Romantic getaways beckon honeymooners

Islands epitomize the ultimate dream vacation. And what better time than your honeymoon?

Here's a sampling of four unique, romantic island destinations in four disparate corners of the world: the Pacific, the Midwest, Europe and Asia.

Lanai, Hawaii

The 50th state retains seemingly endless popularity as a honeymoon destination.

Oahu offers the brilliant bustle of Honolulu and Waikiki; Maui has world-class resorts and nightlife contrasted with pristine scenery; the Big Island provides dramatic volcanic activity and spectacular beaches; Kauai is lush, green and tranquil.

But in addition to these well-traveled destination islands, the island of Lanai beckons.

Chosen from all the places in the world by Microsoft mogul Bill Gates for his own wedding, Lanai is luxurious and intimate. Home to two top-rated romantic resorts — the upcountry Lodge at Koele and the beachfront Manele Bay Hotel — the island offers championship golf, terrific snorkeling, horseback riding, croquet, exceptional regional cuisine…and lots of blissful peace and quiet after a whirlwind of wedding preparations.

For travel information, call (800) 321-4666.

Mackinac Island, Mich.

Michigan is perhaps one of the last places that comes to mind when you consider island travel, but on Mackinac Island you can enjoy a wonderful getaway without leaving the mainland. Poised between Michigan's upper and lower peninsulas in the Straits of Mackinac, this island — less than nine miles around — is secluded and magical, evoking an earlier era.

Take a small public ferry or private plane to the island; once you arrive, no cars are allowed. On foot, on horseback, tandem bike or in a horse-drawn buggy, couples can explore natural and historic sites, botanical gardens, golf courses and a lively, cobblestoned Main Street.

The historic Grand Hotel — backdrop of many a romantic movie, including "Somewhere in Time" with Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour — is Mackinac's showplace, a white pine palace with a sweeping front porch (the world's largest) overlooking a lush lawn, pool and the cool, calm waters of the straits. Or cuddle up at one of the island's lovely Victorian bed-and-breakfasts.

Call the Mackinac Chamber of Commerce for details at (800) 454-5227.

Venice's Isle of Giudecca, Italy

Many believe Italy to be the most romantic of countries, a warm place filled with wine, food and laughter, where people enjoy la dolce vita — the sweet life. And if Italy means romance, then Venice should be the capital.

It is a city renowned for dreamlike gondola rides on tranquil waterways, leisurely cappuccinos in St. Mark's Square and stolen kisses beside the Grand Canal. But a hidden secret of this northern Italian coastal city is the exclusive Isle of Giudecca, just across the Giudecca Canal from the heart of Venice.

And here lies the Hotel Cipriani, a first-class European hotel that — in the true Italian fashion — caters to lovers. Its 67 rooms and 28 suites are replete with fine fabrics, canopy beds, marble baths and French doors opening onto private patios; the hotel's Olympic-size, outdoor saltwater pool is surrounded by gardens.

For couples ready to emerge from self-imposed seclusion to explore Venice's narrow streets and extraordinary art galleries, the hotel provides complimentary, five-minute boat rides to St. Mark's Square.

Call (800) 237-1236 for reservations or information.

Pangkor Laut, Malaysia

A largely unknown and untraveled tropical destination, Pangkor Laut was once a private island seen only by a sultan.

Today this 300-acre getaway off the west coast of Malaysia has been turned into a sublime resort with an exotic ambiance perfect for couples.

Nestled within an ancient rain forest, Pangkor Laut has all the amenities of the modern world in a setting reminiscent of a traditional Malay village.

Although visitors must undertake quite a journey to get there — including a helicopter ride from Malaysia's capital, Kuala Lumpur, or a ferry from Pangkor — this enchanting destination is worth the trip. Honeymooners will find picturesque Malay cottages hovering above the vivid turquoise Strait of Malacca; inside the cottages are beautiful rooms and enormous baths with windows that showcase panoramic views.

Private beaches, charter boats for exploring nearby islands, guided treks through the jungle and romantic dinners for two under glowing lanterns will fill days and nights with unmatched memories.

For information, call (800) 628-8929.