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If you, like us, are time poor (we had our wedding, settlement on our first home and me starting a new job all within the same month so had literally 10 days off!), you may want to delay your overseas honeymoon for a few months and set off on a mini-moon.

There are more advantages to this than just the cost. Staying local means we were able to thoroughly enjoy a leisurely brunch at our favourite deli and within two hours of driving we arrived in the gorgeous Spa country to commence our honeymoon. It was great being able to relax almost immediately following the wedding without the stress of rushing to the airport and sitting on a long haul flight.

Just because you stay close to home, doesn’t mean you have to skimp on luxury. We stayed at the gorgeous Kudos Villas and, because each villa has something different to offer we split our time between Kudos Temple (to enjoy watching movies on the projector screen whilst sitting in the sunken spa)……….

Above images courtesy of Kudos Villas

There’s a kangaroo there I promise!

It was very hard to drag ourselves outside…

…..and Kudos Indulge (for the outdoor sauna and bathtub to relish in the true spa country experience).

Above images courtesy of Kudos Villas

We also took advantage of the in room massage which effectively pummeled away all the wedding planning tension and left us blissfully relaxed and ready to explore the culinary delights of the region.

Difficult as it was to tear ourselves away from the warmth of the fireplace and sipping champagne in the spa, we managed to brave the brisk winter air for a few delectable meals.

We had a fabulous lunch on a crisp winter afternoon overlooking Lake Daylesford at The Lake House Restaurant, a beautiful middle eastern inspired meal at The Grande (phone: 03 53488500), a 1920’s hotel overlooking the Wombat State Forest, delicious pizzas at Pizza Verde (we’ve since also had the pleasure of their Sunday Roast which is well worth the drive to Kyneton!) and a very romantic dinner (with impeccable food and service) overlooking the lavender fields at Sault which by the way makes a gorgeous wedding venue! And after an invigorating walk through the forest, we warmed up with a steaming bowl of chowder from Chowder House (phone: 03 53482221) on the Main Road. Be warned though, this chowder is famous so get in early to avoid the queues.

We also made time (I know, it’s a tough life!) to visit the new and spectacularly improved Hepburn Bathhouse for a private mineral bath which was sheer heaven……..

Image courtesy of Hepburn Bathhouse

………..as well as a trip to Castlemaine to pick out some beautiful crockery from Phil Elson and do some retailing at the huge antiques store and the delightful Malmaison.

The best part about our mini-moon? All those places which bring back our special memories are only a quick car trip away and make a great weekend anniversary or birthday getaway. We headed back to the region on our baby – moon where we indulged in more great food (sans the wine!).

Ms Polka Dot says: The lovely Mrs F is back to tell us about her mini-moon! Just a wee bit envious of all the indulgences she describes – but what a wonderful way to unwind after a hectic time leading up to your wedding! It makes a lot of sense to go local and re-visit those memorable places at other special times in your lives – as she suggests!

Nicole says: Melbourne based, married to Mr F and new mum of one particularly gorgeous baby S, I love my boys, all things wedding, travel, food, my cat Chloe and of course all things Polka dot!
Nicole’s favourite cocktail – Peach Bellinis at New York Bar & Grill, Tokyo.

Polka Dot Honeymoons Directory Mid Banner

Dan and I had a couple of ideas for our honeymoon – however when we saw an amazingly cheap flight deal for one of our preferred locations it made the decision for us. So off we went to Orlando, USA and headed for Walt Disney World (not to be confused with Disney Land in Florida) in search of fun times, adventure and experiences of a life time! (As I’m slightly obsessive I had already researched and knew that all this and more was going to be right at our fingertips at the ‘Happiest Place on Earth’!)

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Dan and Paula dressed up for the Halloween Party

After a gruelling 12 hour flight from Brisbane to Los Angeles, we had a quick 3 hour stop over and then directly onto another 5 hour flight across the country to Orlando. By the time we arrived in Orlando, picked up our bags and made it to the ‘Disney Magical Express’ (the courtesy bus from the Airport) we had been “awake” approximately 25 hours and were utterly exhausted. I’d recommend if anyone is planning this trip – to take a day in LA, get a hotel and rest!

We stayed at the Pop Century (value resort) for the majority of the trip. This accommodation was budget (and the food seemed to specifically cater to this cost saving group) but it allowed us to stay at the deluxe Animal Kingdom Lodge resort for the last two nights of our honeymoon. This worked for us, as we were rarely in our room for the first week or so as we were constantly sightseeing and visiting the park attractions and other theme parks in the Orlando region. However if we did do it again we’d spend the money and stay at the Animal Kingdom for the whole trip. Their restaurants were amazing!

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Pop Century Resort Area near main pool

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Foyer of the Animal Kingdom Lodge

The food is WDW’s biggest let down. It consists mostly of fatty fast food. Seek out the more upmarket restaurants at the resorts or Downtown Disney for better quality food. We loved House of Blues at Downtown Disney and the Californian Grill at the Contemporary Resort for good quality food.

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Dan with ‘toy soldier’ near the Toy Story Mania Ride at Hollywood Studios

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Sheriff Woody at the parade at Magic Kingdom

We saw and did so many things. (There is so much to see and do we actually didn’t make it into the city of Orlando in the whole 18 days we were there!)
We:
– went to Sea World and saw Shamu,
– rode an ‘enchanted bench’ through Harry Potter’s Forbidden Journey ride (and other fantastical sights at the newly opened Wizarding World of Harry Potter) at Universal Studios,
– saw Cirque du Soleil’s La Nouba at Downtown Disney (the only place you can see this show in the world),
– went hot air ballooning for Dan’s very special 30th with Orlando Balloon Rides
– attended our first American Halloween party at Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween party,
– Went on a romantic carriage ride around the Fort Wilderness Camp Grounds in WDW (which we kindly were given as a wedding gift – Disney World Wedding Registry ! Check it out – worth a look!)
– Spent a whole day at the Walt Disney World Speedway where Dan got to drive (by himself!) and ride a-long in a NASCAR and Indy Car for his 30th birthday
– Had a romantic dinner while watching the “Wishes” fireworks from the Californian Grill restaurant that overlooks the Magic Kingdom
– Experienced the Wanyama Safari Resort Tour through the grounds of the Animal Kingdom Lodge (where we got sniffed by a giraffe!) and then had an amazing 3 course dinner at Jiko.
– And saw all WDW’s 4 main theme parks being The Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom.

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Seaworld – 5 killer whales splash the crowd during the ‘Believe’ show

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Hogwarts Castle at Universal Studios (at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter)

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Ollivander’s Wand Shop at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter

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3 of the 12 balloons that took off on the same morning as our balloon ride

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Pirate pose at the Halloween Party!

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Dan and Paula after their carriage ride

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Dan’s ride-a-long in the Indy Car

Travel Trips:
– Take the time to sleep! (the one day we went flat out all day and didn’t have a nap was the night we saw La Nouba. We had amazing seats – but that didn’t stop me from nodding off sometimes…)
– Off peak season is the key to a good WDW trip! The crowds are still big – but they are MUCH bigger in peak season
– Do your research and book in advance anything you really want to do
– Be prepared to negotiate, compromise and have some disappointments – (we didn’t get a king bed the whole trip; it didn’t stop us though from pushing our 2 doubles together!) It might be your honeymoon but it doesn’t mean you go to the top of the line.

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Fireworks spectacular at Mickey’s Not-So-Scarey Halloween Party

What we loved:
We loved everything but I think we had the most fun at the Halloween party!

Ms Polka Dot says: Paula and Dan had such a fun honeymoon (see their wedding here) – appealing to all the big (or little) kids hiding somewhere within each of us! Thank you for this fun and sparkly post – I especially liked the photo of the ‘shower’ the crowds got from the five killer whales – hmmmmm!

All photos taken by Paula and Dan

Paula tells us: I’m 24 and live in Townsville, North Queensland with my new hubby Daniel, and our dog Zeus.

Today we’re jumping overseas to a location I’d never considered for a romantic getaway but one I wish I’d thought of sooner!

On the island of Pamalican, a one hour plane flight from Manila, the capital of The Philippines, sits Amanpulo (peaceful island) a resort of only 40 casitas, 11 villas and nothing but you and the sandy tropical paradise.

It used to be a family run coconut plantation, now the island houses only the resort, a private getaway that is so far from the rest of civilization, the night sky will often show the constellations clear from the smog and lights of the city.

The resort’s 40 casitas are built in the style of a traditional Phillipine bahay kubo- each features steep timber roofs on timber frames. The beach casitas all have a private path leading through the native bush to the sand, while the hillside retreat casitas look out freely over the ocean. For a little Robinson Crusoe, guests can choose the treetop casitas.

For the no expenses spared newlyweds- the deluxe casitas look out over the sea and neighbouring islands allowing their residents unimpeded sunset and sunrises every single day of the week.

Each casita features a king sized bed, oversized marble bathroom with twin vanities,  flat screen televisions, surround sound system, coffeemakers and ipod docks.

For something a little self contained, There are larger villas available for hire- though only one has a single bedroom. Each includes a cook, maid, buggy, private swimming pool, living & dining pavilions, outdoor lounge and kitchen, private outdoor decks, buggies,

Worried about dining on the island? You needn’t! Amanpulo offers numerous private dining options including private island hopping trips, in your casita or private spots around the island.

For something a little more communal, there are three dining facilities within the resort- The Restaurant features international and Filipino Cuisine, The Beach Club offers Fresh Seafood and Spanish Cuisine while the Lagoon Club offers Vietnamese Cuisine, Guests can also enjoy wood fired pizza at the wind surfing hut, a drink at the clubhouse or snacks in the Lobby terrace.

Of course nothing says honeymoon like a little bit of pampering and the resort’s spa offers a range of massages and treatments in air conditioned casitas or the open garden sala.

If you’re up for a little exercise after all that post wedding relaxation, the island is your walking track- a 5.5km walk will take you from your room and back in less than two hours. The resort is very well prepared for your water based activities too- top of the line windsurfing equipment, catamarans, kayaks and game boats are all available for use by the resort’s guests.

Nature is close by with a turtle hatchery on the island- baby black tip sharks and nesting marine turtles are often in sight too- adding to the sense that you really are close to nature. Surrounding the island is a spectacular coral reef- five dive sites are right by the island offering a plethora of soft corals, tropical corals, fish, rays and turtles all within sight.

The resort also offers a gym, tennis courts, yoga centre, library,  and a 30m swimming pool surrounded by lounges (my kind of place) and even a boutique for a spot of souvenir hunting.

For the destination wedding, Amanpulo offers destination wedding celebrations (including a ceremony on the crystal blue water using the resort’s pontoon). All packages include a Filipino wedding officer, guitar serenade,  bridal bouquet, champagne and of course- wedding cake!

To find out more visit the Amanpulo website.

Photos from Aman Resorts