Weddings are not the only events being impacted by the global health pandemic; honeymoons are too. Perhaps you were in the midst of planning your dream escape to Italy, or you have gone so far as to put down deposits on your travel plans and booked airline tickets and are wondering what next steps are and if/when you should plan for future travel.
We spoke to Mercedeh Sanati, owner of Quench Trip Design a boutique agency that specializes in planning unique, bespoke travel experiences for clients (and counts planning honeymoons as a big part of its business) about how to handle honeymooning in our current climate. She answers five of our top questions from how to deal with established plans to why staying in Canada is a practical and very romantic travel option.
What should you do if you have made honeymoon plans at this point for the next few months, or in 2020?
“If you have already planned a honeymoon and hope to travel any time between now and June or July, we’d say it’s best to get in touch with your travel advisor or the hotels, airlines, car rental agencies and so on, with whom you have been dealing. As disappointing as it is to have to cancel travel plans, the reality is the travel industry will not be back up and running for a number of weeks and possibly months. Many countries that are high on the list of many honeymooners —Maldives, South Africa, Argentina, Peru, and almost every country in Europe—have closed their borders until late April or early May and these deadlines will likely be extended.
The best first step is to understand what the overall cancellation penalties are for the various elements of your trip. Penalties get stricter the closer you are to your departure date, so if you were planning to go on honeymoon in late April and have prepaid for part or all of your trip, chances are you may not get a refund. On the bright side, the tourism industry is collectively looking forward to a rebound in the post-COVID era and is encouraging postponement of travel rather than cancellation. We are finding that hotels and tour operators are generally easing their cancellation penalties and rather than ‘eating’ non-refundable deposits, they are offering credits for future travel. Air Canada and WestJet are allowing travellers to cancel their flights and will apply a credit for the value of the fare purchased against a future booking anywhere from 12 to 24 months from the time the original ticket was booked. The airline refund/credit rules are changing regularly, however, so it’s best to get in touch with the airline or your travel advisor to get the policy that applies to your particular flight booking.”
Do you recommend booking ahead for a honeymoon? Is it safe or even practical to make any travel plans, even if they are not in 2020?
“We are all suffering from cabin fever and what is getting many people through, particularly our regular travellers who are used to going on at least two or three trips per year is the thought of planning a future getaway. Around the world, what we’re hearing from our colleagues and partners in travel is that the tourism industry is looking forward to a renaissance. Timing is unknown and it’s hard for any of us to say when we it will be safe to travel again. Assuming that all Government of Canada travel advisories are lifted and it’s possible to travel in 2020, we’re guessing October/November will be the soonest people will feel comfortable thinking about travel. If you are able to think ahead, now is the time to get online (Instagram is an outlet for inspiring travel ideas) and get some ideas for a perfect honeymoon. Many safari companies (andBeyond and Wilderness Safaris) are doing daily real-time safaris and profiling the type of experience you might expense at one of their luxury safaris lodges. Travel companies are getting creative and sharing their slice of the world with travellers virtually. It’s an excellent way to build your trip without yet committing to anything.
When it comes to actually booking a honeymoon for later in 2020 or early in 2021, there are a few key considerations to make. Firstly, even though a hotel or resort may be taking bookings now for future travel, they may not be a viable business by the time you are ready to travel. Every hotel around the world, whether a luxury big name or smaller owner-managed properties are affected by what’s going on. To assist with navigating the landscape, consult with a travel advisor who has a better perspective and direct links with which hotels are likely on a promising path, and which may be facing more financial difficulty and may not be around much longer. It’s a sad reality of the travel business at the moment and it’s best to consult with an expert.
Secondly, book a honeymoon in 2020 or early 2021 (or really any time!) only if you are also prepared to buy travel insurance—specifically cancellation and interruption policies. However, you must read the fine print before assuming that travel insurance will cover you in case of extended delays with respect to covid19. Some travel insurance companies consider covid19 a ‘known event’ and therefore you won’t be insured if you buy their policies. Do your due diligence and purchase the policy that will give you the peace of mind that any advance deposits will be covered if things are delayed again.
And last but not least, airfare—don’t yet buy your flights if you are looking to travel in 2020! Wait a few more weeks until we have a clearer picture of what the airlines plan to do with their routings and fares.”
When we can travel again, Canada will likely be a destination many will want to stick to. Why is now a great reason to consider home for a honeymoon?
“There are many great reasons to support travel in Canada, first and foremost, just keeping our travel dollars within our own economy and supporting the many smaller businesses (cafes, shops, theatres, restaurants) and hotels which have suffered greatly. Canada’s tourism industry relies heavily on foreign travellers coming into the country, including for large meetings and incentive programs. All of this business has vanished over the past few weeks and likely won’t be revised until later in 2020/early 2021. Secondly, we are likely to be more mobile within our own country. If airline and train travel is to rebound, it likely will rebound more quickly domestically than it will internationally, and driving is always an option too—the great Canadian honeymoon road trip may be the next big thing! And last but not least, our dollar is going to stretch farther in Canada due to volatile exchange rates that have devalued our currency compared to the Euro and USD in particular.”
What are your expert suggestions for a great Canadian honeymoon?
“From coast to coast to coast we have tons of great Canadian honeymoon options. On the east coast, Newfoundland and Labrador is a firm favourite, starting with a stay at Inn Mallard Cottage in Quidi Vidi (honeymooners will love the very intimate inn, exceptionally friendly hospitality and the proximity to so many great restaurants. Other hotels that we love in Newfoundland & Labrador are Fishers Loft Inn, Fogo Island Inn, and ‘Ome Sweet Home. The Eastern Townships region of Quebec is a gorgeous spot for a honeymoon, particularly in summer and early fall—Manoir Hovey is a stunning spot. In Jasper, Glacier View Lodge reopened last summer and it’s gorgeous! And of course, there are some old favourites in B.C. like Nita Lake Lodge, Clayoqout Wilderness Resort, Wickanninish Inn.”