s What are some good destinations for my wife and I that are exotic, beautiful, etc.? We have never traveled out of the country and want to travel a bit before we have children. We are saving our Marriott Rewards Points for a destination vacation in the ($hopefully$) not too far future. Any literature on general traveling guides or anything similar is greatly appreciated. We have considered St. Thomas in the Carribean, or Spain perhaps.... My wife speaks Spanish and her mother is from Ecuador so any Spanish-speaking regions/areas would be good. Anywhere in Europe that is unique/exotic would be amazing! My wife is a photographer, so any places that would offer the potential for amazing pictures would be the icing on the cake!
Thanks in advance for helping a NEWBIE out!!
All the areas you mention in your post are good. There have been a few negative reports on St Thomas recently. Heard great things about Scrub Island, BVI, Cayman Islands, and Aruba in the Caribbean here. You can do a search to find those and any other areas you're considering. You didn't mention SE Asia, but klaus29, is a great reference and proponent for that part of the world. I'll be in Australia for most of this month, I'll report back upon my return.
I might be taking a leap here, but I'm thinking you might like 'water' destinations (with kayak in your ID and beaches and kayaking in your tags added). Not sure of the time of year you are going, but for a first trip away from the country, you might not want to travel where the weather might disappoint you. Also, you might not want to travel where, if you have a car, you are not familiar with the ways of people who live....and drive there. Europe is like driving on a race track.
The Caribbean, however, is very laid back and easy to drive. In addition, the island you go to won't allow you to get lost because most of them all bring you around the island and back to where you started. In Europe, you could start in France and wind up in Germany if you don't understand the road signs. Remember Chevy Chase (Big, Ben, Parliament, etc. while being stuck in the rotary for hours) in European vacation? It's not that bad, but I'm just suggesting it's good to think through where you are going so as to make sure, as best you can, that the first trip is both memorable and fun.
I always enjoy the Caribbean and the weather (all winter) is beautiful....and there's lots of watersports....and Marriott has a lot of locations there.
Since your wife speaks Spanish, definately take advantage of this.
If you have never been to Spain, I think you will love it, and for your wife and her mother it would be most memorable, like a visit to the UK for those of us from the English speaking world.
My favorite destination is Barcelona as it is a city with so much history, and they just this spring bought one of the AC hotels that is a partner, and is now a Renaissance.
There is also a Marriott Vacation Property in Marbella, and is a great place to stay. The property is goregous, more like condos. When I went we have a 4 bedroom, 2 bath condo with ocean views. The restaurant on the property was great, and there was another independent restaurant down on the beach.
From there we of course toured Marbella, which had great food, shopping, and flamenco shows. And we also did daytrips. It was a wonderful but tiring week. Have often thought of returning. Would be great to be there around a holiday, especially Easter to see the processions.
For this trip, I did fly into Madrid and spent a night or two on the way in and way out, and took the high speed train to the last stop [just past Malaga].
On our return to Madrid, we did a day trip to Toledo which is not to be missed.
More Madrid links on MI
Hotel Ritz Madrid http://www.rewards-insiders.marriott.com/hotels/madrt
AC Santo Mauro, Autograph Collection http://www.rewards-insiders.marriott.com/hotels/madma
AC Hotel Aitana http://www.rewards-insiders.marriott.com/hotels/madai
AC Hotel Aravaca http://www.rewards-insiders.marriott.com/hotels/madac
AC Hotel Arganda http://www.rewards-insiders.marriott.com/hotels/madar
AC Hotel Atocha http://www.rewards-insiders.marriott.com/hotels/madat
AC Hotel Carlton Madrid http://www.rewards-insiders.marriott.com/hotels/madca
AC Hotel Coslada Aeropuerto http://www.rewards-insiders.marriott.com/hotels/madco
AC Hotel Cuzco http://www.rewards-insiders.marriott.com/hotels/madcu
AC Hotel La Finca http://www.rewards-insiders.marriott.com/hotels/madfi
AC Hotel Los Vascos http://www.rewards-insiders.marriott.com/hotels/madva
AC Hotel Madrid Feria http://www.rewards-insiders.marriott.com/hotels/madfe
AC Hotel Monte Real http://www.rewards-insiders.marriott.com/hotels/madmr
AC Hotel Recoletos http://www.rewards-insiders.marriott.com/hotels/madrc
AC Hotel Rivas Vaciamadrid http://www.rewards-insiders.marriott.com/hotels/madri
AC Hotel San Sebastian de los Reyes http://www.rewards-insiders.marriott.com/hotels/madse
AC Palacio Del Retiro, Autograph Collection http://www.rewards-insiders.marriott.com/hotels/madre
Sizzle, your trip is probably over and done with, but if not- you should also consider Singapore. My wife and I stayed at the Ritz Carlton there for our 10th Anniversary and had a great time. That hotel is phenomenal, but I've also stayed at the Marriott a couple times on business, and that hotel is on par with the best Marriotts. The entire island is beautiful, you can easily get around using the tram, the shopping is amazing, and the beaches on Sentosa Island are gorgeous.