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Florida Honeymoons With International Flavors

Florida Honeymoons With International Flavors

Florida Honeymoons With International Flavors

By Georgina Cruz

June is right around the corner and many Treasure Coast couples are already planning a wedding trip, second honeymoon or anniversary getaway this summer. Given the times –with the pandemic still around, variants appearing and snap lockdowns happening in some parts of the world, many who would like to enjoy an international-themed getaway, but close to home, have choices. Why take long flights to French Polynesia, Italy, or South Africa for example, and risk changes in Covid protocols when you can find a South Seas, Italian or South African ambiance here in Florida? Here are some options to consider for internationally flavored honeymoons and anniversary celebrations right at our fingertips here in Florida:

The romance of Italy in Florida – When my husband and I first viewed The Breakers Palm Beach, we did a double take. A 538-room Italian palazzo by the sea, The Breakers is inspired in the 16th century Renaissance Villa Medici in Rome. Set on 140 acres of manicured lawns adorned by beautiful gardens and royal palms next to the Atlantic Ocean, The Breakers, one of Florida’s most iconic resorts, was the brainchild of industry magnate Henry Morrison Flagler who envisioned Palm Beach as a new destination for relaxation by the sea in the 19th century.

The present hotel (two predecessors fell victims to fires) was built and decorated as an Italian palace in 1926 with the help of 75 Italian craftsmen brought over by Flagler to decorate its ceilings and public spaces with frescoes and murals. And perhaps its most memorable and romantic gift to travelers –particularly honeymooners—is its palatial aspects that give you the feeling that you are no longer in Florida, but in a palazzo in Italy.

Florida Honeymoons With International Flavors
Florida Honeymoons With International Flavors

From the moment we arrived in the AAA Five Diamond hotel to celebrate an anniversary, the Italian influences were evident in the 200-foot-long grand lobby –with decorated vaulted ceilings, sumptuous furnishings, lovely floral arrangements and chandeliers and the palazzo aspects were reinforced in various public spaces including The Circle. One of 10 onsite restaurants, The Circle has ocean views and is worthy of an opulent European palace with 30-foot-high ceilings, frescoes and murals depicting scenes from the Villa Medici and the Villa d’Este with its Tivoli Gardens east of Rome.

After bountiful –we liked to call them dolce vita, breakfasts at The Circle, our days were spent enjoying the resort’s half-mile of private beach offering opportunities for watersports including kayaking, paddleboard and snorkel and scuba tours. Other recreational amenities include four swimming pools, private poolside bungalows, five whirlpools, elegant boutiques, and a spa.

For dinners, flavors of Italy are found at HMF (the initials of founder Henry Morrison Flagler, formerly the hotel’s Florentine Room) including the warm onion and Reggiano dip, the salumi platter of cured meats and aged cheeses and the pizza Margherita. For more tastes of Italy, the hotel has The Italian Restaurant with such delights as bruschetta, chicken parmigiana and sinful chocolate gelato and cannoli for dessert. What can I say: well, delizioso!Info: http://thebreakers.com.

The bliss of the South Seas in Disney’s

Florida Honeymoons With International Flavors
Florida Honeymoons With International Flavors

– At Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort on the monorail line to Disney World’s Magic Kingdom the ambiance is pure South Seas bliss and relaxation. The resort’s entrance with greenery, cascade and torches, “Aloha” lei welcomes by the staff and a lobby with a tiki fountain, flowers and bubble-like lamps made us feel that we had arrived in Honolulu or Tahiti or some other Polynesian island idyll. The resort offers rooms, villas and even houses over water, the “Bora Bora Bungalows” sitting on stilts on the Seven Seas Lagoon –we have enjoyed all these lodging styles during a handful of trips through the years.

The Polynesian Village’s pools include the volcano-themed Lava Pool with South Seas theming and a 142-foot water slide, cascade and hot tub, and the quieter Oasis Pool. Flavors of the islands include the Tonga Toast (banana-stuffed sourdough bread, battered, deep-fried and dusted with cinnamon sugar) at Kona Café, a table service restaurant, and it is also available at Captain Cook’s, a quick-service eatery (these are two of 11 restaurants and lounges/bars at the Polynesian Village).

Other Polynesia-inspired fare includes pork dumplings in a garlic-chili sauce at ‘Ohana, a table service restaurant at the resort, followed by a skillet dinner consisting of wood-fire grilled teriyaki beef, peel-n-eat shrimp, noodles, and other delights. A Kona coffee-blend is served at the resort’s restaurants and is available for purchase in the shops along with Honolulu Cookie Company treats and island-inspired apparel. Dole Whips, a frozen pineapple treat, are available at the resort’s Pineapple Lanai. Info: www.disneyworld.com.

            The exotic adventures of Africa – For those who would prefer to enjoy an exotic wedding trip, second honeymoon, or anniversary celebration, Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge offers hotel rooms and villas that make you feel as if you arrived at a safari lodge in Africa for a few days of adventure. My husband and I enjoyed an anniversary celebration here several years ago and are planning to return in the near future.

Inspired by the African “kraal” or traditional village composed of huts surrounded by a fence, Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge has a horseshoe-curved design to provide views of four savannas where more than 200 hoofed animals, including giraffes and zebras, and birds reside. Views are obtained from various public spaces in the resort as well as many of the rooms.

In addition to the hotel’s architecture being themed to Africa, its décor is supplemented by one of the largest collections of African art and artifacts in the U.S. Among the more than 800 pieces of art and artifacts at the resort is an impressive lgbo ljele mask in the lobby featuring chandeliers designed to look like Maasai shields.

Recreational amenities include animal programs and the resort’s pool areas, including one with a slide that also overflows with the Africa theme.

African culinary specialties can be enjoyed at such on-site restaurants as Jiko – The Cooking Place, and Boma – Flavors of Africa and South African wines are available at Cape Town Lounge & Wine Bar. Info: www.disneyworld.com.

Georgina Cruz is a freelance travel writer based in Vero Beach.

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