Honeymoon in style… without going broke

  • Dreams Resort, Puerto Vallarta. Photo courtesy of AMResorts. Dreams Resort, Puerto Vallarta. Photo courtesy of AMResorts.
  • Private dinner on the pier at the Zoëtry Paraiso de la Bonita Riviera Maya. Photo courtesy of AMResorts. Private dinner on the pier at the Zoëtry Paraiso de la Bonita Riviera Maya. Photo courtesy of AMResorts.

Story by Maia K. Nolan-Partnow

Going on a honeymoon doesn't have to mean breaking the bank. From tropical getaways to Alaska “staycations,” there are ways to make almost any honeymoon more affordable. We talked to a couple of local experts to get their recommendations for stretching your honeymoon dollar.

Viva Mexico

To save money on a tropical getaway, consider Mexico’s abundant all-inclusive resorts. Many of these resorts offer honeymooners a "worry free" vacation by including all meals, beverages, tips, entertainment and activities in the price of the room. “You can go all-inclusive in Los Cabos or Puerto Vallarta, and you can find a pretty good deal,” says Corinne Stein, owner of Eagle Travel. “Some (resorts) have fitness, tennis courts, some have all kinds of sports programs, shows – a lot of activities. It all depends a bit on the resort.”

Mexico offers a good range of resort options, although Los Cabos and Puerto Vallarta are more affordable to reach from Alaska than Cancun or Riviera Maya.

For good deals, check out the Iberostar (www.iberostar.com) or RIU (www.riu.com) resort chains. “They’re bigger hotels, but mostly they can have good prices,” says Stein.

Cruise to savings

For an easy-to-plan honeymoon that won’t cost a fortune, Stein recommends looking offshore.

“You can do cruises and find pretty good deals,” she says.

She particularly recommends Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines (www.royalcaribbean.com) for bargain hunters. The line offers regular cruise deals, ample onboard activities and a huge selection of destinations worldwide.

“Even a European cruise can be not that expensive,” Stein says.

Europe’s secret gem

Scott McMurren, publisher of Alaska Travelgram, has a surprising recommendation for romance: Iceland. Seriously.

“You see all of nature's force at work,” McMurren says. “The glaciers. The hot springs. The hiking. The beach, the good food, the finest hospitality – and you're not going to break the bank. It's amazing.”

First, McMurren says, you have to get over the name.

"Iceland is green," he says. "It's Greenland that's ice."

After a few visits himself, he's noticed that the country's residents seem to be in a good mood all the time. McMurren thinks there's an easy explanation: "The entire country is one big spa!"

Riddled with hot springs from coast to coast, Iceland offers unlimited opportunities for relaxation, starting the moment you get off the plane. Blue Lagoon Hot Springs (www.bluelagoon.com) is located just outside Reykjavik, a few minutes away from the airport, and offers secure luggage storage, making it an ideal stop for travelers.

“You can get off the plane and go there on your way into town,” McMurren says. “They've got the steam room and the sauna right there. You can book an in-water massage for an hour. Go and soak that jetlag away. It's so cool.”

Affordable Europe

There's one big factor that makes Iceland affordable for Alaskans: airfare. Iceland Air (www.icelandair.us) began flying to Anchorage this year, offering Alaskans a direct(ish) link to the northern wonderland and connections to 20 cities across Europe with the option to stop off in Iceland for no additional cost. Seasonal Condor (www.condor.com) service to Frankfurt, Germany also puts Europe within reach for Alaskans.

While flying to Europe from Alaska is more affordable than ever, staying in Europe can be a different story.

“The northern countries are pretty expensive – Norway, Finland, Sweden – and with the Euro right now, Italy, Spain and France can be expensive,” Stein says.

She recommends Vienna, Munich, Berlin, Prague and the lake areas of southern Switzerland and northern Italy, and taking advantage of off-season deals, generally available from the end of September to mid-October and from April through mid-June

Think local

The best way to save on airfare is not to fly at all. Fortunately, there are some great options for honeymooners who want to stay in-state, particularly if you're feeling adventurous. One of McMurren's favorite Alaska getaways is Across the Bay Tent and Breakfast (www.tentandbreakfastalaska.com), located on Kasitsna Bay and reached by water taxi from Homer.

A more rustic option than other all-inclusive resorts, Across the Bay guests stay in tent cabins (bring your own sleeping bags) and make use of “the prettiest outhouses in Alaska,” complete with stained glass windows.

“It's a really nice area, connected by road to Seldovia,” McMurren says. “The food is really good. The main cabin is really comfy. They have bikes, so you can bike into Seldovia along the old forest roads. It's right on the beach. It’s very romantic.”

Plan and save

If you’re staying in-state, check out McMurren’s Alaska TourSaver (www.toursaver.com), a $100 coupon book that includes more than 130 two-for-one vouchers for Alaska travel hotels, activities and excursions.

• While searching for that perfect budget-friendly honeymoon, don’t rule out luxury. Luxury Link hosts the largest selection of hand-selected luxury hotels, resorts, cruises and tours on the web – at savings up to 65 percent off. Their resort packages include luxury extras such as massage treatments, hotel transfers, multi-course meals and more. Search the site for top deals on honeymoon destinations (www.luxurylink.com).

• Timing is everything, especially when it comes to travel. “It depends on if you want to go on your honeymoon immediately after the wedding or not,” Stein says. Consider waiting until the off season – October through December, or between March and mid-May. “That’s a time when it can be cheaper.” The good news for peak season travelers: Summer air travel to and from Alaska is more affordable than ever. “We’re benefiting from extraordinary competition, and that keeps the fares depressed all summer long – right up until Oct. 15,” says McMurren. “The cheapest ways out of here to a warm place are the southern California airports. It can be a lot less expensive (to honeymoon) in places like eastern California, Arizona, Nevada, Las Vegas and Utah.”

• And what’s the ultimate affordable honeymoon? Winning a free one! Be sure to sign up for Alaska Bride & Groom’s Dream Honeymoon Giveaway for a chance to win a fabulous trip for two to Costalegre on the Mexican Riviera, courtesy of Luxury Link!

Sources: www.eagletravelnow.com; www.luxurylink.com