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European summer is upon us and that usually means our Instagram feeds will be making us feel extra envious of those lapping up the sunshine whilst we snuggle up, braving the cold. It’s the perfect time to escape and celebrate your honeymoon in style or should we say celebrate your honeymoon ‘Italian style.’ Come with us as we uncover one of the summer celebrity hotspots.

The Location

Tucked away in the Italian Riviera is the small fishing village of Portofino, where you’ll find Belmond Hotel Splendido and Belmond Splendido Mare. Frequented by the rich and famous, Portofino is a picture-perfect location to add to your Italian honeymoon hit list.

You can reach Portofino by ferry or via car/bus from Santa Margherita. Both are very quick journey’s making it easy to commute between the two.

Do note, after some storms in late 2018, the road into Portofino was damaged and extensive work is underway to repair it. Though this does mean there is some disruption to travel. If you’re planning a visit sooner rather than later, make sure you check with your travel agent to ensure your access to the town is not affected.

About that photo

Yes, this does look like the prettiest garden to explore, but what you might not have noticed is this picture is featuring the restaurant La Terrazza. La Terrazza is one of the prettiest places to eat in Portofino with clear views of the marina.

You’ll be eating fresh local produce as you sample authentic Italian cuisine. The restaurant is open for both lunch and dinner, so make sure to book a table (particularly during the busier months of summer).

About the accommodation

Belmond Hotel Splendido and Belmond Splendido Mare offer a unique Italian escape. You can certainly see why Elizabeth Taylor was known to holiday here! Enjoy views of the sea or the surrounding gardens in either hotel.

Between the hotels there are three restaurants, a wellness centre, a heated outdoor pool, water sports, gym and a complimentary shuttle to take you to and from both locations so you can enjoy all each has to offer.

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Portofino is the perfect location for a honeymoon. There is plenty to see and do like visit Castello Brown (the best view of Portofino can be found here), tempt your tastebuds at any of the pretty coloured restaurants by the marina or take the ferry to visit San Fruttuoso Abbey.

All images via Belmond Hotel Splendido

Other activities that the Belmond Hotel Splendido could assist in organising are detailed on their website. This includes wine tastings, experiencing a secret underground grotto, visiting a local Wellness Farm or travel a little further and organise a trip to the famous Cinque Terre.

We hope your stay in Portofino is nothing less than fabulous and don’t forget to keep your eye out for an A-lister – you might even see George Clooney enjoying some gelato!

Ms Zebra Says: There’s nothing better than enjoying a gelato whilst holidaying like an a-lister! Or at least I can imagine!!! This sounds like the best place to splurge if you’re enjoying your honeymoon on the coast of Italy!

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Melinda & Andrew

There are few things more guaranteed to get everyone into a celebratory mood than a beachside holiday and for Melinda and Andrew, with the bride from Germany and the groom from Australia, there seemed to be no better occasion for their family and friends to come together, than for a destination wedding by the sea where the dress code was strictly “”No suits, ties or shoes”. With Maria Shiriaeva Photography capturing every moment, all you need to do is kick off your own shoes, grab a cocktail and settle in for the story!

The pair met far from the bride to be’s home, Andrew telling the story. “Melinda had only been in Sydney, Australia for one month on a working holiday visa when she joined her uncle at the 10th-anniversary party for Australian surf/motorcycle fashion brand Deus ex Machina. When I saw Melinda eating the birthday cake from a plate I cheekily asked if he could have a piece, to which, Melinda responded yes. With my first swipe of the spoon, I took all of the icing from the cake. Melinda was shocked because she was “saving the best for last” while I pontificated “but you never know if you’ll make it to the end so eat the good stuff first.”

And with that life motto in hand, it was over pizza that Andrew proposed sometime later, in Melinda’s words “While sharing pizza and wine one night in Amsterdam we discussed our beliefs on what marriage is and isn’t. We found that we didn’t need to compromise our values so agreed that at some point we should get married. Then, a week later while taking a post-dinner walk on a beach in Ericeira, Portugal we both felt that this was the moment. Andrew walked behind me sneakily trying to find a shell that could be a makeshift ring. When I stopped walking Andrew had to give up searching through the shells. He then gave me a cuddle from behind. At this moment I turned around, with some kind of telepathic knowledge of what was coming, and said: “Yes, I do want to be your wife.” And then Andrew asked me in my native German “Willst du mich Heiraten?””

Andrew customised his look, choosing to have pants made from traditional Indonesia batik fabric, purchased on the couple’s trip to Bali two years earlier.

The bride found her beautiful boho inspired Tara Lauren gown at White & Ivory Bridal. “”My dress was an ivory open back, long dress, beautiful and unique lace, waistband knotted in the back” she tells.

Melinda and Andrew married at the beautiful Puri Dajuma Resort “Bali is a special place for both of us, Melinda has family there, and it’s somewhat in between our home continents of Europe and Australia. We chose Dajuma because it was inline with our sustainability values, it gives back to the community, we could book the entire resort for at least 3 days, and the resort and area were not just gorgeous but also affordable for people who had spent a lot to travel there. People often say “don’t worry about the food, no one remembers it” but we still have guests tell us about how good the food was. But the best thing was the service.”

And there was much gushing from Melinda and Andrew about the service they received from the team, Melinda continuing “We need to emphasize how great the resort is and how wonderful all of the staff are. Rondy, the manager of the resort was so helpful and paid great attention to detail. He and his team exceeded our wishes in every way possible. The resort itself is now 17 years old but the facilities and rooms are incredible and the fully matured garden is majestical. This was only the 14th wedding they’ve hosted so all of the staff, from the management to the gardeners knew our names when we arrived. From day one, all of the Puri Dajuma wait-staff delivered the best service we’ve had anywhere in the world. They made us feel so special and knew all 70 of our guests by name.”

The bride walked down the aisle with local music, Melinda remembering “The resort suggested having some live Balinese music while guests waited. Some of the local kids were excited to be part of the ceremony so they joined Melinda in the procession.”

The newlyweds escape to the beach for photographs right after their ceremony, while guests enjoyed rum from coconuts, on the sand, these stolen moments remaining one of Melinda’s favourite memories of the day.

Of their photographer, the bride can’t rave enough. “We loved her ability to capture moments of joy, and the warmth that her photos have. She was very professional and managed to salvage what was left of the natural light before sunset.”

After dark, guests gathered for an outdoor vegetarian BBQ feast under the night sky (with plenty of twinkling lights of course!).

The holiday vibe was embraced by the guests, who adhered to the couple’s dress code of “No suits, ties, shoes. Feel comfortable, fun, and sexy”.

Andrew’s speech as one of the definite highlights of the night, not only was it backed by a soundtrack he’d sourced earlier from guests, it also included a very special guest. The couple explaining “A surprise saxophone player that had secretly been organised by some guests and brought all the way from Denpasar (3-hour drive) just to interrupt the groom’s speech. The Saxophonist appeared from the shadows playing the solo from George Michael’s “Careless Whisper”.”

As the stars shone, a bonfire on the beach was the perfect way to keep warm. Andrew and Melinda inviting guests to write wishes for the couple or themselves on slips of paper and throw them into the fire.

The dance floor was like no other – a soul train, guests who were DJs with an amazing appetite for dancing setting the scene for a long night of dancing. Andrew remembers “Seeing 40 people shoeless on a dancefloor squatting down under the direction of the DJ then jump up as the chorus kicked in for Madonna’s “Like A Prayer” which was the final song of the night. Then the pair of us being carried off by guests to be tossed into the pool.”

A big congratulations to the newlyweds! Thank you so much for sharing the stories of your day with us! Thank you also to Maria Shiriaeva Photography for sharing today’s beautiful celebration and imagery with us!

Credits

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Image via Tourism and Events Queensland

We shouldn’t say it, but sometimes we secretly think that the honeymoon is the best part of a wedding! Yet with hectic social lives, family to look after and high-powered careers to contend with – let alone the cost on top of the wedding celebrations themselves – we don’t wonder why some couples are forgoing their honeymoon completely or opting for a mini-moon a.k.a. shortened honeymoon. If you’re short on time, we’ve created a sweet mini-moon itinerary for you to tropical Port Douglas and The Daintree region. After al,l tropical weather and chilled out vibes are always welcome on any honeymoon. Not so welcome: passports, checking lines and super long flights!

Thala Beach Nature Reserve by Polka Dot Bride

Our schedule is for a quick three-day honeymoon. This trip is designed to be a little lazy. So you’ll have time to nap, sun-bake or swim in your nearest pool or safe harbour. Seriously, check for wildlife warnings before you dip in your big toe up here!

Image via Flagstaff Hill by Tourism and Events Queensland

Day 1: Breathe in fresh sea air, stretch your legs and spread your newly married wings… 

  • Hire a car. You’ll want to be mobile and there are several car rental places in Port Douglas itself. Otherwise, there are heaps of options in Cairns if you are starting there. Protip: the Skybury coffee at the airport is sourced from the local Atherton Tablelands and is a quality surprise, should you need a pick me up post-wedding festivities!
  • Take a morning drive meandering along as much of the Great Barrier Reef Drive as takes your fancy. Between pristine skies, wild bush-land and azure seas accenting the coast from Cairns to Cape Tribulation, you may spot colourful hang gliders and para-gliders. Keep an eye out for human made rock piles along the way. Don’t forget to bring your wedding playlist for road-trip music. Or to enjoy that dreamy ‘windows down’ weather.

Image via Great Barrier Reef Drive by Polka Dot Bride

  • Now to a different kind of cruising as you’re probably itching to get up close and personal with the regions’s famed waters. Sailaway offers afternoon cruises to the Low Isles where you can snorkel or sunbathe, then soak up the sunset. There are no kids allowed, so the only babies you’ll see are adorable baby sharks. Alternatively, they also command shorter, sophisticated luxury sunset sailings, where the only thing that gets wet is your whistle as you float upon the Coral Sea. You could even book an entire cruise just for two if budget is no object.

Image via Sailaway by Polka Dot Bride

  • Alight your vessel and you’ll easily spy your dinner spot for the evening: Hemingways Brewery. This gastropub boasts views of gently bobbing yachts in the Crystalbrook Marina, set underneath a canopy of glinting stars, if you manage to nab a table outside. Grab a beer tasting paddle to share as you debate ordering their 1kg flank steak with all the trimmings, designed for a greedy twosome.

Image via Hemingway’s by Krista Eppelstun

Day 2: Time for a little indulgence…

  • Sleep in! Or go shopping in Port Douglas. The choice is yours. If you can be bothered getting out of bed we recommend hitting up the whimsically-named Lemonade and Sparkles for amusing printed shirts and a caffeine hit. Try Tahitian Lime for vivid, locally-designed swimwear (and good karma: they donate a chunk of sales to animal charities) or Barbados which is a luxe island style bar where everything from the furniture to the coasters are for sale! There’s also Deep Whole Foods for nourishing picnic supplies or sneaky midnight snacks and Ahoy Trader for artistic bohemian wall hangings and homewares.

Lemonade & Sparkles by Polka Dot Bride

  • Next you’re off to a late brunch at Salsa Bar & Grill. Should their colourful, globe-trotting menu prove too much to contemplate give it up to fate with the chef’s selection tapas plate. You know you’re splitting the souffle made from Daintree Estates chocolate anyway.

Salsa Bar & Grill by Tanya Snelling

  • If it’s not too hot, work it all off with a stroll along the Flagstaff Hill Walking Trail. This 3km(ish) round trip nature walk from Rex Smeal Park to Four Mile Beach looks out over the Coral Sea, Low Isles and the Daintree Rainforest. Definitely time for some more honeymoon snaps!

Port Douglas Lookout by Krista Eppelstun

  • The evening holds upscale cocktails that taste of the tropics and an undoubtedly romantic seafood dinner amid the cosily-lit Mediterranean interiors of Zinc. Must orders include the ‘Four Raw Tastes of the Sea’ and their local tiger prawns with mango salsa. If you’re lucky, you might spy the odd cute curlew bird hunting for its own dinner between your table legs.

Zinc by Polka Dot Bride

Day 3: Quiet moments interspersed with things that make your heart flutter (not including your new husband or wife!)

  • Head out north from Port Douglas to the Daintree Rainforest area. Keep an eye out for cheeky cassowaries in the bushes along the way.

Cassowary by Tourism and Events Queensland

  • There’s always room for ice cream! Floravilla make their many flavours with organic cream, and local fruit, eggs and vanilla where possible. They have exotic tastes like dragon fruit, goji berry or black sapote and luxurious ones involving ingredients such as chocolate liqueur, Guinness and lush Ironbark honey. But there are more treats to come. Daintree Ice Cream Co, set nearby on 22 acres, including organic orchards and tropical gardens, grow many of their own ingredients. Try seasonal ice creams made with Davidson plum, soursop, jackfruit and a bellyful more.

Image By Ilona Couleur

  • Whether you do this part of the itinerary before or after your ice cream treat is up to you…and your stomach’s individual fortitude. You’ve already taken the plunge. Now take another with Jungle Surfing. It’s zip-lining on a harness through the ancient canopy of the Daintree Rainforest from platform to platform. There’s ups and downs and trust involved as most of the journey is taken side by side and – let’s be honest – there’s a fair bit of yelling; sounds just like marriage to us!

Jungle Surfing Image via Tourism and Events Queensland

  • Don’t forget to pack a rug or a couple of beach towels. Your late lunch will be a picnic where the rainforest meets the sand at the laid-back and peaceful Thornton Beach (maybe don’t sit too close to the water’s edge though; crocs have been spotted here). You don’t even need to pack your own feast, as CJ’s Bar and Cafe is right there ready and waiting by the beach. Naturally with these sea views, we recommend their fresh fish (cooked just as you like) and chips. Do you have time for a hand-in-hand stroll down the beach?

Image via Tourism and Events Queensland

Your mini-moon is complete. Now you just have to return home and begin your new lives together!

Image via Tourism and Events Queensland

Where to Stay – it’s just not a honeymoon without a plush room for two…

Port Douglas and Daintree have a myriad of accommodations to suit your style and budget. But here are just a few standouts if you’re after something extra special!

Niramaya Villas & Spa by Polka Dot Bride

  • Niramaya Villas & Spa: The luxury, Balinese-style, stand-alone villas at Niramaya boast a breezy open-air lifestyle, lush private gardens, including a pool for each space. The entire place feels like a fancy spa with self-contained accommodation options for just a cosy two or your whole bridal party. Don’t miss the the superior hotel breakfast at Chapter One restaurant here (do order the moreish flatbread with labne, cauliflower and hummus if it’s on the menu).

Niramaya Villas & Spa by Polka Dot Bride

ReNewell at Newell: For ultimate privacy, Executive Retreats has dozens of tropical residences in their portfolio for you to enjoy. ReNewell, an architectural home set right on Newell Beach, is just one of them. It has an indoor/outdoor vibe, a designer pool overlooking the ocean as well as views across to Port Douglas township. And you can still get spa services!

ReNewell by Polka Dot Bride

  • Thala Beach Nature Reserve: The stilted suites and forested surrounds of the eco-friendly Thala Beach Nature Reserve make it seems as though you’re sleeping in a rather deluxe tree house. Here you can bird and butterfly watch to your heart’s content. Or why not star gaze or meditate to the rhythm of the waves? Their beach – complete with hammocks and coconuts to order – is so isolated you’ll feel like castaways in a romance flick.

Thala Beach Nature Reserve by Polka Dot Bride

Ms Zebra Says: I can’t imagine how much you’re craving a holiday post wedding! This mini-moon is a great way to take a breather after the all the celebrations are over and you’re in need of some one-on-one time!

About Ms Fleur De Lys: Aside from being Ms Polka’s Editorial Assistant, Ms Fleur de Lys is also Polka Dot Bride’s Melbourne correspondent so you’ll see her running all over town finding wedding inspiration. As both a lifestyle journalist and cocktail aficionado, Fleur appreciates the power of words whipped up as deftly as a good martini.