Honeymoon Retreats You Can Rent
A Casita in Merida, Mexico
With all the art, culture, and history in this city, you won't even miss the beach (and you don't have to: the sand and surf is just 40 minutes down the road). Wandering along the cobblestone corridors is half the fun of this colonial place. You can make your way to Merida Cathedral, a contender for the Americas' oldest church, and head to the plazas for street fairs and salsa dancing. Or sign up for a class at Los Dos cooking school (los-dos.com) -- Martha's been! -- and then test out your new Mayan recipes back at your abode.
Who to Rent From: Urbano Rentals has a well-curated portfolio of homes, including the Orangerie de Santa Ana (pictured), which comes with a pond and two roof terraces (urbanorentals.com).
When to Go: Stick to the winter months, when the temperature hovers mostly in the 80s. Otherwise you may find the city too hot to handle.
How to Get There: Look to Continental or United airlines for nonstop flights to Merida's international airport, or connect through Mexico City.
A Villa in Ubud, Bali
Elizabeth Gilbert, author of "Eat, Pray, Love," was onto something when she fell for the gardens, temples, and bohemian bent of this Indonesian island. For total tranquility, nestle into a bungalow near Ubud (the region Gilbert decamped to). Take bike rides through the rice paddies, listen for gamelan gong music wafting by, and do a little shopping. One U.S. dollar equals more than 8,000 Indonesian rupiah. Need we say more?
Who to Rent From: Bali Home Paradise is a Bali Villa Rental Association member, which is crucial, as many agencies operate illegally here. One of its newest properties, Villa Shamballa (pictured), features an outdoor living space and a pool (balihomeparadise.com).
When to Go: Shoot for late September to early October, after the heat breaks but before the rainy season begins.
How to Get There: Korean Air often has the cheapest prices. Fly into nearby Denpasar, and arrange for transport with your rental company.
A Cottage in Kilauea, Kauai
Say aloha to one of the best Hawaiian islands for honeymooners, where there are unforgettable hiking trails if you want them and stunning beaches if you don't. Rent a car, and gear up for some road-tripping. Standouts include the charming mishmash of shops and eateries in south-coast Hanapepe (locals call it Kauai's biggest little town) and the perfect sandy cove of Hanalei Bay in the north.
Who to Rent From: The Parrish Collection Kauai has been placing travelers for 26 years. Its Hawaiian Romantic Cottage at Kilauea (pictured) is a cozy charmer on nine private acres, with a hot tub and an outdoor barbecue (parrishkauai.com).
When to Go: Spring and fall have the best weather and lowest rates.
How to Get There: Jet into Lihue; there are direct flights from major West Coast cities, including Los Angeles and Seattle.
A Riad in Marrakech, Morocco
Experience your very own "Arabian Nights" in this magical city, where snake charmers share the streets with sightseers. Spend your days exploring boutiques and chic cafes, and pay a visit to historic Majorelle Garden (jardinmajorelle.com), once owned by the legendary Yves Saint Laurent and still cared for by his partner, Pierre Berge. When you're ready for a once-in-a-lifetime meal, make a dinner reservation at Dar Yacout (yacout.net), a gorgeous restaurant lit with candelabras and a glowing pool.
Who to Rent From: The Villa Book offers knowledgeable on-the-ground reps and stylish properties that cost far less than a stay at a luxe hotel. One highlight is Riad Dar Azul (pictured), which has high ceilings, a fireplace, and its own courtyard (thevillabook.com).
When to Go: Springtime is lovely. Also, be aware of the timing of Ramadan -- the dates change every year, but in 2011 it's August 1 to 29. During the day, most non-hotel restaurants close to observe the fast.
How to Get There: Fly in to Marrakech, then make arrangements for your agency to transport you from there.
A Farmhouse in Umbria, Italy
Rolling hillsides, medieval villages, and sun-splashed vineyards are ripe for discovery here, where in-the-know travelers go to get the feel of Tuscany without the crowds. Shop in neighborhood markets for crusty bread, local Pecorino di Norcia cheese, and delicacies like truffles, which grow over this area. On the flight home, you'll be writing your own romantic travel memoir: Under the Umbrian Sun.
Who to Rent From: Home in Italy maintains a wide-ranging roster, including Casa degli Artisti (pictured), a sprawling stone farmhouse with its own pool (homeinitaly.com).
When to Go: Travel in late spring when "sagra" season picks up. These small-town fetes celebrate regional specialties, including figs and onions.
How to Get There: Take your pick between Florence or Rome; there are nonstops to the latter on many big carriers. Then go by train to Perugia, where you can rent a car for the rest of the picturesque journey.