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Carrie’s Big Surprise

Author: Lauren Coleman

We don’t feature too many reader requests on the blog anymore but something about Carrie’s request got me feeling a bit mischievous.

Carrie is keen to amaze her husband with an almighty whopper of a surprise when he turns forty in October, and she’s in need of our help. Over to the naughty lady herself…

“My husband is my rock and after two kids and seven years of marriage I’m looking forward to surprising him with a trip when he hits the big 4-0 later on in the year. I want to celebrate big time! My parents have offered to look after the children for a week in late October so I’m after a location that’s still hot and sunny when the UK hits Autumn. So far I’ve considered Cape Verde and Mauritius but I would really value suggestions from the RMS readers. He thinks we’re off to the Lake District for a week away so I have another cheeky request too, any ideas on how to drop the surprise on him? I don’t think I could manage to keep it a secret until we arrive at the airport but I’d love a memorable way to break the news!”

The Criteria

  • We can only get away for one week so ideally the flight wouldn’t be over ten hours
  • Adults-only hotel for accommodation, rather than anything self-catering
  • Luxury relaxing beach location, or at least very close to one
  • Nearby bars and restaurant with good vino and cocktails
  • Warm and sunny climate
  • Would be good to go on a sight-seeing trip or two and experience a bit of culture

So you little tricksters, where should Carrie take her astonished husband on holiday in October? Any fab locations you’d like to recommend? Any thoughts on how to break the news?

Author
Lauren likes Paris, Prosecco and Paint Charts
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42 thoughts on “Carrie’s Big Surprise

  1. What a fab idea and what a lucky man! When I was at uni my housemates boyfriend sent her a letter in the post every day and then she had to work out what it spelt, from memory think it was Budapest. But always thought that was a fun way to give clues for a surprise!

    Went to Cape Verde on our honeymoon in October. It was great weather and beaches but when we stayed on Boa Vista wasn’t much outside the hotel complex although that was a few years ago so may have changed!

    Good luck! x

    1. Love, love South Africa, we went in October for our honeymoon. But, when we were there, it was really not quite warm enough for the beach. The weather was lovely – but not beach hot!

    2. My first thought was South Africa. It’s an incredible country with so much diversity. Prices for hotels and food are incredibly affordable so you can really push the boat out – I’ve never stayed in so many amazing hotels as I did when I travelled there a few years ago.

      For a unique safari experience, I highly recommend Quartermains – where there are a max of 3 couples at a time, and the accommodation is in 1920s safari tents. (http://www.quatermainscamp.co.za/)

  2. My step dad is amazing at surprises and at Christmas he used to go all out to get us to guess where we were going on holiday. We would get a letter through the post which had a series of clues that we had to answer. Each gave us a letter that spelt out a destination/trip. He once even filmed a whole little mini episode of 24 (I kid you not) where we had to help him solve the puzzle. Could you get the kids involved somehow, not sure how old they are, and get them to draw pictures of your destination or write a few letters out. You could then pretend that they want to show Daddy their new artwork. No idea on destination btw!! xx

    1. Love this. My parents would do this too, treasure hunt around the house leading to the atlas, or giving us letter clues. But the best was being woken “for school” and taken to Disney instead!

      1. Oh my gosh Lucy. That trip to Disney must have been immense! I’m really hoping I can do some similar things for the girls as they get a bit older. So much fun to be had x

  3. This is an inspired post and I’m in the exact same boat and wanting to plan a surprise holiday away for my husbands 30th (toddler in tow with us though). I’ve decided on Mauritius – beautiful weather this time of year as they are just going into summer but it’s not too hot and humid yet. I’ve decided to book the Lux Belle Mare – which is just on the right side of family friendly but still pure luxury. For a couple I would maybe suggest Constane Le Prince or the Lux Le Morne both of which look stunning. Can I also give a little mention to Susie Freeman Travel who has provided us with exceptional service – so helpful and friendly and it’s been a revelation using a small independent travel agency – she’s passionate about Mauritius and knows the island inside out! Abu Dhabi is also stunning with gorgeous weather in October (I much prefer it to Dubai) Finally, I’m also planning a big reveal for the holiday so really keen on suggestions. A friend of my recently surprised her husband with a trip to New York (had his bags packed) and made him guess at Heathrow from the departure board! Very fun idea but I think I wouldn’t be able to keep it a secret that long! I’m thinking of some kind of treasure hunt with holiday items hidden around the house – sunscreen, flip flops, shorts etc. Another idea was a jigsaw puzzle using the picture of our hotel, which is something hubby can do with our daughter.Looking forward to hearing some more ideas

  4. Uh oh… I used to work in travel so prepare yourselves for a huge essay, sorry Carrie:

    SA is such a good choice, no jet lag, it’s beautiful, great food and wine- Hermanus is just gorgeous or stay in fancy Camps Bay in CT.

    Sri Lanka is also amazing, beautiful beaches, a bevy of luxury hotels and incredible things to do: leopard safaris, wild elephants, ancient temples (the Temple of the Tooth looks stunning).

    Mauritius is great- the Shanti Ananda is a lovely hotel.

    Had you considered Oman? Incredible destination, amazing things to do and a shorter flight.

    Sicily will still be warm in October and it is stunning year round. The Villa Athena hotel is my top pick, you can lie on a sun lounger and gaze at the temples of Agrigento. By saving on flights you could splash on the trip a bit more?

    It’s the tail end of hurricane season in the Caribbean but islands like Barbados and Antigua should be ok- I’ve been to the latter in October and it was amazing.

    Also… Costa Rica… Or Brazil…. Just saying.

    Hope you have an amazing trip, lucky husband. Please let us know how the surprise goes!

  5. Hello Carrie – I’d absolutely recommend Barbados – we went for a week totally do able – we booked with virgin holidays. Hotel was great first time we’d gone all inclusive and the trips available were really memorable – swimming with turtles etc
    We flew from manchester 8 hour flight.
    Good luck and hope where ever you go you have a great time xxx

  6. CUBA!! You could take in a couple of nights in Havana…think vintage cars, history and flamenco, then head down to the coast to Varadero to one of the luxury resorts there for a few nights relaxation somewhere luxurious. You can fly direct with Virgin from the UK, I went a few years ago and absolutely loved it – beautiful beaches and so much history, music and art to enjoy 🙂

    1. I second Cuba! We went for our honeymoon and it was wonderful! Havana and Varadero are a great combination, the scenery is beautiful, as are the beaches and there is so much culture and art to see and explore. We also flew Virgin and would definitely recommend them. Also, the rum is amazing 😀

  7. We surprised my sister for her 40th with a trip to Antigua. She lives in the States and when she got to the gate it was a choice between Seattle and Antigua. She thought no way it could be the latter, but it was. What she didn’t know is that a couple of hours after they landed, my parents, my husband and I also touched down from London – and ‘bumped’ into them at the beach bar for sundowners. The look on her face was priceless. Such a memory to treasure – your husband will love it!
    So yes, I’d second Antigua – Carlisle Bay is incredible if money is no object, or Blue Waters is also a great resort and more affordable.
    I’ve been to Mauritius a few times (including on my honeymoon) and love it – a long flight, yes, but no jet lag, amazing food and stunning scenery, much more than just the beach as the island’s interior is volcanic, so waterfalls, zip lining through rainforest etc. etc. I really recommend Maradiva, which is an all-villa resort – you get your own massive villa with sizeable plunge pool and outdoor lounge. Bliss.
    And South Africa is another winner – I love Kensington Place for a boutique hotel option in Cape Town, and Sabi Sabi near Kruger National Park for safari, but as others have said there are great safari options nearer Cape Town and also Hermanus and the Garden Route.

  8. Another travel person here too…so again apologies for lengthy reply!

    The Middle East would be great…shorter flight and you can go from lots of different airports (not sure where you live but saves always having to go from Heathrow). Dubai, Abu Dhabi or Oman are all amazing. You could even combine 2 of them if you wanted to. Incredible luxury hotels, a mix of modern and culture. You can visit the souks, go wadi bashing in the sand dunes, even stay out in the desert in a luxury tented villa and watch the stars together http://www.banyantree.com/en/em-uae-al-wadi/al-khaimah-tented-pool-villa

    The Jumeirah resort of Dar Al Masyaf has its own waterway so you can hop on a little water taxi in the evening to go for drinks and dinner 🙂

    Abu Dhabi is much more lush and green, Saadiyat Island even has a protected area for turtles to hatch on its beaches.

    And in Oman I was lucky enough to see the most amazing natural display of dolphins with 50-100 swimming around our boats on an early morning trip out from our hotel (Shangri La – awesome!) so more than just a hotel and a beach here too!

    I love the Middle East…(can you tell?!) the food is amazing, the beaches, hotels and pools are out of this world. There are great bars and clubs too if you fancy a child free night out of dancing?! Shopping, culture, sightseeing, beaches, great climate (October would be about 30 in the day but then still lovely and warm in the evening)….i’ll shut up now!!

    Really want to let you know who I work for as we are very much the experts in creating a totally tailormade experience…especially for special occasions like yours…but not sure i’m allowed to!! Hope you get something amazing and very memorable sorted soon though Carrie 🙂

    Oh and sorry but in terms of the surprise element of it all i’m totally rubbish with anything like that…can’t even surprise my husband with a bar of chocolate!
    xx

    1. Try the Molitor hotel in Paris. It’s a little off the beaten track but it’s built around the old Paris Lido and is very stylish with an Art Deco feel to it. Something a bit different to your standard high end hotel chains.

      My husband took me as a surprise birthday gift a few years ago and I’ll always remember it.

    2. We stayed at a place called Hotel Les Tournelles in the Marais last weekend. It’s a really cute hotel, amazing location, beautifully decorated and very reasonable. The only thing is that rooms were very small around a massive bed (and I don’t think there’s a spa or anything) so it depends what you are looking for. But for a sightseeing trip, rather than chilling in a hotel it was perfect.

    3. Hotel le Six is in the trendy and bohemian Latin Quarter but a little pricey. So worth it tho- last time I was there they had Molton Brown toiletries – big thumbs up from me!!

    4. We stayed at the La Maison Favart for husbands 30th, would definitely go back if we were to make another trip to Paris!

  9. Sri Lanka… The home of the infinity pool!! Direct flights from London and the people, the food and the scenery is all stunning.

    I’d recommend the amanwella hotel – just stunning!

  10. I’m going to throw some other places into the mix… Goa is gorgeous and plenty of culture if you want it. I’ve also heard good things about Sri Lanka.
    How about essaouira in Morocco? Easier and quicker to get to, but with gorgeous beaches and culture, plus the most amazing riadhs to stay in.
    More off the beaten track you could give Ghana a go for the stunning beaches. But you’d need to be more of a keen traveller.
    Or zanzibar is described by someone who used to live there as paradise on earth…
    Much closer to home Croatia has some of the most stunning coastline.
    I guess it comes down to how easy and luxurious you want it to be versus seeing something a bit different and more out there…

  11. I did a surprise trip to New York for my husband’s 30th (our fave place).
    I bought a wooden NY set from muji, and wrote “Tomorrow” on the label. Then wrapped it up in a little box, in a giant box which I weighed down so it didn’t feel empty. I left the box wrapped up for a day or so before so he’d guess what his giant present was. Was so much fun watching him open up with a look of total confusion before the penny dropped!

  12. I would really recommend Oman – the perfect distance to travel for a weeks break and a really varied country.

    Some excellent luxury hotels – we stayed at The Chedi but had friends who stayed at Shangri-La and recommended that too. Great food, lovely locals, Muscat itself is fun to explore and you are within a few hours of the dessert and the mountains.

    Weather was perfect for us in October – 26 degrees but it did get dark early and quickly!

  13. Another vote for South Africa too – the time of the flight is perfect, and with no jet lag. Leave at 9pm on an evening, arrive about 9am in the morning. Stay in Camps Bay, it’s stunning. And then have a few days round the winelands – Stellenbosch etc. You’ll spend your days drinking great wine (cheaply!) in the sunshine. It’s the perfect adult escape! xx

  14. I’m going to second all the comments about the Middle East, namely because I live here and think it’s fab 🙂 If you’re wanting all out luxury it can be hard to beat some of the hotels here. Would agree with Lucette re the Banyan Tree – there are also some other stunning hotels out of the cities of Abu Dhabi & Dubai so you can easily combine a city break with something more relaxing. Check some of these gorgeous places out http://www.ippandco.com/5-best-luxury-weekend-breaks-from-dubai/ They’re all absolutely beautiful!
    Also agree with other readers on SA. Cape Town is absolutely stunning and the winelands are to die for, desperate to go back!

  15. We went to Lanzarote, Delightful.
    Not too far and lovely weather with nice breeze!
    H10 Timanfaya Palace HIGHLY recommend! My partner loved it.
    Fantastic day trips to see volcanoes, vineyard and famous sites.

  16. I was going to suggest Dubai – I’ve been loads as my Dad and Step Mum out there (news broken to us at the weekend that they are moving back to the UK next year … after 13 years!!).

    Weather will be perfect, there is loads to do, luxury hotels on the beach (try the One and Only but not the one on the Palm – I would avoid the Palm – it’s so far to get too in traffic!!). https://www.oneandonlyresorts.com/one-and-only-royal-mirage-dubai

    Muscat / Oman is a good shout if you want somewhere a little more culture. I keep seeing amazing stuff about Six Senses resort there http://www.sixsenses.com/resorts/zighy-bay/accommodation/villas-and-suites

    I have been hearing so many good things about South Africa lately. Amazing food and wine – and not expensive at all. Plus all the safaris, wine tours etc. It’s on my list!

    The Disney story earlier reminded me of this video… my friend always sends me a screen grab of the little girl when she’s unimpressed about something.. Tuesday lols for us..

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CjexuqTg04Y

  17. Pushing it to the max with the timings but we went to Mexico on our honeymoon and it was amazing! Adults only hotel, 5* service and the people and scenery are amazing. You can get some great deals from the U.K. We went ultra all inclusive and we were blown away by the food. Lots of sightseeing opportunities too! We stayed at the Seaside Suites on the Riviera Maya which backs on to the jungle. Lucky husband whatever you decide x

  18. Another vote for South Africa, we went on our honeymoon last year and am so desperate to go back. The food was to die for, the people amazing, gorgeous beaches, amazing shops (is an interiors heaven) and is dirt cheap to boot. Good luck planning xx

  19. How has nobody said Mexico?!
    It’s my favourite place ever! The beaches are by far the best I’ve seen and I’ve travelled far & wide.
    If you’re blowing the budget then I totally recommend the Iberostar Grand which is on the Riviera Maya. The food is gourmet and to die for, the cocktails are made with premium spirits and are divine and there’s fresh lobster on tap at every meal! I’d go back every year if I hadn’t since had kids!
    There’s plenty to do day trip wise – Mayan ruins, snorkelling with wild turtles, visiting little islands off the main land, swimming in cenotes or exploring nearby towns. Playa Del Carmen is super cute! Cancun is good for designer shopping. The people are wonderful and thoroughly look after you. Most hotels are full of Americans/Canadians rather than Brits which makes for some fun lost in translation conversations – they genuinely believe we all know the royals, hilarious!
    Definitely have a look as I’ve honestly never felt so pampered and spolit as my holidays in Mexico! I cannot wait to get back!
    Enjoy your trip wherever you end up! X

  20. I’m going on my honeymoon in October, we’ve gone for a culture week in Rome then a luxury week in Santorini. Our hotel is amazing, the suites have private pools and breakfast is served on your private patio, all whitewashed and beautiful!

  21. We went to Mauritius for our honeymoon, it was absolutely amazing! A long old flight but totally worth it and lots to do there. We stayed at the Four Seasons which was fabulous and the food was so so good! I think it’s also been refurbished since we went (totally no need in my opinion but I guess to keep it tip top!)

  22. A bit left-field, but Jordan is one of my favourite places ever. It’s such a small country, you can travel around it in total luxury and really easily. Go to the Dead Sea for a luxury short spa break, then out to Petra to see one of the most truly amazing places I have ever been. A night with the Bedouins in Wadi Rum, riding camels and dune buggying over the sane dunes is an absolute must. Then you can finish your week in Aqaba – it’s not the prettiest place ever but the hotels are pretty swanky for a relaxing beach break. You could even get the ferry over to Nuwieba in Egypt if you’re feeling adventurous (this is what we did) and finish up in the Sharm region…although I appreciate people are nervous about travelling to Egypt at the moment (we did it in 2009). Jordan is an absolutely incredible country, my in-laws travelled there this year and found it very safe.

  23. I would totally vote for the South Africa option, however it might be worth saving that until you can do two weeks and do a safari and the garden route too. If you do go for a safari experience we would both highly recommend Kwandwe private game reserve. My vote would be for the Maldives, pushing it on your flight times but an overnight flight might help?! We stayed at Velassaru which is an island just a short boat ride from the airport, which would mean you don’t have the extra distance of a sea plane – it was totally amazing taking the boat in and as people who never really do beach holidays we did wonder what we would do for a week on one island! Total luxury and relaxation is what you do! I can imagine that would be a wonderful surprise gift.
    New York is always fun, especially if you hit some sort of holiday – you may go around Halloween if in October, Lauren has some great posts on here with recommendations.
    Funnily enough my husband turns 40 this September but as I have to be in school the day after his 40th (teacher not pupil!!) we are having a quick 36hours in Paris!
    Enjoy x

  24. Wow! What a response! Thanks so much lovely ladies, I will let you know how I get on. So much choice!!
    xx

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