2017 Honeymoon Awards: The Most Romantic Hotels in Australia, New Zealand & the South Pacific
We partnered up with Martha Stewart Weddings and asked our readers and followers to reveal their ultimate honeymoon destinations in nine regions around the globe. Now, with nearly 9,000 of you accounted for, we've found our winners. And we can't say we're surprised that Australia, New Zealand, and the South Pacific (specifically, Fiji and French Polynesia) came out on top. Not sure how to navigate your way around these dreamy destinations? Read on for 16 of the most romantic hotels, from overwater villas in Bora Bora to a landmark hotel in Sydney and a whimsical, art-filled sleep in Wellington.
St. Regis Bora Bora
Starting at 1,550 square feet, the overwater accommodations at The St. Regis Bora Bora are the largest in French Polynesia. But it’s not just size that sets these lush bungalows apart. Blending minimalist Polynesian decor (think: plank wood floors, thatch-work ceilings, tribal-inspired art) and 21st century luxuries like glass floor panels, this property is a serious stunner.
Cool off during the day with drinks at Aparima, the swim-up bar. And don’t miss dining at Sushi Take Restaurant, the first sushi joint in Bora Bora. You know a restaurant is good when even non-hotel guests are dining there: Jean-Georges’s Lagoon is one such place, and it’s easy to see why. Suspended above the lagoon and affording awesome views of Mount Otemanu, the restaurant serves delicious Franco-Asian dishes prepared with ingredients indigenous to the islands. There’s even a Romance Concierge who can ensure that healthy bouts of sunbathing are balanced out between canoe breakfasts or day cruises on the “Love Boat.”
Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora
Everything about the Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora spells seclusion: a private yacht takes you across warm South Pacific waters to your very own over-water bungalow or beachfront villa. Once there, you and your sweetheart will never have to leave the privacy of your thatched-roof retreat— guests can request to have meals delivered by canoe, and decks mean that you’re only ever a stepladder’s distance away from the crystalline lagoon. And while all the high-end digs that surround the island and motus (islets) draw A-List guests, the Four Seasons is an irresistible magnet for the beautiful people (Orlando Bloom, Miranda Kerr and newlyweds Jennifer Aniston and Justin Theroux, who cozied up in the one of the swanky overwater bungalows on their honeymoon). The resort has its own lagoon sanctuary, in-house marine biologist and perks like breakfast delivered to your villa by a hunky rower in a ceremonial Polynesian canoe.
InterContinental Bora Bora Thalasso Spa
Each spacious overwater villa at the InterContinental Bora Bora has oh-my views of the azure lagoon and the iconic Mount Otemanu. Days here are spent on the beach in a hammock, snorkeling in the resort’s small protected lagoon, dining in one of three on-site restaurants, and relaxing in the bungalows, which come outfitted with floor-to-ceiling windows and expansive overwater decks. Don’t miss a pampering body treatment at the 43,000-square foot Thalasson Spa, where rituals incorporate ocean elements.
Likuliku Lagoon Resort
This adults-only resort is home to Fiji’s only overwater bungalows, making it a big draw for honeymooners. Splurge on a Deluxe Beachfront Bure for direct ladder access to the lagoon, a freestanding bath, lounger-strewn deck and a private plunge pool. The décor combines traditional workmanship, such as the wooden inlay around the ceilings, with contemporary furniture and all the usual hi-tech amenities, such as hi-speed Wi-Fi. A central building, inspired by a traditional Fijian canoe house, includes beachside restaurant Fijiana, where the menu features creative fusion fare from Australian chef Shane Watson.
Laucala is a compelling honeymoon destination for many reasons, not the least of which involves its perch on a 3,000-acre private Fijian island. There are plenty of places to cozy up without seeing another soul, like the pool and outdoor shower in each of the Fijian-styled villas. Turquoise lagoons are perfect for a dip or countless water activities (like outrigger canoes, scuba diving, and jet skis); otherwise, go horseback riding, tour the organic farms that supply produce for the island’s five restaurants, or steal away to the Spa Garden and Kitchen to create your own signature lotion.
Set along dramatic volcanic beaches, on a former copra plantation, the all-inclusive but authentic Namale Resort is in Savusavu, Fiji’s best-kept secret. Traditional thatch-roofed villas offer direct beach access to the lapping waves of the Koro Sea. Spend your days snorkeling the reef or picnicking on a private beach at this brilliant South Pacific escape. The traditional thatch-roofed villas are modeled on Fijian chiefly dwellings and retain an authentic feel but maximize comfort with spacious showers, spa baths for two and private decks surrounded by jungle. Bures are built overlooking a beach that stretches for several miles along the Koro Sea, with volcanic outcroppings punctuating the landscape and a backdrop of swaying coconut palms. At high tide, plumes of water erupt from Namale’s famous blowhole, right in front of the resort.
The Remote Resort
True to its name, The Remote Resort is located on an isolated peninsula on the island of Vanua Levu, close to Rainbow Reef, one of Fiji’s best dive sites. The intimate retreat is home to just four oceanfront villas and is set on a 64-acre plot studded with pineapple and papaya trees. With a "high design, low impact" philosophy, the spacious villas are decked out with timber that has been felled and milled on-site and furniture made from local vesi trees. The minimal white-on-wood interiors ensure that the attention is placed firmly on the ocean and jungle views, which can be seen from huge windows shaded by wooden louvers. All villas have private plunge pools, spacious decks with daybeds, Bose docking stations and alfresco bathrooms with open-air showers. Guests can decide where to dine, from a secluded supper on the beach to a laid-back in-villa feast. Tuck into South Pacific flavors cooked on a wood-fired stove or a lovo, a traditional barbecue with an underground grill.
Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort
The son of oceanographer Jacques Cousteau, Jean-Michel, was so enamored of this five-star eco resort that he agreed to put his name on it. Built completely out of local materials on a former coconut plantation, the 25 traditional thatched bures sit on a beautiful curve of beach on the island of Vanua Levu. There’s a beachy bar where you can kick back with a book and a cocktail, hammocks strung invitingly between swaying palms, and rustic beachfront spa huts where Fijian masseurs will lull you into a blissful slumber to the soothing sound of lapping waves. The bures are spacious, with high vaulted ceilings and large wooden decks for alfresco lounging. Interiors feature colorful bedspreads, polished wooden floors and louvers to let in the tropical breeze. Showers overlook the tropical gardens, and bathrooms are stocked with Pure Fiji products. Oceanfront and Point Reef Bures have prime beachfront locations, steps from the water’s edge; privacy is requested by placing a wooden coconut on your front deck, or outside your door.
Guests can dine alfresco in the adults-only dining area overlooking the Koro Sea. Chef Raymond Lee’s appealing Fijian, South Pacific and Asian–inspired menu has a strong focus on fresh, locally caught seafood, New Zealand lamb and organic produce grown on-site. A traditional lovo (a barbecue using an underground grill) is served once a week. Free activities are available daily, including yoga, market visits and snorkeling expeditions, alongside paid-for excursions to renowned dive sites including Grand Central Station and Alice in Wonderland, led by the resort’s excellent dive team.
Sofitel Moorea la Ora Beach Resort
This elegantly understated resort maximizes Moorea’s extreme natural beauty. Thatch-roofed overwater bungalows blend Polynesian touches with 21st-century luxuries. As part of a $40 million overhaul in 2006, 19 overwater retreats were added to the complement of 60. On land, another 35 feature either beach or garden views. There are no tubs in the overwater bungalows — but who needs one when there’s a gloriously blue lagoon right outside the door? (There’s also a lagoon viewing window set into the bungalow’s floor.) Instead, the bathrooms feature a stone tile rain shower and double sinks. Romantic netting tumbles from the ceiling to drape the comfy MyBed. If you’re more of a landlubber, you can opt for garden or beach villas, which have private terraces with hammocks and bathrooms with deep-soak tubs. Don’t leave without dining in the restaurant, K, where romance is raised to a whole other level. Ditch the footwear and walk on sand to a table lit by crystal candle centrepieces. Enjoy a spa treatment or loll in the pool, which adds another layer of blue to the scenery.
A 20-minute private flight from Tahiti, the remote island of Tetiaroa is a real-life Shangri-la, occupied for centuries by Tahitian royalty before being turned into Marlon Brando’s private island turned eco-resort. Scattered between Turtle Beach and Mermaid Bay, 35 Polynesian-style villas have their very own white-sand beach, plunge pool, and bicycles with which to explore, while those seeking adventure can strike out for the atoll’s other islands via paddleboard, kayak, or sailboat. Chef Guy Martin (whose Paris restaurant has two Michelin stars) mines the nearby gardens, orchards, and ocean for ingredients used in his exceptional cuisine—a bounty worthy of its fairytale setting.
Tikehau Pearl Beach Resort
This is the stuff of Robinson Crusoe fantasies. Tikehau Atoll, about an hour’s flight from Tahiti, has a population of just 500 (or thereabouts) — while its lagoon harbors marine life so dense Jacques Cousteau declared it to have the richest concentration of fish in French Polynesia. Forming a near-perfect circle around a placid lagoon, this end-of-the-earth hideaway is as far from civilization as you can get. The 24 Overwater Bungalows hover over a turquoise lagoon, and the 13 Beach Bungalows sit on coconut-fringed pink sand. All accommodations have high ceilings and offer at least 592 square feet of elbow room. The beachfront bungalows feature outdoor bathrooms, and the stilted bungalows offer direct access to the shimmering lagoon (Note: The island is small enough that a slow lap around its pink sand shores takes just 20 minutes). Sunning, swimming and diving are the main activities here, though more adventurous guests can charter a fishing boat for a day of deep sea angling, plan an excursion to Bird Island, or commandeer a private island for a beach picnic.
Not a penny was spared during the transformation of the former Observatory hotel into the sumptuous Langham, Sydney, in the historic Rocks district. The three floors house 98 elegant and refined rooms; some feature Juliette balconies while others have wraparound terraces that look out towards the Western Harbor. High tea (on Wedgwood china) and drinks at the Palm Court is de rigeur, though lunching on Euro-Australian cuisine at Kent Street Kitchen is just as enjoyable. JS Tip: Even if you’re not there to swim, it’s worth taking a peek at the dim-lit indoor pool, whose ceiling echoes the night sky.
Housed within an old department store and the adjacent State Theatre—two landmarked buildings both from the early 1900s—the QT, smack in Sydney’s Central Business District, retains much of the structures’ original Gothic, Art Deco, and Italianate architecture. Luxe interiors are theatrical and fun, with bright velvet chairs fit for an Alice in Wonderland tea party, video installations, hats doubling as lamps, and chair pegs shaped like women’s legs, while the 200 guest rooms, spread over two separate wings, feature 12 different but equally glamorous styles—think deep reds and oranges, darks woods, sculptural headboards, and black-clad bathrooms with giant standalone bathtubs. There’s also a small spa offering personalized healing treatments and a charming vintage-style barber shop next door, but the majority of stylish locals flock to the Gowings Bar & Grill, a European-style brasserie serving dishes such as whole roasted quail stuffed with sage, and the adjacent Gilt Lounge for inventive cocktails.
Harbour Rocks Hotel
Originally the site of Sydney’s first hospital, Harbour Rocks is a stylish mashup of the historical and the modern. The cozy lobby encourages lingering, with a fully stocked bookcase filling one wall and a bar in the corner, while the courtyard terrace offers guests the perfect spot to relax and unwind outdoors. As a result of being in a heritage-listed building, each of the 59 guestrooms has a unique layout. Rooms in the Heritage class can be small, whereas Studio Suites offer plenty of space to spread out and relax — including a plush sofa that pulls out into a Double bed. The dark brick walls are lightened by large windows that let in the sun and crisp white linens on the beds, and modern bathrooms come stocked with luxury toiletries from Appelles.
The building is a registered landmark, and very little has changed since its construction in 1910. The former wool- and cargo-handling facility has been expertly converted into a luxurious hotel, and they’ve thoughtfully preserved such industrial fixtures as the conveyor belts that were once used for transporting wool bales to market. And the lofty living room–like space that serves as the lobby is set against a red glass wall dotted with portholes and exposed corrugated iron and timber. The hotel’s restaurant, Blue Café, is also home to the Waterbar, a theatrically lit cocktail lounge with plush velvet banquettes. Filling the hotel’s central atrium, the bar is popular with Sydney’s see-and-be-seen set, and the nightclub-style decor (think cube tables and reflective surfaces) makes for an eye-opening contrast to the timber piles and steel trusses elsewhere in the hotel.
QT Museum Wellington
If you are your sig other have fantasies of sleeping in a museum, this whimsical, art-filled stay is the next best thing. The quirky hotel features an impression collection of eclectic paintings and sculpture, from the large copper-colored hippo on the roof to the shiny Italian motorbikes in the lobby. The 65 handsome rooms come with a choice of city or harbor views, and are outfitted with dark fabrics, gold lampshades, and slate-tiled bathrooms, Bose sound systems, and Nespresso coffee machines. After you’re done taking in all the artwork, head to the Hippopotamus Restaurant and Cocktail Bar for French-inspired fare and heart-stopping views of the marina and harbor.
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