Travel agent Leigh Karin Padilla of World Leigh Travel in Los Angeles regularly globe-trots in search of the world's most fantastic honeymoon destinations. Like a parent, she can't (or won't) name her favorites, but Padilla agreed to share 12 hotels and resorts that combine romance and adventure. Here are Padilla's picks.
Abu Camp / Botswana
For adventure-seekers, a 400,000-acre private wildlife reserve offers roaming elephants, and herds of giraffes, zebras and antelopes. The camp features six custom-built tents with decks overlooking the lagoon, home to hundreds of species of birds and animals. Chefs prepare meals each night, paired with fine wines. "A cacophony of wild sounds," Padilla says, "a trip of a lifetime just waiting for honeymooners who want romance, adventure and who love elephants." The price for a three-night minimum stay is $8,012 per person, which includes transportation by private plane. www.abucamp.com.
Maroma Resort and Spa /Riviera Maya, Mexico
White-sand beaches and a dreamy blue sea are the draw at this jungle retreat, where local culture emphasizes spirituality and the connection between land and water. Top among its features is the Kinan Spa, which uses the Mayan calendar and "sacred geometry" to promote healing. The spa's services include a relaxing body oil ceremony, a hot poultice massage and a cleansing temazcal steam bath. The resort, on the eastern side of the Yucatan Peninsula, offers tours to Mayan ruins, as well as more leisurely pursuits, such as lounging on the beach. Garden rooms start at $510 per night. www.orient-express.com.
Intercontinental / Hong Kong
Three spa pools, different temperatures all, are the focal point of this luxury hotel on the city's Hong Kong side. The glass walls of the pools offer amazing views, creating the illusion that swimmers are actually floating in Victoria Harbor, the waterway between the Kowloon Peninsula and Hong Kong. The hotel is within walking distance of the Space Museum, the Museum of History and the Temple Street Night Market. Rooms start at $600 per night. www.ichotelsgroup.com.
Kauri Cliffs / New Zealand
Play a round of golf on New Zealand's North Island at a resort set on 6,000 scenic acres near Matauri Bay. Large cottages offer 180-degree views of the Pacific Ocean and miles of pink-sand beaches. Activities include fishing, scuba diving, snorkeling, sailing, sea kayaking and hunting wild boar. Tours are offered to Ninety Mile Beach, Tane Mahuta, Doubtless Bay, the Puketi Kauri Forest, Rainbow Falls and the Waitangi Treaty House. "A warm, welcoming staff makes you feel as if you were staying with old friends," Padilla says. Rates start at $695 per night. www.kauricliffs.com.
W Hotel/ the Maldives
World-class scuba diving and water sports of all types are just part of the attraction to this island paradise. From a private dinner on the beach to lessons in the Indo-Aryan language of Dhivehi, the hotel's staff can arrange an endless assortment of recreational activities for newlyweds. "This is one of the most popular destinations at this time," Padilla says. "Lots of different experiences are waiting for you in the Maldives." Room rates average about $1,300 a night. Click here for the hotel's website.
Hôtel du Cap/the French Riviera
Nestled between Nice and Cannes, the 138-year-old Hôtel du Cap features exquisite rooms and a pool carved into the rocks overlooking the Mediterranean . Consistently ranked as one of the best in the world, the hotel's concierge staff is always on hand to arrange private yacht trips with catered lunches or customized driving excursions. "The night life scene in the area is fantastic, and a great people-watching experience," Padilla says. Rates vary from $722 from April 4 to May 13, and from Oct. 1 to mid-October; $973 from May 14 to Sept. 30. Click here for the hotel's website.
Balinese culture comes to life at this resort, which is designed to elicit both luxury and simplicity with its traditional river-stone walkways and thatched-roof suites. A must-see for tourists is the Ubud artist community, 10 minutes away, which for more a century has been the epicenter of the island's fine art, dance and music scene. Suites start at $750 a night; one-bedroom villas begin at $2,150 a night. Click here for the hotel's website.
Bora Bora Lagoon and Spa/Tahiti
Blending French and Polynesian cultures, this island destination offers stunning views of mountains, blue skies and lush green forest. Located on the island of Bora Bora, hotel's many attractions is a 160-foot fresh-water pool overlooking the blue waters of a diamond-clear lagoon. With more than 500 species of tropical fish, in addition to sea turtles, sharks, porpoises, and humpback whales, the waters surrounding the resorts are considered prime for snorkeling and scuba diving. In the center of the lagoon sits Motu Toppua, the remnant of an ancient volcano, that is now home to a variety of sweet-smelling plants, flowers, palms, and white sand beaches. "This is romance in every way, and caters to honeymooners," says Padilla. Five-night honeymoon packages featuring an over-water bungalow start at $5,458. Click here for the hotel's website.
Located in the heart of London's West End--just steps from Hyde Park, Park Lane, Bond Street, and Oxford Street--each room at this hotel features a unique décor, in either art deco and Victorian styles. Many weddings take place on the property, so the staff pays special attention to newlyweds, providing planning for day trips, pampering, or arranging for a private dinner for two. Room rates start at $328 per night. Click here for the hotel's website.
Hotel Ritz /Paris
A favorite Paris haunt for dignitaries, royalty, artists and celebrities, the Ritz specializes in catering to the needs of honeymooners. Located in Paris' 1st arrondissement at the city's center and near the Louvre, the hotel features 18th-century fireplaces and marble bathrooms, each of the hotel's 103 rooms feature a view of either Paris or the rue Cambon. "This is truly one of the great hotels of Paris," Padilla says. Rooms start at $1,145 a night. Click here for the hotel's website.
Park Hyatt /Tokyo
The 2003 film "Lost and Translation" helped make this five-star hotel famous, but it's the property's exquisite restaurants and trendy bars that continue to earn it raves as one of Tokyo's hottest, hippest destinations. Located in the bustling Shinjuku neighborhood in the center of the city, the hotel's feature breathtaking views of the city and Yoyogi Park. Rates start at $578 a night. Click here for the hotel's website.
Grand Hotel Parco dei Principi/Rome
This romantic hotel near the gardens of Villa Borghese features spectacular views of Rome's lavish, chichi Parioli Parioli neighborhood, and is just a short walk from the Via Veneto, Piazza di Spagna, and Via Condotti in the center of Rome. Inside, the hotel is just as striking, with elegant suites and what Padilla calls, "the most beautiful outdoor swimming pool in Rome." Known for its high level of service, the concierge staff helps couples plan day trips, either romantic or adventurous. Room rates start at $753 a night. Click here for the hotel's website.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times