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Planning a Honeymoon

During a lifetime, a few occasions call for celebratory travel: anniversaries, graduations, a special birthday. But the pinnacle of celebration trips is arguably the honeymoon, the place and time for newlyweds to reflect on new beginnings.

Not to mention, a much-needed release after months of wedding planning.

Taylor-Rae Harrold, a bride-to-be and the creator of the popular lifestyle & fashion blog, Style Souffle, was in the midst of planning her own post-wedding destination when she came across SmartFlyer agent Laura Crafton’s captivating photos from a recent trip to Antigua on Instagram.

Taylor-Rae shared her honeymoon planning process with us, describing how she and her now-husband Justin were able to kick back and enjoy their first week of marriage on a gorgeous Caribbean island thanks to a serendipitous e-meeting with Laura.

Taylor Rae and Justin Harrold of Style Souffle

Falling For Antigua

When Justin and I began considering honeymoon options, we both agreed on somewhere tropical and warm to satisfy our love for sunshine, pool time and the beach. Assuming that we would be exhausted after the wedding, we also knew we wanted a destination that was no more than half a day of travel away.

While researching islands in the Caribbean, we fell in love Antigua for an eight-day, seven-night night vacation. It wasn’t that hard of a decision… I mean, look at the water.

Planning Our Honeymoon with SmartFlyer

Early on in our search we came across two resorts that left a lasting impression: Jumby Bay Rosewood Resort and Hermitage Bay, both ranked as top properties by Travel + Leisure and Condé Nast Traveler. Before jumping in, I turned to Instagram to see recent, tagged images of the two properties to make sure that the advertised images matched reality. The photos I found exceeded every expectation, and it was during my search that I stumbled on Laura Crafton, who I learned was a travel advisor for SmartFlyer.

Laura provided knowledge of different islands and properties, and coordinated all of our travel and transportation – she helped plan our trip from beginning to end.

My comment on one of Laura’s Antigua photos sparked a conversation that led to email, followed by a phone call. Having recently visited Jumby Bay and Hermitage Bay herself, Laura suggested that Justin and I split our time between the two resorts for completely different experiences.

Laura and SmartFlyer were monumental in helping us plan our dream honeymoon. Laura provided knowledge of different islands and properties, and coordinated all of our travel and transportation – she helped plan our trip from beginning to end. In fact, Jumby Bay was booked the entire week after our wedding for a private event, but she was able to get us accommodations at the resort thanks to her connections with the property.

SmartFlyer's Laura Crafton in Antigua. Photo by: Claire Wickenden

Two Honeymoons, One Island

Set in one of the most beautiful, undisturbed places in the Caribbean, Jumby Bay is a place of simple pleasures. Reachable only by boat, and with no cars in sight, this private isle of white sand beaches exudes luxury. It’s an island that allows you – almost forces you – to slow down.

At the resort, we had a private villa with a pool that boasted incredible ocean views. (Our villa was so close to the beach that Justin and I would walk to it every morning and afternoon to watch the sun rise and set.) During our stay, we also took a boat to Paradise Reef where a marine biologist guided us on a swim around the reef.

If you ever get the opportunity to visit Jumby Bay Rosewood, try Sense, the on-site spa. I highly recommend it.

Read more about Taylor’s time at Jumby Bay Rosewood.

Jumby Bay, Antigua. Photo by: Claire Wickenden

Compared to Jumby Bay, a prestigious property where we shared the beach with Penelope Cruz, Hermitage Bay is distinctly different. Surrounded by lush gardens and undeveloped tropical landscape, the resort is nestled hillside on a beautiful bay.

After checking in, we made the steep climb to our suite located at the highest point on the property. The suite had a wraparound balcony and private infinity pool that overlooked the entire bay. We spent our first evening there enjoying champagne and watching the sun set behind the sailboats anchored in the water.

The friendly staff quickly became one of the most memorable parts of Hermitage Bay. Each morning we looked forward to seeing Jodi, Zeke and Chanel on our way to breakfast. Also, the food was incredible. The Executive Chef created entirely new menus throughout the day. I’m not ashamed to say we loved some of the courses so much that we ordered seconds – just one perk of staying at an all-inclusive property. All of the dishes paired protein with produce grown right in the resort’s own organic garden.

Outside, the beaches were pristine and the water was so clear and blue, you could see the reef just feet away from the water’s edge. While we barely swam at Jumby Bay, we didn’t get out of the water at Hermitage Bay at all.

Read more about Hermitage Bay and Taylor’s helicopter tour of neighboring Barbuda Island.

Hermitage Bay, Antigua. Photo by: Claire Wickenden

While I’ve been fortunate to travel outside of the United States many times, this was the best combination of fun, adventure, relaxation and romance! Looking back I’m quickly reminded of the subtle details from our time in Antigua, like the creaking sound of our wooden door at Hermitage Bay, how soft the sand was beneath my feet, and the tranquility of showering outside with panoramic views of the bay. This sweet little island left an imprint on my heart.

To plan a trip with Laura Crafton, get in touch via email at laura@smartflyer.com.  Image via: Style Souffle and Claire Wickenden, copy via: Amy Cao Smith

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