Greg Alexander

Romance in the Near East

Baltimore Sun, May 2005

When people think of honeymoon spots, many consider the Caribbean, Hawaii, Mexico or even Europe. However, couples planning that special romantic getaway would be wise not to overlook the U.S. East Coast – from seaside resorts to quaint inns perched in the mountains, the East Coast has it all. Although your choices are endless, here are 10 of the best destinations – up the coast from Florida all the way to Maine.

The Raleigh Hotel, Miami Beach, Fla.

A South Beach icon, The Raleigh has been “wowing” guests since the 1940s. This Art Deco gem is luxury at its finest, as each room features 400-thread count Egyptian sheets, bath products from Kiehl’s, high-tech in-room stereos and sweeping vistas of the beach. The Raleigh oozes sexiness – from the upscale restaurants to the world-famous pool that was the set for Ester Williams’ water ballets. Today, couples can sip cocktails by the pool or on the private beach, as the unrivaled staff caters to your every whim, including scented beach towels brought to your chair. For those couples looking for the truly luxurious honeymoon, The Raleigh features a sprawling 6,000-square-foot penthouse suite with three bedrooms and a 1,950-square-foot terrace. Ooh la la.

Amelia Island Plantation, Amelia Island, Fla.

“Amelia Island Plantation is the perfect romantic getaway for newlyweds looking for a retreat. Whether guests were married here or are arriving after their big day, the honeymoon offers them the best of first-class amenities,” says Lisa M. Presnell, social catering manager and wedding professional at Amelia Island Plantation. Located just 29 miles north of Jacksonville International Airport, the 1,350-acre property overlooks the Atlantic Ocean and the Intracoastal Waterway. “The resort is a destination within itself,” says Molly Hurwitz, a travel agent with Burton Travel. “The resort offers onsite nature tours and has golf carts for guests to rent to go around the resort and island.” She also touts the ice cream shop, nightclub, five-star spa and eight stores onsite. “The resort boasts 54 holes of championship golf, luxury spa featuring special couple’s treatments, 3 1/2 miles of wide, uncrowded beach and wonderful gourmet dining in either casual or romantic atmospheres. We offer beautiful accommodations in the Amelia Inn with each room boasting a breathtaking view of the Atlantic Ocean,” adds Presnell.

The Westin Resort, Hilton Head Island, S.C.

Of course, no honeymoon would be romantic without a luxurious bed to relax in like The Westin Resort in Hilton Head’s “Heavenly Bed.” “These beds are amazing; you never want to get out of bed,” says Hurwitz. Westin takes pride in its signature beds, even offering a “Heavenly Crib” and “Heavenly Dog Bed.” Each guestroom also offers private balconies, some with picturesque views of Hilton Head’s gorgeous white-sand beaches. “The resort is set on a very pristine stretch of beach, and they offer bike riding on the beach, as well as a Reebok fitness workout area.” Horseback riding, sailing and the Pinckney Island Wild Refuge are close by, Hurwitz notes. This Westin also is part of the Honeymoon Collection of hotels, which allows couples to register their honeymoon to help with costs and comes with a honeymoon concierge service to help personalize the trip.

The Mills House Hotel, Charleston, S.C.

For over 100 years, this charming hotel set in the heart of Charleston’s historic district has exuded Southern charm. Recently renovated without losing its Victorian charm, The Mills House is centrally located so that couples can easily explore all that Charleston has to offer. Inside, Hurwitz notes that some rooms have canopied beds, and the hotel offers a “Romantic Getaway Package,” which includes a luxurious room and a horse-drawn carriage tour through the romantic streets of Charleston. Hurwitz adds that the hotel’s Barbados restaurant offers intimate dining, and the Sunday brunch is famous, even with the locals.

The Williamsburg Inn, Williamsburg, Va.

Conveniently located to the Baltimore area, Williamsburg offers couples the opportunity to step back in history and celebrate America’s heritage. The historic Williamsburg Inn is considered the crown jewel of the city’s hotels and has hosted numerous heads of state. The inn, which was a project of Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller Jr., and a member of the Leading Small Hotels of the World, is decorated in English style. “The hotel was closed in 2001 for a one-year renovation that carefully kept the hotel to its historic beauty. All furniture was designed and crafted to keep the hotel upscale and charming,” says Hurwitz.

The Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay, Cambridge, Md.

For those couples looking for a local hotel, the Hyatt’s Chesapeake Bay hotel is set on the Choptank River on the Eastern Shore. Hurwitz says that besides the beautiful waterfront location, the hotel is “very private and very upscale. It’s great for a quiet, relaxing honeymoon year-round.” Golf enthusiasts will enjoy Hyatt’s River Marsh Golf Club, while those looking to relax can take advantage of the 18,000-square-foot European spa, complete with 12 treatment rooms. Want to arrive via to boat to your honeymoon? No problem; Hyatt has a 150-slip marina.

Caesars Pocono Resorts, Poconos, Pa.

Looking for a classic honeymoon? If so, head to the nearby Caesars Pocono Resorts in Pennsylvania. Each year, 16,000 couples honeymoon here, many of who want to stay in one of the 176 famous suites featuring the exclusive 7-foot-tall Champagne Glass Whirlpool Bath for Two. The four-level suites also come with a heart-shaped pool, dry sauna, fireplace and massage table. The resorts are made up of four resorts and Cathleen Bell, marketing coordinator for Caesars Pocono Resorts, says it’s the perfect place to honeymoon for several reasons. “Our all-inclusive packages include all activities, breakfast and dinner, live entertainment and more. But what sets us apart from other destinations is our honeymoon concierge service. Each couple is contacted before they arrive by their own personal concierge who helps them with any questions they might have about the resorts. They meet with them at check-in, and the couple also receives free keepsake gifts. The concierge acts as their personal assistant.”

Castle Hill Inn, Newport, R.I.

Heralded as one of the Top 500 Greatest Hotels in the World by Travel & Leisure, the Castle Hill Inn is located on Newport’s renowned Ocean Drive on 40 pristine private oceanfront acres and offers accommodations at the Victorian Inn, private harbor houses, Swiss-style chalet and beach houses and cottages. Castle Inn also offers special honeymoon packages that include a celebration gift basket, dinner for two, iced champagne, romantic room, gourmet breakfast and fresh tea and pastries. Couples looking for a quiet, private honeymoon will fall in love with Newport’s charm and history – the town was settled by English colonists in 1639.

The Renaissance Fallsview Resort, Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada

Niagara Falls has been popular for honeymooners for years with its breathtaking scenery and classic amenities. The Renaissance Fallsview Resort allows couples to be right in the heart of the action. “It’s located right in the heart of the falls with rooms that are right near the falls and provide stunning views,” says Hurwitz. In addition to the vistas from the rooms, the hotel also boasts the Rooftop Fallsview Dining Room, which overlooks breathtaking Niagara Falls. Also, Toronto is close by for a quick day trip.

Black Point Inn, Scarborough, Maine

Located at the tip of Prout’s Neck Peninsula, the historic Black Point Inn is surrounded on three sides by the Atlantic Ocean. Although located just 15 minutes from Portland, the resort is so beautiful that you may never want to leave the grounds. The landscaping is filled with gardens and patios, a bird sanctuary, nature cliff walks, outdoor pool and trails leading to the ocean. A popular activity here is watching the serene sunsets on the New England-style porch. The inn also boasts an onsite restaurant that beckons romance – candlelit tables, fresh flowers and, of course, Maine lobster.

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