I spent weeks (and thousands of dollars) planning my honeymoon. It was supposed to be a nearly three week trip through Thailand, Maldvies, and Burma. Literally five hours before I was supposed to head to the airport my father called in a panic that all the countries on our travel itinerary are on red alert for Zika. I didn’t realize Zika was still a thing! It hasn’t been in the news in months. Turns out it’s still a BIG big big deal in a many parts of the world. We spoke to a long list of people all of whom told us that if I go I would have to wait at least 6 months before trying to get pregnant (Zika often goes undetected so odds are if you have it you wouldn’t know). Needless to say we canceled our trip. We had nearly $5000 in flights, all of which were non-refundable though luckily we were able to get refunds from most of the hotels. We had travel insurance, but it didn’t cover canceling a trip for Zika.
I’m in the midst of planning another trip. It took me awhile to get over all the time and money that was lost. I figure I can’t be the only one who didn’t realize Zika was still an issue so I wanted to write this post to help anyone else who is trying to get pregnant plan their honeymoon or any trip, especially now that we are approaching holiday season! It can be tough especially given how many countries are now dangerous for other reasons, like natural disasters. Here’s an edited list of ideas!
One of the many outdoor spaces at Cramim
If you follow my writing here you might know that I spend my year traveling between Tel Aviv and New York. I live between both cities and my wedding was in Tel Aviv so I may be a bit partial, but I can’t think of a better place to honeymoon than Jerusalem! Not only is it a historic and absolutely magical place, but you can go there year-round. They do have a winter, but it’s not that cold and prices are mild in the off season. There have always been great hotels – King David is a forever favorite/classic, but there are SO many awesome new places that have recently opened.
Wineries at Cramim
What I love about the area is that you can enjoy both city and resort environments. Start off at the Mamilla, a stunning boutique hotel located in the middle of the BEST shopping area in Jerusalem (we’re talking everything from Rolex to Topshop). It’s also seconds away from a ton of cafes, bars, and restaurants and about a 15minute walk from the Old City so you really get the best of both worlds.
Rooftop at Mamilla
As you can see from the food photo towards the top of this post, the all-you-can-eat breakfast is AMAZING! And they have indoor/outdoor seating. They’ve got everything from smoked salmon and a long list of cheeses, to halva and shakshuka. The hotel itself is modern but with ancient backbones (read: plenty of Instagram opps). You can’t leave the hotel without dinner and drinks on their rooftop (pictured above). It’s a hot spot that draws locals, as well as people who drive in especially from Tel Aviv and other parts of the country, and lots of business men (this is a great spot to go when you feel like dressing up). The food is fantastic and there’s a great upbeat vibe. They do take walk-ins, but better to be on the safe side and make a reservation.
High tea at the Villa Brown
The Mamilla is on the pricey side (think Bulgari bath amenities) so if you’re on a bit more of a budget but still want something new, swanky, and fun head to the Villa Brown Jerusalem. The Brown hotels are known around Israel as being the trendiest boutique hotels and always reasonably priced. The Villa just recently opened (they actually have great bath amenities too – Molton Brown) and even if you don’t stay there it’s worth stopping by for their high tea. It’s priced at 120NIS for two people (about $35; pictured above). I’ve done countless high teas all over the world, this was the best value I’ve ever come across. Look how much you get! And you can enjoy it in their beautiful garden. The location of this hotel is also fantastic because you can walk to the Old City as well as to all the fun shops and restaurants.
Lastly, there’s The Orient, which is part of another big Israeli hotel chain called Isrotel. If you’re looking for a bigger, less boutique experience checkout this hotel or just stop in for the day and use their spa. They also have indoor and outdoor pools, sauna and a hamam is under construction (the hotel just recently opened).
Pillow menu at Cramim
For the second half of you trip hop in a cab or your car and in 15 minutes you’ll be at the stunning resort hotel Cramim (run by Isrotel and still partly owned by a Kibbutz). Trust me when I say the website doesn’t do this resort justice. I only went because I heard from so many people that it was their favorite spot and was blown away. It’s surrounded by vineyards so you can go wine tasting (the hotel also has multiple in-house wine tastings which they offer free to guests), and Cramim offers a very long list of classes (everything from yoga and meditation to bootcamp and aqua aerobics) free of charge to hotel guests. They also operate the largest spa in Israel and there are so many outdoor and indoor pools, jacuzzis, saunas, and steam rooms you won’t know where to begin. It’s amazing to be in such a peaceful, expansive resort and at the same time be so close to a major city. You can cram your day full of activities or literally lay back and do nothing.
One of the pools at Cramim
The rooms are new, modern and they have their own line of beauty amenities in the bathrooms. I didn’t try it (I was happy with the feather pillows), but they even have a pillow menu! They offer bed and breakfast or half board options – I would opt for half board. You really want to stay here and soak up every second. I was there on Shabbat and even with the restrictions that come with Shabbat the food was out-of-this world fresh and vibrant (I went with my husband, and even he ate vegetables!). I usually try to limit my sweets, but when they’re this good you have to try them all… luckily they have all the aforementioned gym options.
Ritz Carlton in Aruba
If you’re not looking to travel across the world and want sea and sun, Aruba! I would so love to go to Tulum (how amazing does this place look?), but they’ve got Zika too. Same goes for Cancun, many places in South America, and the list goes on and on. Aruba however has not been affected at all and they have a long list of amazing resorts to stay at as well as plenty of activities.
- Water Wellness: The calm waters and mangrove lagoons along Aruba’s southern fringe are perfect for things like windsurfing, kitesurfing, paddle boarding, canoeing, kayaking and snorkeling. If you’re looking for a more relaxed activity, there’s SUP (stand-up paddle boarding).
- Mind & Body: Yoga and Meditation classes are offered everyday throughout the island — many of which occur on the beach at sunrise. Aruba’s yoga hot-spot is at Manchebo — a wellness resort that offers a variety of classes.
- Nature Hikes: You can hike through Aruba‘s Airkok National Park — covering almost 20% of the island — there’s an array of trails to choose from.
- Spas: Aruba is home to some of the best spas in the world, including both luxury retreats and simple day spas.
- Relaxing Beaches: Mangel Halto with its mangrove trees and Baby Beach for its clear shores are among the most well known.
- Island of Aloes: Aruba Aloe is one of the oldest aloe companies in the world and Aruba has the Aruba Aloe’s Factory and Museum.
Hyatt Regency Aruba Resort and Spa