Back in April, I tied the knot in a gorgeous ceremony in scenic and surprisingly sunny North Wales. While the entire day was more than I could have dreamed of, I must admit, with a passion for luxury travel,I was just as excited for my honeymoon to Dubai and the Maldives.
A Dreamy Desert Hideaway: Al Maha, a Luxury Collection Desert Resort & Spa
Still reeling with excitement from the big day, our first destination was Al Maha, a Luxury Collection Desert Resort & Spa, a spot that is just perfect for couples, super private and located in the middle of the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve, worlds away from the city. The resort is slow-paced and secluded, the perfect place for me to unwind after the stress of all the wedding planning. It was great for the two of us to just spend time together in our gorgeous villa which had views overlooking the sand dunes and the biggest bath I've ever seen!
A real highlight of our stay here was the standard of the food and everything we ate was amazing. even the simplest club sandwich was to die for. If the dishes weren't delicious enough, they were matched by the perfectly romantic setting of our villa deck. On our final evening, we enjoyed a four-course candlelit dinner in the privacy of our villa and it was genuinely one of the best meals I've ever had! We also head out on a camel ride to watch the sun go down behind the rolling sand dunes. Stretching as far as the eye can see, it was so surreal to think that we were just a short distance from the glitz and glamour of Dubai city. We were given a glass of cold Champagne and the staff made a toast to our new marriage, making us feel so special and beyond lucky.
Private Island Paradise: Six Senses Laamu
From Dubai, we took the seamless journey over to the Maldives and checked in to the pure paradise that is Six Senses Laamu. As soon as we walked into our Laamu Water Villa with a private pool, it blew me away. From the sunken bathtub, outdoor shower and stunning glass deck area, every single spot in the villa was uber 'Instagrammable'. We also walked into a 'Happy Honeymoon' cake waiting for us, complete with the Six Senses logo. Honestly, we never tired of being so spoilt! Every guest is also given a bicycle for getting around on and ours had been changed to include my new initials - JH - which was a lovely touch.
To top it off, our villa was located on Jetty B in the lagoon in that sees the most turtles (they feed off the seagrass here) and as were sat on our deck on the first morning, we casually saw a group of four turtles swimming around. Unsurprisingly, with the turtles and gorgeous turquoise lagoon that I couldn't take my eyes off, we had breakfast in our villa most days from then on! Speaking of breakfast, the spread was spectacular. As well as many cooked options, there is a whole 'wellness section' which really gets your day off to a great start. This includes daily healthy juices, eight different types of honey with details of their health benefits, and much more.
Something that a good honeymoon needs - or any luxury holiday for that matter - is amazing food. Luckily, this was plentiful at Six Senses Laamu. For a sushi lover like myself, Zen was a dream come true and we ate here three out of the seven nights. Each time, we chose the sushi boat for two, made fresh in front of us by the chefs at the live cooking station, accompanied by insane sake cocktails. Another amazing restaurant is Leaf, which has such a special location high above the kitchen garden and reached by a rope bridge. The organic, Mediterranean-inspired menus changed daily here, meaning we never got bored of the choice - not that we would have when it was that delicious! There were also plenty of vegetarian and vegan options that were absolutely loved by us usual meat eaters. I would say that we had the best meal of the honeymoon here: lobster pastilla with mango noodles and red wine caviar to start, a main course of duck cooked to perfection, and a dreamy dessert of pistachio crepes with mascarpone. Not to sound dramatic, but I could almost cry just remembering how incredible it all tasted.
When it came to the ice cream studio, we acted less like honeymooners and more like big kids, sometimes visiting twice a day (hey, we were on holiday!) to get our fix of the complimentary homemade ice creams. As well as the classics, they had some really unusual flavours - from jasmine rice to saffron to avocado - whereas my favourite was the burnt milk and sea salt. hard to describe but easy to devour as it was so delicious. The Chill Bar is perfectly named, with a relaxed yet atmospheric vibe and a DJ playing every night. Built over the water, it is easily the best spot on the island to watch the sunset. We actually missed dinner a couple of the nights as we were just so content sitting with cocktails and some snacks, absorbing that breathtaking view! Due to the remoteness of the atoll, the reef at Laamu is the best I've ever seen and you can snorkel right off the Chill Bar, as well as all around the resort.
The Six Senses brand is also known for its wellness and spa offerings so it would have been rude not to try the facilities out for myself. The treatment 'nests' are located either elevated within the trees, or on the beach facing the ocean. In the garden nest, we had an amazing couple's massage, selecting from a menu that blew me away in how much choice it offered. After how fabulous that treatment was, I couldn't resist going back for a facial on another day.
I can't stress enough just how perfect Laamu is for a honeymoon, with a range of activities and experiences to choose from. We head out on an unforgettable sunset dolphin cruise, watching the locals surf the waves and spotting my first ever spinner dolphin, as well as enjoying views of the most beautiful sunset. It is memories like this that will never leave us! Probably the most romantic thing we'll ever do, we also enjoyed a picnic for two on a completely private island. We were taken 30 minutes by boat to a tiny islet on the edge of the atoll from which we could literally see nothing but the perfectly clear, turquoise water that the Maldives is famous for. A completely perfect day from start to finish, we were left on the island with a picnic basket full of an amazing healthy lunch and a bottle of Champagne. With no phone reception or access to emails and social media (an absolute blessing in this day and age), we truly switched off and had quality time together, spending the day snorkelling, sunbathing, eating and simply enjoying each other's company.
Luxury in the Heart of Dubai: Jumeirah Al Naseem
After being in two quiet, ultra-romantic resorts, it was nice to get back to the hustle and bustle of Dubai that I love so much. As soon as I landed and spotted the unmistakable Burj Khalifa (currently the world's tallest building) I got that familiar excitement that Dubai always give me. When we arrived at Jumeirah Al Naseem, we walked into our beautiful room to find our wedding pictures framed waiting for us! It was such a beautiful touch that made me feel all emotional.
Well aware (and truly gutted) that our honeymoon was soon coming to an end and having experienced many times the incredible sights of Dubai - although they never get old - we spent most of our time just relaxing and soaking up the sun by the adults-only pool which was never overcrowded. The iconic buildings that the city is famous for are never far away though. We enjoyed amazing signature sundowners and shisha at rooftop bar Ambar, overlooking views of the Burj Al Arab (the famous sail shaped hotel) lit up with colourful lights. Al Naseem is part of the wider Madinat Jumeirah resort made up of three hotels, which also features an authentically designed souk in an ancient Arabian style, home to plenty of restaurants from all over the globe, and charming Middle Eastern stalls, stands and boutiques. We spent our final evening sailing around the souk and its magical lit-up waterways by private Abra boat, passing the amazing architecture and feeling a true sense of authentic Arabia. The perfect end to the perfect honeymoon that I will truly never forget!