It all started in Hawaii. I have known where I wanted to go on my honeymoon since I was 6. You see, my dad is a cinematographer which means he travels a lot, and back before school/work took over my life, my mom, my brother, and I used to go with him sometimes. So while he was working on Waterworld (Reynolds, USA, 1995), we got to stay in Hawaii for a month. And so it was that I fell in love with the Hilton Waikoloa.
I have stayed in a fair number of expensive hotels given my limited age and economic status. Like I said, Dad travels a lot, and production companies are not as stingy as one might think. So I'm not like an expert on nice hotels or anything, but I feel like I do have a certain amount of experience.
The Hilton Waikoloa Village is like nothing I've ever seen. It literally is a village centered around the resort, but the hotel itself is what really caught my attention. As you walk in, you are greeted by birds fluttering around the lobby. You continue to walk and find that the hotel is so big that it has its own public transportation: you can get to your room on their mini-train line or take a leisurely boat ride from one side to the other. If you skip the train and cross the bridge over the barracuda-and-koi-filled river, you'll walk down a grand staircase to the hotel's very own lagoon, where you can take out a paddle boat or snorkel with sea turtles.
Personally, after patting a few sea turtles, I like to splash around in one of the many pools, perhaps starting with the lazy river pool complete with waterslides and ending up in one of the hot tubs that are hidden in a cavern under a waterfall in one of the larger pools. Then perhaps a trip to Dolphin Quest where you can interact and swim with dolphins (I kissed one when I did this as a 6-year-old).
Waterfall Pool (with jacuzzis under the waterfall)
Dolphin Quest (I have a really cute picture from this, I so wish I had it with me here)
It's a village, hotel, mall, aquarium, and water park all rolled into one.
We never actually stayed there. It ain't cheap. But my mom, my brother, and I would hang out there a lot while we were staying on the Big Island. Technically, only guests can use the facilities, but sneaking in isn't exactly challenging, even with the wrist bands you're supposed to have to use the pools. I went back a few years ago with a friend, and they actually gave us wrist bands while we were in the pool.
Anyway, I love it there, and I started looking into a honeymoon there soon after getting engaged. I think we've pretty much ruled that out since all-inclusive resorts are a much better deal, but I still definitely want to stay there someday.
And while I was checking out rates, I ran across their wedding packages.
Looking back, their deals are not nearly as good as ones I've found elsewhere (read not free), but I'd so be down for getting married there, especially since it would still be cheaper than doing a big wedding at home, and we would get SO MUCH MORE out of the deal. It's a beautiful resort with spectacular views, and it's all very natural, not manicured-looking, which is a big deal for me. Besides, I feel like if I was actually going to do a destination wedding, a lot of people I know would be less fussy about getting to Hawaii than the Caribbean even though it's about the same distance.
So yeah, this was the first place I thought about doing a destination wedding, mostly because I'm in love with the hotel. I figure if I'm going to dream about it, I might as well dream big.
If you were doing a destination wedding, where would you go? What is your ideal honeymoon location?