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Mon 28 Jul 2008 04:00 AM

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Honeymoons with a difference

A honeymoon package should be an easy sell and a lucrative one if agents take time to ask questions.

A honeymoon package should be an easy sell and a lucrative one if agents take time to ask questions and do their research, explains Caroline Tapken.

A honeymoon is that extra special trip of a lifetime and couples have high expectations of their vacation, so it is essential that travel consultants are well informed about the destinations they are selling - and the requirements of the couple they are selling to.

Often planned well ahead of the actual event, the honeymoon preparations require research, investigation and offer a unique opportunity to enhance commissions with suite reservations, business- or first-class travel and other little extras along the way.

Travel agents must also keep in mind who is travelling - a two-week beach honeymoon vacation might be enjoyed by Europeans but other nationalities may spend several weeks travelling the world, so a variety options should be offered and a well planned itinerary is key.

Arabian Travel News offers some hints and tips on how to sell honeymoons, maximise revenue, as well as information on current packages and destinations that most suit this extra special type of booking.

Tips to maximize revenue

Hints and tips to maximise revenue from honeymoons and enhance the experience:

• Up-sell to business- or first-class air travel.

• Advise the airline that your clients are honeymooners and request consideration for special treatment - if you have close contacts with the airline, give them a call to see what can be done to create a special experience.

• When booking the hotel or tour itinerary, advise the reservations agent that the clients are on their honeymoon and ask what can be done for them - or what upgrade can be recommended; special extras are often offered for honeymooners year-round - with bonuses during low seasons.

• Consider recommending a suite instead of a normal room - this is the holiday of a lifetime and the couple will be more willing to spend money on luxuries for this special occasion. Some hotels will also upgrade free of charge - or for a minimal extra payment.

• Why not ask the hotel to put a card with a basket of flowers, or bottle of something special in the room on the first night, paid for by the agency with your best wishes? You could earn the loyalty of the couple well beyond their honeymoon vacation.

Thailand

Thailand is a perennial favourite with Phuket and the island of Koh Samui among the most popular honeymoon destinations.

Fly THAI and combine a few nights in Bangkok for nightlife and culture with a beach destination for the ultimate in luxury.

Royal Orchid Holidays offers a wide variety of hotels and custom packages to suit all budgets, but consider staying with one chain to maximise cost savings and honeymoon extras - for example Amari Hotels & Resorts offers special honeymoon packages (www.amari.com) booked in conjunction with flights.

For the traditional paradise island dream, relaxing on secluded beaches, sharing underwater adventures and revelling in luxurious surroundings try Royal Orchid Holidays' Koh Samui Romantic Break; a choice of four-star hotels from AED 4040 ($1100) for three nights with optional extra nights.

The package Includes:

• Accommodation at luxury hotels such as the deluxe Amari Palm Reef

• American breakfast - served in-room on the first morning

• One candle light dinner for two

• Welcome fruit, flowers, drink and decorations

• Celebration cake

Six Senses: For a healthy romantic getaway recommend the new Six Senses Destination Spa Phuket, an Erawan property, where couples can be pampered on a relaxing private island while indulging in tasty spa cuisine that spares on calories but not on taste. The four spa areas - Chinese, Indonesian, Indian and Thai - offer treatment rooms for couples while treatment packages called ‘Life Passages' can be tailored to the needs of newly weds.

Six Senses operates several properties across both Thailand and Vietnam. For more information visit www.sixsenses.com or contact Six Senses' Middle East representative, hospitality specialist C&K Global Marketing on +971 4 227 9586 or email admin@ckglobalmarketing.ae The Maldives

The Travel Collection and Emirates Holidays both recommend the Maldives for relaxation and romance. The destination is also within five hours' flying time from most Middle East destinations and visas are available on arrival for most nationalities, including Arab nationals.

Emirates Holidays offers seven nights at the Conrad Maldives Rangali (www.conradmaldivesrangali.com) from AED 11,990 (US $3264) per person including flights, breakfast and transfers by seaplane.

Bonus offers for summer include free nights with minimum stays and Honeymoon Offers include added excursions, spa credits, as well as fruit baskets.

Six Senses offers two Maldives resorts that cater very well to honeymooners. Choose from over-water bungalows at Soneva Gili (www.sixsenses.com/Soneva-Gili/index.php) or the jungle-based Soneva Fushi (www.sixsenses.com/Soneva-Fushi/index.php).

Both resorts offer luxury and privacy in idyllic surroundings with services including private dinners (in the villas or on the beach) and couples picnics on remote islands. For more information contact Six Senses' Middle East representative, hospitality specialist C&K Global Marketing on +971 4 227 9586 or email admin@ckglobalmarketing.ae

South Africa

Etihad Holidays recommends Johannesburg and Sun City in South Africa for some excitement and something different to beach destinations.

Prices for three-night packages start from AED 2995 ($815) per person including return economy class flights from Abu Dhabi at the Protea Hotel Balalaika Jo´burg (www.balalaika.co.za/) - a 330-room hotel offering gardens, swimming pools, golf, tennis and many other attractions, which can be combined with an African tour itinerary for longer trips.

SATravel Services offers a 10-night itinerary to experience the true Africa, taking clients from Cape Town to Hermanus for whale watching; to the Fancourt Hotel (www.fancourt.co.za) in George for golf or spa relaxation and pampering, topped off with the ultimate African bush experience at the Shamwari Game Reserve (www.shamwari.com ) - from AED 5320 ($1448) per person.

SATravel Services also offers custom-made itineraries and advice to honeymooners. Visit www.satravelservices.com

Australia

For longer honeymoons, combine an Asian city or beach destination as a stopover on the way to Australia for a more adventurous honeymoon.

There are plenty of flight options - Emirates Airline flies both direct to Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Cairns and also via Bangkok and Singapore to Sydney and Melbourne, while Etihad Airways flies to Sydney direct and to Brisbane via Singapore and THAI flies to several Australian cities via Bangkok.

Suggest the Gold Coast (Brisbane) where clients can enjoy whale watching (May/November) or a walk in rain forests. The best time to travel is June/July/August - winter in Australia with cool nights, warm days and low humidity. A great itinerary to please those with more time and a taste of adventure - and with many useful hints and travel tips on the various websites to ensure your clients do not encounter any problems with their travel plans (www.australia-goldcoast.com.au).

Queensland, Australia's northern state (www.queenslandholidays.com.au), offers a wealth of exciting options for soft adventures such as a scenic helicopter ride or seaplane flight from Cairns or Port Douglas, landing on your very own pristine tropical cay, miles from anywhere - with diving, snorkelling, or beach combing as just some of the ways to spend these tranquil hours; or stay at The Undara Lava Lodge - a 3½ hour drive from Cairns to the Outback where guests are accommodated in restored turn-of-the century Queensland railway carriages beneath tall shady gum trees - or the ‘swag' tent village for the even more adventurous! Details are available at www.undara.com.au with packages offered by Emirates Holidays, Etihad Holidays, Sharaf Travel, Al Tayer and other operators throughout the region.There are also many islands to explore off of Australia's East Coast including Hayman Island, which boasts a couples-only resort that is a member of Leading Hotels of the World. Honeymooners fly to Airlie Beach and are then transported by private helicopter to the resort (www.hayman.com.au). Something new

Are you clients looking for something new or out of the ordinary? Regional travel consultants have several recommendations for new itineraries and destinations this year:

China

Etihad Holidays is offering China as a new honeymoon destination with a variety of hotel options in Beijing. Prices for three nights from AED 1888 ($514) per person including return economy class flights from Abu Dhabi staying in the Double Happiness Courtyard Hotel - centrally located and delightfully furnished with Chinese decor, art and crafts yet with modern conveniences. Visit www.etihadholidays.com

Through Royal Orchid Holidays a China Highlights Tour takes in the sights and sounds of Beijing, Xian's terracotta army and Shanghai's gardens in eight days/seven nights. Prices according to date of travel and hotel selection. Flights via Bangkok on THAI offer the option of additional nights on a beach before or after the China adventure.

Scotland

Recommend a stay in a Scottish Country House Hotel. Clients can fly Emirates to Glasgow, rent a car and drive to Edinburgh for a few days at the Castleton House Hotel near Glamis, Angus (www.castletonglamis.co.uk) - a delightful individually owned country house hotel with just six luxury suites. Here they can explore an area steeped in history and surrounded by rolling meadows so they can revel in the tranquillity and lush scenery.

Two night breaks from are priced from £250 ($487) per room/night including a three-course dinner. Flights excluded. ($973).

The sales pitchN ew packages:Emirates Holidays is offering packages to the Maia Hotel (www.maia.com.sc) in the Seychelles, which boasts small, luxurious villas with private pool and butler service on Mahe Island.

Prices start from AED 25,000 ($6807) per person including flights, five nights' accommodation, breakfast and transfers, with bonus offers for summer and complimentary honeymoon extras such as spa treatment, dinner and massage.

Specials:For those planning a honeymoon in the next couple of months, Dnata Holidays is offering 50% off prices for a minimum of five nights at the five-star Residence Mauritius (www.theresidence.com). Prices start from AED 7340 ($1998) per couple, a saving of AED 4400 ($1198) per couple), including:

• Return flights economy class on Emirates Airline

• Five nights' accommodation in a Colonial Garden View double room

• Breakfast daily

• Airport transfers

• Meet and assist on arrival

• All taxes and services charges

• Valid until December 19

Qatar Airways Holidays is offering a ‘stay three nights and get one additional night free' on packages to five-star hotels in either Florence or Rome.

Prices start from AED 8625 ($2348) per person including return flights on Qatar Airways, breakfast and transfers.

Contacts:

• Etihad Holidays www.etihadholidays.com

• Emirates Holidays www.emirates-holidays.com

• Royal Orchid Plus (Thai) package@thaiairways.ae or +971 4 268 1701

• DNATA www.dnataholidays.com

• SATravel Services - www.satravelservices.com or info@satravelservices.com

• The Travel Collection www.ttc.ae

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