Hot Getaway 3: Monterey, California Neither as crowded as San Francisco nor as pricey as Carmel, the town of Monterey is authentic coastal NorCal, just like you dreamed it would be. It’s got sea otters, shellfish, wineries and beaches—what other photo ops could a weekending couple need? For the outdoorsy types, activities run the gamut from Pebble Beach golf to Big Sur’s majestic bluffs and hike-able woods. Where to Stay: The Hyatt Regency Monterey lures epicureans to town all throughout February with its “Month of Aphrodesiacs” special menu. Forget strawberries and chocolate; this four-course menu starts with Beau Soleil oysters and vanilla-scented champagne, and just gets better from there. Pancetta-wrapped beef, fennel flan, pepper parfait with sambuca cream…and warm banana, chocolate and ginger cake to finish. It’s a menu guaranteed to raise your libido and your pulse—served in TusCA Restaurant for $100 a couple (a steal if you ask us). Hot Getaway 4: Chicago Live music, barbecue, unpretentious nightlife and sweet Midwestern boys in suits…that’s what Chicago is made of. No wonder so many big city girls love it more than London, NYC or LA. Even though February is a frigidly cold month, we predict a sweeter-than-usual wind might blow through the city this year. Our proof, below. Where to Stay: Chicago’s hotels are going so all-out for the holiday that we couldn’t decide on just one to feature. The always-sophis InterContinental is offering up the timeless combo of caviar, chocolate and brunch—all accompanied by copious amounts of chilled bubbly—for $250 per night. They’re also doing an ice-wine/ice-skating combo that’s creative and fun. Either would be fine for a regular Valentine’s Day. But the James Chicago took our breath away with their James Propose Package, the highlight of which is a Van Cleef & Arpels ring. Private dinner…string quartet performance…penthouse digs. If it’s time for the big question, this one’ll get you a tres enthusiastic answer. Priced: too precious to print. Call if you’re serious. Hot Getaway 5: Los Cabos It ain’t the prettiest beach zone in the Mexico portfolio, but Los Cabos—made up of Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo, plus the hotel zone—is undeniably entertaining. Anything goes ( yes, we’ve road-tested this, and yes it is on YouTube), but unlike in similar destinations such as Vegas, you probably won’t wake up in the morning going, “How much do I regret last night? Let me count the ways.” Where to Stay: Though there are wild spots like the ME and elegant getaways like Las Ventanas, we’re recommending a newcomer, Cabo Azul, for Valentine’s getaways. For one thing, it’s a villa property, with generously sized 1BR and up. For another, it’s in San Jose, which, though not by the beach, is infinitely more charming than Cabo. Finally, it’s new and as-yet undiscovered, and thus affords the serenity and privacy you need to achieve ultimate Valentine’s bliss. Which is, after all, the point.
Urban Retreat: Cape Grace, Cape Town: Perched on the majestic V&A waterfront, this classically designed hot spot (most recently featured in Blood Diamond) takes a "your wish is our command" approach. From arranging a picnic (replete with regional fare) seaside or atop famed Table Mountain, to offering high tea and regional wine tastings, a lexicon of neatly anticipated services are at your disposal. Newlyweds get complimentary use of spa areas, as well as in-room champagne breakfast. Sign up for the registry (your friends can buy you lunch—or a facial) and you’ll also get a 30-minute massage. www.capegrace.com