Older newlyweds want sopohistication as well as romance

February 13, 1994|By Marcia Schnedler | Marcia Schnedler,Universal Press Syndicate

An aging gentleman honeymooned with each of his three successive wives in the same room in the same Bermuda hotel -- and requested the band to play the same songs each time.

Another senior groom, who passionately loved his annual fishing trip with his male buddies, took his brand-new spouse along to rough it for their honeymoon.

Neither of these marriages lasted long.

Fortunately, most 50-plus brides and grooms plan more wisely than this for one of their most important trips together, say editors of bridal magazines and travel agents specializing in honeymoons.

"They've got all the toasters they need, they've survived many stresses of life, and now they're going to enjoy the romance," says Bill Derrick, co-owner of Carlson Travel in Capitola, Calif.

Their search for romance often leads mature newlyweds to different types of honeymoon styles and destinations than those typically chosen by younger couples.

"For younger honeymooners, a king-size bed and making quick friends of their own age aboard a ship or at a resort may be important factors," Mr. Derrick says. "Their priorities and budgets are different. After all, they still have to establish a home, family and relationships with their in-laws."

Young people tend to stay closer to home, and to choose traditional and less expensive destinations such as the Caribbean, Hawaii or Mexican resorts, says Sylvie del Guidice, co-owner of MCM, which represents small, romantic hotels around the world. Older couples are likelier to have been to those places already.

AOlder couples want to "discover" different places like Les Frenes Hostellerie in Avignon, France, and Villa de Belieu in the French Riviera, says Martha Morano, also of MCM. Both hotels are popular among older newlyweds, she says, because they are new and different.

The search for romance often leads mature newlyweds to different types of honeymoon destinations than those chosen by younger couples.

"They [older couples] seem to skirt the cities, and they like to find the more out-of-the-way places . . . where they can relax for a few days instead of being bombarded by stimuli all the time," Ms. Morano says.

"Now they are more mature and have more discretionary income, and thus can fulfill a lifetime dream," Ms. del Guidice adds. "I have noticed that when they meet later in life, they have a wealth of experiences and of interests, and try to match their honeymoon to their tastes."

The best bet is to pursue a common interest such as golf. "If you both enjoy food of any type, do a trip based on eating," suggests Sally Kilbridge, travel editor of Bride's magazine. "There are resorts with cooking weeks, for example, or boats you can

charter with superb chefs on board."

Those who met because of a common hobby such as music, bicycling or camping may use it as the honeymoon theme, agrees Terry McCabe, of Stratton Travel in Franklin Lakes, N.J.

When interests differ, senior couples find they can plan a honeymoon that indulges both parties. Ms. del Guidice recalls a new husband who was a food lover, freshly married to an avid gardener. "They chose to honeymoon in France and [to] begin in Giverny, where there are fine restaurants and Claude Monet's garden," she says.

Ms. McCabe finds that mature honeymooners, particularly those who have traveled extensively, are often attracted to adventure travel or exotic destinations such as Indonesia and Thailand. Mr. Derrick has encountered older couples who have opted for a tented safari to Africa, a wilderness trip to Alaska, a visit to Bali, even a cruise to Antarctica.

If they prefer a resort, Ms. McCabe finds, they tend to go to quieter, upscale spots with fine cuisine. Cruising is also popular, she says.

Ms. McCabe and Ms. del Guidice find Europe particularly popular with older newlyweds, who often plan a trip that combines a city with time in the countryside. "They are independent travelers, and tend to choose one country and one area within that country," Ms. del Guidice says.

A couple should plan their honeymoon together. "Sometimes one person wants to plan the trip for the other," says Geri Bain, travel editor of Modern Bride. "But there should be lots of input by both parties so that there can be no guilt or blame if something goes wrong. And don't try to second-guess your fiance or project your tastes and desires onto the other person."

To plan a successful honeymoon, newlyweds have to be honest with each other. Ms. Kilbridge cautions, "You don't want to go salmon fishing, no matter how much the other person loves it, if you're afraid of bait."

Mature travelers planning to wed as well as honeymoon outside the United States should have a professional or resort experienced in weddings plan the ceremonies, Ms. Bain urges. Disasters such as a missing minister, official document or photographer occur when people try to do it on their own.

If you're having your family join you at your honeymoon destination, "go on your own a for few days first, then have them join you," Ms. Kilbridge says.

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