candlelight dinner
- Couples spa treatment
Good: Having those niceties can make for a lovely honeymoon.
Not So Good: You may not want all the add-ons that are bundled into the offer.
Be Aware: Do the math before you opt for one of these honeymoon packages. Would the elements be cheaper if you bought just the ones you want individually?
Honeymoon Packages Endorsed by a Tourism Bureau
To many destinations, honeymoon couples are big business. So they present packages intended to get you to choose their location over another.
- Preferred check-in service
- Free bottle of champagne upon arrival
- Souvenir gift
- Certificate for a free night during the following year
Good: When you get special treatment and valuable benefits.
Not So Good: When you're directed to so-so hotels listed because they compensate the tourism office for referrals. The certificate is only good on a five-night stay.
Honeymoon Packages that Bundle Air + Hotel + Rental Car
At online travel agents such as Expedia and Priceline as well as airlines such as JetBlue, you can buy vacation packages where the cost of a flight and hotel stay (and even a rental car) is less than the sum of the parts. By not publishing the exact prices for each element, these vacation sellers can do a little price-juggling, and you benefit.
Good: You can save hundreds booking honeymoon vacation packages and also pre-buy tours from these sites.
Not So Good: Travelers who go through online travel agents often do not get assigned to a hotel's nicest rooms; hotels reserve those for customers who book directly with them.
Be Aware: As with any combo deal, it's wise to research the prices of separate elements to ensure you get the best deal.
Honeymoon Packages that Don't Say "Honeymoon"
As you may have discovered, when a seller puts the word "wedding" in front of an item, e.g. "wedding dress" or "wedding shoes," price inflation may take place. The same, alas, applies to honeymoon packages.
If you're young and/or you haven't traveled much, there are travel sellers who may try to take advantage of your inexperience or steer you into offers that may not be right for you.
If you do want that dreamy, two-on-a-cloud type of getaway, certainly pursue honeymoon-branded packages. But also look at regular vacation packages; they may provide just what you need without adding a "honeymoon tax."
Good: Pay less.
Not So Good: No extra romantic touches.
Be Aware: When you buy just on price, you won't experience the best.
Honeymoon Packages that Travel Agencies Sell
Bricks-and-mortar travel agencies have long been a good resource for researching honeymoon packages. As with online sellers, they have an inventory of trips they can tell you about.
Face to face — especially with a travel agent who is well-traveled and listens to you — you have a better chance of working together to devise a honeymoon package that's truly customized to your desires.
Good: Personal service, and a human to call if something goes awry. Plus you won't pay for the agent's services; they receive a commission.
Not So Good: When agents try to upsell clients.
Be Aware: Some agents, induced by higher commissions, will try to steer customers to certain resorts or on cruises that may not be a good fit.