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A Gourmet Honeymoon in the Napa Valley

by | Destinations, Honeymoons, Location USA


Anika Reynolds

Wine tasting in Napa Valley

A culinary hotspot and magnet for wine aficionados, Napa Valley is a simply stunning honeymoon location – oozing romance and timeless charm. A leisurely one-and-a-half-hour drive from San Francisco, the world-class wine region comprises several picturesque towns stretched over 35 miles, including Napa, Yountville, Calistoga and St Helena. You could easily while away a romantic week or two here, but it’s equally worth popping over for just a few days of delicious fun!

To Experience:

Sample Some Top Drops: Cue the quaffing and talk of tannins – it’s wine tasting time! With its Mediterranean climate making it an ideal grape-growing destination, the region has around 400 wineries. Bookings are often required even for tastings, so a winery tour is a simple (and fun!) way to explore the valley.

Napa Valley vineyard

Platypus Tours takes day tours throughout the region, with catered picnic-style lunches, barrel tastings, a ‘nosh’ plate to enjoy en route and lots of opportunities for tastings! For those who prefer two wheels, Yountville’s Napa Valley Bike Tours promises to be an enjoyable option. Not keen on pedal power? Napa Valley Bike Tours can also hook you up with your own private driver, so you can be transported from cellar-door to cellar-door in style.

When on tour, expect to still pay tasting fees, but many wineries waive these if you make a purchase.

Up, Up and Away: Napa Valley is charming on the ground, but from the air – it’s truly breathtaking! Napa’s still mornings provides perfect ballooning climes, and the rows of verdant vines are even more beautiful from above, making a hot-air balloon tour a honeymoon experience to treasure.

Napa Valley Balloons hosts early morning flights followed by a sumptuous buffet breakfast and mimosas at the luxurious Domaine Chandon winery. With hotel pick-up on offer from select accommodation and pre-flight pastries and coffee, it’s worth getting out of bed for!

Ballooning over Napa Valley

Hot air balloon

Epicurean Delight: Nestled in St Helena is The Culinary Institute of America, the Californian branch of the world-renowned college for aspiring chefs – a must-see for food enthusiasts! Attend a demonstration and enjoy tastings, take a cooking class or, for the hard-core foodie, hone your skills at a cooking, baking or wine bootcamp!

You can also tour the campus and dine at one of the onsite restaurants – the Wine Spectator Greystone Restaurant, The Conservatory at Greystone or The Bakery Café by illy.

To Eat:

Spanning casual eateries to Michelin-starred menus, Napa Valley is a dream destination for any foodie couple.

The Markets: Stroll through Oxbow Public Market in Napa’s town centre to browse through fresh produce and select gourmet products from local and regional producers. Sip bubbles and slurp oysters, enjoy a drink, grab a freshly roasted coffee, pick up some artisan cheese, indulge in pastries or spend time searching for quality cooking ingredients.

Oxbow Public Market

Interior of Oxbow Public Market

Wine Bars: Downtown Napa has plenty of places to enjoy a drink paired with delicious local fare. Carpe Diem Wine Bar is a sophisticated establishment known for its share plates, charcuterie and cheese selections, as well as its enviable wine list. With around 40 wines available by the glass, you are bound to find a few you like!

Bounty Hunter Wine Bar & Smokin’ BBQ serves up all-American fare – think ribs, burgers and brisket – and the menu comes complete with recommended wine pairings. In addition to its 18-page wine list, you can try fine spirits, including a huge selection of American whiskeys.

Bouchon Bistro, Yountville

Fine Dining: For an evening to remember, make a fine dining experience part of your itinerary. The tiny town of Yountville boasts some serious culinary credentials on its main street. Here you’ll find Thomas Keller’s legendary The French Laundry, a three Michelin-star heavyweight, as well as his Bouchon Bistro – an elegant Michelin-star French eatery. Other decadent dining options in Yountville include Bottega (Italian) and Bistro Jeanty (French country).

To Stay:

From intimate inns to sprawling estates, the region abounds with amazing places to rest your head after a day of exploring.

For a stay reminiscent of a bygone era, book into Hennessey House, located in historic downtown Napa. Each charming room has luxury linen, plus complimentary sherry and chocolates. Enjoy delicious breakfasts, wine and cheese on the shady patio and freshly baked cookies– perfect!

Hennessey HouseImages by Anika Staffa and Mitch Reynolds

In Yountville, select one of the 13 rustic rooms on offer at Maison Fleurie, a Four Sisters Inn enveloped by delightful gardens. Buffet breakfast? Check. Pool and hot tub? You bet. The inn also offers bicycles to borrow – the ideal way to see the town!

A short drive from Napa, Silverado Resort and Spa is a spectacular high-end option. The expansive property features two golf courses, tennis courts, biking and hiking trails, an array of dining options, full-service spa and four ‘neighbourhoods’ of accommodation to choose from. You and your love will never want to leave!


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Ms Chinoiserie Says: What an amazing honeymoon destination – the balloon flight is on my list; what an unforgettable experience!

About Anika: I’m a freelance writer with a love of weddings and creatively styled events. I have a penchant for pretty stationery and perfectly put together cheese plates, and a never-ending sense of wanderlust!

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Dreamy Daylesford Honeymoon

by | Destinations, Honeymoons


Grange Cleveland Winery
Find me on Ms Polka Dot's Directory



The Daylesford and Macedon Ranges region makes a great honeymoon destination. Rich with heritage, exquisite local produce, amazing day spas, restaurants, galleries, wineries, boutique shops and markets, it is the perfect place to get lost and re-energise after all the months of wedding planning!

To calm things down and just relax, there is a wide choice of accommodation options – from hotels to bed and breakfasts and wineries!





Where time just seems to slow down naturally, imagine waking up to crisp country freshness followed by a sumptuous breakfast each morning. Spend your days, just reading a good book or take a stroll through the surrounding country side.





You can also explore one of the many cycling/bush walking tracks that the area offers or visit one of the awarded vineyards to sample their latest releases!



After a few relaxing days, you could take the country route to some lovely quaint towns such as Woodend and Kyneton. Fill your baskets along the way with lovely local produce from the markets and boutique shops as special thank you gifts to your loved ones back home.




Dining in Daylesford includes relaxed, cafe style fare through to five-star fine dining; local and seasonal produce is always on the menu and the service is friendly and attentive.



To soothe those tired muscles and stresses from the wedding prep, book in a massage or a spa – or take a soak in one of the nearby bathhouses. Immerse yourselves in all that the region has to offer, find your balance naturally and let your romantic journey together start here.



VVLand__9650700_DS32_couplemassageAll images via Visit Victoria

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Ms Chinoiserie Says: Head to toe pampering, five-star accommodation and fine dining; a honeymoon really can’t get much better!

About Grange Bellinzona: At Grange Bellinzona, we create the perfect backdrop for intimate celebrations and beautiful weddings in Daylesford, Victoria. Imagine the grand wedding of your dreams with an added touch of luxury to impress up to 140 of your guests. Tucked in the heart of Victoria’s world famous spa country in Hepburn Springs, our elegant retreat hotel with wide open spaces and timeless beauty, is your perfect match.

Koh Phangan Island Luxury

by | Destinations, Honeymoons, Reviews


Koren Harvey - Marriage Celebrant Melbourne
Find me on Ms Polka Dot's Directory |

I feel like I’m in a Bond film! Ok, I’m not wearing heels or an evening gown, nor am I trained in hand-to-hand combat, but I am aboard a private speedboat that is bouncing across the sea towards a secluded Thai island. This feeling lasts approximately seven minutes, until when, in my eagerness to take in my surroundings, I stick my head too far out over the side and am drenched with the splashback from a wave we just crested. That never happens to Bond girls!

My husband and I are en route to the Santhiya Resort on Koh Phangan for a few days of rest and relaxation following a big wedding season. One of the most envy-inducing components of my job is hearing about honeymoon plans, so I try as often as I can to reward myself with a little break of our own!


This is our second trip to Santhiya, having stayed here last year. The minute we step off the boat, it is like coming home. Everything feels so familiar, from the chime of a gong to herald our arrival to the large balcony we are seated on as we wait to check in. Staff bring us cold towels (handy for getting that seawater off my face!) and chilled watermelon juice as we sit enjoying the ocean breeze and incredible views over the South China Sea. I feel the relaxation begin immediately.

The resort is built into a steep hillside so we are taken to our room on one of Santhiya’s adorable wooden trucks. Sitting on the bench seats, we’re afforded views of the beautifully landscaped gardens all the way down to the sea. Orchids and tropical plants abound everywhere and every staff member we pass greets us with a wai and a warm Sawasdee.

We have chosen a supreme deluxe room for a bit of luxury! These rooms are located at the very top of the resort above the Saaitara pool. The room is large, with a king size bed taking centre-stage. My favourite feature is the big egg-shaped bath. It sits directly below windows that look into the bedroom, allowing you to sit in the bath without losing the breathtaking view that lies beyond the bed. Sadly, it will remain unused for our visit as I eschew it in favour of the pool and, in the evening, the daybed that sits on our balcony.

With fond memories of the main swimming pool, we trot down to reserve a sun lounge. The main pool is set over two levels with a shallow pool cascading over boulders into a lagoon of varying depths. Standing in the pool against the infinity edge and looking out towards the horizon proves to be rather hypnotic and it’s how I begin most mornings before getting out to read beneath the trees.

When the heat proves too much, it’s back into the pool to sit under the waterfall and cool off. (Poolside cocktails may also contribute to the cooling down!). When I finish my book earlier than anticipated, I pop into the Santhiya library to borrow one from the many left by previous guests.

Santhiya has two restaurants on-site, but for most meals we take the narrow sandy path along the shore to the next beach. There are plenty of beachside restaurants, most offering great local food at reasonable prices. I became somewhat addicted to the Pad Thai at the restaurant closest to the resort, while my husband loved the fact that he could run straight out of the ocean to lay back on the sand with an ice-cold beer in hand.

In the evening, these restaurants cater well to the tourist market through happy hour specials and live entertainment, whether that’s fire twirlers, lantern releases or live bands. We ate most evenings at Beach Club, where the manager had a joke and story for every occasion, most involving coconuts. He was entertainment enough himself!

One of the seemingly hidden attractions of Santhiya is the Saaitara pool. It sits at the top of the resort, so that may explain why some guests don’t make the journey up there, although the fact that many rooms have private pools could also have something to do with it! (Honeymooners may want to book one of the stunning pool suites for a little extra luxury).

A shallow infinity pool is set alongside a deeper lap pool, with rooms on the lower floor having direct access into the water. The highlight for me are the wooden fishing boats that lie in the shallow pool, cleverly hiding sunbeds. Once afternoon rolls around, this is where you frequently find us – books in one hand, a G & T in the other and a commanding view of the entire resort in front of us.

While there are plenty of attractions on Koh Phangan (the island is renowned for its Full Moon Parties), we didn’t venture out for many of them. Beachside massage huts abound and if you’re anything like me, falling asleep to the sound of waves as someone works out all the knots in your back may prove to be amusement enough. Our days followed a pattern of relaxation and indulgence, with the most strenuous activity undertaken being a daily walk along the beach or up the hill to our accommodation.

I have to say, while the facilities and views at Santhiya are magnificent, it is the service that made us return. Staff go out of their way to make your experience special, whether that’s by saying hello, leaving notes and flowers in your room or remembering how you like your omelettes (on that note, the breakfast buffet does not disappoint!). It is clear that management have made service a priority and we are made to feel welcome each and every time we speak with staff.

We reluctantly climbed aboard the speedboat to Koh Samui a few days later, feeling rested and relaxed, but knowing we’d be coming back to Santhiya – hopefully sooner rather than later. You see, there’s a little wooden sunbed that’s begging me to return….

Images via Santhiya Resort and Koren Harvey


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Ms Chinoiserie Says: I think I’ve just discovered heaven on earth! Lush tropical forests, a crystal clear bay and a private beach set the perfect backdrop for romance!

About Koren Harvey: “I love standing with a groom waiting for his bride to arrive and watching the emotions well up in his eyes. I love seeing the joy on a bride’s face when she catches sight of her husband-to-be. I love what I do. Being a celebrant is the best job in the world.”

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