Baraza is not only perfect for your destination wedding, but has such beautiful villas and impeccable service that you’re in danger of not wanting to leave. Our wedding ceremony here was a wonderful example of a personal ceremony with a drop dead stunning location.
The wedding was right on the beach, under a purpose built canopy decorated with local flowers and palm leaves. There was a hilarious moment when I forgot to walk through the archways and just headed to Mark, but I backtracked and did it properly!
We were literally metres from the sea and had Father Charles perform the sweet ceremony. Afterwards, photos on the beach require no photoshop, it’s literally that blue and perfect!
Dinner was a romantic private table by the beautifully lit swimming pool and the midnight sky and stars above us. With the attentive service and the grounds stretching out in the background, it feels like you’re the luckiest couple in the world.
After living in London for so long, it’s a glorious occasion to eat outdoors with a warm breeze blowing, and it’s certainly a romantic atmosphere.
Of course, the love continued the next day. Breakfast in bed (whatever you want, but we opted for the fruit plate and fresh juice) and then a private yoga class, followed by a visit to the Frangipani Spa for an hour long aroma-soul massage, which almost put us in a relaxation coma and then another swim in the pool.
Lunch overlooking the beach and then some sun-bathing while I read a book I picked up in the gorgeous library. I would have loved to stay reading in there, but seriously – I have to enjoy the sun whenever it’s out.
I also had a browse around the beautiful Baraza Bazaar, the in-house shop which has an exquisite boutique of up-market clothes (think jewelled caftans and beautiful gypsy skirts), glasses and bowls, place settings and home decorations like photo frames, and my favourite – gorgeous jewellery, both brightly coloured beads and sterling silver pieces. Perfect for either a really nice present or a reminder of your honeymoon to keep forever.
All in all, a beautiful and memorable renewal, and definitely one that we would have enjoyed for our “real” wedding. We’re so sad to leave!
Review By Runaway Bride and Groom’s Honeymoon Testers:
Spectacular mountain views, a gorgeous Arabic influenced spa and state of the art golf facilities. One of the most popular wedding and honeymoon hotels in Spain is the gorgeous Meliá La Quinta Golf and Spa hotel, Marbella.
Spain is such a popular destination for overseas weddings, particularly for Irish and English couples. Only a few hours away, you’re virtually guaranteed gorgeous sunshine, blue skies and wonderful Spanish hospitality.
We were greeted with iced champagne in our room on arrival which is always appreciated (especially during a heat-wave!) plus a personal note of congratulations (for our very special 46th vow renewal!).
Our room overlooked the gorgeous azure pool, with a private terrace, just perfect for pre-dinner champagne, although Mark was careful not to pop the cork over the side into the pool! The room boasted a huge bed, and beautiful huge bathroom, with luxury toiletries, rain-forest shower and fluffy white towels.
The hotel is famed for two things – golf in gorgeous surroundings and the luxurious spa. Not to get sexist here, but doesn’t that sound like a nice couples holiday? Spend time together in the pool, have a couples session in the spa and go for a nice round of golf – or send the man off and you can have a few more treatments by yourself!
The breakfast buffet is lovely, lots of fresh fruit, cereals, cooked full Irish and vegetarian section. There’s a little evil section at the back with cakes and all sorts of goodies, but I ignored that as much as possible.
We spent the day exploring the hotel, swimming in the gorgeous pool, mid afternoon cocktails on our terrace and just to make it interesting, a vow renewal organised by the hotel on the Club house terrace, a gorgeous members-only feel restaurant with an incredible view of the mountains. It was performed by Jeff Gurner, an English expat wedding celebrant, who is very popular with couples getting married in the hotel.
Dinner afterwards was on the terrace as the sun went down. I had the fish, Mark had the lamb and they both were gorgeous. Dessert was fresh apple sorbet and Mark had a traditional Spanish cake. We both rolled back to our room for some more champagne!
La Quinta is a lovely, relaxing and gorgeous place to spend a honeymoon to relax and recharge after your wedding. For those wanting a Spanish destination wedding, there is a Catholic church close by and then you can have your reception here, or you can choose a civil ceremony in a few of the gorgeous sunny and picturesque places in the hotel.
Hotel class: 5 stars
Reviewed in 2010
Our day trip to Kuranda and Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park was a fantastic day out and a very fitting end to the last official day of our Honeymoon Testers assignment!
We had a pick up from the Sea Temple in Palm Cove to the picuresque Freshwater railway station for a train trip through the region’s most beautiful scenery, past huge waterfalls and spectacular trees.
The trainline was opened in 1891, after removing 2.3 million metres of earth, creating 15 tunnels and 75 kilometres of track, by immigrants without modern equipment and with simple hand tools. It’s a feat of engineering and human determination.
Our stop was to the beautiful and leafy town of Kuranda, home to quirky and original markets, art galleries, bush walks and animal parks such as the Australian Venom Zoo, BatReach, BirdWorld, the Butterfly Sanctuary, Cairns Wildlife Safari Reserve and the Koala Gardens. We had 1.5 hours to explore the town and get some yummy juice and macadamia brownies!
Now came a very exciting part! The Skyrail Rainforest Cableway is an amazing experience gliding high above Australia’s World Heritage listed tropical rainforest in specially constructed gondola cabins.
It took about 7 years to get permission to build the Skyrail in the rainforest and only one year to build it. To completely protect the ground, it was constructed from the air by helicopter!
There are several stops along the way for photo-ops, including the Red Peak and Barron Falls lookouts and the state-of-the-art Rainforest Interpretation information centre. It’s truly a wondrous experience, not scary at all and one of the most unique views in the world!
The final stop was next to the Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park for a full experience day of indigenous Australian culture, where you are guided through demonstrations and shows in a seamless trip throughout the whole park to touch, taste, smell and experience everything.
You can learn from a Tjapukai warrior how traditional tools and weapons, as well as bush medicine were used 40,000 years ago by the Aboriginal people. Be entertained in the outdoor theatre by the beautiful river, featuring a live performance celebrating traditional Tjapukai corroborees and song and souvenir photographs afterwards with the dancers.
We tried out the boomerang demonstration, which was hilarious as everyone had to hide out in a netted tent together as newbies find it hard to control where their boomerang goes! My first attempt was pathetic but my second was pretty good. Mark however, was a natural as well as being a perfect shot in the spear demonstration, he actually hit the kangaroo dummy right between the eyes!
We finished the afternoon with a live multi-media show in the Creation theatre, which was a spectacular mix of live dancers and 3D technology and then a rousing didgeridoo demonstration. There’s also a beautiful gift shop, so you can take home your own authentic piece of Aboriginal artwork or a didgeridoo.
It was one of the best experience centres I’ve been to, everything is top-class and absolutely fascinating. It’s probably one of the best organised places I’ve seen as well. It really annoys me when places aren’t well designed, but Tjapukai is just beautifully managed, which makes for a relaxed and informative visit.
We were also lucky to have a wedding ceremony by the river with the dancers in order to set our new Guinness World Record for Most Married Couple! It was a fantastic and moving end to our Honeymoon Tester’s assignment and a perfect way to set a new record!
Thank you to Down Under Tours for the fantastic all-inclusive Kuranda and Tjapukai day trip. We were staying at the nearby Sea Temple, see review here, who looked after us very well. Thanks also to Tourism Queensland for organising the great itinerary of our time in Port Douglas.
Tropical North Queensland is a magical place for either a destination wedding or honeymoon. It will be an unforgettable experience. Runaway Bride and Groom can help you organise everything from the flight to every detail of the wedding. Find out more.
The Honeymoon Testers Recommend
Down Under Tours: We enjoyed the full inclusive Kuranda tour (you can do any of these separately) which cost AU$203-219 each and included; hostess escort, hotel pick-up and return, Kuranda Scenic Rail to Kuranda, free time, Skyrail Rainforest Cableway, buffet lunch at Tjapukai Restaurant, entry to Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park, which includes indigenous guiding, all theatres, the famous Tjapukai Dancers, boomerang/spear throwing and bush medicine demonstrations. Find out more.
Stay: Sea Temple and Spa
Rainforest: Daintree Tours with Down Under Tours
Snorkelling: Quicksilver Cruises Low Isles Tour
See native animals: Wildlife Habitat
Evening Cruise: Sailaway Port Douglas