BLUE LAGOON SPA, ICELAND
It’s a surreal image–people bobbing like small dark dots in a massive expanse of light blue water, almost the same colour as the sky. A ring of blackish rugged rock surrounds the water, a reminder that this is volcano country. The Blue Lagoon Spa in Iceland is elemental–hard to believe that it’s not a natural creation; but in fact, it’s a manmade lagoon fed by waters from the Svartsengi geothermal plant. The spa is also a fabulous luxury holiday experience.
Romantic quietude, long walks through narrow streets, passing small and perfect white buildings, gazing at the hills afar or the bay nearby, and tasting gourmet food and wine inplush restaurants–all the pleasures of a prosperous Mediterraneantown is found in this little dot on Costa Brava, the long slice of ‘wild coast’ along the northeastern edge of Spain. There’s some mild adventure sports available to add a dash of activity into the honeymoon mix, and the hills nearby have some easy hiking trails.
KARLOVY VARY, CZECH REPUBLIC
Movie aficionados know it for its film festival, but to spa lovers of Eastern Europe, Karlovy Vary is where it’s at. Like many cities with a rich history in this part of the continent, it’s both flamboyant and intimate. The real draw of Karlovy Vary are the springs. Vřídelníkolonáda (Hot Spring Colonnade), a glass and reinforced concrete structure, houses a pavilion where visitors can watch a geyser gushing upwards to 12 metres and drink the pure mineral water as well.
HUKA FALLS, NEW ZEALAND
Kiwiland is a favourite of newlyweds, but most tend to stay on the beaten track. Now, the Huka Lodge (www.hukalodge.co.nz) is a very different deal. This is where royalty and movie stars come when they want a blend of serious privacy and serious luxury. Located on the bank of the river Waikato, upstream from the Huka Falls, the lodge is a slice of heaven, an icon of New Zealand tourism and yet as discreet as it can be. Everything here is classy, understated, and supremely relaxing. Sunny sit-outs by the river recall the simple life, except that this one comes with gourmet five-course dinners, fine wines, and personalised attention.
SHOLAYAR FOREST, KERALA
There are two great things about Sholayar, part of a large stretch of forest that spans Kerala and Tamil Nadu. One, its lack of tourist hordes. Two, its proximity to the spectacular Athirapally waterfalls, which had a central role in the National Award-winning film Baahubali and is occasionally called the ‘Niagara of India’. In this soul-stirring and romantic setting, there’s the Rainforest Athirapally (www.rainforest.in), a boutique hotel spread over several hectares. The private balconies of the luxury rooms give guests a clear view of the waterfalls.